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December 9, 2016  Philippines.  The Philippine economy has strength to stand the negative impact of the tougher trade policy of new US President-elect Donald Trump, but must invest further in human capital and continue to improve its investment climate to attract more investors, a Columbia University economic policy expert said. Arvid Lukauskas, executive director at the Picker Center for Executive Education and the Program in Economic Policy Management at the School of International and Public Affairs at the Columbia University, said Trump’s trade policy could provoke strong opposition from China, which could also stir tensions among the US’ other trade partners. The Philippines, he said, should be able to deal with any fallout from that by using its strengths.

December 8, 2016  China.  US President-elect Donald Trump may take a more measured approach towards trade with Asia when he takes office rather than start a trade war, say Chinese business leaders. The chairman of the China's sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation, told the Boao Forum for Asia on Thursday that Mr Trump may not follow through on some of the policies that he trumpeted during the election race, such as imposing tariffs of up to 43 per cent on goods coming into the US from China. Ding Xueding said Mr Trump would likely be able to implement some of his programs, such as cutting taxes and increasing investment in infrastructure to stimulate the US economy. "But if he's going to increase tariffs to stop entering the United States and begin a trade war, then I believe it is against the globalisation trend," Mr Ding said through an interpreter. "And I believe that Mr Trump will be very careful in considering whether to put these (tariff measures) in place, because these measures may not be effective, and it's not beneficial to the United States. "I believe that when he is in office, he will consider more about global trade and also the benefit of the United States in global trade." The former chairman of China Eximbank, Li Ruogu, said that to contend the US presidency was one thing, but to be the US president was another.

December 7, 2016  WTO. Britain is beginning to prepare its new World Trade Organization (WTO) membership terms ahead of its exit from the European Union and will seek to closely replicate the existing EU ones, trade minister Liam Fox said on Monday.  As Britain is currently a member of the WTO through the EU, it will need to agree new membership terms, or "schedules", setting out its obligations as a member of the club following Brexit. "In order to minimize disruption to global trade as we leave the EU, over the coming period the government will prepare the necessary draft schedules which replicate as far as possible our current obligations," Fox said in a written statement to parliament.

December 5, 2016  WTO.  GENEVA Europe's trade negotiator blamed China on Sunday for scuppering a global environmental trade deal by submitting impossible late demands at World Trade Organization talks aimed at scrapping import tariffs on exports worth more than $1 trillion. "China came in with their list, bringing in totally new elements of perspective, which was very late in the process," European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told Reuters. The change of U.S. president also puts a big question mark over the future prospects for a deal.  European resistance to Chinese bicycle imports has also been a stumbling block, although Malmstrom said bicycles had become totemic for China and nobody else, and the agreement went far wider, adding that the EU had "quite cheap bicycles already".

December 2, 2016  WTO.  All of the challenges over the Washington state tax incentives presented by the European Union have been rejected by the World Trade Organization (WTO).  "Today's decision is a complete victory for the United States, Washington State and Boeing," Boeing’s General Counsel J. Michael Luttig said. "The WTO found in September that Airbus has received $22 billion in illegal subsidies from the E.U. and that without these subsidies neither Airbus itself nor any of its airplanes would even exist today. By contrast, in rejecting virtually every claim made by the E.U. in this case, the WTO found today that Boeing has not received a penny of impermissible subsidies."  The E.U. presented challenges to state tax incentives in seven different states. The challenges for six of the seven states were rejected in full by the WTO and in the seventh state most of the challenges were rejected as well. The only tax rate that the WTO reduced in Washington, which was by a very narrow margin, was the Business and Occupancy tax rate for future 777X revenues.  All of the other challenges presented by the E.U. in regard to multiple incentive programs were rejected in full and by the WTO.

December 1, 2016  WTO.  Dominica has deposited its instrument of acceptance for the 2005 protocol amending the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The WTO said that Roseau deposited the instrument earlier this week and that the protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement, which was agreed in 2005, is intended to formalize a decision to ease poorer WTO members’ access to affordable medicines. The protocol allows exporting countries to grant compulsory licences – one that is granted without the patent holder’s consent – to their generic suppliers to manufacture and export medicines to countries that cannot manufacture the needed medicines themselves. These licences were originally limited to predominantly supplying the domestic market. Earlier this month, the Council for TRIPS urged WTO members that have not yet accepted the amendment to do so expeditiously. 

November 30, 2016 Boeing.  The World Trade Organization is set to rule this week that Boeing Co received illegal tax breaks from Washington state, according to reports in The Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal. The Journal said the trade organization will argue that the Washington state tax break is a prohibited subsidy and will have to be withdrawn, citing people familiar with the matter. The paper said the WTO is not likely to say what the value of the prohibited tax break is, but the European Union has argued that Boeing has received more than $8 billion in forbidden subsidies. The tax breaks in question are for Boeing's 777X airplane.

November 28, 2016 WTO.  The World Trade Organization is set to rule this week that Boeing Co received illegal tax breaks from Washington state, according to reports in The Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal. The Journal said the trade organization will argue that the Washington state tax break is a prohibited subsidy and will have to be withdrawn, citing people familiar with the matter. The paper said the WTO is not likely to say what the value of the prohibited tax break is, but the European Union has argued that Boeing has received more than $8 billion in forbidden subsidies. The tax breaks in question are for Boeing's 777X airplane. The ruling is part of a series of tit-for-tat transatlantic complaints about aircraft subsidies that together make up the world's largest trade dispute, still raging after 12 years of bitter arguments over support for Boeing and rival Airbus.   

November 25, 2016 China.  Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said on Tuesday that U.S. policies toward China under President-elect Donald Trump may be uncertain, but he is optimistic because of the U.S. business community's enthusiasm for U.S.-China trade. At a luncheon with U.S. and Chinese business people and government officials, Wang said he believed that businesses and the U.S. government would ultimately make the "right choices" to take advantage of market opportunities in China's economy. "What the U.S. government will do we will wait and see, and I think it's difficult to predict, just like the U.S. presidential election," Wang said through an interpreter. "The large crowd here tells us one thing. Although there will be a change in the U.S. government, the passion of the U.S. business community for economic cooperation with China has remained unchanged." Two weeks after Trump's stunning election on the back of anti-trade sentiment among workers in U.S. industrial states, the president-elect's plans for managing tense relations with China remain unclear. On the campaign trail, Trump had said China is "killing us" on trade. He threatened to declare Beijing a currency manipulator, levy a 45 percent punitive tariff on all Chinese goods to reduce a massive U.S. trade deficit with China and pull out of the World Trade Organization, the global trade body that allowed China to join in 2001.  

November 24, 2016  US celebrates Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2016  US and COOL.  As a surrogate speaker last August for then candidate Donald J. Trump, former Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen gave a fiery speech to a gathering of independent activist cattlemen from 18 states gathered at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, WY. He argued passionately for property rights and small business, picking up bursts of applause as he went. During a question and answer session at the end, McEwen said he wanted more information on why Congress ended Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law after it failed to pass muster with the World Trade Organization. With President-elect Trump’s various transition groups planning the first 100 days of the new administration now comes reports that COOL might be brought back too life in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Were that to happen, it would be a major score for those independent activist cattlemen. The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America or R-CALF USA , which was one of the earliest supporters of COOL. Congress killed the program after WTO found it to be a non-tariff barrier to free trade and granted Canada and Mexico permission to impose tariffs on U.S. products as punishment.

November 21, 2016  APEC.  Pacific Rim leaders vowed on Sunday to fight protectionism and Chinese officials said more countries are looking to join a China-led trading bloc after Donald Trump's election victory raised fears the United States would scrap free trade deals. Trump campaigned for U.S. president on a promise to pull out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and also threatened to impose steep tariffs against China and Mexico. Regional leaders responded on Sunday, saying they would push ahead with the TPP. "We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight against all forms of protectionism," they said at a summit meeting of the 21-country Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group in Peru.

November 18, 2016  WTO.  The head of the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday the United States continued to hold a pivotal role in global commerce, and he would support the administration of Donald Trump in ensuring trade was a positive force for job creation. "U.S. leadership in the global economy and the multilateral trading system remains vital," WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo tweeted, while congratulating Trump on his presidential election victory.  "It's clear many feel trade isn't working for them. We must address this and ensure trade delivers the widest benefit to the most people."

November 16, 2016  Gobal Trade.  Global trade has sunk to its lowest level in six years due to low growth around the world and falling raw materials prices. Recent data from the World Trade Organization(WTO) shows the trade volume of 71 major economies in the first eight months of this year came to 19-point-three trillion U.S. dollars, down four-point-six percent year-on-year. After peaking in 2014, trade in the January-August period has posted straight declines, with last year's figure marking a near 12-percent drop. The top five export nations ranked the same as last year. China was the largest exporter with one-point-three trillion dollars during the cited period, followed by the United States, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.  South Korea dropped two notches to eighth with 322 billion dollars.

November 14, 2016  WTO.  Brazil has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States over countervailing measures on imports of Brazilian cold- and hot-rolled steel flat products and requests dispute consultations with the U.S. In the November 11 filing, Brazil alleges the U.S. has been inconsistent with a number of procedural and substantive provisions under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM agreement) and Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994. The WTO says a request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. During the consultations parties have an opportunity to discuss the matter and find a satisfactory solution without proceeding to litigation. If a dispute is not resolved within 60 days, the complainant may request adjudication by a WTO panel.

November 11, 2016  Remembrance Day.

November 10, 2016  Trump.  The ascendancy of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency sent reverberations throughout the world, but nowhere will his election be felt more, outside of America itself, than here in Canada. There are perhaps no two countries more intertwined, through trade, regulations, language and culture. The United States is Canada's largest market for goods and services — it's not even close — with more than $450 billion flowing across the border each year. Trump pitched policies to voters that could be construed as concerning for policymakers north of the border, but some of his proposals could also be a boon for the country's biggest industries, namely oil and gas. He sent a clear message during his victory speech early Wednesday morning that, while he might wall off the country from Mexico, he's not opposed to positive relations with the international community.

November 9, 2016  And Trump wins!   

November 7, 2016  EDC.  THE EXPORT Development Council (EDC) has kept its growth targets for overseas sales of both goods and services for 2016 and 2017 at 3%, but remains open to the possibility that both years may not see any growth at all, officials of the group said. In separate interviews, officials of the EDC confirmed that they have kept the export goal of 3% until 2017, but have made it the high end of a target range. “Our 2016 target for both goods and services is 3%. But that is on the high end. That is a fighting target,” Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. and EDC private sector vice-chairman, told BusinessWorld in a Nov. 1 telephone interview. The performance will certainly be negative for exports. So we’re just hoping na ‘yun na ‘yung (that that would be the) target pero (but) we don’t expect it to be 3%. Baka (Maybe) most probably the best would be flat.” The 2016 target was confirmed by Senen M. Perlada, director of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau and EDC executive director. “EDC target for growth of total exports 2016 is 0-3%. No further change since last revision,” he said in a Nov. 1 text message. In a separate phone interview on Nov. 6, Mr. Ortiz-Luis said that the EDC is keeping the same target until 2017.

November 4, 2016  Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka owes its global debtors $65 billion while the lower tariffs have brought in formidable challenges, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen said in Geneva at the fourth review of the trade policies and practices of Sri Lanka yesterday. Sri Lanka also seeks flexibilities as well as Special and Differential Treatments during future WTO negotiations-and any tariff adjustments are only a temporary measure, he said. “Despite Sri Lanka’s commitments to trade liberalisation, a lower tariff structure has forced formidable challenges to the government in particular to the revenue sources”. 
“Developing its infrastructure to increase its economic potential has resulted Sri Lanka’s reliance on foreign debt. The official estimate of what Sri Lanka currently owes its financiers is $65 billion. The country’s debt-to-GDP currently stands around 75% and significant portion of all government revenue is currently going towards debt repayment.” “As a result of this, the government started experiencing fiscal difficulties to meet with country’s development and rehabilitating needs.While appreciating recent outcomes of multilateral negotiations , Sri Lanka looks forward to effective implementations of the decisions reached at this Ministerial.” “Flexibilities through Special and Differential Treatments have been widely recognised for smaller economies during the DDA process.

November 3, 2016  US and Canada. The American lumber industry is hoping third-quarter financial results will provide additional data strengthening its case that Canadian lumber exports are harming it. The U.S. Lumber Coalition, the lobby group representing the American softwood industry, is expected to file a trade complaint with the U.S. Department of Commerce if negotiations break down between the Canadian and American governments to settle the lumber dispute. Included in that petition will be quarterly results from publicly traded companies. The coalition was handed some of that evidence on October 21 when one major company, Potlatch Corp. (Nasdaq:PCH), reported depressed revenue from log sales despite higher overall lumber prices. And on October 24, Canada’s largest lumber producer, West Fraser Timber (TSX:WFT), reported strong lumber results thanks to stronger prices in the U.S. and a weaker Canadian dollar. Industries on both sides of the border are not commenting on the status of the softwood lumber agreement talks, other than to describe them as dynamic. If the talks fail, the U.S. is expected to impose duties of about 25% that could be in place on Canadian lumber shipments by April 1, 2017. The U.S. accounts for 69% of all Canadian lumber production, and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has described the lumber industry as a driver of Canadian growth. Access to the U.S. market is essential for Canada, she said in Parliament on October 17.

November 1, 2016  Globalization. The constant flow of goods from Asia to the United States was briefly interrupted last month after Hanjin, the South Korean shipping line, filed for bankruptcy, leaving several dozen of its cargo ships stranded on the high seas. It was a moment that made literal the stagnation of globalization. The growth of trade among nations is among the most consequential and controversial economic developments of recent decades. Yet despite the noisy debates, which have reached new heights during the current US presidential campaign, it is a little-noticed fact that trade is no longer rising. Hanjin, like other big shipping companies, bet that global trade would continue to expand rapidly. In 2009, the world's cargo lines had enough room to carry 12.1 million of the standardized shipping containers that have played a crucial, if quiet, role in the rise of global trade. By last year, they had room for 19.9 million - much of it unneeded. The volume of global trade was flat in the first quarter of the year, then fell 0.8 per cent in the second quarter, according to statisticians in the Netherlands, which happens to keep the best data. The United States is no exception to the broader trend. The total value of US imports and exports fell more than US$200 billion (S$278 billion) last year. Through the first nine months of the year, trade fell an additional US$470 billion. It is the first time since World War II that trade with other nations has declined during a period of economic growth.

October 31, 2016  CETA.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revelled in a long-awaited moment Sunday — signing Canada’s free trade deal with the European Union, but not before recognizing the challenges ahead to bring it fully into force. Trudeau expressed hope that the so-called provisional application of the deal — approval only by the Canadian and European parliaments but not Europe’s 28 states and myriad regional governments — might happen within months. That, said Trudeau, would result in 98 per cent of the deal coming into force. That’s much higher than the 90-per cent estimate that most European and Canadian officials have said would accompany provisional application of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as CETA.

October 28, 2016  Peru.  Peru is the latest country to place anti-dumping tariffs on imports of biodiesel from Argentina for a period of five years, after complaints of unfair competition, the South American’s market regulator said. According to Reuters, Peru, the second-largest export market for Argentine biodiesel, passed the measure "to prevent the imports of the biofuel to continue harming national production," said the competition regulator Indecopi. Under the instruction, different companies will be charged different rates, with the Argentine subsidiaries of Cargill, Bunge and Noble being charged $134.70 (€123.44) per tonne, $141.40 per tonne, and $152.70 per tonne, respectively. Louis Dreyfus, along with others, will be charged the highest rate of $191.60. According to Reuters, the Argentine Biofuels Chamber called the rule a "protectionist measure against the World Trade Organization's (WTO) international norms" and said it would take legal action to force the Peruvian government to reverse its decision. "We are the main supplier of biodiesel for Peruvian transport, and this unjustified decision will have consequences for their economy since domestic prices for fuel will rise," said Luis Zubizarreta, the group's president. Argentina and Indonesia were responsible for about 90% of the Biodiesel imports of the European Union (EU) in 2012. By mid-2012, the EU accused Argentina and Indonesia of dumping their Biodiesel in the EU.

October 27, 2016  China. China won the bulk of its complaint against the United States in a ruling on Wednesday by a World Trade Organization dispute panel, after challenging U.S. rules on "dumping" of goods. China brought the complaint in December 2013, one of a string of disputes challenging Washington's way of assessing "dumping", or exporting at unfairly cheap prices. Some points of China's argument were rejected by the WTO panel, and either side could appeal the ruling within 60 days. China's ministry of commerce welcomed the ruling saying that the WTO panel had "upheld China's principal claims" on the unlawfulness of targeted dumping and the separate rate applied in certain U.S. anti-dumping measures. 

October 25, 2016  CETA.  The story of how Wallonia, a tiny French-speaking enclave of Belgium, emerged as the would-be slayer of the massive Canada-Europe free-trade deal is less about what is in the agreement than it is about internal European politics. Wallonia is poised to ruin what was to have been a celebratory signing event on Thursday in Brussels with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 28 European Union leaders. The region’s surprising defiance – against the will of the Belgian government and 27 other EU nations – is threatening to kill an agreement that was seven years in the making. Walloon Premier Paul Magnette, a Socialist, says the deal would weaken legal, health and environmental standards, give multinationals too much power to sue governments, and threaten the region’s dairy farmers. Canada and the rest of Europe insist those concerns are overblown. And they have tried for weeks to address Wallonia’s concerns, including drafting an “interpretive declaration” to help clear up any misunderstandings about the trade deal’s scope and meaning. The declaration makes it clear the trade deal would not limit the right of governments to provide public services and regulate in the public interest. That has not yet swayed Mr. Magnette, a Cambridge-educated former law professor. He says the EU should slow down and not rush to sign the agreement, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA. Among other things, he complains the deal is still too vague about the powers of national courts when foreign investors sue governments.  

October 24, 2016  CETA.  The European Union has given Belgium until late on Monday to overcome opposition to a free trade deal with Canada from its French-speaking region or a summit to sign the pact that could boost both economies is off, EU sources said on Sunday. EU trade negotiators are rushing to assuage the Walloon government's concerns before the Monday deadline set by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to decide whether to fly to Brussels, according sources familiar with the matter. Canada says it is ready to sign the pact as planned on Thursday and year-long negotiations were over, with trade minister Chrystia Freeland saying "the ball is in the EU court." All 28 EU governments support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but Belgium cannot give assent without backing from each of its regional administrations. French-speaking Wallonia has steadfastly opposed it, saying the deal is bad for Europe's farmers and gives too much power to global corporate interests. "It's disgusting the way this has [played] out," global markets analyst Patrick Young told CBC News. "Ultimately to be let down at the 11th hour, actually really at one minute before midnight before the signing of the deal, has been absolutely appalling." In a last-ditch bid to secure Walloon backing, EU trade officials are offering tweaks to a political declaration appended to the treaty, an EU source said.

October 21, 2016  WTO.  Ukraine has requested the European Union to become an interested third party in its dispute with Russia in the World Trade Organization over the blocking of Ukrainian transit, while Russia rejected such move, according to Nicholas Burge, Head of Trade and Economic Section at the EU Delegation to Ukraine. Despite the initial refusal, Russia will not be able to do so at the next stages of the Ukrainian claim`s consideration, Mr Burge said Tuesday at a round table in the framework of the joint project of UNIAN and the EU Delegation to Ukraine titled #EUkraine. There is one particular claim, which Ukraine lodged with the WTO concerning the ban on Ukrainian transit via the Russian territory introduced by Russia earlier this year, according to Burge. In this particular case, Ukraine asked the EU to become an interested third party. Nicholas Burge said the first reaction the EU heard from Russia was the rejection of such move. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development emphasized that the introduction of Russian restrictions on the transit of Ukrainian goods was economically and legally unfounded and was expected to lead to an artificial deterioration of Ukraine`s terms of trade with the third countries, particularly in Central Asia.

October 20, 2016  WTO.  China's Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday welcomed a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel report which ruled the United States violated WTO rules in 13 anti-dumping measures imposed on imports from China. The WTO panel supported China's main claims in the report unveiled Wednesday, ruling the United States violated WTO rules in terms of targeted dumping and refusal to set separate rates for Chinese exporters, the ministry said in a statement. The complaint filed by China in December 2013 involves products with annual exports of 8.4 billion U.S. dollars covering electromechanical and light industries and others. China urges the United States to respect WTO rulings and rectify misuses of trade remedy measures to ensure Chinese companies enjoy a trade environment of fair competition, the statement said. The country is evaluating the panel report and doing follow-up works based on WTO dispute settlement procedures, the statement said. 

October 19, 2016  Softwood Lumber. Canada will fight U.S. softwood lumber tariffs in front of the World Trade Organization if a negotiated settlement can’t be reached, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says. A tariff standstill expired last week and opened the door for U.S. industry to begin proceedings to add charges to Canadian lumber. The last softwood pact expired in 2015 and Canadian exports have since increased. Ms. Freeland and her counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, pledged last week to continue to work toward a “durable and equitable solution” despite failing to reach a deal before the tariff standstill expired. Ms. Freeland addressed a portion of her comments directly to U.S. officials, saying, “I want to assure them we are negotiating in good faith” while preparing for any WTO dispute. Any U.S. industry complaint will be filed “at the most effective time,” the U.S. Lumber Coalition said in a statement last week, adding industry has “no choice” but to press the U.S. government to act against Canadian softwood. U.S. industry proposals are currently “inadequate,” Ms. Freeland said Monday. “The government of Canada is prepared for any situation.” The U.S. Lumber Coalition has said any new agreement should maintain Canadian exports at or below an agreed U.S. market share. Producers in British Columbia want to choose between an export tax model and a restriction on volumes, similar to the structure of the previous agreement.

October 17, 2016  BRICS.  BRICS nations including India on Sunday sought a strong, quota-based and adequately resourced IMF to bridge the financing gap in infrastructure development to push economic growth in developing nations. "We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, quota based and adequately resourced International Monetary Fund (IMF). Borrowed resources by the IMF should be on a temporary basis," stated Goa Declaration on 8th BRICS Summit concluded here. Highlighting the importance of public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity,to ensure sustained long-term growth, the leaders of the five-nation grouping called for approaches to bridge the financing gap in infrastructure including through enhanced involvement of Multilateral Development Banks. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa strongly committed to supporting the coordinated effort by the emerging economies to ensure that the new quota formula will be finalised within the agreed timelines. This, they said will ensure that the increased voice of the dynamic emerging and developing economies reflects their relative contributions to the world economy while protecting the voices of poor and least developed countries (LDCs).

October 14, 2016  Softwood Lumber.  Here we go again!  Even though the deadline has passed, there's still hope of a resolution to Canada's dispute with the U.S. on softwood lumber. Both sides are still negotiating in Washington, and there won't be any punitive measures kicking in right away. But the stage is set for Canada and the U.S. to gird for another costly, drawn-out trade battle. "I think it's quite clear — if we can take them at their word — that the U.S. industry is gearing up to get the process started," said analyst Naomi Christensen of the think-tank Canada West Foundation. The last softwood lumber deal expired Oct. 12, 2015. The subsequent one-year litigation standstill period ended at midnight. Now the American lumber industry could file a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce as early as Thursday morning. In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Lumber Coalition thanked the American government for trying to reach a deal but said it now had "no choice" but to act in order to manage the "harmful effects of Canada's subsidized lumber trade."  "The U.S. lumber industry's overarching goal is to restore an environment in which it can invest and grow to its natural size," the statement said, to "allow the domestic industry to better supply the American market and help restore the thousands of jobs lost to unfair trade." 

October 13, 2016  Germany. Germany's Constitutional Court on Wednesday began hearing a legal challenge to a planned EU-Canada free trade deal that could paralyze the accord. Three German activist groups handed in 125,000 signatures to the court in August in opposition to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which they fear will undermine workers' rights and worsen standards for consumers. A number of groups argue CETA breaches Germany's constitution because parts of it can come into force even before national parliaments have had their say. They want to stop its implementation before official ratification by all EU states. The court is due to rule on the emergency appeal on Thursday. A ruling in favor of the complaint would make it unlikely that Brussels and Ottawa could sign the accord at a summit on Oct. 27. Austria's chancellor has expressed strong objections to CETA and said on Monday the court's decision would have a strong influence on whether CETA goes through.   

