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IN FOCUS: ESCAP
Expert Group Meeting on Facilitating Agricultural Trade through Paperless Trade, 28 April 2010, Bangkok, Thailand
The Expert Group Meeting intends to enhance the capacity of developing countries in the region to tackle with the challenges in promoting trade in agricultural products through trade facilitation, particularly, through the implementation of paperless trade initiatives.
The objectives of the Expert Group Meeting are to introduce relevant instruments for paperless trade and Single Window and provide update on the development of related instruments by international organizations as well as to analyze the experiences and lessons learnt from the paperless trade initiatives for the trade in agricultural products in the region; and draw actions and recommendations to be taken, especially through regional facilitation platforms such as the UNNExT.
For more information please visit < http://www.unescap.org/tid/projects/agtrade.asp >
|Business Opportunities and Low-Carbon Economy, Kunming, China, 28-30 April 2010
The Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF) 2010 is co-organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).
Progress towards a low-carbon economy by promoting public-private dialogue and creating business opportunities in the development and deployment of green technologies, goods and services.
For more information please visit < http://www.unescap.org/apbf/>
|Inaugural National Workshop at the Central Institute of Civil Service, in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, 29 March – 3 April 2010
The human resource capacity of Myanmar in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for socio-economic development is set to get a boost with the launch of a United Nations ICT capacity building programme. The “Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders” (Academy), the flagship programme of the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP), will be the centre piece of the inaugural National Workshop that is to be attended by high-level officials. The event is co-organized by the Civil Service Selection and Training Board of Myanmar (CSSTB), and will run 29 March through 3 April at the Central Institute of Civil Service (Upper Myanmar), in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.
For more information please visit < http://www.unescap.org/unis/press/2010/mar/n07.asp >
A. GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS AND IMPACT ON TRADE AND INVESTMENT
I.M.F. gives debt warning for the wealthiest nations, New York Times , 21 March 2010
BEIJING — The global economic crisis has left “deep scars” in the fiscal balances of the world's advanced economies, which should begin to rein in spending next year as the recovery continues, the No. 2 official at the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday in Beijing . In a speech at the China Development Forum in Beijing , the I.M.F. official, John P. Lipsky, who is the first deputy managing director, offered a grim prognosis for the world's wealthiest countries, which are at a level of indebtedness not recorded since the aftermath of World War II. For the United States , “a higher public savings rate will be required to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability,” Mr. Lipsky said.
Accessed on 30 March < http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/business/global>
Bangladesh : Global clouds linger over FDI, The Daily Star, 29 March 2010
Domestic investment has rebounded in the first six months of the current fiscal year although the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) is still low because of the impacts of global financial meltdown. Bangladesh could attract net FDI worth $197 million in the July-December period this year, marking a 67 percent fall compared to the same period of the last fiscal year, according to central bank data. The FDI was $603 million in the July-December period of fiscal 2008-09. BB officials said most countries are now experiencing a low flow of FDI because of global recession. Generally, the FDI inflow rate is low in Bangladesh and the recession has added much to the decline, they said. However, FDI was higher last fiscal year for reinvestment by some foreign telecom companies operating in Bangladesh , the officials said.
Accessed on 29 March < http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details>
Rare China trade deficit not seen signaling new trend, Reuters, 23 March 2010
BEIJING - China will probably run a trade deficit of more than $8 billion in March, state media said on Tuesday, citing Premier Wen Jiabao. It would be China 's first monthly deficit since April 2004, but is expected to be a one-time blip rather than the start of a new trend for the world's largest goods-exporting nation. Nevertheless, many in the market think that Beijing will want to see several consecutive months of strong export growth before allowing the yuan to rise, so a deficit in March could put appreciation on hold for a while longer. " China is by no means seeking a trade surplus. On the contrary, we have left no stone unturned in expanding imports to achieve a trade balance," he said.
