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A. GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS AND IMPACT ON TRADE AND INVESTMENT
Despite uncertainties, Asian economies heading towards full recovery in 2010, Xinhua , 13 February 2010
HONG KONG, The global recession, which started late 2008, hit Asia hard as its economies were mainly powered by manufacturing sector that exports most of the products to industrialized economies. Thanks to swift government response -- including reduction of interest rates, decreasing bank reserve requirements and stimulus spending -- Asian economies led the global recovery from the worst recession in decades. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the region's GDP would grow by 4.5 percent last year, a rate higher than many other parts of the world. Experts, however, also warned that early signs of growth will not necessarily translate to a long term recovery, especially as export-reliant Asian economies were still hinged on the performance of developed countries in 2010. And there are no indications yet that the crisis that crippled the U.S. and Europe is finally over.
Accessed on 13 February < http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth>
Foreign investment in China rises for 6th month, Business Week , 22 February 2010
China's foreign investment rose for a sixth straight month in January in a new sign that recovery in the world's third largest economy is on track, government figures showed Monday. Foreign direct investment rose 7.8 percent in January from a year earlier to $8.1 billion, the Commerce Ministry said. That was below December's growth rate, but China 's economic data in the first two months of the year are distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, which results in fewer working days. "While the monthly data is quite volatile, investment has been on a moderately improving track for most of 2009 and this should continue into the early months of 2010," said Alaistair Chan, an associate economist of Moody's Economy.com, in a note. China 's foreign direct investment plunged in 2008 as companies cut back spending amid the global economic crisis but began to rise again in August. FDI includes spending on factories, real estate and other assets but excludes investment in stocks and other financial instruments.
ndia to emerge from global economic crisis with stronger growth, Economic Times , 24 February 2010 WASHINGTON : With sound economic policies, India , Bangladesh and Bhutan are expected to emerge from the global economic crisis with stronger growth performances in South Asia , according to a World Bank report. These three countries generally have sound economic policies and greater resilience of trade, investment , and remittances, it said noting growth has been weakest in countries that entered the crisis with large internal and external imbalances, such as Pakistan , Sri Lanka and the Maldives . In general South Asia appears to have escaped the worst effects of the global economic crisis, the report - Global Economic Prospects 2010 - said. However, the region's GDP growth of 6 percent in 2009 remains unchanged from 2008.
The global financial crisis contributed to deceleration in real GDP growth in South Asia , from 8.7 percent in 2007 to 6 percent in 2009. This was largely driven by a pronounced decline in investment growth and private consumption. Accessed on 25 February < http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/India-to-emerge-from-global-economic-crisis-with-stronger-growth/articleshow/5610514.cms >
Japan 's economy grew 4.6% in last quarter of '09 due to export rebound, New York Times, 15 February 2010
TOKYO — Japan 's economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.6 percent in the final quarter of 2009, preliminary numbers showed Monday, as a rebound in exports helped alleviate fears of a “double-dip” recession. Still, economists forecast that growth will slow this year and that Japan is likely to be overtaken by China as the world's second-largest economy, behind the United States . The figures released Monday will also act as a test of recent changes Japan has made in how it measures economic activity. Tokyo has come under increasing attack for wild variations in its gross domestic product readings: in the third quarter last year, the government initially said the economy grew a robust 4.8 percent, only to revise that rate down to 1.3 percent. The latest numbers, the government says, have been adjusted for more accuracy.
Accessed on 15 February < http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/business/global/15yen.html >
Japan's Government maintains economic assessment, Xinhua , 23 February 2010
TOKYO , The government of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) said Tuesday that the economy is slowly picking up, despite risks to the nation's economic recovery, in a report released by the cabinet office. "Economic conditions are continuing to improve, but cannot yet continue without measures because factors such as the high unemployment rate mean there are still risks," the report said. On exports, the report changed its view to say that they are "increasing moderately." In January, it had said they were increasing and led by exports to Asia . On imports the report also changed its view from January's ''improving'' to ''moderately improving'' for February, citing a decline in raw materials being brought into the country. The report also cut its assessment on fixed investment for the first time in seven years, saying it was getting weaker, and citing the policy of the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which has looked to cut money directed into large public- works projects.