October 12, 2016  WTO.  The World Trade Organization states that the European Union had failed to rein in billions of dollars in subsidies to planemaker Airbus (AIR.PA), prompting Washington to call for an immediate halt to support that it says hit U.S. jobs, Reuters announced. The ruling is part of a series of tit-for-tat transatlantic complaints about aircraft subsidies that together make up the world's largest trade dispute, still raging after 12 years of bitter arguments. The WTO said the EU had failed to comply with earlier rulings by the global trade body against all but two of 36 contested measures, including billions of dollars of European government loans to Airbus stretching back decades. The loans were a "genuine and substantial" cause of significant lost sales for its competitor Boeing, it said. In a blow to Europe's long-held argument that the most recent Airbus jet, the A350, fell outside the case, the WTO said funding for the jet had been subsidized but rejected U.S. claims that it fell into the most serious category of "prohibited" aid.

October 11, 2016  China. China is a dominant force in U.S. agricultural trade, but it seems to continue trying to set its own rules. When China doesn't follow the world rules it has been asked to follow, U.S. farmers are the ones at a disadvantage. Over the last month, there have been some interesting developments in the U.S.-China relationship. The most significant came when the U.S. decided to file a World Trade Organization challenge against China's domestic policies for corn, wheat and rice. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, China was exceeding its maximum allowable support by $100 billion in 2015. “The ENTIRE farm safety net spending for 2015 for the United States was about $12 billion, which is well below our limits agreed to in the WTO, whereas China went OVER its limits on just THREE crops by $100 BILLION in that same year!” If you think the action against China would encourage the country to slow down on its protectionist ways, think again. On Sept. 18, it was reported that "the Agricultural Development Bank of China, one of the country's main policy lenders, agreed to loan at least 3 trillion yuan ($450 billion) by 2020" for the further modernization of China's agriculture industry. Just days later, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issued a preliminary determination claiming that U.S. dried distillers grains with (or without) solubles (DDGS) were being dumped and have caused injury to China's DDGS industry.

October 10, 2016  Canada celebrates Thanksgiving while the US celebrates Columbus Day!

October 7, 2016  Globilization. Some may fear that globalization is under threat from populist politics, but that hasn't stopped many investors from seeing renewed opportunities in emerging markets and China. From the surprise U.K. vote to leave the European Union to Donald Trump's call for tariffs on China and walling off Mexico, the protectionist movement has strengthened this year and prompted worries of recession as cross-border activity declines. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday warned in its latest world outlook that reversing free trade policies would increase stagnation. But some strategists say investors are thinking differently about global trends.  Today the world is in "a new structure of globalization — trade replaced by internal demand, ranging from consumption to services," said Pascal Blanque, global chief investment officer at Amundi, which has more than $1 trillion in assets under management. "This is a profound and structural change in this globalization" thinking. In particular, emerging markets are the way "to get an exposure to those more endogenous, internal demand themes," he said.  The IMF expects a pickup in growth among developing economies to offset a slowdown in advanced economies, resulting in a net increase in global growth from 3.1 percent this year to 3.4 percent next year. 

October 5, 2016  WTO.  The Obama administration said Monday that it will press the World Trade Organization to enforce a panel report that found the European Union guilty of maintaining illegal subsidies to Airbus. The US Trade Representative plans a special meeting at the WTO on October 14 as it defends US aircraft producer Boeing's market position against what it calls unfair competition from its European rival. That follows the September 22 finding of a WTO appeals board that the European Union failed to end illegal subsidies for Airbus. The US wants the WTO to formally adopt the appeals panel's findings, and "will press for the rapid enforcement of those findings in a special meeting of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body," the US Trade Representative's office said in a statement.

October 4, 2016  Britain.  British Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Sunday that her government will trigger Brexit negotiations by the end of March, putting the country on course to leave the European Union by early 2019. The move will plunge Europe’s second largest economy into two years of painful horsetrading with its EU partners, who have voiced deep frustration at the delay in setting a date to start divorce proceedings. It was May’s firmest commitment to a clear break with the EU since she became Conservative Party leader and premier in the political upheaval that followed June’s shock referendum vote to quit. May said she would seek the best deal from the 27 other EU members, but told the conference she would not give a “blow by blow” account of her negotiating strategy, for fear of weakening Britain’s hand. European powers keen to dampen rising euroscepticism in their own backyards have taken a hard line with Britain, warning that informal negotiations cannot start before the two-year notification process is triggered. May’s announcement means the process will start before next year’s crucial elections in Germany and France, with an uncertain impact on the polls in the EU’s most powerful nations. 

September 30, 2016  Britain. Britain must seek bespoke multi-lateral and bilateral trade arrangements after it exits the European Union rather than fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said on Thursday. Fox said in a speech Britain would take part in WTO efforts to reduce red tape across borders, phase out distortive export subsidies, and scrap trillions of dollars’ worth of tariffs. "However, where progress has stalled at the multi-lateral level, the UK must be ready to look to more bespoke plurilateral and bilateral arrangements to ensure that the global market place remains fair and free," he said.
In his 25-minute speech, Fox stuck to generalities and gave no new details about how Britain would approach negotiations on the terms of its exit from the EU. "My message today is a simple one: free trade has and will continue to transform the world for the better," he said. "The UK has a golden opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves in the world, one which puts the British people first." 

September 29, 2016  World Trade Growth.  World trade will grow more slowly than expected in 2016, expanding by just 1.7 percent, well below the April forecast of 2.8 percent, according to the latest WTO estimates published on Tuesday. With expected global GDP growth of 2.2 percent in 2016, this year would mark the slowest pace of trade and output growth since the financial crisis of 2009. The downgrade follows a sharper than expected decline in merchandise trade volumes in the first quarter and a smaller than anticipated rebound in the second quarter. The contraction was driven by slowing GDP and trade growth in developing economies such as China and Brazil but also in North America, which had the strongest import growth of any region in 2014-15 but has decelerated since then. "The dramatic slowing of trade growth is serious and should serve as a wake-up call. It is particularly concerning in the context of growing anti-globalization sentiment," said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo. "We need to make sure that this does not translate into misguided policies that could make the situation much worse, not only from the perspective of trade but also for job creation and economic growth and development which are so closely linked to an open trading system," said Azevedo. WTO predicted that trade may be picking up in the second half of 2016, although the pace of expansion is likely to remain subdued. The forecast for 2017 has also been revised, with trade now expected to grow between 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent, down from 3.6 percent previously. 

September 28, 2016  India & Pakistan. Indian politicians and media is loaded with demands to revoke most favoured nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan, but since bilateral trade between the two countries is overwhelmingly in favour of India, the Indians are reluctant to apply this measure. Biswajit Dhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said there was a possibility of India invoking this clause in view of the fact that it perceives a security threat in the aftermath of the Uri attack. The Indian media quoted an anonymous official who said that the withdrawal of the MFN status was not under consideration, and it was mere speculation due to the tense situation between India and Pakistan. The MFN status gives an impression of special treatment but actually it provides equal treatment to all the countries that are accorded this status. That means that the terms of trade for all countries with MFN status would remain the same. Even after according the MFN status, countries could restrict trade through various technical and non-technical trade barriers. They could also slap regulatory duties on an item from a specific country to protect their domestic industry. India accorded the MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, insisting that the status was given to fulfil the commitments made with WTO. Indians insist that Pakistan is obliged under WTO to reciprocally grant MFN status to India.

September 26, 2016  WTO. Britain plans to become an independent member of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) after Brexit – when it leaves the European Union – Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, will announce next week, according to an article published today in the Sunday Telegraph, a British broadsheet newspaper. According to the Telegraph report, which did not cite its source, Dr. Fox will use a speech at the WTO on 27th September to announce that the UK will seek to be an independent member of the body so that it can negotiate trade deals independently outside of the European Union (EU). In a Referendum on 23rd June, 2016, a majority of voters chose to leave the European Union. Prime Minister Theresa May says she is committed to carrying out the electorate’s decision.

September 23, 2016  Canada & China. Canada and China on Thursday settled a trade dispute and said they would start exploratory talks on a free trade pact, but gave few details about a possible extradition treaty for Chinese fugitives which has triggered criticism in Canada. Canada's Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, elected last year, is trying to improve ties and increase trade with the world's second-largest economy after a decade of rocky relations under his Conservative predecessor. Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who had already met in Beijing earlier this month, agreed to solve a drawn-out dispute over exports of Canadian canola, worth C$2 billion a year. "Our progress on this file goes to show how two countries willing to collaborate can solve difficult challenges together," Trudeau told a joint news conference. Li said the deal reflected China's goodwill to Canadian canola farmers.

September 22, 2016  WTO.  Canada's trade minister and the EU trade chief sought on Wednesday to overcome the doubts of Austria and other EU members over a planned EU-Canada free trade deal, with a declaration spelling out the limits of the contentious pact. Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking in Vienna, said the legally binding additional declaration on key issues would add no new elements to the deal, which Austria's chancellor opposes in its current form.  "What the joint declaration can do is strengthen elements which already exist in the agreement," Freeland told a joint news conference with Austria's Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner on Wednesday. "What it is not able to do is introduce entirely new elements." The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been a key target of protests by unions and environmental and other groups who say it will worsen labor conditions and allow big business to challenge governments across Europe. European Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom wrote in a letter to Mitterlehner, published on Wednesday, that the aim of the declaration was to dispel concerns by spelling out what was in CETA.

September 21, 2016  WTO.  India is studying various countries’ take on e-commerce at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to shape its own views on the issue at the multilateral trade forum in future, according to a senior government official. Some developed nations, especially the US, have been vigorously pushing for the inclusion of new topics such as e-commerce and government procurement for negotiations at the WTO. For its part, India says while it isn’t averse to discussions on the new topics at the WTO, it wouldn’t offer any binding commitments on them unless and until long-pending issues under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in 2001 — including the reduction of trade-distorting farm subsidies offered by developed nations — were taken to their logical conclusion, the official told FE. Nevertheless, India wants to equip itself with adequate inputs on e-commerce so that it can address them effectively at the WTO as and when required, hence the study. “Our stance on how we intend to treat new issues at the WTO still remains unchanged,” he clarified. The study and further understanding of e-commerce could strengthen India’s own definition of it, to be used for domestic policy-making, as time progresses. According to the government’s consolidated foreign direct investment policy circular 2016, e-commerce “means buying and selling of goods and services including digital products over digital and electronic network”. Analysts have said such a definition is too broad and simplistic, and it lacks a comprehensive view.

September 19, 2016  WTO.  India lost its appeal at the World Trade Organization in a dispute over solar power on Friday, failing to overturn a U.S. complaint that New Delhi had discriminated against importers in the Indian solar power sector. The WTO's appeals judges upheld an earlier ruling that found India had broken WTO rules by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-made cells and modules. The appeal ruling is final and India will be expected to bring its laws into compliance with the WTO rules. "This report is a clear victory for American solar manufacturers and workers, and another step forward in the fight against climate change," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement. Indian officials made no immediate comment on the appeal outcome. U.S. solar exports to India have fallen by more than 90 percent since India brought in the rules, the statement said. As in the earlier ruling, which was issued in February this year, the judges said India could not claim exemptions on the basis of that its national solar power sector was included in government procurement, nor on the basis that solar goods were in short supply. There was also no justification on the grounds of ensuring ecologically sustainable growth or combatting climate change.

September 15, 2016  WTO.  The United States and 12 other countries on Wednesday announced the start of a drive at the World Trade Organization to eliminate harmful fishing subsidies that contribute to ocean depopulation. The announcement fell on the eve of an annual conference in Washington on ocean governance and environmental preservation. In a joint statement, the representatives of the 13 nations, which included Australia, Norway, Singapore and landlocked Switzerland, said they would begin talks to develop a WTO agreement on transparency and reporting of fisheries subsidies. Thirty-one percent of the world's fisheries are currently being harvested at biologically unsustainable levels and another 58 percent are fished at maximum levels which prevent growth, according to Food and Agriculture Organization figures cited by the statement. "To address this urgent concern, we are taking action with the goal of eliminating harmful subsidies, including those subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity," as well as illegal and unregulated fishing, the statement said. The United States imports more than 90 percent of its seafood, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The announcement did not say which countries might be targetted for alleged subsidies. According to Greenpeace, China has nearly 2,500 fishing vessels at sea, 10 times as many as the United States. Greenpeace says unreported fuel subsidies to Chinese deepwater fishing fleets promote overcapacity.

September 14, 2016  Canada. Canada is working toward signing a new trade agreement with the European Union in October, Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday. "We're working hard for it to be the year when CETA, the Canada-EU trade agreement, is signed. We're working toward signing in October and ratification early next year," she told the Toronto Global Forum. "At a time when so much of the world is saying no to trade and saying no to the global economy, Canada is in a position to say yes," Freeland said. Supporters of the deal, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), say it would increase trade between the EU and Canada on a range of products, boosting the EU economy by 12 billion euros ($13.5 billion).

September 13, 2016  Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka has put in place several actions in order to receive US$ 100 million Development Policy Financing (DPF) from the World Bank for the long‐term development of economy through policy reforms. The recently signed DPF will support the long‐term development of the Sri Lankan economy through a renewed engagement on reforms to eliminate obstacles to private sector competitiveness, enhance transparency and public sector management and improve fiscal sustainability, the World Bank said in a release. In order to move towards achieving these objectives the Government of Sri Lanka has put in place eight actions under three pillars - Enabling Private Sector Competitiveness, Enhancing Transparency and Public Sector Management, and Improving fiscal sustainability. In order to enable private sector competitiveness, the Government of Sri Lanka has ratified the Protocol annexing the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement to the WTO Agreement and has created a National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC).  The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the establishment of an one‐stop shop (OSS) for foreign investors aimed at reducing the processing time for investment approval. The Cabinet of Ministers has also authorized the drafting of a new Secured Transactions Bill that will include provisions to facilitate the use of movable assets as collateral for bank loans, and to repeal the Secured Transactions Act 49 of 2009. 

September 9, 2016  WTO. South Korea has finally won its case against the United States' antidumping duties imposed on South Korean washing machines, the government said Thursday. The World Trade Organization's dispute settlement panel delivered its final report on the case to members on Wednesday, and the report maintained all key points of an earlier ruling that found the US in violation of the antidumping agreement, according to officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. They said the report will likely be made final when the Dispute Settlement Board meets later in the month for a regular session, serving as a de facto final ruling on the South Korea-US dispute. 

The case began in 2013 when Seoul filed a complaint against Washington imposing antidumping tariffs of 9 to 13 percent on South Korea-made washing machines. South Korea raised questions against the controversial method used by the United States to calculate antidumping duties, known as zeroing, where the US sets at zero any negative difference between the domestic price of a foreign product and its US import price and thus making the overall average of dumping greater. The U.S. also imposed its punitive duties on South Korean washers based on those sold on Black Friday of 2012. In March, a WTO panel decided the so-called zeroing method was in violation of the antidumping agreement, while it also found that targeting products sold on specific dates too violated the WTO agreement.

September 7, 2016  G-20. G-20 leaders, including those from India, the US and China, on September 5, 2016, promised to roll back protectionist measures by 2018-end and ensure rule-based and transparent multilateral trading system with WTO for global growth. “We reiterate our opposition to protectionism on trade and investment in all its forms. We extend our commitments to standstill and rollback of protectionist measures till the end of 2018 and reaffirm our determination to deliver on it,” said the G20 Leaders’ communique. The G20 nations reaffirmed to continue support the work of WTO, UNCTAD and OECD in monitoring protectionism. “We emphasise that the benefits of trade and open markets must be communicated to the wider public more effectively and accompanied by appropriate domestic policies to ensure that benefits are widely distributed,” it said.  

September 5, 2016  Canada celebrates Labour Day and the US honors Labor Day.

September 2, 2016  WTO.  The head of the World Trade Organization is suggesting this year's G20 Summit will see delegates putting trade at the same level of importance as fiscal and financial policies. Roberto Azevêdo says work done ahead of the sessions in Hangzhou have paved the way for the ratification of a Trade Facilitation Agreement. "What we found out is that the impact of the Trade Facilitation Agreement would be bigger than if we eliminated all tariffs that exist in the world today. All of them." Azevêdo says the ratification of the deal will ultimately create cheaper goods and faster distribution. G20 Trade Ministers have agreed to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement by the end of this year. To make the agreement official, 110 of the WTO's 162 members need to ratify it. Meanwhile, Roberto Azevedo says steps have also been taken to try to quantify how global trade is shaping up on a regular basis. "One of the things we did together, the WTO and China, was the world trade outlook indicator. We are almost at 100, which mean we are going to maintain the growth that we were expecting, which is not brilliant." On the outlook indicator scale, 100 is the benchmark as to whether trade is expected to increase or decrease. Azevedo says with the figure currently just below 100, he hopes the G20 members will put a priority on trade coordination and cooperation to get indicators moving up. Ahead of the Hangzhou sessions, the World Trade Organization has also released figures about the world economic performance in 2015, as well as its forecast for the next two years. 

September 1, 2016  Russia.  Russia's Alrosa, the world's largest producer of rough diamonds, said its second-quarter sales fell 21 percent from the previous three months to 9.6 million carats after a recovery in demand seen early this year faded. Alrosa's second-quarter revenue tumbled 18 percent from the previous three months to 84.3 billion roubles.

The company, which with Anglo American's unit De Beers produces about half the world's rough diamonds, reported a second quarter net profit of 40.5 billion roubles ($625 million). That was 61 percent higher than a year ago, helped by the rouble's weakness against the dollar, but was down 19 percent from a record high profit in the first quarter.  Russia's government sold a 10.9 percent stake in Alrosa in July, raising $813 million and increasing the company's free float to 34 percent. It was the biggest Russian privatisation for almost four years.

August 29, 2016  Antigua, Barbuda and US.  After more than a decade of negotiations that have, to this point, proven fruitless, the Caribbean countries of Antigua and Barbuda are preparing to enact their rights to “even the playing field” with the United States over its stance regarding online poker and gaming.

Earlier this summer, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda received an offer from U. S. trade authorities that Prime Minister Gaston Browne felt was “paltry,” and fired back with a counteroffer to the U. S. officials. That counteroffer was summarily rejected by the U. S., prompting Browne, to state to the Antigua Observer, “We will never accept any one-sided agreement in which they treat us with contempt, and in which they fail to settle the issue in meaningful manner. We’re hoping that as a result of that proposal we’ll be able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.”  The losses for U. S. trade wouldn’t be significant, but the enactment of a ruling by an international body against the U. S. would be an embarrassment.

Way back in 2003 in reaction to the U. S. stance regarding online gaming and poker (and its attempts to prevent its citizens from participating in those gaming options), Antigua and Barbuda filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO, the international arbiter for trade complaints between member nations (and one that the U. S. has used extensively in protecting copyright issues), determined in 2007 that the U. S. was in violation of the organizations trade guidelines and ruled that the country would have to allow its citizens access to the online gaming sites from Antigua and Barbuda. But instead of improving issues through negotiation or even following the dictate of the WTO, the U. S. made matters worse.

Following the ruling from the WTO, the U. S. basically ignored the decision and continued to try to block its citizens from accessing online gaming and poker sites. When it became apparent that the U. S. wasn’t going to comply with the WTO’s decision, Antigua and Barbuda trade officials requested compensation for the lack of business from the U. S. and the WTO agreed to the tune of $21 million per year, a total that has now reached more than $210 million. To enable Antigua and Barbuda to recoup this money, the WTO would allow the two countries to violate U. S. digital copyrights, such as offering downloads of Hollywood films, network or cable television shows or pop, rock or country music to customers without compensating the U. S. companies or the government.

August 26, 2016  Brazil.  Brazil may launch a trade challenge against Canada over state funding to struggling planemaker Bombardier Inc that could hurt Brazilian rival Embraer, Foreign Minister Jose Serra told Reuters on Thursday. Serra, a former presidential candidate who took over the ministry two months ago, said a $1 billion investment in Bombardier from the province of Quebec was a "subsidy" and gave the company an unfair advantage against Embraer. "We are studying opening (a challenge) again as in the past," Serra said in an interview. "Why the need for that subsidy from Quebec?" It was the first time a senior Brazilian official has publicly acknowledged the possibility of a challenge to the Canadian state funding at the World Trade Organization (WTO). A new dispute at the WTO would again pit two of the world's biggest planemakers and stoke tensions between major economies fighting for a piece of the global trade market at a time of sluggish growth. Brazil is reeling from one of its worst economic recessions in generations that has cost nearly two million jobs in the last year. 

August 25, 2016  Russia.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling confirming that the Russian ban on pork exports breaks global trading rules is welcome news for local pig producers, according to UFU Pork and Bacon Chairman, Norman Robson. “We are pleased the WTO has ruled the ban on EU pork products and live pigs illegal. We are now echoing calls by our EU counterparts for the ban to be lifted,” said Mr Robson. He added that before Russia imposed these restrictions it accounted for just under a quarter of European pork exports. This was worth €1.4 billion a year. While this announcement is being seen as a positive step Mr Robson warned local producers not to be over-optimistic about the impact. “The Russian authorities now have 60 days to decide if they wish to appeal the WTO ruling. Should they decide to do this, it will hit hopes that farmers will see speedy benefits from the ruling on this restrictive trade barrier,” he said.

August 24, 2016  China. China jettisoned anti-dumping duties on certain Japanese steel products Monday in line with a World Trade Organization ruling against Beijing last fall. The duties of around 10% were introduced in November 2012 for high-performance stainless steel tube for boilers at fossil-fuel-burning power plants. Beijing claimed that Japanese manufacturers sold them in China more cheaply than at home, undermining the Chinese steel industry. Japan objected on the grounds that its products for high-efficiency power plants did not compete against homegrown Chinese offerings. It brought the matter to the WTO in April 2013 and won this past October. More than 90% of WTO rulings are complied with. The dispute resolution system has worked once again, underscoring its impact in reining in rising protectionism among emerging economies, said Osamu Nishiwaki, director of WTO compliance and dispute settlement at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

August 22, 2016  WTO.  A Russian ban on EU pigs and pigmeat in place since early 2014 is not based on relevant international standards and so violates World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, a WTO dispute settlement panel has ruled, putting pressure on Moscow to end the restrictions. The panel has decided that the EU-wide ban on live pigs, pork and other pig products and individual bans against Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – imposed over African Swine Fever (ASF) – are not based on World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

August 19, 2016  U.K.  The British economy had one last hurrah in Q2 before the adverse effects of Brexit were expected to rear their ugly head. This week those fears became reality. Due largely to a steep drop in domestic consumer confidence, U.K. home sales declined the most since 2008. Data also showed home prices rising just 0.2% in July, down from a 5.5% annual growth rate. The Bank of England (BOE) has also begun to note a slowdown in job creation and investment from companies in the U.K. For top banking talent, the Brexit has caused London to lose some of its allure, with Goldman Sachs continuing to warn about a restructuring. 

The greatest source of anxiety among multinational firms is uncertainty over Britain’s future standing with the single market, an E.U. construct allowing for free trading and movement of labor within the bloc. New U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed hope of leaving the E.U. while retaining access to the single market, but it appears E.U. officials are drawing a line in the sand. A Bloomberg survey of E.U. finance ministries found the overwhelming majority of E.U. countries, including Germany, believes the U.K. must allow free movement of labor if it wants to maintain single market access. Norway has been the most up front about potentially blocking the U.K. from rejoining the single market in any Brexit scenario.

August 17, 2016  G20 Summit.  The upcoming G20 summit to be held in China on Sept. 4-5 would provide a good chance to improve global economic governance, an Italian analyst said. "The G20 forum is a proper framework where to make decisions impacting on global economy," Alessia Amighini, senior associate researcher at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), told Xinhua in an interview. "It has a lightweight and flexible structure, and not too much bureaucracy," she said.  The analyst added the Chinese presidency of the G20 has proved the summit's crucial role in terms of global governance.  "The Chinese presidency is lucid and clear-headed, as showed by its active role in the preparatory meetings, and by its tight cooperation with the previous G20 Turkish presidency and with its successor, Germany," she explained.  Amighini, an adjoint professor of International Economics at Catholic University in Milan, and assistant professor of Economics at the University of Eastern Piedmont, joined world experts who gathered at the Think 20 (T20) preparatory meeting for the G20 summit held in Beijing on July 29-30.  In her view, two specific factors were fostering positive expectations among experts."The first one is the establishment of the Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI), which was finally initiated by China after years of debate." 

August 15, 2016  Trade.  A. P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, a Danish conglomerate that owns the world’s largest container shipping company, is voicing concern as a potential shift in U.S. policy threatens to reduce global trade. While Maersk assumes that no matter how the U.S. presidential election ends, it probably “won’t have an effect on the contracts we have and the employment exposure we have in the U.S.,” Trond Westlie, its chief financial officer, said any steps in a more protectionist direction would clearly hurt global economic growth.