Accessed on 23 March < http://in.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idINIndia>
Pakistan: Foreign investment declines sharply, Daily Times , 23 March 2010
KARACHI : Net inflow of foreign investment in Pakistan fell by $868.3 million i.e. 45.9 percent during the first eight months of the current fiscal year, according to figures released by the State Bank of Pakistan . Net foreign investment in Pakistan during July-February 2009-10 stood at $1.024 billion, which is lower than $1.892 billion received during the same period of the last fiscal year. Foreign direct investment was down by $1.475 billion or 52.8 percent to $1.319 billion from $2.794 billion during the period under review.
Accessed on 23 March > http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page>
B. TRADE - INVESTMENT FACILITATION AND PROMOTION
New economic zones to be built to enrich West China, Xinhua, 22 March 2010
Beijing - The cities of Chengdu and Chongqing are famous for their different kinds of hot pots and there are endless arguments about which one is more delicious or spicier. It will only take 56 minutes by train for people from Chengdu to eat hot pot in Chongqing when the high-speed railway linking the two cities is completed in a few years. Construction is slated to start this year. The "one hour circle" is part of the plan for the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone, and the overall development project will be approved by the central government this year, according to this year's sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The two cities will generate more synergies in the future. The State Council, China 's cabinet, has sparked a new wave of regional development by laying out a dozen regional development plans with policy or financial support since last year.
Accessed on 22 March < http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/business/2010-03/22/>
South Korea to enforce intellectual property rights on imports, Xinhua, 22 March 2010
SEOUL - South Korea will ban import of products that violate local intellectual property rights, starting from July, the government said Monday. According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the new rules will apply to products that are in breach of local patents, design, logo and other exclusive rights held by South Korean companies. The move comes after a law was passed by parliament to authorize the Korea Customs Service (KCS) not to exempt such products and the Korea Trade Commission to provide customs officials with a full list of such products and to take tough administrative actions such as the issuing of fines. The new law was enacted after a survey conducted on 2,107 local companies late last year reflected the need for a tougher stance on imports.
Accessed on 22 March < http://news.xinhuanet.com//2010-03/22/>
C. TRADE FINANCE
Bank regulatory reform could hurt trade finance: WTO expert, Reuters , March 3 2010
Regulatory reform aimed at preventing banks from building up toxic assets could make it more expensive and harder for banks to fund exports, a trade finance expert said. Reigniting world trade, which suffered its biggest collapse last year since World War Two, is seen as vital to revive the global economy. But Marc Auboin, the World Trade Organization's trade finance expert, said draft regulatory reforms known as Basel III, making it more expensive for banks to hide assets off their balance sheets, would also push up the cost of funding trade. Banks, encouraged by the WTO, had already started gathering evidence to show that the existing treatment of trade finance under the current Basel II rules is unfair. "When we discovered what was to be put back on balance sheets (under Basel III) we had a bit of a shock and wondered whether trade finance would face another obstacle," he said.
Accessed on 3 March < http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62233A20100303 >
AUSTRALIA - ASEAN
Asean, Australia commit more in trade finance, Business Mirror , 23 March 2010
MEMBERS of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Australia are seeking trade and finance engagements in the East Asian region following the entry into force of their free-trade agreement (FTA) in January. Permanent envoys of Asean and Australia met for the 23rd Asean-Australia Forum in Singapore to discuss further strengthening of the East Asian Summit (EAS) process. The two parties have committed to more cooperation in the areas of finance, trade finance, education, environment, disaster management and pandemic preparedness. Australia will host the second EAS workshop on Trade Finance in May and is expected to come up with the proposal on EAS cooperation in disaster management.
Accessed on 23 March < http://businessmirror/asean-australia-commit-more-in-trade-finance>
Mongolian banks sign up to ADB's trade finance facilitation program, UB Post , 26 March 2010
On March 24, top officials from four Mongolian banks signed key trade finance agreements with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that will help companies in Mongolia to conduct more international trade. The agreements under ADB's Trade Finance Facilitation Program (TFFP) were signed by Golomt Bank, Khan Bank, Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia and XacBank. Firms in most developing economies have difficulty getting hold of financing to support the import or export of key components or final products they need to conduct their own business. In response to that ongoing need, ADB in 2004 kick started the TFFP. The program offers loans and guarantees through, and in conjunction with, international banks and ADB's developing member country banks to support international trade transactions. “Finance is critical to the expansion of international trade. If trade finance is easily accessible from local banks, companies can use trade to expand their business, which contributes to growth in the economy as a whole,” said Philip Erquiaga, Director General of ADB's Private Sector Operations Department. “Economic growth also means more jobs and higher incomes for individuals that helps reduce poverty.”
