Chile hopes to sign a free trade agreement with
Thailand soon and is seeking to expand a limited one it has with India, as the Andean country looks to deepen its open, export-dependent model, foreign affairs minister Alfredo Moreno said on Saturday.
The country is also working on broader agreements, including with fellow Pacific Alliance members Colombia, Mexico and Peru as well as negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“Chile has just concluded negotiations with Thailand, I expect (the agreement) will be signed soon,” Moreno said. “And (Chile) is starting negotiations with India to expand the very limited agreement we have with India.”
He didn’t provide details of the agreements or time frames.
External trade represents around 75 percent of Chile’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). World No.1 copper producer Chile also exports wine, fruits, salmon and wood pulp.
The South American country has increasingly turned to Asia as a growing market for its products.
PICTURED ABOVE: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shakes hand with her Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra at the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka on Saturday.
Bangladesh, Thailand wants to double bilateral trade by 2016
According to The Financial Express, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra acknowledged the importance of enhancing connectivity between the two nations through increased regional cooperation and developing roads and shipping infrastructures linking Bangladesh and Thailand.
The two premiers entrusted the Bangladesh-Thailand Joint Commission to discuss and make recommendations on specific areas of cooperation with a major focus on connectivity, according to a joint statement signed on the day on the occasion of the Thai premier’s visit to Bangladesh.
The two sides recognised that the region is being increasingly used by criminals for arms, drugs and human trafficking. The two leaders expressed concern about the serious challenge posed by the threats of terrorism and condemned it in all its forms and manifestations.
The two noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade has increased by over 65 per cent in the last year (FY 2009-10 to FY 2010-11) and crossed the US$ one billion mark in 2011.
Hasina invited the Thai private sector to invest in infrastructure development, food processing and power generation sectors.
Besides, the two sides agreed to explore the possibilities of cooperation between their respective oil and gas companies in Exploration and Production (E&P) opportunities in Bangladesh.
The Thai PM welcomed Bangladesh’s plan to hold a Single Country Fair in Thailand in 2013.
ASEAN and FTA Partners Launch The World’s Biggest Regional Free Trade Deal
Determined to explore options to beat the global economic slowdown, the Heads of State/Government of the ASEAN Member States, and ASEAN’s FTA partners, namely: Australia, China, India, Korea, Japan and New Zealand, officially kicked off negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP.
The move was one of the highlights of the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The idea was first mooted at the 19th ASEAN Summit in November 2011, when leaders of the ten ASEAN Member States adopted the ASEAN Framework for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which sets out the general principles for broadening and deepening ASEAN’s engagement with its FTA Partners. This important milestone signaled the determination and commitment of ASEAN to play the lead and central role in the emerging regional economic architecture.
The significant progress made in ASEAN’s FTAs with China (ACFTA), Japan (AJCEP), Korea (AKFTA), India (AIFTA), and Australia and New Zealand (AANZFTA) has put these trading partners in a position to bring to a higher level their economic partnership by negotiating a comprehensive economic partnership that would lead to the creation of an integrated market that spans 16 countries with a combined market of over 3 billion people and a combined GDP of about US$19.78 trillion based on 2011 figures. The RCEP would be the largest regional trading arrangement to this day.
“With the region accounting for more than half of the global market and about a third of the global economic output, there is no doubt that a successful RCEP would significantly contribute and boost global trade and investment,” said Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.
The landmark event in Phnom Penh comes at a time when economic recovery efforts continue to be seriously challenged by the volatile global financial and economic situation. With the launch of RCEP negotiations for a modern, comprehensive, high-quality agreement, the RCEP is a strategic move aimed at keeping the momentum of growth in the region by ensuring that markets of the participating countries remain open and competitive.
RCEP negotiations are expected to commence in 2013. Leaders also endorsed the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, adopted by their Economic Ministers in Siem Reap in August 2012. Based on the said Guiding Principles, the RCEP – although to be initially negotiated by ASEAN and its existing FTA partners – would allow the region’s economic partners to eventually accede into the agreement. The RCEP is also expected to include economic and technical cooperation that would allow all parties, regardless of their level of development, to maximize the opportunities made available by deeper and broader economic engagements.
PICTURED ABOVE: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda before their meeting at Noda’s official residence in Tokyo.
Canada, Japan to start trade talks next month
Canada and Japan will launch their first full round of bilateral trade negotiations next month, Trade Minister Ed Fast said on Monday, the latest in a series of bilateral talks Canada has begun with trade partners with multilateral efforts stalled.
“Both sides are committed to concluding a comprehensive agreement that will unlock the full potential of our relationship and benefit workers and businesses in both countries,” Fast said in a statement.
Canada is trying to conclude a free-trade deal with the European Union, is in the midst of negotiations with India and this month formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks aimed at creating an Asia-Pacific free trade accord.