With real-estate-magnate-turned-politician Donald Trump blaming China and Mexico for American job losses, the tone in the U.S. presidential race is more anti-trade than it’s been in decades. Democratic party nominee Hillary Clinton is also toughening her stance on globalization, and has criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership for failing to do enough to support American jobs. Trump has gone so far as to call the pact a “ disaster ” for the U.S. The World Bank has identified trade as a key means to fight poverty . But since the global financial crisis, cross-border commerce has slowed, and in a report this year, the World Trade Organization estimated that trade grew less than 3 percent for a fifth consecutive year. It cited the “threat of creeping protectionism as many governments continue to apply trade restrictions,” in an April 7 report . Trade growth will reach 3.6 percent next year, compared with a 5 percent average since 1990, according to the WTO.  

August 12, 2016  WTO.  On August 8, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) issued a statement expressing concern at South Africa's initiation, on July 29, of a World Trade Organization (WTO) safeguard investigation into certain cold-rolled steel products. The investigation was lodged by the South African Iron and Steel Institute. Its claim, which was accepted by the WTO, is that cold-rolled steel products are being imported into the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) market – including Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland – in such increasing quantities, both in absolute terms and relative to production in SACU, as to be causing serious injury to the industry in SACU. The period of investigation for the purposes of determining the allegation of serious injury is January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2015. SACU manufacturers allege that they have suffered serious injury in the form of a decline in sales volumes, output, market share, productivity, utilization of capacity, and employment. The MOC statement expressed concern over the effect that the safeguard investigation will have on bilateral trade between China and South Africa. The Ministry stressed that China "attaches great importance to both communication and cooperation between trade authorities in the field of trade remedies, … [and] hoped that South Africa will act in accordance with WTO rules in a fair, equitable, and transparent manner, and protect the rights of Chinese enterprises." It confirmed that the Chinese government will closely follow the progress of the investigation and maintain communications with South Africa. It advocated that "the two sides should strengthen dialogue and cooperation, tide over the difficulties, and seek a proper solution." 

August 10, 2016  China.  A bit of China-bashing is inevitable in any U.S. election year. Over the past month, though, after China roundly dismissed an arbitration ruling that rejected its claims in the South China Sea, a chorus of voices has angrily denounced the country as an international outlaw. Western pundits have likened China’s reaction to imperial Japan’s decision to quit the League of Nations, which eventually led to war in Asia, or even to Hitler’s trampling of the global order. This is pure, unwarranted hyperbole. And it’s no more helpful than eruptions from Chinese right-wingers, who see the ruling as part of a conspiracy to hem in their country’s rise. If the West wants to change China’s attitude, it also needs to reexamine its own. In reality, China’s objections to the tribunal established at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague hardly constitute an earth-shattering rejection of the global order. The tribunal judges may have rebuffed China’s argument that the case brought by the Philippines involved sovereignty issues, and hence fell outside their jurisdiction. But it’s not crazy to think that at least part of the Philippines’ motivation was to improve its sovereignty claims over parts of the South China Sea.

August 8, 2016  WTO.   A trade lawyer said government under this new administration should make a big push in pressing Thailand to implement a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that said Bangkok’s taxes on imported cigarette are discriminatory. Anthony Abad, former counsel of Philip Morris Philippines who helped the country win the case in 2012, said the country should continue to invoke Article 21.5 of the WTO rules -- which governs implementation issues on disputes -- in resolving the impasse over the case saying this sets a precedence. While Abad said both Manila and Bangkok could initiate bilateral discussions any time – and in fact most cases are dismissed when discussed bilaterally – “for me the best way is to push Article 21.5 legally speaking. “Any opportunity (to invoke) 21.5 on implementation, we have to use it. It’s for the future as this would set the standard. There is the WTO system and it (has) no political (color).” Considered one of the crucial provisions by the WTO on rules and procedures on settlement of disputes, Article 21.5 calls for a review of whether or not a governmental measures taken to comply with a WTO ruling tachieves compliance with WTO rules.

August 5, 2016  WTO.  A recent proposal by Singapore to the World Trade Organization (WTO), seeking prohibition on restrictions imposed by governments on export of food stuffs has set off alarm bells in India that it would cramp the government's flexibility to restrict exports to check prices when there is a shortage in the domestic market. As per the proposal made a fortnight ago, importing members will benefit from enhanced transparency in advance of the imposition of export restrictions so that they will have sufficient time to source for other food suppliers on the international market. Stating that export restrictions on foodstuffs can have an impact on food security and overall food price volatility as highlighted in the 2008 food crisis, the proposal stresses the need to correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets and adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets to limit extreme food price volatility.

August 4, 2016  WTO.  If there is a final decision by the US International Trade Commission to apply antidumping and countervailing duties against imports of Brazilian flat cold-rolled steel products, Brazil's Ministry of Development and Trade will appeal to the World Trade Organization's dispute-settlement system, the ministry said Wednesday. The ITC is scheduled to make its final injury rulings on September 3, following the duty determination by the US Department of Commerce made on July 21. If the ITC affirms Commerce's determination, Brazil expects the duties to enter into force on September 5. "The MDIC is following the progress of investigations and awaits with special attention to the US government's decision, in order to define the future strategy for the case, including eventually appeal to the dispute-settlement system of the WTO, in case the US confirms the application of such measures," it said in an emailed statement.

August 3, 2016  China.  Banks in China are facing their highest level of bad loans since 2004, and the situation is unlikely to improve short term, a senior official with China’s top banking regulator said on Thursday. Outstanding non-performing loans (NPLs) across the banking sector exceeded two trillion yuan by the end of May, up by 280 billion yuan, or 14 per cent from the beginning of this year, Yu Xuejun, chairman of the Board of Supervisors for major state-owned financial institutions, under the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) told an industry forum in Beijing. The NPL ratio of Chinese banks, meanwhile, climbed to 2.15 per cent of total bank lending, up 0.16 percentage point from the beginning of 2016. 

August 2, 2016  WTO.  Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas and the Minister of Commerce Maria Claudia Lacouture announced Sunday, July 31 they will be maintaining tariffs on footwear and textiles imported from Panama to Colombia. The decision reportedly goes against World Trade Organization (WTO) policy. According to a WTO ruling, Colombia should have eliminated tariffs imposed against Panamanian products in 2012 — a decision made with the aim of protecting Colombian producers from the low price of textiles and footwear from the Colón, Panama. Since then, Colombia has charged a tax of 10 percent plus a fine of US $5 for each imported container. According to the decree, the new measure will help combat money laundering and is therefore justified as protecting public morals.

August 1, 2016  WTO.   European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini has expressed support for Iranian accession bid to the World Trade Organization, a senior official from the European Commission in charge of Trade and Tariff said on Saturday, IRNA reported. Jose Luis Fernandez told the senior official of Iranian Customs Organization Mahmoud Beheshtian that Mogherini declared the EU support for Iranian accession bid to WTO in a statement released after an EU economic delegation visited Tehran after implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Iran has applied for WTO membership for 20 years and is now an observer member of the organization after the US blocked Iranian accession bid. Prolongation of the process to gain the WHO membership caused crippling damages on Iranian economy and the per capita income of Iranians. Washington blocked Iranian membership to the WHO over the loggerheads the Islamic Republic of Iran developed with the US since 1979.

July 29, 2016   US looks forward to 101 days of Clinton and Trump!

July 28, 2016  WTO.  The head of the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday he would not get into an argument with U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has described the global trade body as a "disaster" and threatened to quit it.  But WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo told a news conference he thought the arguments in favor of global trade needed to be put more forcefully. He said he had warned before Britain's referendum last month of the risks of leaving the European Union, saying it would require years of complex trade talks to complete, but "sometimes people don’t want to hear the arguments". 

July 27, 2016  Iran.  Iran is on a diplomatic offensive to persuade global illicit finance regulators to accept that Hezbollah is not a terrorist group. It may be just a matter of time before the international body in charge of protecting the global financial system succumbs to pressure from businesses on a gold rush back into Iran.  The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sets global standards to combat money laundering and finance for terrorism and proliferation. In June, FATF announced it would keep Iran on its high-risk blacklist, saying it “remains concerned with the terrorist financing risk emanating from Iran and the threat this poses to the international financial system.” The business community was advised to “apply enhanced due diligence to business relationships and transactions” with Iran.

July 25, 2016  WTO.  The appellate body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to give its verdict on an appeal by India in its solar mission dispute with the US by September, a senior government official said. India had in April appealed against a WTO panel’s ruling that the country’s power purchase agreements with solar firms are inconsistent with international norms. The appellate body can uphold, modify or reverse legal findings and conclusions of a panel and its reports. If the body’s ruling goes against India, the country will have to comply with the order in six-seven months. The US had won a ruling against India at the WTO in February after challenging the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power programme. Such a move prompted India to point at violations of some of the WTO provisions by the US in the latter’s own renewable energy sector. India also decided to file 16 cases against the US at the WTO, as certain US programmes in the renewable energy sector are “inconsistent” with the WTO norms.

July 22, 2016  WTO.  The International Trade Centre, which is the joint agency of the United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), plans to link one million Nigerian women entrepreneurs to markets by 2020. This was disclosed by the Executive Director of the centre, Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, during a meeting organised by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in Abuja recently. Gonzalez said the Centre would create job opportunities in Nigeria for women and the youth as well as promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and link them to the international market. She said the centre would help women sign business contracts, open businesses and produce goods for the international market. “Financially we will provide fund to support them in order to reduce some problems in the country. We will make provision to train them before going into the international market,” she assured. The Executive Director of the NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, said the present administration has set a target for the country to connect 200,000 women to the global business in 2020.

July 20, 2016  WTO.  After years of uncertainty for New Zealand's beef exporters, a trade dispute with Indonesia could be settled in the coming months. A World Trade Organisation panel is due to make a ruling on the long-running disagreement before the end of the year but Prime Minister John Key, who met with the Indonesian president last night, said the issue was likely to be put to rest before that. Mr Key's meeting with Joko Widodo in Jakarta lasted about an hour, after which they made short statements to the media. Since 2012 the two countries have been locked in an increasingly difficult dispute over beef exports from New Zealand. The beef trade has dropped more than 80 percent since Indonesia started introducing quotas as it tried to boost its own domestic production of beef. The disagreement is now the focus of a World Trade Organisation case taken by New Zealand and the United States in 2014.

July 18, 2016  India. India’s exports have recorded a positive growth of 1.27% in June 2016 for the first time after a gap of 18 months. The exports from the country are valued at $22.6 billion (Rs.151905 crore) during the month of June, against $22.3 billion (Rs.142342 crore) during the same month previous year, Ministry of Commerce & Industry said in a statement on Friday. According to data provided by the ministry, the overall exports from the country have declined 2.07% during the first quarter (Q1) of FY 2017 at $65.3 billion (Rs.436961 crore) against $66.7 billion (Rs.423315 crore) in the corresponding period previous fiscal year. The exports to the countries of USA, Japan and China have decreased 7.44%, 2.23% and 1.79% respectively in the month of April over the same month last year. Only the exports to European Union have seen a positive growth at 4.33% in April, as per the World Trade Organization (WTO) data.

July 15, 2016  Brazil.  Brazil may launch a trade challenge against Canada over state funding to struggling planemaker Bombardier Inc that could hurt Brazilian rival Embraer, Foreign Minister Jose Serra told Reuters on Thursday. Serra, a former presidential candidate who took over the ministry two months ago, said a $1 billion investment in Bombardier from the province of Quebec was a "subsidy" and gave the company an unfair advantage against Embraer. "We are studying opening (a challenge) again as in the past," Serra said in an interview. "Why the need for that subsidy from Quebec?"  It was the first time a senior Brazilian official has publicly acknowledged the possibility of a challenge to the Canadian state funding at the World Trade Organization (WTO). A new dispute at the WTO would again pit two of the world's biggest planemakers and stoke tensions between major economies fighting for a piece of the global trade market at a time of sluggish growth.  Brazil is reeling from one of its worst economic recessions in generations that has cost nearly two million jobs in the last year. 

July 14, 2016  CHINA - US.   The United States challenged China at the World Trade Organisation on Wednesday (Jul 13) over Beijing's export duties on nine raw materials, alleging they give an unfair competitive advantage to Chinese companies.The Obama administration envoy announced the WTO filing, noting that when China joined the WTO in 2001, it agreed to eliminate the export duties on these products but had failed to follow through on the commitment. The nine materials - antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum, and tin - are to key industrial sectors, from aerospace and car manufacturing to electronics and chemicals, the US Trade Representative's office said in a statement. China's export duties range from five to 20 per cent, raising the prices on the materials used by manufacturers outside China and allowing Chinese companies to manufacture lower-priced goods, the USTR said. In addition, the export duties put pressure on non-Chinese manufacturers to shift production, technologies and jobs to China, it said.

July 13, 2016  Canada-Ukraine.  On July 11, 2016, the Government of Canada and Ukraine signed the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA). This represents an important milestone in the Canada–Ukraine bilateral relationship and will create new opportunities for businesses in both countries. Canada and Ukraine will now proceed with their respective domestic implementation processes in order to bring CUFTA into force. Learn more on how you can take advantage of this agreement.

July 12, 2016  China.  China will work with its G20 partners to promote global trade growth, Beijing's commerce minister said on Saturday, as the world's top economies met in Shanghai. Global trade is expected to grow at a tepid 2 - 8 percent in 2016, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in April, with uncertainty over Britain's decision to leave the EU only adding to concerns. "The economic recovery and growth is still feeble and global trade is fluctuating at a low level," Gao Hucheng said before ministers began talks, vowing: "China is willing to work with all parties with wisdom, courage and action. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said on Friday ahead of the talks that 2016 would be the fifth consecutive year with trade growth below three percent -- its weakest sustained level in 30 years.    

July 8, 2016  EU.  ACCORDING to the World Bank, the vote in Britain to exit the European Union (EU) marks the withdrawal of the country from the EU's project of "deep economic integration" - which raises the possibility that the same factors that engendered Brexit will lead to an interruption of trade openness and integration in other parts of the world. In a new report, the World Bank said that the process of economic integration - the flows of goods, services, capital, people and ideas - on both regional and multilateral levels has reduced trade costs among members and been the engine of global economic growth in the post-World War II era. Brexit, however, marks a "historical shift in trade policy attitudes", and risks a more protectionist trade policy stance that could damage global growth, said the report, believed to be one of the first comprehensive studies of the Brexit impact on global trade and investment.

July 6, 2016  WTO.  This weekend the trade ministers of G20 shall meet in Shanghai. It is an opportunity for China to pave the way for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in September. Led by China, G20 economies could refocus global attention to world trade and investment, even amid rising economic uncertainty, market volatility and political risk. Indeed, one of the greatest risks the global economy is facing is world trade. It has not just slowed down. It has nearly collapsed. The writing has been on the wall for some time. Let’s start with the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which provides a crude estimate of the price of moving major commodities by sea. It peaked with globalization at 11,793 points in May 2008, plunging 94 percent to just 663 points amid the global crisis. Today, it remains around 690 points.  Broader world trade indicators, too, suggest that world trade is barely breathing. World export volumes are not just growing more slowly, but have been falling for half a decade. Manufactured exports have been declining in price since 2011. After recovering in 2010 and early 2011, world trade ceased to grow in total value, flattened and began to fall in nominal terms after late 2014. 

July 5, 2016  WTO.  It was recently found in a World Trade Organization study that the G20 economies had introduced 145 protectionist measures in the seven months leading up to mid-May, 2016, which is shown to be the highest since 2009. In a meeting with members of the US Chamber of Commerce, Yoo Il-ho, Finance Minister for Korea, said: “Protectionism will not do any good to us.” Korean trade officials are also concerned with the possibility that the US may shift to a protectionist policy after the presidential election in November, 2016. PTI previously reported that the UK had decided to leave the EU in a near 52%-48% split, with David Cameron, Prime Minister for the UK, set to step down in October, 2016. This follows news that Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and politician who campaigned heavily for the UK to leave the EU, has stepped down as leader of UKIP. Shipping leaders previously expressed concerns over what could happen to London’s future role as a leading centre for shipping insurance, brokering and finance. It was also argued that leaving the EU could harm port operators due to 40% of overall shipping traffic coming into the UK being with EU countries.

July 4, 2016  US celebrates July 4 Independence Day!

June 30, 2016   Canada & Mexico.  Canada and Mexico have agreed to settle a pair of protracted bilateral disputes in the run-up to the November US election that could shake ties between the three North American nations. Starting December 1, Canada would scrap rules obliging Mexican visitors to obtain visas. The former Conservative government imposed the restrictions in 2009 to stop what it siad were bogus asylum claims.  In return, Mexico would allow expanded imports of Canadian beef starting in October, ending 13 years of restrictions imposed after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in Canada. 

June 28, 2016  Hong Kong.  Hong Kong has called for an end to local ivery trading within five years, a move activists hailed as significant given the financial hub's reputation as a wildlife trafficking blackspot, while calling for this ban to be speeded up.  The former British colony acts as an important transit and comsumption hub for illegal ivory to China and the rest of Asis, due to its role as a major importer, trader and manufacturer before the trade was banned internationally in 1990. 

June 27, 2016  Britain.  The UK's European Commissioner Lord Hill is to stand down, saying "what is done cannot be undone" after the UK voted to leave the European Union. He said he did not believe it was right for him to carry on with his work as the commissioner in charge of financial services.  But he will stay on for a period of weeks to ensure an "orderly handover". A close ally of Prime Minister David Cameron, Lord Hill had argued for the UK to remain in the EU. He will be replaced by Latvian politician Valdis Dombrovskis, currently European Commissioner for the euro. Asked whether the UK would be sending anyone to Brussels to take Lord Hill's place on the Commission, Downing Street said: "It will be for the next prime minister to decide, following discussions with European partners, what role the UK plays in the European Commission, given we remain a full member of the EU until we have left." Lord Hill's announcement comes as EU foreign ministers urged Britain to hold speedy talks on leaving the bloc, after it voted to end its membership on Thursday.

June 24, 2016 Britain. The polls have closed now following a campaign which many believe was the most divisive in British politics. On election nights, it’s usually at this time that broadcasters put out their exit polls and make their projection for the night ahead. There is no such exit poll this time however, although some financial institutions are said to have commissioned private exit polls which they are likely to keep to themselves.

June 23, 2016  Zambia. ZAMBIA has ratified the World Trade Organisation agreement on trade facilitation, which will assist Government put in place reforms that will reduce the cost of doing business. The implementation of the agreement is aimed at putting in place interventions in Zambia’s regulatory trade environment by providing support infrastructure and capacity building for stakeholders. “The ratification of the WTO agreement on trade facilitation by Zambia demonstrates my government’s commitment and resolute aspiration to undertake the necessary reforms that will further reduce the cost of doing business and in particular, trade across borders,” Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Raymond Mutale said. He said trade facilitation reforms will improve trade logistics and facilitate for ease of doing business by embarking on modernising the manner in which trade is conducted.

June 20, 2016  WTO.  China was in a large majority of developing countries, including some of the poorest ones, that supported India on Friday at the World Trade Organization for naming and shaming the US, the EU and Canada for continuing to impose regulatory barriers on short-term service providers, especially software professionals. The barriers cost billions of dollars annually to companies, according to people familiar with the development. India’s proposal for discussing the escalating regulatory barriers imposed on short-term service providers received support from several groups such as the Africa Group, and the least-developed countries among others. The US, the EU and Canada, however, took umbrage to India’s proposal on ‘Mode 4: Assessment of Barriers to Entry’, which mentioned the range of barriers imposed by them. The US said it will oppose any discussion on the Indian proposal at the Council on Trade in Services (CTS) as New Delhi is already pursuing the matter through a trade dispute. Last month, the US and India held consultations to resolve the issues raised by India in its trade dispute on Mode 4, but the two countries failed to come to any agreement. The EU said it is disappointed with the Indian proposal as it has allegedly questioned Brussels’  commitment to “multilateralism”. Canada said it would disagree with India since Ottawa does not impose any barriers on short-term service providers, including software professionals. Other industrialized countries—Norway, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, among others—remained silent during the face-off between the three trade majors on the one side, and India and developing countries on the other.

June 17, 2016  Saudi Arabia.  Dow Chemical Co said it became the first foreign company to receive a trading license from Saudi Arabia as the kingdom plans to diversify its economy and free its dependence on oil exports amid a slump in global oil prices. Saudi Arabia's powerful deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman held a full day of meetings with U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, part of a visit aimed at restoring frayed ties with Washington and promoting his plan to wean the kingdom away from oil revenue. The trading license will give full ownership in the country's trading sector, the No. 1 U.S. chemical maker by sales said on Thursday. The world's top oil exporter announced in April a reform plan, a package of economic and social policies designed to raise non-oil revenue to 600 billion riyals ($160.04 billion) by 2020 and 1 trillion riyals by 2030 from 163.5 billion riyals last year. A plunge in oil prices since mid-2014 made the Vision 2030 reform, which relies on an expanding private sector, selling shares in the Saudi state-owned oil company and reducing government subsidies, urgent in the kingdom.

June 16, 2016  Canada.  The new Liberal government swept into power in Canada on Oct. 19, 2015 with a majority of obviously pleased Canadian voters. But, if they weren’t already, U.S. farmers wanting to sell their wheat north of the border are now spitting mad. The change in government from Conservative to Liberal meant that any pending legislation was shelved, including the Modernization of Canada’s Grain Industry Act (Bill C48) that would have made major changes to the functioning of the Canadian Grain Commission, Canada’s grain grades and introduced legislation that would have given U.S. farmers top grade for wheat delivered to a Canadian grain elevator. The legislation, together with other pending legislation, was stopped dead in its tracks after the election and has meant a delay in making the proposed changes – if, in fact, they are ever changed by the Liberals. This delay has also angered producers living along the Canada/U.S border that occasionally haul wheat to a Canadian elevator. Part of the bill would have made it possible for U.S. grain to be graded the same way as Canadian grain as long as it was a variety registered in Canada.

June 15, 2016  UK.  The OECD's recently published analysis of the economic consequences of Brexit concluded that by 2020, UK GDP will be 3.1% smaller than it would be with continued EU membership, and more than 5% smaller by 2030. [The Economic Consequences of Brexit: a Taxing Decision, April 2016]. Other analyses have arrived at similar conclusions. Such estimates have, unsurprisingly, been cited by Remain campaigners as a powerful argument against the UK leaving the EU.  The OECD estimates that UK growth will be 0.5% lower in 2017 and 2018 following Brexit, and that a "trade shock" in 2019, the end of the two-year negotiation period, will reduce growth by a further 1.5% in that year. The OECD assumes that the UK will not reach a new trade deal with the EU until 2023, implying that trade after 2018 will be conducted under WTO rules, which will raise costs for UK exporters. It also assumes that the UK will not sign any new free trade deals with non-EU countries before 2030.

June 13, 2016  India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with top officials of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) for the first "Rajasva Gyan Sangam Annual Conference of Tax Administrators" on June 16-17, an official statement said on Sunday. "For the first time, the two revenue boards are holding the conference simultaneously," a finance ministry statement here said. While the CBDT is responsible for collecting direct taxes, the CBEC looks after indirect taxes. "He (Modi) is expected to motivate the revenue officers towards achieving high standards in taxpayer-friendly service in view of fast paced changes in the world economy," it said. "Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will also be interacting extensively with the officers of the boards during various sessions on June 16. Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha will deliver the valedictory address on June 17," it added.

June 10, 2016  Japan. Japan said it may ask the World Trade Organisation to help resolve a dispute related to India’s “safeguard” tariffs on the import of hot-rolled steel, even as steel ministry sources indicated they would press for extending the floor price on steel imports. Prompted by massive steel exports from the China, countries such as the US and Australia, as well as the European Union have imposed duties on steel imports. Japan, the world’s second-largest steel producer, is under pressure because of these moves. On Thursday, a steel ministry official said the ministry will call for extension of the MIP for as long products are being dumped in India. New Delhi had imposed a minimum import price (MIP) on 173 steel products in February, helping cut inbound shipments last month to their lowest level in at least 14 months. The MIP on some products expires in August. The safeguard import taxes on some steel products stand extended until March 2018.
Japan said it will make repeated requests to the Indian authorities to ensure the consistency of their measures with the WTO agreements, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said in its annual report on unfair trade on Wednesday.