Accessed on 26 March
D. WTO RELATED NEWS
Trade to expand by 9.5% in 2010 after a dismal 2009, WTO reports , Finchannel , 27 March 2010
After the sharpest decline in more than 70 years, world trade is set to rebound in 2010 by growing at 9.5%, according to WTO economists. WTO rules and principles have assisted governments in keeping markets open and they now provide a platform from which trade can grow as the global economy improves. We see the light at the end of the tunnel and trade promises to be an important part of the recovery. But we must avoid derailing any economic revival through protectionism,” said Director-General Pascal Lamy. Exports from developed economies are expected to increase by 7.5% in volume terms over the course of the year while shipments from the rest of the world (including developing economies and the Commonwealth of Independent States) should rise by around 11% as the world emerges from recession.
Accessed on 27 March < http://www.finchannel.com/Main_News/Business/ >
UN calls for more efforts to end Doha Round of multilateral talks in 2010 , People's Daily, 19 March 2010
The United Nations on Thursday called for strengthened efforts by the international community to complete the Doha Round of multilateral trade talks in 2010. The appeals came as Asha-Rose Migiro, the deputy UN secretary- general, was addressing the Special High-Level Meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods Institutes, namely the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. "The development underscores the importance of international trade in financing development, and the urgency to complete the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in 2010," and "The Round needs to deliver on its development objectives, including effective market access for agriculture and exports of developing countries, the elimination of all export subsidies and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support," Migiro said.
Accessed on 19 March < http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90856/6924808.html >
Taiwan brings in US$210 million from WTO GPA procurements in 1Q10, Digitimes, 29 March 2010
Taiwan became the 41st signatory member of the WTO (World Trade Organization) GPA (Government Procurement Agreement) in July 2009. Local makers in Taiwan won a total contract value of US$210 million for supply of Taiwan-made products to GPA members during the first quarter of 2010, according to the Chinese-language newspaper Economic Daily News (EDN).
Accessed on 29 March < http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20100329PB200.html >
E. REGIONAL AND BILATERAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT RELATION
China, Taiwan set for trade talks, The Straits Time, 29 March 2010
TAIPEI - TAIWAN said on Monday that a second round of formal trade talks with China will take place this week in Taipei , focusing on which industries will benefit from an agreement between the former foes. The two days of talks are slated to kick off on Wednesday, with the Taiwan side to be led by Huang Chih Peng, head of the Bureau of Foreign Trade.'The two sides will exchange views on which industries will be placed on the early harvest list and the content of the trade agreement,' Taiwan's quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation said in a statement. The products on the list will be entitled to preferential tariff status under the agreement, known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. Taiwan and China held their first round of formal talks in late January in Beijing to decide on an agenda and other procedural issues. The island's China-friendly administration hopes the talks will result in a sweeping trade agreement that it says will lift growth and boost employment.
Accessed on 29 March < http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story >
CHINA – RUSSIA
China and Russia signed major agreements worth $1.6billion, China Daily , 22 March 2010
Beijing - China and Russia signed 15 deals cumulatively worth $1.6 billion in the Russian city of Vladivostok over the weekend, with more coming up on Monday. The deals to be signed Monday may involve cooperation in the energy sector, among other areas, experts said. The two countries had previously agreed to operate a 1,030-kilometer-long pipeline linking Russia 's Skovorodino city with Daqing, in northeastern China , by the end of this year. The pipeline is expected to transport 15 million tons of crude oil annually from Russia to China between 2011 and 2030.The first batch of deals, signed by local governments and business communities on Saturday, involved cooperation in areas including the economy, technology, energy and infrastructure. Accessed on 18 March
< http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-03/22/content_9619799.htm >
HONG KONG – NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand , Hong Kong sign trade agreement to reduce tariffs, Nasdaq , 29 March 2010
WELLINGTON , New Zealand and Hong Kong signed a Closer Economic Partnership agreement Monday, increasing competitiveness of products from Hong Kong by reducing tariffs on their exports to New Zealand . Tariffs will be eliminated from 54% of products exported from Hong Kong when it comes into force later this year, while the remaining 46% will progressively become duty-free by 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. "The longer tariff phase-out periods apply for import sensitive sectors in New Zealand such as textiles, clothing and footwear," it said. The agreement also provides New Zealand with legal certainty that zero-tariff entry on all goods exported to Hong Kong will continue in the future, the ministry added.