The Conservative government has concluded six free-trade agreements since 2006, but mostly with minor players, including Jordan and Panama.
The first round with Japan will begin on Nov. 26 in Tokyo.
A joint study found that a trade agreement between the two countries could add between $4.4 billion and $4.9 billion to Japanese gross domestic product, and between $3.8 billion and $9.0 billion to Canada’s.
South Africa and Czech Republic recommitted to boost trade relations
The commitment was made yesterday in Prague, Czech at the end of the second session of the Czech Republic-South Africa Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation (“Joint Committee”) meeting.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe and her counterpart Mr Pavel Åolcl, who co-chaired the Joint Committee, signed a declaration on behalf of the two countries. The declaration speaks to the need to strengthening cooperation between South Africa and the Czech Republic.
Deputy Minister Thabethe says that both countries reiterated the role of the Joint Committee and committed to promoting cooperation between business enterprises of the two sides and to oversee development of bilateral economic cooperation in various fields.
“We shared the view that at the time, when the current financial and economic crisis negatively affects many countries, concerted international efforts are needed to create a more conducive environment for economic and business cooperation. The two Sides shared the view that solutions should also be sought in the promotion of multilateral and inter-regional trade” said Thabethe.
She also said that the meeting stressed the importance of the strategic partnership between the European Union and the Republic of South Africa.
“We support the process of identifying further opportunities for encouraging trade and investment relationship between the European Union (EU) and Southern African region, including a comprehensive and balanced Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EU and Southern African Development Community (SADC). Following the Joint Communiqué, adopted at the occasion of the fifth EU-South Africa Summit, held in Brussels in September 18th, 2012, we hope that pending issues in the negotiations can be resolved and the EPA could be finalised as soon as possible” she said.
According to Deputy Minister Thabethe, both countries agreed to exert every possible effort to enhance the performance of bilateral trade on a mutually beneficial basis and to encourage private sectors from the two countries to actively participate in efforts to boost trade.
“In an effort to diversify bilateral trade, we have proposed to the Czech side to further develop bilateral trade in other potential products, such as machinery, filtering or purifying machinery, boilers, electrical equipment, textiles & textiles articles, automotive and automotive components, furniture, plates, sheet, strip and foil, nickel alloy, wines and fruit juices and processed food.” added Thabethe.
She further said that the two countries agreed that the promotion of mutual trade and economic cooperation is the objective shared by the two governments.
“The Czech Side informed us that South Africa was included in a targeted group covering so-called “Countries of Interest” in the “2012-2020 Export Strategy of the Czech Republic”, approved by the Czech Government. This new Export Strategy is the main instrument for diversifying and increasing the Czech foreign trade and promoting mutual trade, investment and other economic activities with countries included in the said document”, she concluded.
Finally the South African delegation expressed concern about the Czech Republic/Schengen visa regime affecting business trips to Czech Republic and the Czech Side took note and will inform the relevant authorities.
Denmark and China will agree to boost commercial ties in energy efficiency, environmental protection, and sustainable urban development
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India is to open a new four lane motorway to allow traders and tourists to drive from its eastern tea state of Assam into Burma, Thailand and eventually Cambodia and Vietnam.
The new “trilateral highway” is aimed at creating a new economic zone ranging from Calcutta on the Bay of Bengal to Ho Chi Minh City on the South China Sea.
The first phase of the project was agreed during Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Burma this week when he and President Thein Sein set a 2016 deadline to complete a super highway linking Guwahati in Assam to Burma’s border with Thailand via Mandalay and the former capital Rangoon. According to analysts, the road is a key part of a plan to open the “Mekong-India Corridor” to link the world’s second fastest growing market – India – with the new Asian Tiger economies of Indo-China.
Until now plans to open this new economic zone, which bypasses China, the world’s fastest growing economy and superpower, have been hampered by international sanctions against the former military regime in Burma. But with the gradual easing of sanctions following the series of democratic reforms unveiled by Burma’s president Thein Sein since last August, the obstacles have now cleared.
For India, the new highway will open up new oil and gas opportunities off the coast of Burma, and also Vietnam, as well as easier access to Japanese products made in Thailand. It would also bring new wealth to its poor and marginalised North-Eastern states like Manipur and Nagaland, which have been blighted by local insurgencies and heavy security.
The highway will also recall the historic ties between India and Burma which unravelled following their independence from Britain after the Second World War. During most of the colonial period Burma was governed as a province of British India from Calcutta and later New Delhi. Aung San Suu Kyi, like other children of Burma’s elite, was a pupil and university student in India.
Mohan Guruswamy of the New Delh-based Centre for Policy Alternatives, said a two lane highway connecting the Indian border to Mandalay, 375 miles away, had already been built, and the next phases will be to broaden it to a four-lane road and extend it a further 375 miles to Rangoon.