Accessed on 23 February < http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/business/2010-02/23/c_13184604.htm >
Japan logs surprise trade surplus, AFP , 24 February 2010
TOKYO — Japan logged a surprise trade surplus in January as US-bound exports picked up for the first time in more than two years on robust demand for cars, official data showed Wednesday. Japan posted a surplus of 85.2 billion yen (945 million dollars), beating a deficit of some 145 billion yen the market had expected and reversing a record deficit of 956 billion yen a year ago. It is the 12th consecutive month that Japan has posted a trade surplus, according to data from the finance ministry. Exports in January soared 40.9 percent from a year earlier to 4.90 trillion yen for a second consecutive month of rises as shipments of automobiles, electronics parts and car components surged.
Accessed on 24 February < http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ >
Malaysia FDI set for moderate rebound this yea, Business Times , 5 February 2010
Investments in Malaysia 's manufacturing sector halved last year, bitten by the global recession, but foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to recover moderately this year. This is because the economies of its foreign investors are set to improve. The International Monetary Fund, for instance, has raised its global economic growth forecast to 3.9 per cent for this year from 3.1 per cent. The government approved manufacturing investments worth RM32.6 billion last year, down from RM62.8 billion in 2008. Out of the 766 projects approved by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida), foreign investments made up 67.8 per cent, or RM22.1 billion. "Foreign investments in projects with investments of RM1 billion and above accounted for 37.3 per cent of the total (investments approved), indicating FDI inflows into the country were mainly for quality investments," International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said at the investment agency's annual media conference in Putrajaya yesterday.
Accessed on 5 February < http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/rup0402/Article/index_html >
South Korea posts first current-account gap in a Year, Bloomberg, 24 February 2010
South Korea posted its first current-account deficit in a year last month after exports of ships dropped and a cold winter spurred demand for energy imports, a central bank report showed. The current-account balance turned to a $448 million deficit in January from a $1.52 billion surplus in December, the Bank of Korea said in Seoul today. It may return to surplus in February, bank official Lee Young Bog told reporters after the release. South Korea 's economy expanded just 0.2 percent in 2009, as exports, consumer demand and government spending declined. Even so, President Lee Myung Bak has said the economy will expand more than 5 percent this year, the fastest pace in three years. “The January deficit was largely because of a seasonal effect stemming from higher energy demand, so it will be short- lived,” said Lee Sang Jae, a senior economist at Hyundai Securities Co. in Seoul . “Given exports remain favorable and the seasonal effect fades away, I expect the current-account balance to return to a surplus later.”
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.businessweek/south-korea-reports-first-current-account-deficit>
Thai economy grows in Q4 after year of contraction, Business Week , 22 February 2010
Thailand 's economy bounced back in the fourth quarter, posting year-on-year growth after 12 months of contraction amid a recovery in exports, private investment and household spending. Southeast Asia 's second-largest economy expanded by 5.8 percent in the October-December period from a year earlier, the National Economic & Social Development Board said Monday. That ended four straight quarters of contraction that began in the last three months of 2008 amid the global financial crisis. For all of 2009, the economy shrank by 2.3 percent. The state economic agency predicts Thailand 's gross domestic product (GDP) to grow in a range of 3.5 to 4.5 percent this year, depending on the strength of the global economic recovery.
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9E14GE84.htm >
B. TRADE - INVESTMENT FACILITATION AND PROMOTION
Beijing boost for local yuan trade, The Standard , 12 February 2010
Beijing has expanded the scope of yuan business in Hong Kong to allow non-mainland companies to issue yuan bonds and borrow yuan funds in the city, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. It also allows non-trading firms to transact business in yuan. Confirmation of the bond-related policy came as Hong Kong 's de facto central bank issued guiding principles on broader yuan business after a review aimed at making processes simpler and more flexible under existing policies. "Non-Chinese entities can issue yuan bonds in Hong Kong but cannot remit [the funds raised] across the border," HKMA chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam told a news briefing.