June 9, 2016  EU.  At a meeting in Strasbourg, the College of Commissioners are expected to set out plans for a new results-oriented Partnership Framework to mobilize and focus EU action and resources in their external work on managing migration. Under this Framework, the EU will seek tailor-made partnerships with key third countries of origin and transit using all policies and instruments at the EU's disposal to achieve concrete results. The priorities are saving lives at sea, increasing returns, enabling migrants and refugees to stay closer to home and, in the long term, helping third countries' development in order to address root causes of irregular migration. Member State contributions in these partnerships – diplomatic, technical and financial – will be of fundamental importance in delivering results.

June 7, 2016  China. While granting China market economy status (MES) will mean win-win results for China and the European Union, refusal to do so could put one of the world's most important trade relationships at risk. Despite media reports saying the two sides are close to a deal on the issue, there is still strong opposition among some EU policymakers and lawmakers, mainly citing the EU's internal standards for a market economy. However, either by law or by facts, it shouldn't be a difficult decision to make as to whether to grant China the MES. The protocols for China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 dictate that China will automatically switch over to market economy status when the Surrogate Country approach expires 15 years later. When the Surrogate Country approach is in effect, a third country or region's prices can be used to assess if a certain country is exporting below market value or dumping. The approach applicable to China expires on Dec. 11, 2016, according to Article 15 of the accession protocols. This means, by that day, the legal foundation for treating China as a non-market economy is gone. Whether or not China meets the EU's own standard on the MES is irrelevant.

June 6, 2016   India.  India’s merchandise exports may have suffered for a second straight year in 2015-16 in value terms, but volumes of outbound shipments rose in most cases, suggesting the contraction in export value was driven more by a global commodity price crash than by a slowdown in overseas demand, showed a report by the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT). Commodities — including organic and inorganic chemicals, cotton yarn, basmati rice, base metals, dyes, paint, varnish and allied products — recorded growth in volume terms in 2015-16 (in the range of 3.8% to over 47%) even though their export value contracted from a year before. The DGFT report is based on an analysis of 168 principal commodities — excluding petroleum and bullion products — for which data are available in both value and volume terms. The value analysis in the report is in rupee terms. This mirrored the phenomenon after the global financial crisis, when exports value suffered to a lower extent but volume growth remained almost stable (in 2009-10). In good years, though (for instance, 2010-11, when export grew nearly 40% in dollar terms), the rise in export value was driven by a broad-based and an even sharper rise in volumes, a senior commerce ministry official told FE.

June 3, 2016  Trade.  International trade restrictions already have generated substantial commentary and may loom large during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Accordingly, sound analysis of U.S. international trade regulation is particularly timely and important.  Public policies that rely on free-market forces and avoid government interventions that distort terms of international trade benefit producers, consumers, and national economies alike. “According to data in the annual [Heritage Foundation] Index of Economic Freedom, countries with low trade barriers are more prosperous than those that restrict trade.” Specifically - free and open trade has fueled vibrant competition, innovation, and economies of scale, allowing individuals and businesses to take advantage of lower prices and increased choice. As a result, billions of people around the world have escaped the constraints of subsistence farming and extreme poverty that characterized the lives of most of humanity throughout history.   

June 2, 2016  India.  India gathered momentum in the March quarter to extend its lead as the world's fastest growing large economy, helping Prime Minister Narendra Modi craft an impressive sales pitch for meetings with investors in the United States next week.
Modi is due to travel to Washington on June 7-8 where he will meet heads of top U.S. companies. Having swept to power two years ago promising to revitalize Asia's third-largest economy, Modi has boosted spending on defense and infrastructure, while consumer demand has risen thanks to lower interest rates. Those pro-growth policies helped gross domestic product grow 7.9 percent year-on-year in the March quarter, faster than the December quarter's 7.2 percent. A Reuters survey of economists had forecast growth of 7.5 in the March quarter. The strong headline number masks subdued private investment and shrinking exports, which continue to hold India back. Still, India's growth has overtaken that of fellow Asian giant China, which grew 6.7 percent in the March quarter - the slowest in the world's second largest economy in seven years. The figures from India's Statistics office also showed GDP grew 7.6 percent in the 2015/16 fiscal year that ended in March, in line with an earlier official estimate. Growth was 7.2 percent in 2014/15. Success in bringing down inflation has given the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) room to cut its policy repo rate by 150 basis points since January 2015, reducing it to 6.50 percent - the lowest level in more than five years. 

May 31, 2016  G7.   The G7 has formally endorsed many of the key initiatives that the European Union has tabled: from our intention to organise a donors’ conference, to our approach on energy security and will keep driving policies and progress in all these areas. The G7 also confirmed the intention to reach an ambitious and binding climate agreement by 2015 as they have repeatedly called for, and on development, the G7 takes action in areas in which we have led by example, such as food security, health and vaccination.”  The G7 stands united behind Ukraine - standing behind its new leadership, politically and economically. They have made clear that we stand by the citizens of Ukraine who want to live in a sovereign, free, democratic and hopefully prosperous country. The G7 has agreed that the European Commission will host a high-level donor coordination meeting next month, here in Brussels.

The G7 has re-committed to exploit to the full the enormous growth and jobs potential of keeping markets open and liberalising global trade - an aim for a rapid conclusion of ongoing trade negotiations, implement our multilateral commitments stemming from Bali, and fully support the efforts in the WTO for completing the Doha Round. Also agreed that G7 leaders have to come out stronger in public on explaining the advantages of trade opening in terms of concrete consequences on growth and jobs, addressing especially the concerns of those most vulnerable and those who feel sometimes alienated from the advantages of trade liberalization.”

May 27, 2016  China & India.  Taking a leaf out of Chinese diplomacy towards the US in the 1990s, President Pranab Mukherjee is halfway through a nearly week-long, uniquely different and hitherto untried initiative to iron out the wrinkles which have developed in Sino-Indian relations in the last one year and more. During his maiden visit since becoming President, Mukherjee chose not to start his trip in the Chinese capital as state guests to this country usually do. Instead, he chose to go to Guangzhou, where the people and Communist Party veterans have a very special affection for him. The significance of this striking deviation from the norm is that, as Pradeep Rawat, the external affairs ministry's point person for China, told reporters accompanying Mukherjee: "Guangzhou (is) the capital of Guangdong, which is the only Chinese province with an economy of over one trillion US dollars." Historically, Guangdong has been India's gateway to China. At a well-attended, high-level, day-long India-China Business Forum in Guangzhou on Wednesday, the President reeled off anecdotes and statistics about India's links with China's most economically dynamic of provinces.

May 25, 2016  The WTO Appellate Body at 30: Exploring the Limits of WTO Dispute Settlement in the Next Decade. 
An interesting read - this paper explores how far the WTO dispute settlement can take the organization as it faces the third decade since its establishment in 1995. As the capacity of the WTO to resolve trade problems is increasingly reliant on dispute settlement, since the negotiating function of the WTO continues to experience a member-induced coma, the author seeks to determine to what extent the void can successfully be filled by the current Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) and whether there might be room for innovation. The paper conducts a thought experiment to delve into what types of matters the WTO dispute settlement might deal with over the next ten years, in a rapidly evolving global trade environment, and evaluates how well equipped the Appellate Body (AB) is to address them alongside regional and plurilateral trade agreements.

May 23, 2016  Korea.  In October 2002, Korea was brought to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the European Union over the government-led restructuring in shipbuilding, semiconductor, automotive and electronics sectors in the early 2000s. After two years, the WTO ruled mostly in Korea's favor, saying the rescue plans weren't against international trade law. But it did state that subsidies to save Hynix Semiconductor, which is now SK hynix, did violate the law. "The government should let creditors handle the restructuring of shipbuilders. Any intervention must be minimized," the official said. In a meeting with reporters, last week, Employment and Labor Minister Lee Ki-kweon said the government had granted "full authority" to creditors to handle the restructuring of the industry.  "Talks with creditors and the shipbuilders should be first. It's too early to talk about any government role," Lee said. His remarks were embargoed until Sunday morning.

May 20, 2016  WTO.  In a ruling Monday, the World Trade Organization rejected U.S. rules requiring labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat identifying where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO said the requirements put Canadian and Mexican livestock at an unfair disadvantage. In 2012, the WTO had ruled against the "country of origin labeling" (COOL) requirements, which Congress originally wrote in 2002. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rewrote the rules to win WTO approval. But Monday's ruling held that the revised guidelines still violated trade rules. In its decision, the WTO said the labeling requirement forced meatpackers to segregate and keep detailed records on imported livestock, giving them an incentive to favor U.S. livestock. The WTO's decision was a victory for ranchers who do business with Mexico and for meatpackers, who said the labels imposed a paperwork burden. The ruling was a defeat for some U.S. farmers, especially those who compete with Canadian ranchers. It also was denounced by consumer groups, who complain that industries use global trade rules to get around laws they don't like.

May 18, 2016  US.  American consumers may soon be drinking cheaper lemonade but the domestic lemon industry, centered in Ventura County, has quickly soured on a proposed Agriculture Department rule to allow imports of Argentine lemons. Representatives of the industry are in Washington this week to express their concerns about pests and diseases the imports might introduce to California groves and to make the economic argument that flooding the market with cheaper Argentine lemons will harm domestic production worth $647 million in the 2013-14 growing season. Richard Pidduck, a lemon grower from Santa Paula, told USDA officials Tuesday that he and the non-profit U.S. Citrus Science Council would be opposing the rule over both disease concerns and what they contend is a flawed economic analysis of the imports’ impact on California growers. “In California, we’re not afflicted like Florida and Texas are, but the threat is imminent,” Pidduck said. He also called the USDA’s economic analysis a “dramatic understatement” of the impact.

May 17, 2016  WTO.  A recent resolution of the European Parliament denying China market economy status (MES) goes against globalization and signals the heavy presence of trade protectionism across the world, China's former chief negotiator for World Trade Organization (WTO) entry Long Yongtu said Sunday. The non-binding resolution passed on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) not to grant China market economy status, citing China's failure to fulfill five EU criteria. The European Parliament made the resolution in the interests of European nations, but it chose the wrong topic and target, Long, former Chinese vice minister for trade, said at a forum on China and globalization. A country does not need anyone else to recognize whether it is a market economy or not, Long said, stressing the European Parliament resolution is in essence protectionist and anti-globalization. China's entry into the WTO has given people in many countries access to both inexpensive and fine-quality Chinese products, he added. The resolution does not mean something has gone wrong with China's MES, and neither will it have any real impact on China, said Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian institute at the National University of Singapore.

May 13, 2016  WTO.  China called on the European Parliament on Thursday to vote in favor of granting it the market economy status, which would modify the way in which the European Union calculates penalties for unfair competition from Chinese companies. After China became a member of the World Trade Organization, or WTO, in 2001, the other members were given 15 years to recognize the country as a market economy, a condition that involves stopping the use of alternative methods (reserved for “non-market” economies) to investigate cases of dumping. “The WTO does not have a specific definition on what a market economy is and all parties should comply with the protocol of China’s accession to WTO,” Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press conference in Beijing. The deadline for granting China its market economy status expires in December this year and the EU is studying measures to mitigate the effects of this decision, which would require modifying the way of assessing cases of dumping. According to WTO rules, the EU can impose anti-dumping duties on products from third countries if an investigation shows that they are entering the European market at prices lower than the production cost and hurting EU industries.

May 12, 2016  WTO.  The United States has filed a complaint against China’s excessive tariffs on chicken imports amid the two nations’ continuous trade grapple that sheds a harsh light on their gradually disintegrating ties. According to The Wall Street Journal, Washington wants Beijing to open opportunities in their market for the American poultry farmers else the Asian giant will face trade sanctions. The filing submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) indicates that China did not comply with the previous WTO ruling that the tariffs on poultry products, particularly on chicken feet, in China should be removed because they were improperly applied. Aside from that, China also failed to deliver its duties on anti-dumping and countervailing on American chicken products in compliance with international trade rules, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman explained.   

May 11, 2016  WTO.  China is intensifying lobbying to gain "market economy status" under the World Trade Organization, in a move that would make it harder for other major economies to bring anti-dumping cases against Beijing. But Washington and many European politicians, under pressure from protesters fretting about the effect of Chinese imports on jobs, are seeking to block automatic market economy status for Beijing, which China says should be accorded in December, the 15th anniversary of its 2001 accession to the WTO. Instead, the US and Europe want to gain a few years' reprieve by requiring China to jump through hoops for market status before it contests its next anti-dumping case at the WTO. Beijing faces a political challenge to its ambitions this week when members of the European Parliament will pass a resolution on whether China's status should be upgraded. Senior members of the largest groups in the assembly have already expressed their opposition.  The timing is especially sensitive, as jobs and factories are scythed globally as a result of China-swollen surpluses in areas such as steel. In Germany and Brussels, steelworkers have taken to the streets to protest against what they call unfair Chinese competition.

May 9, 2016  WTO.  At a time when each province is bargaining to secure a larger share in the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo has cautioned that Pakistan can only reap benefits from the physical infrastructure by enacting efficient business-friendly rules, regulations and procedures at the borders.  “The CPEC is not just about hardware or mega projects in terms of infrastructure, improving roads and fixing energy problems,” he said. “All these things are very important, but they are simply not enough.  “It does not help to have the physical infrastructure if rules, regulations and procedures at the border are inefficient,” Mr Azevedo told Dawn in an exclusive interview during a recent two-day visit to Pakistan.   To maximise the project’s benefits, he suggested the Pakistani government to also focus on capacity-building of human resources, build institutional capacity and business-friendly regulations so that regional integration could take place in the most expedited fashion.  Mr Azevedo was referring to the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which would streamline, simplify and standardise customs procedures, thereby reducing the time and cost of moving goods across the border. Studies show that when fully implemented, the agreement could reduce trade costs for Pakistan by around 13pc. 

May 6, 2016  TTIP.  Climate protection, jobs, food safety and online privacy rights will be whittled away under the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an explosive tranche of leaked documents suggest. The leaked texts, which shed light on secretive EU-US trade negotiations, indicate TTIP could tear asunder environmental and consumer protections many Europeans hold dear. Greenpeace Netherlands published the documents on Tuesday to dismantle a veil of secrecy over the watershed deal and lay bare its implications for climate protection, human health, labour rights, internet privacy rights and the very social fabric of Europe itself. 

May 4, 2016  India.  The Indian government has started the process to set up a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) in the country to coordinate and implement the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) aimed at easing customs norms to expedite global trade flows, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. The NCTF, which is in line with the government’s “Ease of Doing Business” initiatives, is meant to institutionalise co-ordination on trade facilitation between the 35-plus central government departments, private players and state governments. India had ratified the TFA in April. For the TFA to be operational, two-thirds (or 108) of the 162 WTO members will have to ratify it. So far, 77 countries have ratified it. The agreement is supposed to enable domestic manufacturers connect more easily to regional and Global Value Chains, she said. Ajay Sancheti, MP and Member of the Consultative Committee, said while implementing the TFA adequate measures must be taken to protect India’s domestic industries.

May 3, 2016  US.  The more protectionist trade policy being pushed by U.S. presidential candidates could lead America to renege on global trade agreements and deal a blow to the world economy, Mexico's economy minister said on Monday. While not naming candidates, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo referred to a proposal by Republican front runner Donald Trump to levy a 35-percent tariff on many Mexican goods, which Guajardo said would violate World Trade Organization agreements and spark chaos if enacted.  "[It] will mean that you are willing to depart and break with the world trading system," Guajardo told Reuters in an interview.  "If that is the case then the world is in trouble," added Guajardo, who was in Washington for meetings with U.S. and Canadian trade officials. The United States is the world's largest economy and its trade partners are concerned by an anti-trade rhetoric that is "more intense" than normally seen in U.S. presidential campaigns, Guajardo said.  Trump has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) binding the U.S., Mexican and Canadian economies. Trump and Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton oppose a trade deal with the Asia-Pacific region recently negotiated by the Obama administration.  Guajardo said it was unclear if the candidates would follow through on their proposals if elected because trade wars would damage U.S. exporters, including agriculture and auto parts companies.  "Eventually they would start to speak," he said. Mexico has been among the world's most enthusiastic supporters of free trade since joining NAFTA in 1994. It subsequently signed trade deals with the European Union and Japan.

May 2, 2016  Air.  The scene in the crowded press facility the first morning of the 2013 Dubai Airshow was enough to rattle the pillars of international aviation — and it had nothing to do with the desert sandstorm blowing outside. A parade of the Gulf emirs in flowing white-and-gold dishdashas, surrounded respectfully by grinning top executives from Boeing and Airbus, took turns announcing orders for new jets worth more than the gross domestic product of two-thirds of the world’s nations.

In a few hours, the gulf’s three big airlines — Dubai-based Emirates, Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi and Qatar Airways — had ordered as many long-range wide-body jets as United Airlines and American Airlines had in their entire fleets combined. Emirates’ order for $99 billion worth (at list prices) broke commercial aviation records. For the great legacy airlines of the United States and Europe that had ruled the international skies for decades, the stunning display of financial firepower and competitive ambition made the show’s slogan — “The World is Coming” — seem like a threat.

It was the capstone of a supersonic climb-out for the gulf airlines that has triggered a lobbying, legal and political battle in Washington — and a parallel push in Brussels — unmatched for its rancor, even for the raucous business of international aviation. For well over a year, Delta Air Lines, United, American and their labor unions have waged a multimillion-dollar fight to get U.S. officials to block their Gulf rivals from expanding in the United States. Then-United chief executive Jeff Smisek reportedly called them “the biggest single threat to our newfound prosperity” in a July 2015 speech to the Wings Club, a professional society.

April 29, 2016  Ukraine.  The Ukrainian Economic Development and Trade Ministry plans to lift a ban on the export of raw timber from Ukraine due to the concerns of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on this issue. Deputy Economic Development Minister Natalia Mykolska said this at a government sitting on Wednesday. “Partners on the WTO are concerned about export bans, in particular, the export of timber from Ukraine, that’s why the ban should be abolished,” she said and added that for this the Ukrainian Parliament should approve a relevant bill. As Ukrinform reported, on July 8, 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law that envisaged a 10-year moratorium on the export of unprocessed timber, including roundwood. The temporary ban came into force on November 1, 2015.

April 27, 2016  US.  Americans are more likely to vote for far-right or far-left politicians in areas where local manufacturing has been gutted by U.S. trade with China. U.S. voters are undergoing an “ideological realignment” in the congressional districts most exposed to competition from Chinese imports, four leading academic economists found in a new research paper. As factories shutter, jobs disappear and local economies sputter, Americans are favoring either conservative Republicans or liberal Democrats over more centrist candidates. America’s political polarization helps explain in part the unexpected runs of anti-establishment candidates in the 2016 presidential race. Donald Trump, a Republican contender, has rallied voters with his populist rhetoric and tough talk against globalization. The billionaire businessman has pledged to slap a 45 percent tariff on U.S. imports from China. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a Democratic candidate, has pledged to keep jobs in the U.S. by opposing free trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and by supporting small businesses.

April 26, 2016  India. India today accused the US of taking "unilateral measure" to pressurise countries to accept Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection beyond WTO obligations.  "The Special 301 report issued by the US under their Trade Act of 1974 is a unilateral measure to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the TRIPS agreement," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. She said India continues to be placed on the priority watch list under the US Special 301 on account of US assessment of Indian IPR (intellectual property right) protection being inadequate.  Under the WTO regime, any dispute between two countries needs to be referred to the dispute settlement body of the WTO and unilateral actions are not tenable under this regime, she said adding Special 301 which is an "extra territorial" application of the domestic law of a country is inconsistent with the established norms of the WTO. 

April 25, 2016  Philippines.  Despite weak global demand, the Philippines is capable of achieving its exports growth target of eight to nine percent this year on the back of strong services sector, Standard Chartered Bank said. Jeff Ng, regional economist for Asia at Standard Chartered Bank, told The STAR the Department of Trade and Industry’s ambitious exports growth target this year is attainable, but would require heavy lifting from the services sector. So far, Ng said the country’s services exports have expanded strongly in recent years with demand for travel, computer, and financial services increasing. “If it is combined exports then definitely there’s some potential and some challenges given that goods exports continue to face some weak demand on the Philippines top three trade partners – Japan, China and the US. Goods demand is not that great but if you look at services exports, they are 40 percent of total exports so if services exports can grow double digits it can at least offset the weakness in goods exports,” Ng said. “So it (eight to nine percent exports growth) is possible especially if the services more than offset what the defect from exports could be. If you look at the weak demand so far, commodity prices are so low so it is weighing on the export as well. So if that reverses, we could see goods exports start to recover by the end of the year and that could be positive,” Ng said. Latest data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) showed combined exports of goods and services of the Philippines reached $87 billion last year, nearly the same as the $86.9 billion in 2014.

April 22, 2016  India. India today is termed as “unfortunate” in the recent WTO ruling which held the Centre’s power purchase agreements with solar firms as “inconsistent” with international norms and said it will raise the issue during a high-level UN event this week. “It is unfortunate that when India has launched such a big renewable programme, very small portion of it is in a way reserved for India’s small entrepreneurs. “We will definitely flag this issue because this shows that the way we are going green. The developed world should not have objections on such a small thing,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said. During a recent meeting of BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – held in New Delhi, China had come out in support of India’s decision to file an appeal against the WTO ruling. Mr Javadekar will sign the Paris Agreement on behalf of India on April 22 at a high-level signature ceremony convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He will also attend the Major Economic Forum meeting on April 23-24. Ruling against India, the World Trade Organization (WTO) had recently said the government’s power purchase agreements with solar firms were “inconsistent” with international norms — a matter in which the US had filed a complaint before the global trade body alleging discrimination against American firms. The US had dragged India to WTO on this issue in 2014, alleging the clause relating to Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) in the country’s solar power mission were discriminatory in nature and “nullified” the benefits accruing to American solar power developers.

April 21, 2016  Wheat.  Canadian farmers are among those being disadvantaged by wheat subsidies in advanced developing countries like China, India, Turkey and Brazil, according to two U.S. groups. The U.S. Wheat Associates and the U.S. National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) pegged the annual cost to Canadian farmers at about 249,000 tonnes in lost sales and $251.9 million in lower prices. Previously the groups commissioned a similar study which found subsidies offered to Chinese farmers lowered American wheat prices by $550 million a year, predicted to rise to $653 million for 2016.

April 20, 2016  WTO & China.  United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement today after learning that the High Level Dialogue at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development was unable to advance a global framework to address steel overcapacity. "Today the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) learned that China refused to join in developing a comprehensive multilateral framework to reign in overcapacity in the steel sector. China is the single largest contributor to overcapacity in the sector as it has fueled the rise of its domestic steel companies through a combination of subsidies and other support. China's policies have decimated U.S. steel producers and led to the layoff of more than 13,500 workers. Last week, the USTR held two days of hearings on this topic and witness after witness gave testimony on the crisis in the sector. "When China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), proponents argued that it would lead to that country's transformation to a more market-based approach. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. In fact, in recent years, China has backslid on some of the few reforms it had announced. China has repeatedly announced its intention to reduce overcapacity in the steel sector, but the facts speak louder than words. Its capacity has continued to grow.

April 19, 2016  India.  NEW DELHI India's trade deficit narrowed for the third straight month in March to $5.07 billion, the lowest in five years, as imports shrank at a faster pace than exports, data showed on Monday. Although exports for the year ending March were the weakest since 2010/11, down 15.85 percent from a year ago, the narrowing trade gap showed that India - the world's third-largest crude importer - has been a net beneficiary of the collapse in oil prices. The positive shift in the terms of trade has helped shield India from a slowing global economy and helped it outperform other major emerging economies, its economic growth outpacing China's while Brazil and Russia are contracting. Yet analysts said prospects for export growth remain bleak, with global trade forecast to expand by just 2.8 percent in 2016 by the World Trade Organization.  "We expect Indian exports to continue performing poorly in 2016/17 (April-March) due to subdued global economic growth and still-depressed commodity prices," said Chua Han Teng of BMI Research, a unit of rating agency Fitch. "Additionally, strength of the Indian rupee in real effective exchange rate terms will also have a negative impact on the country's exports," he said. Merchandise exports INIMP=ECI contracted 5.5 percent in March from a year earlier to $22.7 billion, data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed. For the whole of 2015/16, total exports were down 15.9 percent from a year ago to $261.1 billion. Imports fell 15.3 percent to $379.6 during the same period.  India' economy is now expected to grow 7.5 percent this year and next, according to the International Monetary Fund. Its current account deficit remained under control at 1.3 percent of gross domestic product in the quarter to December, the most recent figure available.