“The idea is that you can get in a car or bus and drive to Bangkok from Guwahati. Burma was the hurdle, but now it has opened up, thanks to the Americans. It marks a great opening of a new economic zone,” he said.
East Asian powers agree on trade pact talks
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged northeast Asian powers to cooperate more in the face of global economic headwinds, as China, Japan and South Korea agreed at a summit on Sunday to soon launch negotiations on a three-way free trade pact.
The three nations are major traders, and together accounted for 19.6 percent of global gross domestic product and 18.5 percent of exports in 2010, according to a feasibility study of that the governments issued last year on the proposed trade pact.
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Direct flights from Eritrea to South Africa improve trade relations
The South African government has welcomed the introduction of regular flights from Eritrea, saying this will further help strengthen economic, political, and social relations between the two countries.
Eritrean Airlines will now fly to Cape Town International Airport and OR Tambo Airport, four times a week. The first flight is scheduled for today.
“The South African government views this as part of advancing the African Agenda and sustainable development, which is a strategic objective of South Africa’s foreign policy for a progressive Africa and a better world,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said on Monday.
This new development, according to the department, is also in line with President Jacob Zuma’s infrastructure initiative, which aims to advance greater development, stability and integration in Africa.
“Currently, the South African mining infrastructure company, SENET, has established an office in Asmara and is involved with the government of … Eritrea in the development of Eritrea’s mining infrastructure, notably in the production of gold and copper.”
Eritrea, a former Ethiopian province and Italian colony which gained independence in 1993, is still trying to rebuild itself, especially its infrastructure and the economy after years of internal strife and instability.
Eritrea GDP’s is showing signs of growth as it soared to an estimated 17% in 2011. It is also one of the few African states that are on track towards meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals in child mortality and water conservation.
Indian President Pratibha Patil (L) walks with South Africa President Jacob Zuma (R) during her state visit to South Africa in Pretoria on May 2.
India, South Africa trade targets to be reached ahead of deadline
Trade between South Africa and India will reach the target of $15 billion (11 billion euros) per year before a self-imposed 2014 deadline, South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday.
The two countries agreed to increase their commercial exchanges during Zuma’s state visit to India in 2010.
But they are on track to reach the mark ahead of schedule, Zuma said during a return visit from Indian President Pratibha Patil.
“We set a target of 15 billion dollars of trade between South Africa and India, to be achieved by 2014. According to current trade statistics this could be reached earlier than anticipated,” he told the South Africa-India business forum in the South African capital Pretoria.
“The figure by the end of 2011 was close to seven billion dollars. We are on the right path indeed.”
Africa’s largest economy grew 3.1 percent in 2011, but is dragged down by a 23.9-percent unemployment rate.
Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation and largest oil producer, was India’s largest trading partner at $10 billion in 2010.
“Let me remind you that you are in the right continent at the right time. The African continent is the new frontier of economic growth and development,” said Zuma.
China, Russia sign trade deals worth $15 billion
China and Russia have signed 27 trade contracts worth $15 billion, as the two countries seek to deepen their trade and investment links, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.
Trade cooperation is an important foundation of China and Russia’s strategic relationship, Xinhua cited Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang as saying in Moscow.
Both countries should explore different fields for cooperation, boost trade volumes and mutual investment, Xinhua said, citing Li as saying to Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. There should be focus on pushing for big, strategic joint projects, and both countries should seek to improve their competitiveness globally, Li said.
China and Russia should launch research institutes, advanced technology initiatives, and deepen energy cooperation in nuclear, natural gas, crude oil and coal sectors on the basis of mutual benefit, Li said.
The two countries could also expand their cooperation in finance, direct investment, energy, mechanical and electronic products, he added.
Bilateral trade between both countries reached CNY79.25 billion in 2011, up 43% from the previous year.
Li arrived in Russia Thursday on a trip that will also include Hungary and Belgium, while Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has ended his own European tour Friday.
China sees trade with Germany near doubling by 2015
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India has decided to allow foreign direct investment from Pakistan, India’s trade minister said on Friday, hours before the two countries were due to open a trading post on the border in the latest sign of thawing economic ties.
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India and Pakistan said Thursday they hoped to transform trade ties and boost peace prospects at the opening of the largest Pakistani commercial fair ever staged on Indian soil.
“There is no other option but economic partnership between India and Pakistan,” Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said at the launch of the four-day show in New Delhi, a sentiment echoed by Pakistani officials.
“We have to recognise our true trade potential… and leave our children with a legacy that ensures prosperity, harmony and peace,” Sharma said. “The two nations have opened up a new chapter with this exhibition.”
The “Lifestyle Pakistan” show’s opening came just days after President Asif Ali Zardari made the first trip to India by a Pakistani head of state in seven years, encouraging ties.
Pakistan has brought more than 650 business people to the Indian capital for the show as commercial relations improve between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
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