Accessed on 12 February < http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=30&>
India : Welcome FDI reform, Economic Times, 15 February 2010
Last week's substantial reform of the foreign direct investment (FDI) regime is most welcome. The government has decided that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) would need to vet and approve only proposals involving total foreign equity inflow of over Rs 1,200 crore, rather than proposals with a total project cost of Rs 600 crore, as per the rule in force since 1996. The move should expedite FDI approvals. Assuming reasonable debt-equity ratios, the new rule means that FDI proposals with project cost adding up to Rs 4,800 crore, or just over $1 billion, no longer need Cabinet-level vetting. But projects with foreign equity inflow of and below Rs 1,200 crore, and recommended by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), would still need the finance minister's approval. Besides, a host of attendant factors can mean uncertainties and routine hold-up for FDI. This too needs to change with transparent rules, time-bound procedures and a business-like approach to vetting.
Accessed on 15 February < http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Editorial/Welcome-FDI-reform/>
India : New FDI worth Rs. 1,046 cr cleared, The Hindu, 23 February 2010
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on Monday approved 12 new foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals worth over Rs. 1,000 crore, including that of Walt Disney and Zee Entertainment. Based on the recommendations of FIPB, the government has approved 12 proposals of FDI amounting to Rs. 1,045.61 crore, an official statement said here. The highest FDI of Rs. 529 crore is likely to come from Delhi-based Max India, followed by Hyderabad-based Soma Highways (Toll) Projects' Rs. 360-crore proposal. The government had begun the process of restricting fresh foreign investment in the tobacco sector as it would like India to be seen as a responsible country, conscious about its people's health. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion is preparing a note for inter-ministerial consultations on the issue.
Accessed on 15 February < http://beta.thehindu.com/business/article111591.ece >
IRAN – IRAQ
Iran eyes doubling Iraq trade to $8 billion in 2010, Reuters, 21 February 2010
BASRA , Iraq - Iran hopes to double trade with Iraq to $8 billion this year, an Iranian diplomat said on Sunday, shrugging off Western-backed sanctions aimed at curbing business with the Islamic Republic. Shi'ite Muslim Iran is the main trading partner of Shi'ite-led Iraq and has been one of the largest investors in Iraq since the fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein. A series of agreements between Baghdad and Tehran could boost bilateral trade between the two countries to $8 billion in 2010, up from $4 billion last year, Iran 's consul in the southern oil hub of Basra Mohammed Reza Baghban said.
Accessed on 21 February < http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61K1PE20100221 >
Malaysia to raise ratio of domestic investment to 60% by 2020, The Edge Malaysia , 23 February 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: The government aims to raise the proportion of domestic private investment (DPI) to 60% of total investment by 2020 from the 32% recorded last year, reducing dependency on foreign direct investment (FDI), said the Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He said under the Third Industrial Master Plan (IMP3), domestic private investment would act as a key engine of growth boosted by a comprehensive business environment, investment policies and other incentives.” It does not mean we don't want FDI, it's still important," he said at a press conference after officiating at the National Domestic Investment Dialogue and Seminar here today. Mustapa said as of last year, the total approved investment for the manufacturing sector amounted to RM32.6 billion, with a 32:68 ratio between domestic private investment and FDI. Domestic investments accounted for RM10.5 billion while FDI stood at RM22.1 billion. Mustapa said issues such as financing, infrastructure and other incentives would be addressed in a comprehensive manner, as it was important to raise the percentage of domestic private investment, especially through the services sector.
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/malaysia-to-raise-ratio-of-domestic>
Thailand : NYSE Technologies to help ASEAN trading link, The Nation, 9 February 2010
Four ASEAN exchanges, namely Bursa Malaysia (BM), the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), Singapore Exchange (SGX) and the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) today signed a Letter of Intent with NYSE Technologies, appointing it as a solution provider to commence the design of the technology solution for PSE President and Chief Executive Officer, Francisco Ed. Lim, said this is a significant milestone towards realizing the Exchange Alliance's strategic framework that supports the establishment of an integrated ASEAN capital market. The signing ceremony took place at the 10th ASEAN Exchanges CEOs Meeting in Manila today, was hosted by the PSE.