April 18, 2016  WTO.  Business leaders from the Group of 20 (G20) gathered here on Sunday to discuss policy recommendations for the world economic governance. "I think it's absolutely important and it's actually critical at this moment to bring private sector into this global debating because you have huge role to play in today's economic and financial environment," said Zhu Min, deputy managing director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the opening of Business 20 (B20) China First Joint Taskforce Meeting. Zhu said the space of governments' monetary policies and fiscal policies have been narrowed much as a quarter of the world economies have suffered negative interest rates at present and advanced economies' government debt have increased 42 percent in the past eight years. Yi Xiaozhun, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said business involvement is very important for the global trade agenda, from pushing government to ratify international trade agreement to improving coherence between countries on trade and investment policies. "The WTO welcomes a forthcoming policy dialogue with the B20 on issues such as electronic commerce, to discuss how this might change the trade map on the ground and potentially have implications for the global trading system," said Yi. B20 is a significant forum through which the international business community can participate in global economic governance and international economic and trade regulation, especially by providing policy recommendations for the annual meeting of the G20 leaders.

April 15, 2016  China.  China has agreed to scrap some export subsidies on a range of products from metals to agriculture and textiles, the United States said on Thursday, in a step by Beijing to reduce trade frictions with Washington. China ended a programme which provided export subsidies of some US$1 billion over three years to Chinese companies in seven economic sectors, the US Trade Representative’s office said. Some industry executives were sceptical about the deal’s impact given remaining disputes over other supports that China give to its exporting industries. Steel has been a particular flashpoint. One source knowledgeable about the agreement said it was not comprehensive enough to do much to help the US steel industry, given its focus was only on specialty steel products. In part, the dropping of the subsidies is an effort by China to move away from labour-intensive production and emphasise more-sophisticated industries such as semiconductors. “The Chinese want to become a high-tech country. They want to move up the value chain,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

April 14, 2016  Indonesia.  Indonesia is ready to ratify the World Trade Organization (WTO) multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), a top official has said. Negotiations on the TFA, which aims to ease customs procedures and facilitate the movement, release and clearance of goods, were concluded at the WTO Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013. Trade Ministry director general for international trade negotiations Imam Pambagyo said the TFA was in the same spirit as Indonesia's National Single Window (INSW) scheme, that also aims to ease customs clearance and speed up the movement of goods. "It is still in the process [of ratification]. Hopefully it can be immediately included in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas). [...] The agreement is in line with our policy," he said on Wednesday in Jakarta. Indonesia wants the agreement to be implemented by all WTO members to ease export requirements, Iman said. For example, exporting goods to South America or the Middle East obliges Indonesian exporters to report to their embassy first.  

April 13, 2016  ASEAN.  If ASEAN were one economy, it would be seventh-largest in the world—$2.4 trillion combined GDP in 2013,” Stephen Groff, vice president for operations at the Asian Development Bank, recently noted. “It could be fourth largest by 2050 if growth trends continue.” One of the key enablers of economic growth in the region is free-trade agreements (FTAs) among nations. Free-trade agreements are viewed as a way to attract foreign direct investment and provide greater economic growth to member nations. Reducing trade restrictions allows industries to tap into new markets, advance their reach and increase their consumer base.

However, while the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is slowly emerging as a strong, single market in the region, the economics of trade has conjured a problem challenging its efficacy. In the last decade, trade liberalization initiatives have prospered across Asia and the Pacific. According to the World Trade Organization there are some 267 bilateral or multilateral FTAs in force—at least among those notified to the WTO. The plethora of these overlapping and complex bilateral free-trade agreements among member nations of ASEAN is brimming with the risk of becoming ungainly, creating an intricate bowl of noodles. Having a high number of preferential bilateral trade agreements defeats the overall purpose of entities like ASEAN in the first place and challenges a fair trade environment.

By reducing or eliminating tariff and nontariff barriers, FTAs lead to greater specialization and division of labor, as every country tends to concentrate on producing goods and offering services in which it has a competitive advantage. In theory, the ultimate benefit of FTAs is gained by consumers, as increased competition means more products on shelves at lower prices.

There are also noneconomic benefits to FTAs. Politically, they are more than a simple tool for open dialogue between nations. They provide a platform where member nations can discuss pressing issues and identify potential solutions through active participation and cooperation, improving their bilateral relations. Most, if not all, FTAs have political or strategic motives. The European Union receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 shows that regional cooperation agreements can involve more than just economic imperatives.

April 12, 2016  Germany.  Tens of thousands of German steelworkers have taken to the streets, demanding more action against the dumping of cheap Chinese imports and greater job protection amid uncertainty over the industry in Europe. According to Germany's engineering union, IG Metall, about 45,000 workers took part in protests throughout Germany on Monday, demanding a "future for steel" in Europe. The steel industry employs 87,000 people in Germany, which unlike many other EU countries still has a strong manufacturing base. During the main rally in Duisburg, Günter Back - the head of steelmaker ThyssenKrupp's central works council - warned management to include workers in any consolidation plans or face mass walkouts. "We are not prepared to be bystanders if you are in your back rooms making plans for us," he told a crowd of 17,000 steelworkers. 

April 11, 2016  Taiwan.  Taiwan climbed three places to 17th in the global rankings of merchandise suppliers last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Friday in Taipei, citing WTO statistics. Due to a plunge in international crude oil prices, several oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates fell out the top 10 merchandise supplier list, which gave Taiwan a chance to climb in the rankings, the ministry said. Taiwan’s merchandise exports fell by an annual 10.8 percent to US$285 billion last year, compared with the average global decline of 13.2 percent, the ministry said. 

April 8, 2016  WTO.  On 4 April, Brazil requested consultations with Indonesia and with Thailand under the WTO’s dispute settlement system. One case concerns Indonesia’s measures applied to bovine meat imported from Brazil; the other case concerns subsidies allegedly provided by Thailand to its sugar sector. The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.

April 5, 2016  US & China. A year and a half ago, negotiators from the United States persuaded the Chinese government to commit to a deadline for reversing the growth in greenhouse gas emissions from China. The Obama administration portrayed the pledge as a major victory because China produces more of the gases that cause global warming than any other country, a quarter of the world’s total. Though the deadline was far off, in 2030, environmentalists said the concession by Beijing was a significant breakthrough in efforts to coordinate a global response to climate change. Now, some researchers examining recent energy data and the slowing Chinese economy are asking whether emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are already falling in China — more than a decade earlier than expected. If so, there could be important consequences. China’s success could energize worldwide efforts to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or two degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels, considered a difficult mission but critical for forestalling catastrophic environmental changes.It could also put pressure on the United States and other nations to meet their own goals and set more ambitious ones. It would certainly blunt the argument made by those who say Washington should not make ambitious climate commitments because China is the world’s main climate villain.   

April 1, 2016  WTO.  A World Trade Organization panel published its report March 29 in the case brought by Argentina regarding the EU antidumping measures on Argentinian biodiesel imports. The EBB regards the panel decision as a first episode in the legal battle engaged by Argentina and Indonesia in the WTO and before the European Court. EBB expects the European Commission to appeal the questionable parts of the panel report for review by the appellate body. While EBB notes with satisfaction that the WTO panel does not put into question the possibility of adjustments of costs and prices, as provided in the EU legislation, it fails to understand how the panel could under these circumstances come to the conclusion that the method used by the EC, in order to correct distortions caused by the Argentinean differential export tax (DET) system, was in violation of WTO law. The government of Argentina initiated the proceeding at WTO level in December 2013, asking for the annulment of the EU antidumping measures. This action is part of a larger landscape of legal disputes over the EU antidumping duties on imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, as the government of Indonesia has lodged a similar request for consultations six months following Argentina’s complaint. In parallel, a number of proceedings in the case have been lodged by Argentinean and Indonesian producers at the European Court of Justice. The EBB is active in defending the European industry on all these fronts and says it remains optimistic that it will be successful in convincing the WTO and the European Court to recognize the massive damages suffered by the EU biodiesel producers as a result of unfair imports.

March 31, 2016  WTO.  Canada is turning to the World Trade Organization in its challenge of a trade action by the United States that slaps a series of costly duties on Canadian mills that produce glossy paper. International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada has filed a request for consultations with the WTO. The notice represents the first step in the organization's dispute-settlement process. The move follows Canada's decision in November to request a binational panel review, under Chapter 19 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada turned to NAFTA after the U.S. International Trade Commission decided to impose the duties on paper, which is used for a variety of products including magazines, catalogues, corporate brochures and advertising inserts. The commission said it was acting because the U.S. paper industry had been hurt by subsidized imports of this kind of paper from Canada. The U.S. said they would impose duties ranging from 17.87 per cent to 20.18 per cent against Canadian mills. "Our government is committed to defending the interests of Canadian companies," Freeland said in a statement. "We are pursuing this matter in both binational and multilateral bodies to ensure trade practices are fair, allowing businesses to operate on a level playing field." The duties affect paper producers in Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia.

March 30, 2016.  WTO.  The World Trade Organization ruled on Tuesday in favor of several claims by Argentina against anti-dumping duties imposed on its biodiesel imports by the European Union, but said the EU regulation at the heart of the dispute did not violate WTO rules. The ruling by a WTO dispute panel in the case, begun in late 2013, called on the EU to bring its measures into conformity. Both sides have 60 days to appeal.  Argentina, a major exporter of biodiesel, called the EU measures protectionist. The EU argued that Argentina was "dumping" or selling biodiesel at below the cost of production and harming local producers. Argentina's Foreign Ministry issued a statement welcoming the ruling. It said being blocked from the European Union had cost the country almost $1.6 billion in lost biodiesel sales per year. A separate case brought by Indonesia against EU anti-dumping duties on imports of biodiesel from Jakarta is pending at the Geneva-based trade watchdog. The WTO panel rejected Argentina's claim that a central article of the EU regulation "as such" violated the WTO's anti-dumping agreement, but upheld other claims that the EU had acted inconsistently with the pact.   

March 29, 2016.  EU.   A decision on the issue is being forced by the expiry in December 2016 of a provision in China's accession to the WTO 15 years ago that declares it a non-market economy. That designation provides the legal basis for many of China's trading partners -- most notably the EU, U.S., and Japan -- to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods like steel and cement. The consequences of giving China market status could cost several million jobs in Europe and the US. There are currently 52 anti-dumping measures against China in the EU in major industries like steel, chemicals and ceramics. In the U.S., there are a host of anti-dumping cases ranging from the steel and aluminum industries to solar panels. Not to mention likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calling for 45% tariffs on Chinese goods. If China is granted market status, the legal tool of anti-dumping measures in regard to Chinese exports will need to be redefined and may be greatly diminished. A number of countries have accepted that China now has a market economy. But most major economies - the U.S., EU, Japan, India, Canada, and Mexico - do not. Some countries, like Australia, are negotiating the issue with Beijing. China argues that with the expiry of the non-market provision, it should automatically be granted market status for its economy. But the legal language is ambiguous at best. It is silent on whether automatic market status follows.

March 28, 2016.  WTO.   The government said India will appeal against the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) verdict over its policy relating to solar power equipment. “The U.S. made it a prestige issue. It is very unfortunate that they pursued the complaint in the WTO. It reflects the hollowness of the U.S.’ commitment to clean energy,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said while addressing CII-Young Indians Summit. India had, as part of its National Solar Mission, imposed a stipulation that solar cells and solar modules be locally sourced. The U.S. had filed a case against India at the WTO demanding a level-playing field for Indian and foreign solar component manufacturers. The world body ruled in favour of the U.S. India’s capacity to produce solar components and solar cells comprises only a portion of the demand in India, the Minister said. This means that the foreign component makers would still have a substantial market to cater to. “Yet, they filed a complaint. It is a myopic view,” Goyal said. Indian manufacturers had a complaint against the U.S. counterparts for dumping in India, he said. This would have attracted huge anti-dumping penalties and duties for the U.S. manufacturers, had it been pursued.

March 25, 2016.  Good Friday.

March 24, 2016.  WTO.  The third review of the trade policies and practices of the Maldives takes place on 21 and 23 March 2016. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of the Maldives.

March 23, 2016.  WTO.  As India drags the United States before the World Trade Organization (WTO) over a spike in American visa fees for foreign workers, the stakes go well beyond the few thousand dollars required for paperwork. It is the first time two countries have clashed over visas at the international trade arbiter and reflects the changing nature of global commerce. India generates more than US$100 billion (S$136 billion) from a services industry that depends on sending citizens to the US and other countries to develop software, set up computing systems and repair broken technologies. It argues that the US’ move to double the cost of visas for these skilled workers constitutes protectionism and violates the WTO’s principles for fair trade. The US contends the policy is more about immigration than trade. The visa programme has generated controversy because of concerns it is used to replace American workers with lower-cost employees from abroad. It has become a hot-button issue in the US presidential campaign, drawing fire from candidates.

March 21, 2016.  Viet Nam. With the rapid expansion of a young, style-conscious middle class after many years of economic growth of over 5 percent, demand for automobiles has surged. The recent jump in prices of imported cars due to a new methodology for calculating special consumption tax is unlikely to put the brakes on the automobile market. From January 1 the tax is calculated on an imported car’s retail price and no longer on the cost, insurance freight (CIF) price before the addition of duties and markups. The change has reportedly forced auto importers to increase their prices by 2-13 percent. As a member of the World Trade Organization since 2007, Vietnam cannot directly raise duties on imported cars to the benefit of local companies, thus the special consumption tax. Sales have not changed much since the new rule came into effect, and customers still pay deposits in advance and wait for two to five months to get their cars. The prices would rise further when the special consumption tax on cars with engines of more than three liters, including motor homes, is hiked to 150 percent in July. The tax is now 15-60 percent depending on the number of seats and engine size. Most of these big cars are made by Japanese and European luxury brands. 

March 18, 2016.  US.  The U.S. aluminum, steel and textile industries are ramping up pressure on President Barack Obama not to declare China a “market economy” this year, a decision they say would put hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs at risk by weakening anti-dumping protections. “Our industries can compete against any other market-oriented competitors, but we cannot compete against the Chinese government,” Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, said in a statement provided to POLITICO from the newly formed Manufacturers for Trade Enforcement coalition representing 800,000 direct manufacturing jobs. China believes it is entitled to market economy status as of Dec. 11, which is the 15th anniversary of its entry into the World Trade Organization. But as that date approaches, the United States and many other governments are taking the position the upgrade is not automatic. The declaration would require the Commerce Department to change how it calculates Chinese “dumping” and could lead to significantly lower duties on steel and other products. 

March 16, 2016.  WTO. The 16th Annual WTO Conference will take place on June 10-11, 2016 in Geneva.  The Conference was originally established in 2000 through a partnership between the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and the Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL) at Georgetown Law. The 16th edition of the Conference is organized jointly by BIICL, IIEL, the Graduate Institute, Geneva and the Society of International Economic Law (SIEL). As originally established by University Professor John H. Jackson of Georgetown, and Professor Sir Francis Jacobs, KCMG, QC, a Trustee of BIICL, the Annual WTO Conference has a longstanding affiliation with the Journal of International Economic Law (JIEL), published by the Oxford University Press. The Annual WTO Conference is one of the most important and prestigious conferences addressing developments in international trade law, pursuing cutting-edge issues of interest to academics and practitioners alike.

March 15, 2016.  Canada.   Canada's international trade minister says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's official visit to Washington helped secure a "real breakthrough" in the contentious softwood lumber negotiations. "We have now managed to get the Americans to the table, we have managed to raise attention to this issue at the very highest levels," Chrystia Freeland said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio's The House. "We have the U.S. president announcing in the Rose Garden that he believes a deal can and must be done. That's tremendous," she said. "I don't want to downplay to anyone the complexity — the fiendish complexity — of the softwood lumber issue [but] this was a real breakthrough," she said.

March 11, 2016.  WTO.  China yesterday urged the European Union to obey the rules of the World Trade Organization and stop its unfair treatment of China. Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks following comments by EU Trade Minister Cecilia Malmstrom, who said on Wednesday that the EU must maintain solid trade defenses even if the 28-member bloc decides to grant China market economy status. China joined the WTO in 2001. The WTO accession protocol means China will automatically transit to a market economy for Europe by December 11, the 15th anniversary of its accession to the body. However, Europe insists this must be debated. “We’ve heard different opinions on China’s market economy status from the EU recently,” Hong said, noting China had fulfilled its obligations since becoming a member of WTO. So far, over 80 countries, including Russia, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia, have recognized China’s status as a market economy. China is now the EU’s second-largest trading partner. The EU is a vital supporting force to the multilateral trade and international legal systems, Hong said.

March 10, 2016.  WTO.  The temperature in India-US trade relations has suddenly risen. First, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in favour of the US which challenged India's norms for local content in imported solar power equipment under its subsidy programme. Right after that, India complained against the US to the WTO for doubling fees for issuing non-immigrant temporary work visas like H-1Bs, widely used by Indian software companies to send workers to the US to work on projects there. What is more, the US president, Barack Obama, has said that "we can't have other countries cheating" and "we have just won a case against India." The temperature within the US has also risen with both Democratic (Bernie Sanders) and Republican (Ted Cruz and Donald Trump) presidential aspirants targeting the US visa regime for allowing the import of cheap labour which they claimed was taking away jobs from US workers. The importance of the issue can be gauged from the fact that Mr Trump first spoke in favour of giving more visas to highly skilled foreign workers during a presidential debate - but right after that issued a statement which called the H-1B visa "a cheap labour programme" which was "rampant with abuse" and pledged to ensure that American workers were hired "first" for "every visa and immigration programme".

The Indian concern, articulated by Nasscom, the software industry association, is that the doubling of visa fees will add $400 million in annual costs to the industry and reduce profit margins of leading companies by 50-60 basis points. Indian temporary workers pay a billion dollars a year in social security contributions whose benefits they are mostly unable to use. WTO rules prohibit imposing fees to restrict the number of temporary workers. Fees should not serve as an independent form of restriction but be levied only to recover costs. The upshot of this will be that the US, as a result of the doubling of visa , will be treating Indian workers in the US less favourably than their American counterparts. What is most irksome is that the way the higher visa fees have been made applicable - to companies with more than 50 employees or more than 50 per cent of their US employees on H-1B and L-1 visas. This means they will not be payable by an IBM but by an Infosys. The fundamental concern for India is that under the WTO's trade and investment liberalisation regimes, just as India has to lower entry barriers for goods and investment, its export of services through the movement of natural persons or temporary workers should not face entry barriers. However, the Doha round of trade negotiations which should have addressed such issues has not moved forward - in large part due to Indian intransigence. The only long-term solution which satisfies issues of both equity and economics is for workers in developed countries to move to jobs requiring higher skills, thus leaving jobs requiring lower skills for workers from poorer countries. 

March 9, 2016.  WTO.  Trade tensions between India and the United States intensified on Friday as New Delhi filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over steep fee increases for US non-immigrant temporary work visas. The WTO said in a statement that India has disputed the doubling of the fees for H-1B and L-1 work visas and limits on their numbers. The visas are typically used by thousands of Indian nationals hired by information technology services firms operating in the United States. The complaint comes just days after the United States won a WTO ruling in favor of its challenge to India's domestic content rules for its solar power subsidy program after months of negotiations failed to produce a settlement. In its filing, India said the new U.S. visa measures seemed inconsistent with the WTO commitments the United States had made, because the moves treat Indian IT workers in the United States less favourably than their American counterparts. In December, the U.S. Congress doubled the cost of sponsoring H-1B visas to USD4,000 each and L-1 visas to USD4,500 each as part of a major spending bill. Indian business lobby NASSCOM estimated that would inflate costs for Indian IT export firms by USD400 million a year. India is upset that the visa fees were raised without consultation. Its USD150 billion outsourcing sector provides about three quarters of the country's annual revenue from the United States. The outsourcing companies send thousands of staff every year to work at client locations. 

March 4, 2016.  WTO.  Brazil will challenge Thailand at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over subsidies for sugar producers that it says have dragged down global prices for the sweetener, the Trade Ministry said. Brazil said the Thai government has given support to cane growers and sugar mills that is inconsistent with international trade agreements, allowing the Asian country to win market share at the expense of Brazilian producers. "These subsidies have been subject of several questionings at different committees in the WTO, but we saw no signs of changes," the Brazilian Trade Ministry said in a statement. Although WTO cases take years before a ruling is reached, the move could potentially shake up the global sugar market, given that Brazil and Thailand are the world's two largest exporters of the sweetener. Last year, Brazilian sugar producers said they were gathering evidence to launch the case against Thailand and India for subsidies they say could cost them $1.2 billion a year in revenue. Brazil said Thailand's favorable policies towards its sugar sector had the effect of raising the country's exports as a share of the global market from 12.1 percent to 15.8 percent in the past four years. Over the same period, Brazil fell to 44.7 percent from 50 percent, according to the ministry.

March 2, 2016.  WTO. The director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo, paid a visit this Tuesday (01) to the Qatari capital, Doha, and stressed that the organization can support Qatar’s economic goals. “Qatar has a solid vision for its people and its economy. Trade and the WTO have already helped to implement this vision and will continue to do so,” Azevêdo was quoted as saying in a WTO press release. The WTO chief met with Qatar’s Economy and Commerce minister Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani, the chairman of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce Khalifa Bin Jassim Al-Thani, and the national committee for WTO-related affairs. He also attended an event organized by the Qatar Business Association.

Azevêdo remarked that Qatar plans on becoming a trade and financial hub, and that “reducing the time and cost of moving goods across the border can make a big difference.” He remarked that the Trade Facilitation Agreement, whose discussions involved the WTO, is designed to address that problem, and said the country must ratify it. “By making trade flow more easily, this agreement can also support Qatar’s economic diversification,” he asserted.  

March 1, 2016.  WTO.  At the invitation of the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade, Mr. Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD, undertook an advisory mission to Tehran on 27 February 2016. The purpose of the visit was to discuss possible technical assistance and capacity building that UNCTAD could provide in the context of Iran’s trade-related reforms in particular accession to the WTO. 

February 26, 2016.  WTO.  In a setback to India, a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has ruled in favour of the US in its challenge to New Delhi’s alleged discrimination against US solar exports, according to US Trade Representative (USTR). The panel agreed with the US that India’s “localisation” rules discriminated against imported solar cells and modules under India’s National Solar Mission, according to an official news release citing USTR Michael Froman. India’s domestic content requirements, it agreed, discriminate against US solar cells and modules by requiring solar power developers to use Indian-manufactured cells and modules rather than US or other imported solar technology in breach of international trade rules. The panel also rejected India’s defensive arguments and determined that India’s local content requirements are inconsistent with the national treatment obligations in Article 2.1 of the Agreement on Trade-related Investment Measures (TRIMs Agreement) and Article III:4 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994. The USTR called it “an important outcome, not just as it applies to this case, but also as other countries consider localization policies.”

February 24, 2016.  WTO.  The Korea Customs Service announced on February 22 that Korea’s exports totaled US$58.7 billion between January 1 and February 20 this year, down 18.3% from a year ago, and the amount for February fell 17.3% year on year to US$22.16 billion. The value of exports dropped year on year for the 13th consecutive month in January. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Korea’s exports reached US$36.623 billion in January this year, 18.8% less than a year earlier. The rate of decrease is higher than those of China (11.2%), Japan (12.8%), Taiwan (12.9%), India (13.6%) and Brazil (17.9%). To compound the matter, Korea’s export conditions are becoming worse and worse. Its exports showed a decline of 8% last year while the rate of decrease went up from 3.0% to 7.3%, 9.5% and then to 11.9% in the respective quarters. In particular, the decline in the export to China, which accounts for approximately 25% of the total exports, increased from 6.8% to 16.5% and then to 21.6% between November last year and last month.

February 22, 2016.  WTO.   At the last count, something like 619 regional trade agreements had been notified to the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is a number that is set to grow as the global economic balance of power changes, political blocs proliferate, and all countries come to accept that a single agreement of the kind envisaged in the Doha Round is no longer achievable. In this, the Caribbean, having failed to deepen its regional economic integration process and to make itself a more attractive trade partner, is being left behind. In contrast to other regions, there appears to be no new Caribbean thinking on trade policy, and no desire to involve industries and social partners in developing new common approaches that might spur regional economic growth. Instead, some countries speak darkly about bilateral initiatives with Latin or other partners, or wait to see how a possible Cuba-EU trade relationship might alter the regional balance vis-a-vis the Dominican Republic. The implication is that regional trade policy is stagnating while the rest of the world is moving on. In an indication of the type of new international thinking informing such matters, a recent briefing paper from the India-based development organisation, CUTS International, addresses the importance of involving fully, representatives of non-state entities in order to develop and deliver the best trade and social outcomes.

February 19, 2016.   Korea.  Korea is now the world’s sixth-largest exporter, World Trade Organization rankings show. Shipments from Korea totaled $526.9 billion in 2015, down nearly 8 percent from a year ago as global markets slumbered. But its share of world trade grew by 0.11 percentage point to 3.46 percent, pushing the country a notch up to its highest level in the WTO rankings. Global trade shrunk more than 10 percent last year. 

February 18, 2016.   WTO. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has not received any official requests from Russia or Ukraine to consider the situation with the suspension of cargo transport transit, a source in the WTO told TASS. "The WTO is not going to do anything unless it has an official complaint by one of the parties. If one of the parties says this is against the WTO rules, they can submit the case to the Dispute Settlement Body. If not, if nobody complains officially to the WTO, WTO is not going to say anything or make any comments, or take any position on the issue. That what happens normally. So there is no opinion of the WTO, no position of the WTO unless there is an official complaint by one of the parties," the source said.

February 16, 2016.  China & WTO.  A Ministry of Commerce (MOC) official on Sunday said that he expected the European Commission (EC) to strictly follow the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on its anti-dumping investigation into Chinese steel exports. On Feb. 13, the EC said in a notice that it would investigate steel imports including seamless tubes and launch provisional anti-dumping measures on cold-rolled flat steel products originating from China. The MOC official said the EC should be prudent, restrained and lawful in employing trade remedy instruments. China always advocates dialogue to tackle the problems, the official said.

February 12, 2016.  WTO.  The World Trade Organization has declared a series of specific duties, applied on textile, apparel and footwear imports, to be illegal. Colombia intends to appeal against the complaint, originally submitted by Panama. The complaint focused on the fact that Colombia is applying a systematic 10% duty on imported goods, to which another variable tax is added, in defiance of WTO regulations. This leads taxation to exceed the 35-40% ceiling agreed to by the WTO and Colombia. Through this fiscal device Colombia intended to fight against illegal imports, that seek to bypass customs to circumvent basic taxation. However, WTO investigators have failed to obtain clear evidence that the fiscal device is indeed targeted at fighting customs evasion, and is not merely a protectionist measure. In the end, such duties are mostly part of the Colombian state's strategy aimed, over the course of many years, at relocating production. This happens chiefly in the textile industry, where the government estimated that the laws passed in 2013 would have previously allowed a 20% reduction in apparel and footwear imports.

February 10, 2016.  TPP.  The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations reached a final agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Oct. 5, 2015. The signatories to the trade accord have a combined population of 800 million and account for 40 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product. China, one of the most important trading partners in the Asia Pacific, is not yet a TPP member. China might lose 2.2 percent of its GDP if it did not join the agreement, according to an article by Ma Jun, the chief economist of the People’s Bank of China’s research department. Some believe the US-led trading bloc is aimed at isolating China. The view is one-sided. China also considered joining the TPP but has yet to accept all the terms of agreement. India, another giant economy, has not joined the TPP, either. Is that a sign that the US wanted to isolate India? The TPP is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements. It intends to boost mutual economic benefits and expand global trade.

February 9, 2016.  India.  Domestic solar manufacturers are alarmed over a proposal the government has sent to the World Trade Organization, seeking compromise in the dispute over the domestic content requirement in India's solar programme, prompting some firms to put their expansion on hold. The dispute began in February 2013, when the US protested to WTO that domestic content requirement (DCR) component in Phase II of India's Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was inconsistent with three separate agreements reached at WTO, to which India was a signatory. DCR provides all solar developers who opt for locally made panels and modules a subsidy of up to Rs 1 crore for every megawatt installed. 

February 5, 2016.  Germany & China. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to push the European Union to abide by its World Trade Organization (WTO) promises to Beijing, amid debate in Europe over whether to grant China market economy status. Li, speaking to Merkel by telephone, said Germany should "properly resolve" the EU-China trade disputes as well as promote negotiations on an EU-China investment agreement, according to a statement on the Chinese government's website.  Li was quoted as telling Merkel, "We hope Germany pushes the EU to duly fulfill the relevant promises" laid out in the document on China's accession to the WTO.  He did not elaborate but the comments come a week after the European Union's 28 commissioners discussed for the first time the issue of granting China "market economy status" from December, which Beijing says is its right 15 years after it joined the WTO.  That status would make it harder for Europe to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods sold at knock-down prices, changing the criteria for determining a fair price.  Li also told Merkel that China was "highly concerned" about the humanitarian issues surrounding Syria, and had provided humanitarian assistance to Syria and other countries.  Last year, during a trip to China, Merkel said Germany favored granting China market economy status in principle, but that Beijing still had work to do, including further opening its public procurement markets. 

February 3, 2016.  India.  The Indian Government has reportedly sent a proposal to the U.S., which would see its domestic content program modified. According to Bridge to India, it has proposed removing DCR requirements for private sector projects. In doing this, the government states it is complying with WTO guidelines. In February of 2013, the U.S. requested World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement consultations with the Indian Government regarding India’s DCR under its national solar policy, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), launched in 2010. The WTO ruled last August that the requirements violate global trade rules.  The government appealed the decision, thus giving itself up to two years to continue operating under the requirements. A final ruling was then expected last Friday, January 29. A WTO trade official confirmed to pv magazine today that the decision has been postponed, however. Next Friday could see a decision announced, although a firm date has not been set. The official had not heard about the proposal and could not offer up any further details. 

February 1, 2016.  Iowa caucuses today. US election moves to next level.  

January 29, 2016.  TPP.  North America's three foreign ministers will be all smiles when they meet Friday to discuss the upcoming Canadian-hosted leaders' summit, but Canada and Mexico may bring some lingering resentment towards their American amigo on trade.Mexico's former ambassador to Canada said the United States jeopardized relations with its two continental neighbours when it struck a side deal with Japan on trade in automobiles last summer during the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.A landmark 12-country Pacific Rim trade deal, which covers 40 per cent of the world economy, was eventually struck in October. Canada plans to sign the deal next month before consulting with Parliament on future ratification.But the U.S.-Japan side deal on autos dashed hopes of an earlier agreement on the TPP when the countries met in August in Hawaii.Former Mexican ambassador Francisco Suarez told The Canadian Press that the Japan-U.S. deal placed the entire TPP in jeopardy and caught Canada and Mexico off guard."The side agreement between Japan and the United States was unacceptable," Suarez said in a recent interview. His successor took over in Canada this week."Canada and Mexico said in Hawaii: no go with that."The American deal would have raised the percentage of Japanese parts in cars in North America's highly integrated auto sector. A compromise was eventually reached, but Suarez said it could have turned out a whole lot worse for the fate of the TPP. 

January 28, 2016.  WTO.   Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ambassador Roberto Azevêdo, has lauded the strategies implemented by Government to facilitate trade and to ensure the ease of doing business in the country. “You cannot have successful trade policies without having an environment which is friendly for business and I think Jamaica has done a tremendous effort in this area, moving up in the ranking of the ease of doing business list,” he said. The World Bank Doing Business 2015 Report revealed that Jamaica moved up 27 places from the 85th position it held in the 2014 report to 58 last year, among 189 countries. Jamaica now has the Caribbean’s highest ranking in the ease of doing business. Speaking recently on the JIS television programme, ‘Issues and Answers’, Ambassador Azevêdo said that trade facilitation is extremely important, particularly in island states, “where inter-connectivity is a problem, where the cost of trade is usually higher and lack of scale, because of the size of the economy.”

January 26, 2016.  WTO.  The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) unveiled today its fifth annual ICC G20 Business Scorecard, which rates G20 responsiveness to key business policy priorities. The Scorecard shows G20 progress on a number of international business priorities but reveals some important missed opportunities to advance trade and international investment policy frameworks.
Presenting the latest edition of the ICC G20 Business Scorecard today in a keynote speech to the Business-20 (B20) China kick-off event in Beijing ICC Chairman Terry McGraw said:  "We published the Scorecard to help the G20 gauge progress and identify areas that merit greater attention. This edition finds that the G20 is making progress on the B20 (Business-20) recommendations that will lead to economic growth and job creation. It is critical that G20 leaders, with support from business, unite to exercise stronger leadership in tackling the world's economic policy challenges, particularly on trade, investment and the environment." The ICC Scorecard is a valuable mechanism for global business to evaluate the G20's responsiveness to B20 policy recommendations. The fifth edition examines a total of 25 business priorities developed during the 2015 Turkish B20 cycle and rates G20 responsiveness across seven policy areas. This year's score of 2.0 out of 3.0, translates to an assessment of "Fair". ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said: "The score is a slight decrease from the Brisbane and St. Petersburg Summits' scores of 2.1 reflecting our disappointment in G20 leadership on the trade agenda."

January 25, 2016.  WTO.  In the first six months of the current 2015-16 fiscal, foreign exchange earnings from Bangladesh-made life saving drugs has touched the Tk 3 billion mark. The WTO has granted Least Developed Countries relaxation on intellectual property rights until 2033 and two Bangladesh companies have secured permission from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). This has encouraged Bangladesh's pharmaceuticals industry to gear up for boosting exports with renewed enthusiasm. Exporters and analysts say if the US market opens up to Bangladesh-made drugs, export incomes would multiply several times. That has helped drive up the value of pharma stocks in Bangladesh's bourses despite an overall downward drop of other stocks. Former Bangladesh Bank governor Mohammed Farashuddin says it will be possible to export medicines worth $10 billion to the US market alone if the government provides better policy support and incentives. 

January 22, 2016.  China & EU.  China's Commerce Ministry has issued a call to the European Union, asking the bloc to grant China Market Economy Status according to World Trade Organization rules. "No matter how the European Commission makes assessments or comments, we are mainly concerned about the fact that according to Article 15 of the "Accession of the People's Republic of China," members of the WTO should terminate the "surrogate" country practice by December 11 this year, and this is an international obligation that WTO members must abide by." The spokesman stresses that recognition of China's Market Economy Status is also beneficial to China-EU economic relations. China is now the second largest trading partner of the EU and has been a WTO member for 15 years. The EU earlier announced that it will start the assessment process soon. EU Ambassador to China Hans Dietmar Schweisgut says the assessment will take months.

January 20, 2016.  Trade.  Say goodbye to the golden age of the container ship. Compared with the level of economic growth, global trade is in the midst of its worst slowdown in decades. And even if imports and exports pick up speed, economists say that will have more to do with the Internet and services providers than with traditional products and commodities shipped on the high seas. The immediate causes of the trade slump are China’s abrupt manufacturing slowdown, a deep slide in commodity prices, and conflicts that have triggered sanctions with Russia and other countries. But deeper problems for merchandise trade have been building for years. For policy makers, the most obvious shortcoming is the absence of major new deals to free up global trade in the past decade, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the deals that led to the European Union. “The trade liberalization driver is currently not functioning,” said Gary Hufbauer, senior trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Such trade agreements—normally negotiated among major economies or with nearly all nations through the World Trade Organization—tend to spur imports and exports by reducing tariffs and quotas and setting unified rules for international commerce.

January 19, 2016.  China & EU.  China scored a major victory in its seven-year trade dispute with the European Union on Monday after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Chinese fastener makers. The EU decision to impose hefty tariffs on fastener imports from China during the past seven years is illegal, the WTO said in its ruling. China, for its part, will take more concrete steps to protect the rights of its domestic exporters, the Ministry of Commerce said. Chen Fuli, deputy director-general of the department of treaty and law at the ministry, said China would forward a trade retaliation request to the WTO to force the EU to remove the anti-dumping duties on Chinese fasteners if the EU does not negotiate terms or remove such an unfair duty after the ruling. Normally it takes up to 15 months for countries to amend rules and withdraw anti-dumping duties after a WTO ruling on trade disputes. China is the world's biggest producer of screws, nuts, bolts and washers, and the EU is a major destination for its fasteners, which are used for a wide range of products from aircraft, high-speed trains, automotive parts to furniture. China shipped $1 billion worth of fastener products to the EU in 2008 and the same fell to $80 million by 2014 after the EU decided to impose anti-dumping duties of up to 85 percent on China's fasteners for five years in January 2009. On July 31, 2009, China brought the case to the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism, the country's first such case against the EU.

January 18, 2016. US.  Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. 

January 15, 2016. US.  On December 8, the United States launched a dispute (DS501) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding tax exemptions on certain Chinese-produced aircraft. The United States has requested consultations with China, which is the first step in the dispute settlement process. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Government of China has been exempting certain aircraft produced in China from a value-added tax (VAT), a tax that is imposed on imported aircraft. Importers of certain aircraft—including general aviation and regional aircraft, generally under 25 metric tons by weight—must pay a 17 percent tax, while the equivalent Chinese-produced aircraft are exempt. This practice, the United States alleges, violates WTO rules on discriminatory taxation. Furthermore, China has failed to publish these tax exemption measures, which the United States alleges violates WTO transparency rules. In launching this dispute, the United States is seeking to protect U.S. manufacturers, and the 500,000 workers employed in the U.S. aerospace sector. The U.S. aerospace sector has the largest trade surplus of any U.S. manufacturing industry, resulting in the greatest number of U.S. jobs that are tied to exports.

January 14, 2016.  TPP.  The United States has negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement to strengthen US positions in Asia and limit China’s ability to dictate rules in the region, President Barack Obama said in his last State of the Union address. In October, 2015, 12 countries of the Pacific Rim region reached an agreement on the wording and subject matter of the TPP, intending to deregulate trade among them. The details of the controversial trade deal, negotiated in unusual secrecy, have been revealed to the public after almost seven years of negotiations. In December, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said large-scale agreements like the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) ran counter to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) original aim of promoting global trade. The US Congress is expected to vote on the free trade agreement at the beginning of 2016.

January 12, 2016.  WTO.  This presidential election year will potentially bring challenges for the global trade community as President Barack Obama's administration works to accomplish its list of priorities for its final year in office. A major priority is to sign the agreement from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations last October. While Congress is poised to review the agreement, opposition from presidential candidates may jeopardize the potential deal. The agreement, supported by the U.S. Grains Council, is a threefold agreement that would enhance market access for U.S. grain and co-products and enhance science-based rules for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) non-tariff barriers. The agreement would be the first of its kind to include language promoting authorization of modern biotechnology products. The U.S. and the European Union have said they want to get the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations finished by the end of Obama's time in office, but there is still no agreement in sight. T-TIP would address the challenges of asynchronous biotechnology approvals; establish a low-level presence policy; and provide for a more transparent biotech approval process. The largest challenge may be with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in regards to the Doha Development Round of Negotiations. There is disagreement between members of the WTO on whether or not to continue to negotiate after the Nairobi Kenya ministerial meeting in December.

January 11, 2016.  US.  “No trade agreement is perfect, and the TPP is no exception,” Mr. Donohue said. “However, the benefits of a trade agreement lie in how it is interpreted, implemented, and enforced. We intend to see this job through to the end — to the agreement’s entry-into-force and beyond.” While not a surprise, the Chamber’s announcement was the second from a major business group this week to support the pact. The National Association of Manufacturers also endorsed the deal. President Obama wants Congress to approve the TPP, which he views as the economic centerpiece of his push to “rebalance” U.S. interests toward Asia. The deal will ease trade barriers among 12 nations, including Japan, Australia, Mexico, Canada and Vietnam. Democrats in Congress oppose the deal, saying it will lead to further losses of middle-class jobs in the U.S. Republicans generally favor it, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said Congress might not consider the pact until after the presidential election in November. 

January 8, 2016.  WTO.  At the start of 2015, the prospects for a successful outcome for the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Nairobi were dim. The pundits were forecasting failure. But WTO member countries proved them wrong and succeeded. The reversed fortunes of the WTO and placed the organization it on a clear trajectory for success. There is more work to be done but in Nairobi there was a sea change. The Nairobi conference was neither ceremonial, nor was it convened to endorse a predetermined outcome. It was a negotiating conference, to which deadlocked and unresolved issues were forwarded.

January 7, 2016.  WTO.  Amid criticism that India failed to guard its interest at the WTO ministerial conference held last month, India is preparing a strategy to protect its interests by seeking “trade facilitation agreement for services”, where the country enjoys considerable strength. The trade facilitation agreement, which is aimed at streamlining customs rules and procedures across the member nations and reduce transaction cost by expediting trade flows, has been pushed by developed countries. However it is yet to be implemented as it will come into effect only when two-thirds of the member nations ratify it. As of now 63 countries of the 162 nations have ratified it while India is yet to ratify it.

January 5, 2016.  Oil. The UAE's 2015 non-oil trade is estimated to record a 10 per cent surge to hit Dh1.75 trillion, positioning the country to reinforce its rank among the top 20 trading economies of the world, the Ministry of Economy said on Monday. The ministry said the UAE managed to achieve top ranks in international trade statistics 2015, which was released by the World Trade Organisation, or WTO.

According to the report, the UAE, which maintained its top ranks on the world trade map and came 16th globally in commodity exports valued at $360 billion, and 20th globally in commodity imports valued at $262 billion in 2014, is on track to better its positions with a 10 per cent surge in overall non-oil trade. The WTO report shows that while global commodity exports achieved average growth of six per cent from 2010-2014, the UAE exports grew by 14 per cent in the same period. Global imports achieved an average growth of five per cent from 2010-2014, while the UAE's average in reached 12 per cent in the same period. In 2014, the UAE's non-oil trade was Dh1. 632 trillion while its direct trade totaled Dh1.072 trillion and the value of imports reached Dh696.4 billion. The WTO figures show that UAE exports amounted to Dh132.2 billion and re-export totalled Dh243.7 billion.

The trade volume of UAE free zones for 2014 has not yet been released, but it is expected to reach about Dh560 billion.

January 4, 2016.  WTO.  Turkey is preparing to file a complaint against Russia's recent economic sanctions to the World Trade Organization and other international courts, Mustafa Elitash, the Economy Minister of Turkey told Daily Sabah.

Speaking to the newspaper, Mustafa Elitash noted that in small cities across Russia, Turkish companies are being pressured to transfer their shares to their Russian partners. "Trade needs to have a moral basis as well. These entrepreneurs have put their trust in the Russian government and invested in the country. We are trying to be patient but we are expecting an embargo against Turkey," said Elitash. Now the complaints brought to the Russian table are under consideration for delivery to the World Trade Organization, noted Elitash who pointed out that, currently, they are collecting evidence. "We will reclaim the rights of all those who have suffered in international courts," added Elitash.

The economy ministry has been taking precautions in dealing with the crisis in Russia and despite the negative trends evident in the global economy; the ministry will strive to turn 2016 into a year of opportunities.

January 1, 2016.  Happy New Year!

December 31, 2015.  New Year's Eve!

December 30, 2015.  WTO.  A poll from Federated Farmers shows 83% satisfaction with the performance of the National-led government among the country’s farmers. Over 1,100 members were surveyed in the run up to Christmas, with only 17% dissatisfied with the performance of the Key government in 2015. “Farmers generally look for governments to manage the economy well, drive positive change on international trade and make pragmatic decisions in other areas, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen this year from Prime Minister Key and his government,” says Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston.  “83% satisfaction looks spot on when you look at the level of interest rates and key international wins such as TPP, the Paris Climate Change Talks and the WTO’s recent abolition of export tariffs. These are all good outcomes for farmers and stand to enhance New Zealand’s export earnings for many years to come.”

December 29, 2015.  WTO.  It took the environs of a developing country in an economically depressed continent to drive the final nails into the Doha Development coffin.When WTO’s tenth ministerial was held in Nairobi between 15 and 19th December the expectations from the Doha Round were at an all-time low. It was 14 years since the launch of the Doha Development Agenda and there was scarcely anything apart from the Bali package on trade facilitation (2013) to show as results for the nine rounds of tortuous negotiations. Commentators were predicting the death of the development round which was launched with great ambition in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and a general apathy towards world trade among developing countries. 2015 is a different world from 2001 when the development agenda was launched.The main reason for the snail’s progress of the Doha round was the stricture that decision-making bebased on consensus. Even as multilateral trade negotiations under the WTO and the Doha round was getting stuck the regional treaties like the Trans Pacific Partnership(TPP) involving 12-Pacific rim countries that included the US and Japan were finalised. Substantial progresswas seen with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Pacific Alliance in Latin America and a host of other regional trade agreements. The number of Regional Trade Agreements which stood at roughly 80 in 2001 at the beginning of the round ballooned to more than 619 being notified by the WTO as of Dec 2015 (and more than 400 active agreements).

December 25, 2015.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

December 24, 2015  Christmas Eve.

December 23, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) closed its Nairobi Conference over the weekend with some agreements and new directions many -- both in the negotiations and reporting on their outcome -- found surprising. Indeed, some say the changes may have such significance that they could completely change the face of the WTO. For the first time since 2001, when the Doha round launched, the WTO's 164 members declined to "reaffirm" the Doha mandate. Moreover, the members agreed to discuss an array of new issues and focus on smaller, more incremental reforms. The delegates also managed to reach a significant agreement regarding a global ban on farming export subsidies. The WTO's Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, called the farming export subsidies ban the "most significant" reform pertaining to agriculture in the organization's history.

December 21, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organisation reached deals on agricultural export subsidies, food aid and other issues on Saturday, capping a ministerial conference in Nairobi where rich and poor countries had been split over the path of trade reform.
Members said the Nairobi deal had drawn a line under years of stalemate over the direction of global trade negotiations.  The European Commission also praised the "landmark deal" as 'good for fairer global trade'. "For those who had doubts, it proves the relevance of the WTO and its capacity to deliver results," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said in a statement. The Geneva-based WTO, which invited Liberia and Afghanistan to become its 163rd and 164th members, has been trying and largely failing to agree on a worldwide package of trade reforms since a meeting in Doha in 2001 hatched an ambitious plan for knocking down trade barriers. The four-day Nairobi conference was extended by a final non-stop 24-hour negotiation between the major trading powers, who agreed on a package that included phasing out agricultural export subsidies and restricting agricultural export credits. But they agreed to disagree about the potential for success in the Doha round of talks. The members failed to make progress on the long-stalled Doha Round of negotiations aimed at lowering global trade barriers.

December 18, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday formally approved Afghanistan's membership at its 10th ministerial conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.  Afghanistan has become the 164th WTO member and the 36th least developed country (LDC) to join the global trade body after 11 years of negotiations. 

December 17, 2015  WTO.  Liberia has become a new member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), adding to the number of least developed countries that have joined the organization. The decision on the country's accession was made by WTO members in October. Liberia is the eighth country on the WTO's list of least developed states to join the organization since 1995. 

December 16, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organization must do more to support large-scale agriculture in Africa and develop a new, global approach to domestic farm subsidies, African leaders said on Monday, the day before the world body's meets in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. At the first ministerial meeting of the trade body in sub-Saharan Africa, African leaders say, they hope to find ways to level the playing field as they seek a bigger role in global trade and increase profits from the raw materials they produce. The Geneva-based WTO has been trying and largely failing to agree on a worldwide package of trade reforms since a meeting in Doha in 2001 hatched an ambitious plan for knocking down trade barriers. Its 162 members meet from Tuesday to Friday in Nairobi. 

December 14, 2015  WTO.  On 15 December, when ministers from the 162 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meet in Nairobi (Kenya) for the tenth ministerial conference and the first to be convened in Africa, they will not have any document before them which would be waiting for their endorsement. This piquant situation has risen as the WTO members have been unable to find common ground necessary to put together a draft ministerial declaration that would have underlined the substantive work programme for organization. This extraordinary situation opens the door for at least three possible scenarios. The first, and the most optimistic scenario, would be the one in which WTO members can get back on track the stuttering Doha Round negotiations. 

December 11, 2015  WTO.  Canada and Mexico prepared to target $1-billion worth of U.S. exports after the World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized the countries on Monday to retaliate against the United States’ meat-labelling rules. A WTO panel set the annual retaliation level at $1.055-billion ($740-million U.S.) for Canada and $228-million for Mexico, considerably less than the $3.068-billion and $713-million the two countries had sought.