Accessed on 9 February < http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2010/02/08/business/business_30122043.php >
C. TRADE FINANCE
PDMO proposes zero-coupon bond issue to refinance FIDF debts, Bangkok Post, 22 February 2010
The Public Debt Management Office wants to refinance fiscal liabilities incurred from bank failures during the 1997 economic crisis through the issue of new zero-coupon government bonds to the Bank of Thailand. Chakrit Parapuntakul, the director-general of the Public Debt Management Office, said the deal would be a "win-win" solution for addressing the 1.3 trillion baht in liabilities of the central bank's Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF). The fund ran up massive expenses during the 1997 crisis from covering depositors of failed banks and finance companies.
Accessed on 22 February < http://www.bangkokpost.com/pdmo-proposes-zero-coupon-bond>
China is unlikely to buy IMF's remaining gold, Business week, 23 February 2010
China may not buy gold from the International Monetary Fund to avoid causing market volatility, the China Daily reported, citing an indentified official from the country's gold association. It is unfeasible for China to buy the bullion as any purchase would “trigger market speculation and volatility,” the paper reported, citing the China Gold Association official. China would shore up its reserves by buying mines overseas, it said. A call to the association was not immediately answered. China , the biggest gold producer, isn't a “realistic candidate” to buy bullion from the IMF, the World Gold Council said Feb. 22. The IMF, which set out to sell about 13 percent of its gold reserves, said Feb. 17 it will “shortly” expand sales to the open market after the central banks of India , Mauritius and Sri Lanka bought the metal. “They are not going to buy IMF gold unless prices are really attractive,” said Wallace Ng, executive director of the commodity derivatives team with Fortis Nederland. “They may be targeting below $1,000.”
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.businessweek.com/china-is-unlikely-to-buy-imf-s-remaining-gold>
IFC provided $202 m in trade support to Pakistan, boosting several key sectors , Trading Market , 24 February 2010
Islamabad International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank group, announced Tuesday that over first half of fiscal year 2010, it provided Pakistani banks with $202 million (over Rs17billion) i n trade fi nance guarantees, helping Pakistan increase cross-border trade, benefiting many of its important business sectors. Thanks to support from IFCs global trade finance program, Pakistani banks executed trade transactions worth roughly $ 202 million between July and December 2009, an almost 80% increase from the same time period in the previous year. Since the inception of the program in 2006, IFC has executed trade finance transactions of about $ 537 million in Pakistan . With Middle East & North Africa Region, Pakistan received the largest amount of trade finance support for this time period form IFCs global trade finance program, followed by Lebanon which executed trade transactions worth over $44 million.
Accessed on 24 February< http://www.tradingmarkets.com/ifc-provided-202-m-in-trade-support-to-pakistanl >
D. WTO RELATED NEWS
WTO's Lamy says Doha deal still possible in 2010, Reuters, 8 February 2010
CANBERRA, - A successful conclusion to the Doha round of global trade talks is still possible in 2010, but would need an injection of political energy, World Trade Organisation (WTO) head Pascal Lamy said on Tuesday. A summit of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies in Canada in June would be a key test of political will for the Doha round of negotiations, he said. "At the technical level, as an expert in trade negotiations with a bit of experience, I can tell you it certainly is do-able," Lamy told reporters in Canberra , where he was holding talks with Australia 's staunchly free-trade government. "What needs to happen is to identify among the few remaining knots, which are the main ones which will lead to a breakthrough," he said.
Accessed on 8 February < http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSGE61800A20100209 >
WTO chief meets Australian PM for trade talks, Xinhua, 9 February 2010
CANBERRA , The World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general Pascal Lamy, who met with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Trade Minister Simon Crean on Tuesday, said he is optimistic about concluding the Doha trade talks this year. "It certainly is doable," Lamy told reporters. The WTO's long-running Doha Round aims to free up global trade but talks have stalled due to disagreements over agricultural policy and differences between rich and poor nations. The financial crisis sparked fears of increasing trade protectionism, casting more doubt on Doha 's future. World leaders last year agreed to seal the Doha deal in 2010.