December 10, 2015  WTO.  Canada has been awarded the right to seek $1 billion in trade sanctions against the United States by a World Trade Organization panel in a dispute over American meat-labelling rules that single out foreign beef and pork. The Liberal government said it will "quickly take steps to retaliate" against the U.S. if the labelling requirements aren't dropped promptly — a condition the lead American senator on agriculture issues said he will do his utmost to satisfy before Canada imposes tariffs. At issue is the U.S.'s mandatory labelling for packaged steaks and other cuts of meat, which requires grocery stickers explaining where livestock was born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO arbitration panel said Monday the annual losses to Canadian cattle, pig and hog producers as a result of the U.S. country of origin labelling laws amount to $1.054 billion — an amount Canada can now seek to reclaim by slapping tariffs on certain imports from the U.S. The Canadian government has suggested it might impose a 100 per cent tariff on products from states where politicians supported the meat-labelling law. Canada had sought the right to slap $3 billion in duties on U.S. goods. The WTO panel found Mexico is also being unfairly hit by the U.S. meat-labelling rules, to the tune of $227.8 million US a year. Mexico had argued the amount was closer to $700 million annually.

December 8, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled on Monday that Canada and Mexico may impose retaliatory tariffs of up to $1.01 billion on imported American products due to the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law. “Stakeholders should continue working together to empower consumers with the information they want about the meat they buy,” said U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb. “However, continued inaction on COOL will only ensure $1 billion in new annual retaliatory tariffs,” Smith said. “These penalties will damage the ability of U.S. producers and manufacturers to sell goods to 157 million of our best customers in Canada and Mexico while increasing costs for U.S. consumers on a variety of products.”  While some still suggest keeping COOL in its current form while negotiations continue, Smith said “we must address the urgency of this issue by acting now and then proceeding with talks. Otherwise, we risk the imposition of retaliatory tariffs and further damage from the possible prolonged loss of market share.” For Nebraska, beef and pork accounted for about $2 billion in exports in 2014. Canada and Mexico are Nebraska’s two leading trade partners, making up 45 percent of the state’s exports. Canada and Mexico are among the leading countries for U.S. meat exports. Commercial red meat production in Nebraska in 2014 was nearly 7.3 billion pounds, which led the nation. 

December 7, 2015  WTO. WTO members must seek to agree on a path forward if they have to realise the full potential of global cooperation on trade to growth and development, says WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo. A former career diplomat, Azevedo was Brazil's chief trade negotiator for the Doha Round. He says that the central issues of the Doha Round are "vitally important" and warrant further negotiations. 

December 4, 2015  World Aids Day.  World leaders have unanimously committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September. This commitment reflects the power of solidarity to forge, from a destructive disease, one of the most inclusive movements in modern history”: on December 1, the date that like every year since 1988 marks the World AIDS Day, United Nations Secretary-General interprets the 193 UN member States’ agreement as a “new hope” to win the fight against the epidemic. Yet much needs to be done.

December 3, 2015  Montenegro.  NATO has formally invited Montenegro to join the alliance, a move that's spurred threats from Russian officials at loggerheads with NATO over everything from Ukraine to Syria to Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane. The official invitation, announced Wednesday by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, triggers the start of accession talks, according to the alliance. While it comes at a time of heightened tensions between NATO and Russia, it didn't happen out of the blue; it's the result of a process that began nine years ago. "Today, we proudly receive a #NATO membership invitation," said Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic, according to his government's Twitter feed. "This is a historic day for #Montenegro. The most important (since) the 2006 (independence) referendum."

December 2, 2015  India.  India will continue to resist pressure from certain developed countries, including the US, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow development issues of the on-going Doha round to be buried at the meeting of trade ministers in Nairobi later this month, despite a draft ministerial declaration hinting at its imminent closure. New Delhi draws its strength from about 100 developing and least developed countries that support its stand and want the Doha Development Agenda to continue, a Commerce Ministry official said. “We are not alone in our demand that all unfulfilled promises to poorer countries outlined in the Doha Development Agenda be met before the WTO embarks on something new. With about 100 countries supporting us, which includes the African group and the ACP group that have already made representations saying so, we do not run the chance of being isolated at Nairobi,” the official told BusinessLine. India has also submitted a joint proposal with China, Ecuador, Indonesia, South Africa and Venezuela to the WTO stressing on the importance of continuing with the Doha Development Agenda. If the Doha development round, launched in November 2001, is allowed to be abandoned, it will give an opportunity to rich countries to bring in new issues such as labour, environment, e-commerce, investment and competition policy into the WTO – something that India has been steadfastly opposing. The development agenda of Doha, where rich countries are supposed to take on greater commitments to open up markets in goods and services compared to developing countries will then be dropped.

December 1, 2015  Paris 2015 Climate Talks.   As the Paris 2015 climate talks get under way, the fear is growing that this international conference will be reduced to a simple list of good intentions. Current negotiations based on voluntary “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) allow participants to make attractive promises and claim victory when, in reality, their primary use will be to keep the international community waiting.

The participating countries will do their best to ensure that their commitments can’t be compared with those of others, rendering them unverifiable and thus unconstraining. The predictable consequences of this waiting game will be that the future level of greenhouse-gas emissions will be similar to those of a “zero ambition” agreement.

We need to tackle the climate challenge by using economic tools that take into account the “free rider” phenomenon, which pushes each country to let others make the efforts. Policies to reduce CO2 emissions impose costs at the local level, while the benefits are global and universal. Because of the absence of a common regulatory framework, the “free rider” problem is compounded by concerns about carbon leakage and the political will required to determine compensation levels during future negotiations. These issues can only be solved by the development of a coherent system of pricing carbon.

In the spirit of the “polluter pays” principle, it’s essential to agree on a uniform international price of carbon – one that’s both credible and reflects future environmental damage. According to the principle of subsidiarity, each country would be free to develop its own national climate policy by creating, for example, a carbon tax or a system for trading carbon permits at market prices (known as “cap and trade”).

The international agreement would then set a maximum level for global emissions and thus a tradable emissions ceiling. Based on the principles of justice and redistribution, the poorest countries could be given free emission permits that they could then sell on the international market, while working within the same universal carbon price.

November 27, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been trying to reach a consensus on a global trade reforms package since the Doha round in 2001 hatched an ambitious plan to remove trade barriers. Roberto Azevedo, WTO Director-General, on Thursday said that world trade talks are “deadlocked” and ministers are unlikely to find a way out of the impasse when they meet in Nairobi next month, Reuters reported. "We clearly are stuck in the negotiations at this point in time," Azevedo told a news conference. "I think it will be very difficult to reconcile the views. I would say impossible at this point in time." Some members are even suggesting negotiations should "start from scratch", the WTO chief said. Business Recorder reported that Azevedo told journalists about two camps in the organisation – one side that wants to reach a conclusion through the Doha framework, despite the apparent lack of progress, while "other members are saying, 'forget it, at some point in time we took a wrong turn... This is never going to lead us to a successful conclusion of the Doha round. Let's reengineer the whole thing. Essentially, let's start from scratch'", Azevedeo said. 

November 26, 2015  US celebrates Thanksgiving.

November 25, 2015  Kazakhstan.  IT and financial services market in Kazakhstan is expected to gain a chance for foreign investments after the country's full accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 15. Prime Minister Karim Massimov said that foreign companies and banks will be able to open their representations in Kazakhstan within upcoming five years of the counrtry's entry to WTO. Foreign companies desiring to enter the market will have to fulfill a number of conditions in this regard, Minister for Economic Integration, Zhanar Aitzhanova.stressed. She said that foreign banks can open their direct branches in Kazakhstan with a capitalization of $20 billion, while insurance companies will be required to have a stock of $5 billion. Kazakhstan carried out a range of measures to become a full member of the WTO. The country constructed some 73 laboratories for harmonizing sanitary and phytosanitary standards, Aitzhanova said. In addition, Kazakhstan amended as many as 60 laws over the last 10 years to adapt its legislation to the terms of WTO accession. The minister also mentioned that the country has also modified 10 agreements signed in this period to reduce administrative barriers for the foreign trade transactions. Kazakhstan will receive an official recognition as a member of the WTO on the eve of the 10th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya on December 5-18. Astana also expects the European Union to grant Kazakhstan the status of country with market economy, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Volkov said.

November 24, 2015  ISO Standards.  There is an international effort underway to establish ISO standards for feed production equipment (ISO/TC 293), an effort that the American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA) is very engaged in and taking quite seriously. The American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers (ASABE) also is involved and serves as administrator of the U.S. technical advisory group for ISO/TC 293. ISO is made up of 162 member countries that are the national standards bodies around the world, with a central secretariat that is based in Geneva, Switzerland. According to ISO, international standards give world-class specifications for products, services and systems and are instrumental in facilitating world trade.  In general, ISO standards are developed to meet a need in the marketplace. The standards are to be based on the opinions of global experts and developed through a multi-stakeholder process. Technical advisory committees are formed to formally provide input from stakeholders within each country participating in the standards process. ISO procedures for consensus are based on a one country, one vote model. Still, it is not unheard of to have the system circumvented through the extension of representation in as many countries as possible in order to gain votes. ISO/TC 293 is focused on primary and ancillary manufacturing equipment and electrical control systems dealing with feed materials receiving, cleaning, feed grinding, grading, quantitative batching, mixing, conditioning, extruding, pelleting, flattening, liquid adding, drying, cooling, post coating, conveying, storage, dust removing and quantitative packaging.

November 23, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organization's Appellate Body ruled against the United States on Friday in a dispute with Mexico over tuna labeling, upholding an earlier ruling issued in April that found US rules discriminated against Mexico. "The Appellate Body concludes that the United States has not brought its dolphin-safe labeling regime for tuna products into conformity with the recommendations and rulings of the (WTO's dispute settlement body)," the WTO's appeals judges said at the end of their 144-page ruling on the case. The appeal ruling is final, and could lead to Mexico making a claim for retaliation against US exports if it believes the United States has not brought its rules into line with the WTO ruling. “The United States is disappointed with this most recent report,” Tim Reif, general counsel at the US Trade Representative's office, said in a statement. The US government would consult closely on the next steps with members of Congress, American fishermen and conservation NGOs, he said. Mexico has been fighting for more than 20 years over rules the country argues have frozen its fishing industry out of a US imported canned tuna market worth $680 million in 2014. Mexico has about a 3.5 percent share. The clash arose because yellowfin tuna swim with dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific, where Mexico's fleet operates, using speedboats to herd the dolphins and large purse seine nets to catch the tuna swimming beneath them. Millions of dolphins were killed before international conservation efforts set standards to protect dolphins and put professional observers on ships to record each tuna catch.

November 20, 2015  WTOIsrael is considering filing a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization over the European Union’s decision to label products in European food markets that originate from the West Bank and other settlements beyond the 1967 lines.  An official said Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked are pushing to sue the European Union, while the foreign and economic officials object.  A few days ago, after the EU guidelines were released, Erdan held a debate about Israel’s possible reactions to the move. He suggested filing a suit against the European Union with the World Trade Organization, claiming that labeling settlement products is a breach of the WTO’s principles, the official said. Shaked supported the move.

November 19, 2015  WTO.  THE key issue at next month’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit of ministers is the future of the Doha development round, but success in achieving even limited outcomes was not assured, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in Parliament on Tuesday. He noted that the commitment by developed countries to incorporating development issues in trade agreements had steadily declined as they turned their attention to what they believed were 21st century trade issues. Mr Davies said in a briefing on the pending summit, which will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from December 15-18, that developing countries were still eager to wring concessions. A key issue the minister told members of Parliament’s trade and industry committee was the substantial subsidies that farmers of developed countries received from their governments, which created trade barriers for agricultural products from developing countries. "In Nairobi there will not be the conclusion of the Doha round and there will not be a formal agreement to continue with Doha but between these a lot can happen," Mr Davies said. Developing countries would seek progress on export competition including an agreement to ensure that food aid did not disrupt the domestic and regional production of food in receiving countries. Many developed countries sold their food surpluses for food aid to developing countries, disrupting local agricultural markets.

November 17, 2015  WTO.  In a likely breakthrough for India-European Union ties, the 28-nation bloc has offered to discuss its ban on 700 Indian drugs as a separate issue so that stalled talks on a free-trade agreement can be resumed. Senior commerce department officials said the EU has shown interest in discussing the matter and suggested that the drug ban be tackled independently of the trade talks because it is a separate legal issue. 

November 16, 2015  G20 Summit.  The G20 summit of world leaders is primarily focused on economic matters, but the two-day meeting in the coastal province of Antalya has been overshadowed by the deadly attacks in Paris.  Leaders of the world's 20 major economies (G20) have convened in Antalya, a heavily guarded Turkish resort on the Aegean Sea coast, for a two-day summit, with the refugee crisis dominating the start of the meeting. In a draft communique, leaders have agreed that the refugee crisis is a global problem that must be addressed in a coordinated way. "We call upon all states to contribute to responding to this crisis, and share in the burdens associated with it," it reads. The draft communique states that tackling the refugee crisis means proactive measures, "including through refugee resettlement, other forms of humanitarian admission, humanitarian aid and efforts to ensure that refugees can access services, education and livelihood opportunities".  The meeting is taking place in the shadow of the Paris assaults claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group which left at least 129 people dead and more than 350 others injured, 99 of them critically.

November 13, 2015  WHO.   A massive trade pact between 12 Pacific rim countries could limit the availability of affordable medicines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Thursday, joining a heated debate on the impact of the deal. Margaret Chan told a conference there were "some very serious concerns" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a central plank of U.S. President Barack Obama's trade policy which still needs to be ratified by member governments. "If these agreements open trade yet close the door to affordable medicines we have to ask the question: is this really progress at all," Chan asked a conference in Geneva. The deal's backers, including the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, say it will cut trade barriers and set common standards across 40 percent of the world's economy. But other bodies, including leaders of India's $15 billion pharmaceuticals industry, have said it could end up protecting the patents of powerful drugs companies inside the deal area, at the expense of makers of cheaper generic drugs outside. "Can you bear the cost of $1,000 for a pill to treat Hepatitis C?," Chan asked the audience of health experts, academics and diplomats. "Unless we get these prices down many millions of people will be left behind." She said no country in the WHO objected to the private sector making a fair profit, but she was worried about companies influencing decision-making in health policy.

November 12, 2015  WTO.  The United States and the European Union have raised concerns at the World Trade Organization about Nigeria's central bank curbs on access to foreign currency, a WTO official said on Wednesday. The bank, seeking to conserve its dollar reserves, said in June that importers could no longer get hard currency from the interbank market to buy 41 items including rice, cement, private jets, steel products, plastics and rubber, soap, cosmetics, furniture and Indian incense. At least nine WTO members raised concerns about the trade-related impact of the rules at a meeting of the WTO's Council for Trade in Goods on Tuesday, the WTO official said. Nigeria's representative at the meeting said the Nigerian trade ministry was also very concerned and had requested a rollback or standstill of the policy as soon as the bank announced it, the WTO official said. The U.S. representative at the meeting expressed "strong concern" about the effect on U.S. exports such as agricultural goods, plastics, aircraft and aircraft parts and metal and metal products, adding that the affected exports were worth $500 million in 2013 and 2014, the official said. The U.S. trade official also said the central bank had justified its action by saying it was "in order to encourage local production of these items", which revealed its protectionist motivation. 

November 11, 2015  Veteran's Day in US and Remembrance Day in Canada.

November 10, 2015  US and the TPP.  It’s been about a month since the Obama administration publicly announced that the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were completed, and just last week the full text of the agreement was released to the public. It will be the largest free-trade agreement in history, including 12 counties and roughly 40 percent of the global economy.

The umbrella agreement writes universal rules and standards for trade markets around the Pacific. Although all the countries involved still need to ratify the agreement, the release is an important step in that direction. In the United States, President Obama is now in the midst of securing Congressional consent, despite heavy criticism. This will likely be an uphill battle that comes down to one basic question: will the TPP benefit the U.S. economy and global markets? While the text of the 30-chapter deal was only recently made public, trade groups and labor unions are already entrenched in their support or opposition for the deal, which will become even more contentious in the coming months
In total, there are 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, namely the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zealand. Indonesia may also join in the future.

According to the White House, the TPP will establish American leadership and influence in the Pacific. President Obama strongly supports the deal because he believes that it will strengthen the U.S. economy and national security. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, the deal is meant further U.S. interests and create an equal playing field for everyone “by requiring other countries to play by fair wage, safe workplace, and strong environmental rules that we help set.” The TPP will also cut over 18,000 taxes that countries have on American goods and services, which may help American companies gain additional access to global markets.

November 9, 2015  China.  Reports state that China will get rid of intellectual property rights infringement online in coming three years of period. The statement was released by country’s cabinet official website. Further, it said, China will now focus on using ‘real name system’ on the internet as well as on other electronic tags so that it will be easy to track goods and identification of fake goods. The official statement adds that it will also target to improve inter-regional law enforcement with an aim of sharing information amongst Beijing, Tianjin and the Yangtze River Delta and other. An official statement released by Xinhua, states more than 40% of goods sold in the country in 2014 were of bad quality or counterfeits. In a rare move, the country singled out Walt Disney Co for peculiar trademark security on Thursday.

November 6, 2015  Steel.  Nine steel industry groups from around the world put out a joint statement Thursday expressing concerns and questions about China's prospective World Trade Organization market economy status in December 2016. "China has claimed that it should be automatically accorded treatment as if it were a market economy after the 15th anniversary of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2016. We disagree," the mill associations stated. "It is the view of steel producers in Europe and North and South America that China's Protocol of Accession to the WTO does not automatically require governments to treat imports from China as if they were from a market economy country as of December 2016. While one small part of Section 15 of China's Protocol ... expires on December 11, 2016, the remainder of Section 15 will remain in effect. These remaining provisions allow WTO members to treat China as a non-market economy country unless the government of China or Chinese producers can show that they operate under market economy conditions." Granting China market economy status could make it more difficult for other nations to win substantial unfair trade case relief against potentially massive amounts of dumped and/or subsidized Chinese steel.

November 5, 2015  WTO.  The WTO’s fourteenth trade monitoring report on G20 trade measures, issued on 2 November, shows the application of new trade-restrictive measures by G20 economies remained stable compared to the previous reporting period. Although the report shows relative restraint by G20 economies in introducing new trade restrictions, the stockpile of measures continues to grow. Because the uncertain global economic outlook continues to have a negative impact on international trade, the report calls on G20 leaders to deliver on their pledge to refrain from implementing new protectionist measures and to roll back existing trade-restrictive measures.
Commenting on the report, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: “The WTO's system of trade rules helped to prevent a major protectionist response in the wake of the financial crisis — but the number of trade-restrictive measures that have been introduced remains a cause for concern. The G‑20 should show leadership by eliminating existing trade restrictions.”

November 3, 2015  Trade.  A report by the World Trade Organization says the 2013 Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has the potential to reduce trade costs by 14.3 percent and increase global exports from US$750 billion to US$3.6 trillion, depending on the speed and extent of implementation. The Trade Facilitation Agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. The report estimates the TFA could add up to 2.7 percent a year to world export growth and more than half a percent a year to world GDP growth over the next 15 years.

The WTO modeling suggests developing countries' exports could increase by US$1.9 trillion (making up more than 53 percent of global trade expansion) and the TFA has the potential to add 0.9 percent annually to economic growth in developing countries. The report estimates that if the TFA is fully implemented, developing countries will be able to diversify and increase the number of new export products by 20 per cent, enter new markets and sell a wider array of products. The 2015 World Trade Report is the first detailed study of the TFA and its multilateral framework for reducing trade costs. To date 51 WTO members have ratified the TFA. They include Pakistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hong Kong China, Singapore, the U.S., Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, the Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Niger, Belize, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, China, Liechtenstein, Lao PDR, New Zealand, Togo, Thailand, and the European Union (on behalf of its 28 member states). 

October 30, 2015  US.  The United States is wary of a European Union proposal for a new court system to settle investment disputes as part of the world's biggest free-trade agreement, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said. A Pacific trade deal agreed earlier this month amended rules allowing foreign companies to take legal action against governments to add more safeguards, he said, and Washington was open to discussing other reforms as part of a proposed trade deal with the EU. But he was not sure about the EU's idea for a new court system with an appeal tribunal, proposed after concerns that U.S. multinationals could use private arbitration rules in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to challenge European food and environmental laws. "Because of the high standards and safeguards in our agreements, there have been very few cases against the U.S., and to date, the government has never lost," Froman said in an interview Wednesday, in comments approved for release on Thursday. "It’s not obvious to me why you would want to give companies a second bite of the apple.”

October 29, 2015  Pakistan.  Pakistan has ratified the WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), making it the 51st WTO member to do so. According to reports from Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Syed Tauqir Shah presented Pakistan’s instrument of acceptance to Director General Roberto Azevêdo on 27 October. Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area. The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the agreement. 

October 28, 2015  TFA.  The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) concluded in 2013 will help reduce trade cost for its member countries, spur global export between US$1.8 trillion and US$3.6 trillion, providing a badly needed boost to the global economy, the World trade Organisation (WTO) said in its World Trade Report. The TFA has the potential to reduce trade costs by a significant amount and thereby increase both global trade and output, according to the WTO report released in Geneva Monday. "This agreement (TFA) aims to standardise, streamline and speed-up customs processes around the world, helping to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods. In doing so, it will significantly cut the costs of trade," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said. All too often, outdated and uncoordinated customs processes slow down the movement of merchandise and raise trade costs to prohibitive levels especially in developing and least-developed countries, he said. "By tackling these problems, the TFA will have a big impact on global economy," he said when launching the report.  According to the Malaysian (Bernama) news agency, this year's report focused on the benefits and challenges of implementing the WTO's TFA. In the report, WTO said the full implementation of the TFA would have the ability to reduce members’ trade costs by an average 14.3 per cent.

October 27, 2015  WTO.  Organizations representing the U.S. dairy industry are asking the U.S. Senate to solve the long-running trade dispute with Canada and Mexico over country-of-origin labeling before those countries impose retaliatory tariffs. In May the World Trade Organization found that USDA’s 2013 amendment to its original 2009 COOL rule violates trade rules by discriminating against imported cattle and hogs from Canada and Mexico. The WTO will soon rule on the authorized amount of retaliatory tariffs. In a letter last week to members of the Senate, National Milk Producers Foundation, U.S. Dairy Export Council and International Dairy Foods Association urged lawmakers to immediately pass legislation to bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations. The concern is the growing risk to U.S. dairy exports to Canada and Mexico, said Shawna Morris, vice president of trade policy for the Export Council. In 2013, Canada released a list of U.S. products it might target with retaliatory measures, and it included dairy products, she said. She said access for U.S. dairy products to Canadian markets is already difficult with extremely high tariffs on major dairy lines. Additional tariffs would be adding insult to injury, she said. Canada could also retaliate through U.S. exports of less traditional dairy products, such as ultra filtered milk, which have lower or nonexistent tariffs and represent a significant portion of U.S. dairy access to Canada, she said. Mexico hasn’t released a list of potential targets, but it’s the top market for U.S. dairy exports, and any risk there brings a high level of concern, she said. The dairy industry wants the Senate to take steps to comply with WTO obligations before tariffs are put on products and the U.S. is forced into a reactionary position, she said.

October 26, 2015  WTO.  The tenth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to be held in Nairobi on 15-18 December, is already mired in discord, with negotiators unable to agree on a mandated post-Bali work programme. At issue are US and European Union (EU) proposals to scrap the texts agreed to thus far in this interminable round of trade negotiations. Yet again, the developed world led by the US and the EU are pitched against developing countries led by India, China and Indonesia, who have over the past two years tried unsuccessfully to move towards the promise—made at the ninth ministerial conference in Bali in 2013—of a permanent solution to the public stock-holding issue in food security, while advancing the stalled Doha development round. The irony that a country such as India, which witnessed more than a quarter of a million farm suicides between 1996 and 2014, has to fight to retain its farm subsidies, which are a fraction of what the US and the EU provide their farmers, is not lost on most observers. Nor is US intransigence in refusing to consider a proposal from the group of 33 countries (G-33) to resolve the stockholding issue simply by bringing the WTO agreement into line with 21st century prices. The 2014 US farm bill is one of the main reasons the US government is walking away from the post-Bali agriculture negotiations. Studies show that the US is likely to exceed the subsidy limits agreed in Doha negotiations in 2008, and it will probably exceed even current WTO limits. 

October 23, 2015  WTO. The World Trade Organization was expected to give its final ruling November 27 on mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL), a longstanding America policy that requires producers and processors identify where an animal is born, raised and slaughtered. Canada’s red meat sector estimates the policy is costing the industry $1 billion annually. Should the WTO side with Canada, the federal government would be in a position to impose retaliatory tariffs against the Americans – Canada’s largest trading partner. Canadian officials are currently seeking WTO permission to impose more than $3 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on more than 30 American products, including beef, pork and California wine. The U.S. challenged Canada’s economic analysis – a move that triggered an arbitration hearing in September. The pending WTO decision stems from that hearing.