Accessed on 9 February < http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-02/09/c_13169491.htm >
Success of Doha Round depends on emerging economies like India, China, Brazil, Economic Times, 19
WASHINGTON : The success of the Doha round of trade talks would depend on emerging economies like India , China and Brazil , a top Obama administration official said today. "The success of the Doha Round will depend on every nation engaging and contributing - in particular, emerging markets such as China , Brazil , and India ," US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk said in his address to the 2010 Agricultural Economic Outlook Forum. "In addition to the multilateral negotiating efforts in Geneva , the US is seeking sustained bilateral engagement between key developed and developing countries to provide the market access necessary to achieve a successful outcome in agriculture as well as in non-agricultural market access and services," Kirk said.
Accessed on 19 February <http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Doha-round-depend-on-India-China-Brazil-US>
WTO envoys despondent at receding Doha prospec , Reuters, 23 February 2010
GENEVA - Gloom and frustration pervaded the World Trade Organization on Monday as the prospects of completing a new global commerce pact this year receded. The WTO's 153 members had agreed to take stock at the end of March on whether the eight-year-old Doha Round could be concluded this year, as called for by political leaders. But WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told the general council there were too many gaps and uncertainties in the negotiations to bring in ministers at this point. Lamy said the decision on whether the Doha talks could be completed this year was a political one to be taken by ministers. "Given where we are right now, it is also clear, however, that the end of March is too early for that," he said in comments confirming a Reuters report last week.
Accessed on 23 February < http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE61M04120100223?sp=true >
FOCUS: Woes in Doha Round may aid APEC zeal for economic integration, Kyodo News, 22 February 2010
While Japan chairs the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum for the year and presses for freer trade, 2010 may become an unforgettable year due to a possible event that would impact trade the opposite way -- the demise of the Doha Round global trade liberalization talks under the World Trade Organization. There are fears the collapse of the eight-year-old WTO talks, which face a self-imposed deadline this year, would seriously hurt international resolve to fight protectionism. But at the same time, some experts and officials say the demise would help boost the pursuit by the 21-member APEC for its further economic integration. The 153-member WTO seeks to successfully conclude the Doha Round within this year, having missed deadline after deadline. However, no breakthrough has been seen with key players refusing to make concessions on such issues as tariff cuts and reductions in export subsides.
Accessed on 22 February < http://home.kyodo.co.jp/modules/fstStory/index.php?storyid=486872 >
China announces anti-dumping steps on US chicken amid trade disputes with Washington, LA Times , 5 February 2010
BEIJING (AP) — China announced anti-dumping duties of up to 105.4 percent Friday on imports of U.S. chicken products, adding to trade strains with Washington . The case comes amid mutual accusations of protectionism by Beijing and Washington which both say will hurt efforts to end the global economic downturn. A preliminary investigation concluded U.S. exports were being sold at improperly low prices that harmed Chinese competitors, the Commerce Ministry said. It said importers must post a bond until a final decision is reached. Beijing launched the investigation in September after Washington raised duties on imports of Chinese-made tires despite vigorous opposition from China . The two governments also are embroiled in disputes over access to each other's markets for steel pipes, movies and books and other goods.
Accessed on 5 February < http://www.latimes.com/sns-ap-as-china-us-chicken-dispute>
China hauls EU to WTO in shoe tariff dispute, The Associated Press, 4 February 2010
GENEVA — China launched an unfair trade case against the European Union on Thursday, accusing the 27-nation bloc of imposing illegal duties on Chinese shoes, the World Trade Organization said. The dispute concerns an EU decision in December to extend trade charges on Chinese and Vietnamese leather shoes by 15 months to protect European shoemakers. China has complained about the antidumping duties, which it says are protectionist and damaging to free trade. European importers and retailers had also called for an end to the charges, saying they cost shoppers millions of euros (dollars) each year. The EU charges "violated relevant rules of the WTO and hurt the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies," said Yao Jian, a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman. Beijing raised its concerns with Brussels in several rounds of negotiations, but the talks "never solved the concerns of the Chinese side," Yao added. Documents outlining China 's case, which Vietnam did not participate in, weren't immediately available. Its official complaint initiates a 60-day consultation period, after which Beijing can ask the WTO to establish an investigative panel. If the WTO rules against Brussels , it can authorize China to target European goods with higher tariffs or other penalties in retaliation, though cases generally take years to reach that point. The European Union introduced the trade charges in October 2006, claiming European producers were being harmed because Chinese and Vietnamese rivals were illegally selling shoes below cost in Europe .