October 21, 2015  WTO.  The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has acknowledged the receipt of the 50th instrument of acceptance from a member state to bring into force its Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA will create binding commitments across all WTO members to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods and improve cooperation among WTO members in customs matters, forming part of international efforts under the Doha Round to cut tax barriers to trade on a global basis. The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted it. In addition to Macedonia, the following WTO members have also accepted the agreement: Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Korea, Nicaragua, Niger, Belize, Switzerland, Taiwan, China, Liechtenstein, Laos, New Zealand, Togo, Thailand, and the European Union (on behalf of its 28 member states). 

October 20, 2015  Canada. After 10 years of a Conservative government the Liberals win overwhelming with a majority.

October 19, 2015  EAEU.  The leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) met Oct. 16 at a hotel in this Kazakh resort area to discuss pressing issues facing the fledgling organization. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev hosted his colleagues Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan, and Vladimir Putin of Russia for discussions on further integration within the union, international issues and the strengthening of cooperation with other countries. Following the meeting, the parties signed documents defining the economic development of the EAEU in the near future. Particularly, President Lukashenko announced that 16 issues were on the agenda and all of them were accepted at the meeting. Participants signed two documents: “The main directions of the international activity of the EAEU for 2015-2016” and “Approaches to the development of trade and economic cooperation with key partners of the EAEU in the medium term.” Moreover, the leaders of the EAEU adopted a package of documents regarding Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its relation to the EAEU. This agreement will come into force on completion of ratification procedures in the parliaments of all EAEU member countries, which should be completed by Dec. 15, 2015,” said Viktor Khristenko, Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission, at his briefing for journalists following the talks.

October 16, 2015  Pacific Rim Trade deal.  Twelve nations, including Canada, have reached a tentative deal on a massive Pacific Rim trading bloc billed as the largest-ever deal of its kind, with implications for hundreds of millions of people, hundreds of products and industries, and for long-term relationships between countries on four continents. "With this agreement, the largest economic partnership in the history of the world, Canadian exporters will gain nearly tariff-free access to almost 800 million customers in the Asia-Pacific region... including -- crucially for us -- Japan." First, however, the deal requires political approval. To take effect, it must be ratified by the parliaments and lawmaking authorities of all 12 member countries. Canada will be the first political testing-ground -- the agreement lands smack in the midst of a federal election campaign to decide who will control the Parliament that determines whether it lives or dies.

October 15, 2015  China.  China has lost a trade dispute over duties on European and Japanese high-grade steel, according to a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that was made public Wednesday in Geneva. The global trade body struck down Beijing‘s appeal against the WTO‘s previous decision from February, which said China violated international trade rules when it imposed anti-dumping tariffs against certain steel tubes that are used in power plants. The WTO‘s appellate body went even further and reversed some points of the initial ruling that had been in China‘s favour. The WTO argued that China had not followed proper procedures and had acted in an non-transparent manner when it introduced the tariffs in 2012 to counter imports. The EU charged that its tube exports to China fell from an annual 90 million euros (102 million dollars) to below 20 million euros as a result. China‘s step came shortly after the EU had imposed its own anti-dumping duties on imports of certain Chinese seamless pipes and stainless steel tubes, as the bloc deemed them to be sold below fair market value.

October 14, 2015  China.  USA Rice was represented Wednesday at a public hearing held by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on China's compliance with its obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Craig Thorn of DTB Associates provided testimony on behalf of USA Rice, U.S. Wheat Associates and the U.S. Grains Council on the tremendous increase over the past decade in China's domestic support for rice, wheat and corn production which has left China's support levels significantly higher than those in the United States.  "These policies have put China in clear violation of its WTO commitments," said Thorn. "Keep in mind that we were looking at only three commodities. China has support programs for other products — such as pork, cotton, and oilseeds — which we did not include in our calculations."  DTB Associates, on behalf of USA Rice, has carried out several studies of the WTO compliance of rice support programs in key global rice producing and import countries.  USA Rice and DTB staff also met Wednesday with staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to review findings by both DTB and the USITC on Vietnam's rice support programs. 

October 13, 2015  WTO & UNCTAD.  WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, and UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi signed a joint declaration, as they marked the twentieth anniversary of the WTO at its headquarters in Geneva on 12 October. The agreement further strengthens the collaboration between the UNCTAD and WTO in key areas of their work, and builds on Memoranda of Understanding signed by the organizations in 2003 and 2013. UNCTAD and the WTO believe that trade should play a key role in supporting the implementation of the outcomes of the Third International Conference of Financing for Development, in the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals and, above all, in fostering inclusive economic growth for poverty alleviation. The organizations plan to reinforce their cooperation on issues such as trade related-technical assistance, trade facilitation, trade and investment, debt and finance, global value chains, commodities, standards, non-tariff measures, and e-commerce, as well as the establishment of a Geneva Trade Statistics Hub. Dr. Kituyi said: "The signing of this declaration will deepen our collaboration in helping the least developed countries. As we celebrate twenty years of achievement, we recognize that many least developed countries are still commodity dependent, which therefore exposes them to the vulnerabilities of the boom and bust cycle." 

October 12, 2015  US celebrates Columbus Day while Canada celebrates Thanksgiving.

October 9, 2015  2006 US-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.  The 2006 US-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement to Terminate, effective 10/13/2015. (SLA 2006) will terminate on October 12, 2015. As such, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will discontinue enforcement of regulations implementing the SLA 2006. 

October 8, 2015  Pacific Rim Tade deal.  The landmark Pacific Rim trade deal will boost Canada's access to the U.S. sugar market by 19,200 tons, a trade group said on Wednesday, making it the second nation to gain greater access to the coveted U.S. sugar market through the pact agreed this week. That includes 9,600 tons refined sugar quota through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), on top of the existing 10,300 tons it currently has through World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, said Sandra Marsden, president of the Canadian Sugar Institute. The TPP also includes a boost of 9,600 tons of quota for sugar containing-products, said Marsden. Canada currently has a quota of 59,250 tons for those products. The news comes after protracted talks for the 12-country deal during which sugar had been considered a sticking point. Australia, the world's third-largest exporter, will get a boost of 65,000 tons and a larger share of any discretionary quota increases in years to come. 

October 7, 2015  Liberia.  Liberia today will present its Draft Accession Package to the members of the Working Party on Liberia Accession to the World Trade Organization for adoption ad referendum. This represents the final process of Liberia accession process in its ambitious roadmap to join the WTO at the WTO, Ministerial 10 conference to be held in December in Nairobi. The Nairobi Ministerial Conference 10 represents the first time the WTO conference, held every two years, to be held on sub-saharan Africa since its inception in 1995. It is also the twentieth anniversary of the organization and the acceptance of Liberia in December will make Liberia the last country on continental Africa to join the organization, joining the rest of the ECOWAS members who are all members. Liberia’s membership is timely as the Nairobi Ministerial is table many issue particularly those most important to Africa. Issues such as support for the development support for developing and least developed countries to improve their trade competitiveness, issues of agriculture and market access, and capacity building on trade facilitation are among the many issues to be tabled for negotiations. Today the Liberian Delegation, led by its Chief Negotiator, Hon. Axel M. Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, will participate in the final working party meeting and will also host the Friends of Liberia Accession event to recognize the support of the many partners that have supported Liberia over the last seven years on the accession process. 

October 6, 2015  Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Pacific trade ministers have reached a deal on the most sweeping trade liberalization pact in a generation that will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries, an official familiar with the talks said on Monday. Leaders from a dozen Pacific Rim nations are poised to announce the pact later on Monday. The deal could reshape industries and influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer treatments. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would affect 40 percent of the world economy and would stand as a legacy-defining achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama, if it is ratified by Congress. Lawmakers in other TPP countries must also approve the deal. The final round of negotiations in Atlanta, which began on Wednesday, had snared on the question of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs, until the United States and Australia negotiated a compromise. The TPP deal has been controversial because of the secret negotiations that have shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to an array of interest groups from Mexican auto workers to Canadian dairy farmers.

October 5, 2015  Trade.  As negotiators try to wrap up the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership, a similar trade agreement with South Korea offers lessons on the benefits and frustrations with managed trade. More than three years since the South Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement came into effect, the results are mixed. American exports rose to a record $44.5 billion last year, up 6.8 percent from 2013. Yet the U.S. trade deficit with Seoul is at record levels, too. Although South Korea is Washington state’s sixth-largest trading partner, exports to that nation have actually fallen during the past three years even as they have risen dramatically overall. As with NAFTA, there are positives and negatives with any agreement - the determination lies in where you stand in the agreement.

KORUS, as the pact is known, has vigorous defenders as well as detractors. But it offers a cautionary example of what such deals can accomplish as negotiators try to conclude the biggest of all, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Like TPP and NAFTA, KORUS is not actually “free trade” but a managed trade agreement. Proponents hope to achieve the same good outcome, lowering barriers, but these deals are complex, dense and produce more losers than advocates wish to acknowledge.

October 2, 2015  TPP.  After five years of negotiations, the 12-country TPP talks are down to the wire, with Japan and the U.S. leading the charge to clinch a wide-ranging deal after several false starts. Negotiations are scheduled to wrap up Friday, but players are talking about extending discussions until Saturday. Canada, Mexico and Japan have been trying to surmount differences over how much freedom Japanese auto makers will have to use overseas auto parts in cars sold in North America – a major sticking point in talks. Sources say there’s agreement that the domestic content threshold for auto parts will be higher – as much as 45 per cent – for sophisticated components but 35 per cent for simpler ones. It could be a bit tougher sell for the TPP in Central Canada, where the auto-parts sector would face a flood of new competition from Asian rivals and where the bulk of this country’s 12,500 dairy farms are located.

October 1, 2015  New Zealand.  Trade Minister Tim Groser today announced that New Zealand has formally accepted the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). “The TFA is designed to facilitate trade through the simplification and streamlining of customs and border processes,” said Mr Groser. The implementation of the TFA will provide concrete benefits to New Zealand businesses over time, minimising costs associated with getting products across borders and into the marketplace. In particular, New Zealand’s agricultural exporters will benefit from a provision to provide for the release of perishable goods within the shortest possible time. “New Zealand’s acceptance of the TFA reflects New Zealand’s commitment to the WTO and the multilateral trading system. New Zealand is working actively with other WTO members in the lead up to 10th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Kenya in December this year.

September 29, 2015  Cuba. Cuba reiterated today here the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States to the island for more than 50 years. Despite the measures implemented by Washington to change the application of some aspects of the blockade and its calls to the Congress to eliminate it, the laws and regulations supporting this policy are still in force, a diplomatic source stressed. In this regard, Monica Rodriguez, an official of the Cuban Permanent Mission to the International Organizations in Geneva, referred to the negative implications of the "Section 211 of the (US) Omnibus Law of Budgetary Assignments of 1998."  In virtue of it, a specific license to renew the trademark registration for Havana Club rum has been denied for many years to the Cuban company Cubaexport, she explained at the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Rodriguez stated that the sustained failure by the United States in this dispute, responds to the absurd measures and laws in force in the northern country to endorse the aforementioned fence. Among the serious consequences of this absurd policy, the compliance with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB, which since 2002 declared the Section 211 incompatible with the intellectual property rules of the WTO, is prevented, she emphasized.

September 28, 2015  Taiwan & India.  The government has asked India to enter negotiations under a WTO dispute settlement mechanism over the anti-dumping penalty New Dehli imposed on Taiwanese USB flash drive exporters in May, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said. The ministry said that India’s tariffs against Taiwan’s USB flash drive exporters were imposed after a flawed investigation process and the penalties have caused serious financial damage. New Dehli in June last year launched an investigation into accusations that USB flash drive exporters from Taiwan, China and South Korea were dumping their products in India.

September 25, 2015  Canada.  On 24 April 2015, the Canadian government adopted regulations that significantly affect the foreign investment review framework. With the exception of cultural businesses and investments by foreign state‑owned enterprises (SOE), the changes affect foreign investments in all sectors of the economy. Notably, the pre‑merger review and national security provisions in the Investment Canada Act (ICA) (described below) apply in addition to the merger control provisions set out in the Competition Act, which should also be reviewed in advance of a merger transaction affecting Canada.

The new regulations implement the long anticipated changes to the existing thresholds that trigger a net benefit review under the ICA. For investments by World Trade Organization (WTO) private‑sector investors, the basis of the net benefit review threshold has changed from the “book value” of the target Canadian business’s assets to the “enterprise value.” The new threshold amount is CA$600 million. This is expected to result in the review of fewer foreign investment proposals to determine whether they are likely to be of net benefit to Canada.

However, foreign SOE will continue to be subject to the existing standard for the net benefit review threshold, specifically, the book value of the target Canadian business’s assets. This is in line with the Canadian government’s policy on SOE and will allow greater scrutiny of investments made by foreign SOE in sectors of the Canadian economy. Investors from non‑WTO member countries and foreign investments in Canadian “cultural businesses” will also continue to be subject to the existing net benefit review threshold.

The new regulations also increase significantly the information required from foreign investors, even where there is no net benefit review, in order to provide Canadian security and intelligence agencies with more information about investors and their investments. This change aligns with the Canadian government’s authority to conduct a national security review of a foreign investment, where it determines whether an investment could be injurious to national security. Increasingly, such national security reviews are being undertaken. The new regulations have increased the timeline for completing such reviews from 130 days to 200 days.

September 23, 2015  US & China.  The U.S. business lobby expressed disappointment on Monday at the pace of negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty with China and said it was important that President Xi Jinping address the growing concerns of U.S. firms when he visits the United States this week. Last week, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said the United States and China had exchanged revised lists of sectors that would be off limits in an investment treaty but gave no details. Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the progress had been "incremental, not substantial." While he had not seen the Chinese list, he understood the number of sectors that remained off-limits to U.S. investment had gone down from about 80 to between 35 and 40. "Typically when we negotiate bilateral investment treaties with other countries, we are talking about one piece of paper, not a thick document excluding these main sectors.  "There's still a long way to go here ... China has got to come much further with its offer." Sunday's Washington Post quoted Zhang Xiangchen, China’s deputy representative for international trade, as saying that positive progress could be expected during Xi's visit, which will start with visits to tech firms in Seattle. 

September 21, 2015  China. China, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have called for faster approval of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) by World Trade Organization (WTO) members. "WTO ratification will determine when this agreement comes into force," said Yi Xiaozhun, WTO Deputy Director General, at a symposium on trade to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of WTO on the sidelines of the 12th China-ASEAN Expo on Friday. With the agreement adopted, the focus has now shifted to respective capitals. The TFA was made in Bali in December 2013, the first multilateral trade agreement since the establishment of the WTO in 1995. The TFA will speed up the clearance of goods across borders, boost trade volumes and create millions of jobs. "The significance of the TFA lies in the fact that it will be a catalyst to revitalize sluggish global trade," said Moon Jae-do, ROK's second vice minister of trade, industry and energy.

September 18, 2015  WTO.  Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), has been elected as the World Tourism Organization’s (WTO) vice president. The decision was taken on Sunday by the Middle East committee of the organization in Medellin, Colombia. The meeting re-elected Saudi Arabia as a member of the WTO’s executive board for the Middle East. Prince Sultan was present to attend the 21st session of the WTO’s general assembly meeting, which took place on Sunday and Monday. Prince Sultan was born in Riyadh on June 27, 1956. He is the second son of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, according to information posted on the website . He earned a master’s degree in social and political science from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in the United States in 1999.

September 16, 2015  US Wheat.  Excessive subsidizing by China, Brazil and other advanced developing countries is harming U.S. and world wheat farmers and could cost U.S. growers nearly $1 billion in revenue every year, according to a study commissioned by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW).

The study, led by Iowa State University agricultural economist Dermot Hayes, shows that these countries, including India and Turkey, have dramatically increased their support for domestic wheat production over the last decade to levels far exceeding World Trade Organization agreements (WTO, with a detrimental effect on global wheat trade. The researchers determined that if all support were removed from all four countries, U.S. annual wheat production would increase by more than 53 million bushels (current production is just over 2 billion bushels), farm gate prices would increase by nearly 30 cents a bushel, and U.S. wheat farmers would receive $947 million more in annual revenue. The price support and input date was identified in a November 2014 study by DTB Associates. According to USW and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), the results show that if domestic support were removed, wheat prices in the countries examined would go down and farmers would plant less of the grain, but domestic consumption would go up. “The lower supply would lead to higher global wheat prices, which tend to benefit wheat exporting countries including the United States,” Hayes said.

The study also suggested that with increased consumption, the four countries would boost net imports by nearly 10 million metric tons. Hayes said the model estimated the U.S. would capture more than 20 percent of such an increase to export an additional 2.2 million tons, compared to the model's baseline if there were no changes in domestic support in those countries. The study also compares future scenarios to data from a market situation in which wheat cash prices were significantly higher than they are now. For example, in addition to Chinese government input subsidies coupled to wheat production, the 2014 DTB study in 2014 showed Chinese farmers have government minimum support prices of more than $10 per bushel.

September 14, 2015  Bolivia.  Since the election of Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela in 1998, left or left-center governments have come to power or remained in power in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Venezuela and some of the smaller Caribbean states (left wing governments have been ousted by coups in Haiti, Honduras and Paraguay, and by this year's elections in Guyana).

This "Bolivarian pink tide" represents one of the greatest challenges to international monopoly capital and U.S. hegemony over the region since the fall of the U.S.S.R. at the end of the 1980s. Moreover, the process of regional integration which the Latin American and Caribbean left wing governments have undertaken has contributed to a rise in living standards for the majorities in each country. New structures of regional cooperation and economic integration have included the ALBA (The Bolivarian Alliance for Our America), UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), the revitalized MERCOSUR (South American Common Market), PETROCARIBE, CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and BANASUR (Bank of the South, a new South American development bank). These bodies have challenged the hegemony of the United States in the Western Hemisphere and have built new trade and political relationships with the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).

However, right now these governments have hit a rough patch. Several key countries are experiencing economic slowdowns, there is new instability, and the historic advances, though not reversed, are threatened. The right wing is making a coordinated regional push to restore its power, counting on support from the United States in doing so. Left and left-center governments emphasize right wing sabotage as being at the root of the current difficulties, and there is certainly an element of that. The right and the ruling class, including corporate controlled media, rather, blame everything on the mistakes of the left and left-center governments. But there are some general characteristics of the whole panorama that constitute systemic challenges to the "Bolivarian" project that need to be overcome.

September 11, 2015  China.  China, the world's second biggest economy with the world's largest population, has become the 16th member to accept the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the WTO (World Trade Organization) recently. In order to promote world trade facilitation, China has pushed for negotiations to accelerate its implementation. Initiated in October 2004, negotiations have progressed very slowly with an agreement formally approved at the Bali ministerial conference in December 2013. However, the agreement has not taken effect as scheduled on July 31, 2014, because India has insisted on resolving food safety problems. In November 2014, the United States and India have agreed on trade facilitation and then the WTO General Council passed the agreement and launched it into acceptance procedures. The agreement can come into effect if two thirds of members accept it. This is the first multilateral trade treaty endorsed by the WTO. China remains positive about negotiations. Beijing had participated in the making of eight proposals including: trade regulations, risk management, follow-up inspections, priority areas, technology aids, capacity building and more, putting forward plans to help the Doha Round equitable development go into effect.

September 10, 2015  India.  The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for notification of Preferential Treatment by India to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Trade in Services in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). According to an official release, “India will notify Preferential Treatment to the LDCs in Trade in Services in respect of: Article XVI of the GATS (Market Access); technical assistance and capacity building; and waiver of visa fees for LDC applicants applying for Indian business and employment visas.” The preferences will be bound with validity for 15 years from the date of notification by India.  India's preferential treatment to the LDCs in Trade in Services would involve a cost of Rs. 6.5 crore annually on account of waiver of visa fees and Rs. 2.5 to 3 crore, per annum, for providing training in management and technical consultancy courses to LDC applicants, it said.

September 9, 2015  WTO.  The latest World Trade Organization (WTO) hearing over the protracted dispute between Canada and Mexico on the one hand and the United States on the other over mandatory U.S. meat labelling rules has been set for September 15-16 in Geneva, Switzerland. The arbitration hearing comes as Canada and Mexico continue to demand the American government repeal its controversial mandatory country-of-origin labeling rules (COOL). In place since 2008, COOL requires producers and processors identify where an animal is born raised and slaughtered. Canada and Mexico have protested the law as protectionist, a view that has been upheld by the World Trade Organization four times. Canadian officials want to impose more than $3 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs against the United States because of COOL. American officials have challenged Canada’s economic analysis – triggering the WTO arbitration hearing.

September 8, 2015  WTO.  Fewer seals could be hunted over their fur thanks to a stronger EU ban on the trade in seal product. MEPs debate the plans today and vote on them tomorrow. Under the new rules hunting seals in order to protect fishing stocks would no longer be allowed, although Inuit and other indigenous communities will continue to be exempt from the ban. These changes, already agreed with EU governments, are needed to bring EU regulation in line with World Trade Organization rules.  In response to animal welfare concerns, the EU banned in 2009 the trade in seal products, such as sealskin coats, mitts, bags or seal meat. This ban entered into force in 2010. However, it allowed two exceptions, one for products resulting from indigenous hunts and the other for small-scale hunts to ensure sustainable “marine resource management”. The ban was challenged by Canada and Norway in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In June 2014, it delivered a ruling which noted that the ban could be justified on moral grounds regarding the welfare of seals but required more clarification of the exceptions applied. To address the WTO concerns, the European Commission proposed an amendment to the current EU rules in February 2015. Under the changes, which have already been agreed with EU governments, Inuits will be allowed to sell seal products in the EU only if their hunting methods have due regard to animal welfare, are a part of their tradition and contribute to its subsistence.

September 7, 2015  Canada celebrates Labour Day while US celebrates Labor Day!

September 4, 2015   EU grows bilateral and regional FTAs. Free trade agreements (FTAs) between the European Union (EU) and its trading partners worldwide have mushroomed in recent years and more are in the pipeline. Figures from the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex) show that more than 44% of the 42.2bn textile and clothing products exported worldwide in 2013 were traded under the EU’s existing FTAs. That figure is set to rise with the 4 August signature of the EU-Vietnam FTA, which will see Vietnam scrapping duties on EU textile fabric imports once it comes into force (Vietnam’s clothing sector has weak backward linkages). That date is uncertain, however, as legal texts need to be negotiated and ratification must then proceed – but this could happen within two years.

September 3, 2015   United States Prevails In Enforcement Dispute With China Over Grain Oriented Electrical Steel. On July 31, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a ruling in favor of the United States in a dispute over China's compliance with the prior recommendations and rulings of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) regarding China's conduct of investigations that resulted in the imposition of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders with respect to U.S. exports of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES). This marks the first time since its accession to the WTO in 2001 that China has been found to have failed to comply with an adverse DSB ruling. As China already allowed the illegal trade remedy measures to "sunset" in April 2015 in anticipation of the release of the compliance panel's report, the issuance of the ruling serves more as a rebuke to systemic deficiencies in China's administration of its trade remedy laws than as a directive with any practical impact on U.S. exports of GOES.

September 2, 2015   India seeks WTO's views on Steel import norm. India has sought comments from World Trade Organisation (WTO) members on the Steel Ministry’s proposal to make it mandatory for certain grades of stainless steel sold in the country to have quality certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

“Since the move could potentially slow down imports and also impact the quantities of steel imported, it is important to give a chance to exporting countries to voice their concerns and see if the relevant ones could be addressed,” a government official told BusinessLine.

Members have been given two months to respond. The proposal will be implemented three months after it is adopted, but no decision has been taken on its adoption.

September 1, 2015  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  It seems that Congress passing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill in June to fast-track TPP wasn’t necessary just yet. The 12-nation TPP talks in Hawaii came to an end last month with no resolution, due mainly to a few sticking points, one of which was dairy. While dairy is a small part of the total economic output for these 12 countries, "the industry’s farmers have outsize political influence in the developed countries wrangling over the issue," according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Canada keeps its dairy industry closely guarded, and several countries, including the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Japan were vocal about their intent to use the agreement to open up Canada to dairy imports. Canada wants to keep its restrictive tariffs in place to maintain its supply management program and protect domestic dairy farmers, but New Zealand refuses to sign an agreement wherein the country cannot ship more dairy products, its biggest import.


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