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/>
Vietnam says proposal on prices adheres to WTO, AFP , 12 February 2010
HANOI — A draft proposal on pricing in Vietnam does not contradict the country's World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, the government said after foreign firms raised fears of price controls. "The draft of this circular is not in contradiction to the pricing ordinance in 2002 as well as Vietnam 's commitments to the WTO," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said in comments received late Thursday. The 2002 ordinance said the state respects the right to self-pricing and price competition, she said. Earlier this month, United States ambassador Michael Michalak said the US was concerned about the Vietnamese proposal.
Accessed on 12 February < http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/>
E. REGIONAL AND BILATERAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT RELATION
Free trade high on APEC agenda, Japan Times, 22 February 2010
Senior officials from Pacific Rim economies will agree on the need for a free-trade zone in the region when they meet in Hiroshima on Monday and Tuesday, according to a draft of the agenda. The 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum aim to "agree on how to explore possible pathways to an FTAAP building on existing analytical studies," the draft said, referring to the potential of the zone, dubbed the Free Trade Area in the Asia Pacific. This year, Japan assumes APEC's rotating chairmanship, which involves China , Russia and the United States , and will host a series of meetings, including ministerial talks and a summit in November. The draft, obtained Sunday, also says that the officials will have "broad policy discussions, including on resisting protectionism and supporting the multilateral trade system" under the rules of the World Trade Organization.
Accessed on 22 February < http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20100222a1.html >
AUSTRALIA – CHINA
Australia-China trade may hit A$100 billion in 2010, Business Week, 22 February 2010
Australia 's bilateral trade with China may rises to as much as A$100 billion ($91 billion) this year, according to Austrade, the government's trade and investment development agency. Trade between Australia and its biggest trading partner increased by about 30 percent to A$86 billion in the 2009 financial year, Jeff Turner, Austrade's Senior Trade Commissioner in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, said in an interview today during an event in Sydney. “When you consider that was during the global financial crisis, that's quite spectacular,” Turner said. “If that trend continues, we could see bilateral trade this financial year get to A$100 billion.”
Accessed on 22 February < http://www.businessweek.com/news/australia-china-trade-hit-100-billion-2010>
BANGLADESH - CANADA
Bangladesh-Canada economic cooperation increasing to mutual advantage, The Financial Express, 25 February 2010
Canada is one of the few countries which recognised and established bilateral relations with Bangladesh just after independence in 1971. Built upon shared values of democracy and pluralism, bilateral relations between the two countries are focused on development cooperation, trade and investment, regional security, immigration and people-to-people links. It is widely believed that Canada and Bangladesh can work together in strengthening parliamentary democracy, improving education system and expanding business opportunities between the two countries. It may be recalled that the parliament election held on December 29, 2008 gave Bangladesh an opportunity of strengthening democracy and parliamentary system in Bangladesh . This has apparently greatly enhanced the image of Bangladesh among the nations of the world. The formation of parliamentary friendship forum between Bangladesh and Canada has been a great step forward and this would lead to more exchanges of parliamentarians between the two countries and strengthen the relations between the parliaments of the two countries.
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=93340 >
INDIA - GCC
India hopes to sign FTA with GCC soon, Gulf Times, 14 February 2010
India is in talks with members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) covering a number of areas, a minister said yesterday. “The FTA will have the potential to catapult India-Gulf relations to a higher realm,” Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said. Inaugurating an international conference under the theme ‘Asian Trade: the way forward,' organised by the Asian Development Dialogue (ADD) here, Tharoor said his ministry was also working on the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreements (CECA) with countries with whom trade ties were substantive. India hopes to double two-way trade with the Gulf to $230bn by 2014. A recent study has put the investment potential on both sides at $32bilion.
Accessed 14 February < http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/>
INDIA - ISRAEL
India , Israel to hold free-trade talks, Hareetz, 25 February 2010
Israel and India have long had warm bilateral relations based on cultural ties and good faith, says Jyotiraditya Scindia , India 's commerce minister. "Economic relations can also be established," he told TheMarker at the end of his visit to Israel last week. Indeed, the administrations in Jerusalem and New Delhi evidently feel the time is ripe to formalize trade: The sides are beginning negotiations on a free-trade agreement. Trade between the two countries focuses on certain sectors. A new agreement would expand bilateral trade to commodities, investments and services, said Scindia, following his meeting late last week with President Shimon Peres. During his visit, Scindia identified water technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology as key areas in which collaboration could be expanded. Scindia also met with Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, and with representatives of Israel 's water technology and high-tech industries. According to the Web site Diamond News, Scindia told Ben-Eliezer that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accepted an Israeli proposal, which dates from 2007, to start the talks on a free-trade agreement. The parties also agreed that the next meeting of the two countries' joint committee on trade and economics will take place in New Delhi.
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1152264.html >
JAPAN - EU
Japan - EU FTA quest to test political will, The Japan Times , 3 February 2010
Japan goes into semiannual regulatory reform talks with the European Union this week, with some participants expecting to make headway on bilateral free trade. But others believe hurdles remain, saying the form of economic partnership the 27-member European economic bloc wants, based on wide-ranging standardization, does not necessarily match what Tokyo seeks, which is a conventional free-trade agreement centered on tariff cuts. Through the Japan-EU Regulatory Reform Dialogue, launched in 1994, both sides have exchanged lists of proposals for regulatory reform and reviewed the proposals in a series of high-level meetings, which in many cases have revealed serious gaps between their positions.
Accessed on 3 February < http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100203f1.html >
New Thai biz council to spur bilateral trade, Myanmar times, 24 February 2010
THAILAND could expand bilateral trade with Myanmar by 20 percent over the next three years over the current value of about US$2 billion, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).The boost would likely come from the new Thailand-Burma (Myan-mar) Business Council, said Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the FTI and the new council. He told the Bangkok Post that Thai businesspeople see Myanmar as a high-potential production base given its vast supply of natural resources and cheap labour.A deep-sea port in Dawei, where construction is expected to start at the end of this year, would also facilitate shipping Thai products made in Myanmar into other markets, he added.“As investment in Thailand has been plagued by the unsettled Map Ta Phut environmental issues and rising wages, I think Thai companies should start looking at expanding their business to Myanmar to capitalise on abundant natural resources and lower labour costs,” he said.
Accessed on 25 February < http://www.mmtimes.com/2010/business/511/b51102.html >
TAIWAN – JAPAN
Taiwan : Free trade talks with Japan new year's goal, Taiwan News , 5 February 2010
Taiwan expects to start negotiations with Japan on signing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) this year, while continuing to promote their strategic partnership. Japan is Taiwan 's second-largest trade partner, while Taiwan is Japan 's fourth-largest trade partner.
Accessed on 5 February < http://www.etaiwannews.com/cate_rss=news_Politics_TAIWAN >
F. DO YOU KNOW THAT?
Unesco and Doha Bank sign partnership pact, Gulf Times, 8 February 2010
Doha Bank and Unesco have signed a partnership agreement to boost pro- environment initiatives and promote ‘green culture' in the country. The agreement signing held at Unesco head office at the West Bay was attended among others by Hamed al-Hammami, Unesco representative in the Gulf and Yemen, R. Seetharaman, Doha Bank Group CEO; Benno Boer, Unesco's ecological science advisor in the Arab region; Mark Sutcliffe, Unesco's project assistant (Natural Sciences) and Saleh Souror, secretary general of the National Commission. Doha Bank and Unesco have decided to work together as a team in various environmental programmes such as ‘greening the environment'. Eco-schools initiative will be developed in response to the need to involve young children in environmental projects and make them environmental advocates at a young age.
Accessed 8 February < http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=341735&version>
Exports of Green Energy Tech Forecast to Double in 2010, Chosun–Ilbo , 9 February 2010
Private companies in the renewable energy sector plan to spend W3.9 trillion to further develop infrastructure and increase R&D in 2010 (US$1=W1,149). This is up 58 percent from last year and is expected to nearly double the nation's exports of green energy technology to US$4.6 billion this year. At a meeting of the Korea New & Renewable Energy Association on Wednesday, industry insiders called on the National Assembly to increase mandatory production of renewable energy and stressed the importance of creating overseas markets.
Accessed 9 February < http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/02/04/2010020400756.html >
Fed hikes rate on bank loans amid easing financial crisis, AFP , 19 February 2010
WASHINGTON — The US Federal Reserve said Thursday it was increasing the interest rate it charged on emergency loans to banks in a move to normalize lending after radical measures to jolt the economy from recession. The Fed said the hike in the discount rate, or the primary credit rate, to 0.75 percent from 0.5 percent would be effective Friday and reflected the easing of the financial crisis that resulted from a home-mortgage meltdown. In a statement, the Federal Reserve Board said that "in light of continued improvement in financial market conditions, it had unanimously approved several modifications to the terms of its discount window lending programs." With immediate effect, the maximum maturity period for primary credit loans would also be shortened to overnight.
Accessed on 19 February < http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article>
G. RECENT PUBLICATIONS ON TRADE AND INVESTMENT
Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10, ESCAP- UNDP-ADB, (available online, 132 pages)
In recent years the Asia-Pacific region, along with the rest of the world, has been assailed by a series of global crises, first the energy and food crises, and more recently the financial and economic crisis – all of which have presented threats to development and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This report assesses the likely impact. First it tracks progress towards the Goals on the basis of data collected prior to the economic crisis on 21 out of the 60 official MDG indicators. Then it considers how this progress might be hindered by recent events. Drawing from the lessons of the crisis, the report also explores measures to make regional economies more socially resilient to economic cycles.
ccessed on 22 February < http://issuu.com/escap-publications/
Business Process Analysis Guide to Simplify Trade Procedures (Russian Version), (available online, PDF format, 52 pages, 2.12MB)
This publication provides a simple methodology to elicit, document, and analyse the existing “as-is” business processes involved in international trade, as well as aid in developing recommendations for further improvement. It suggests a set of practical steps and activities, from setting the scope of the business process analysis project; planning its implementation; collecting relevant data; and presenting it in an easily understandable manner, to analysing the captured data in order to identify bottlenecks and developing recommendations for improvement. The publication is intended to serve policymakers and practitioners from government agencies or the private sector involved in the harmonization and simplification of international trade procedures, alignment of data requirements with the international standard, and implementation of Single Window.
Accessed on 23 February < http://www.unescap.org/tipub2540>
Trade and Environment Review 2009/2010, UNCTAD, (Available online, PDF format, 230pages, 5657 MB)
While several rapidly industrializing developing countries have not seen a major slump in their growth by the recent economic and financial crises, UNCTAD´s Trade and Environment Review 2009/2010 (TER 09/10) focuses on the 140 plus low-income and least developed countries, which have not caused the economic, financial, climate and food crises (they account, for instance, for less than 10% of energy-related GHG emissions of all developing countries), but have to bear the full brunt of these crises.
Accessed on 22 February < http://www.unctad.org/ditcted20092>
World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, Year III, Number V1 January–March 2010, World Bank , (available online, PDF format, 27 pages, 62 MB)
Development Asia features development issues importa
nt to the Asia and Pacific region. This edition of Development Asia examines the opportunities and challenges that urbanization presents: how it can drive or disrupt economic growth in Asia.
Accessed on 23 February < http://development.asia/>
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