Accessed on 29 March < http://www.nasdaq.com/new-zea-hong-kong-sign-trade-agreement >
KOREA – USA
Korean, U.S. lawmakers form task force for FTA, Chosun Il-bo, 19 March 2010
Korean and U.S. lawmakers will form a task force as a means to propel ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. U.S. Senator Pete Sessions suggested the foundation of the task force during a visit by Korean lawmakers to Washington on Wednesday. The task force consisting of about 20 lawmakers from both countries will assist the two nations in securing congressional approval of the pending trade agreement, which was signed in 2007. During his trip to Washington , Ahn Kyung-ryul, a ruling Grand National party member, said the task force is a necessary step for ratification as it appears that it will take some time for the deal to be finalized.
Accessed on 19 March < http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/03/19>
Malaysia , India in third round of CECA negotiations, Bernama , 29 March 2010
KUALA LUMPUR , Malaysia and India are on track towards formalising a bilateral trade liberalisation pact under the Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). The third round of the CECA negotiations will be held from March 29-31 in Kuala Lumpur . The CECA is expected to further boost trade and investment between the two countries. India was Malaysia 's 12th largest trading partner, last year. Trade between the two countries peaked in 2008 at US$10.52 billion but fell to US$7.06 billion last year on the back of the global economic downturn. "I have no doubt that we will see trade between both countries return to, and then rapidly exceed the 2008 figure," said International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed in a statement here Monday. Mustapa said the ministry was encouraged by the level of interest within the corporate sectors in India and Malaysia , and looked forward to greater investment flows from India.
Accessed on 29 March < http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story>
F. DO YOU KNOW THAT?
CITES gives enforcement of tiger trade ban top priority, ENS, 22 March 2010
DOHA, Qatar, Countries could begin treating illegal trade in tiger parts as seriously as they treat arms and drug trafficking under a deal reached today at the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES. The UK-brokered agreement, the result of negotiations between the European Union and the tiger range countries India and China , provides for increased intelligence sharing against criminal networks that smuggle big cat parts, and builds on recent training provided by the international police force INTERPOL. Parties to the CITES treaty agreed to develop a database to help monitor the illegal trade in tiger, leopard and snow leopard parts. Although all commercial tiger trade has been banned by CITES since 1987, wild tiger populations have dropped by about half since the ban took effect.
Accessed on 23 March <http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2010/2010-03-22-03.html>
EU - USA
EU trade commissioner accuses U.S. of protectionism, The People's Daily , 19 March 2010
Trade Commissioner of the European Union (EU) Karel De Gucht Thursday accused the United States of protectionism, dragging free trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. does not want to go forward with the Doha round WTO negotiations, De Gucht said in an interview with a Belgian newspaper. De Gucht said that President Barack Obama had talked of doubling the country's export in the next five years, but the target could hardly be met "if there's no movement towards free trade." Despite disappointment with the U.S. , the commissioner expressed his confidence in the multilateral trade negotiation mechanism under WTO. "The whole mechanism in the WTO has worked remarkably well," De Gucht said.
Accessed on 19 March < http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90852/6924211.html >
Russia may cut car-import duties to pre-crisis levels, Fox Business , 22 March 2010
Russia is considering reductions in import duties on foreign automobiles to levels charged before the country's financial crisis, business daily Vedomosti reports Tuesday, citing a letter between government officials. The reductions will be debated at an upcoming meeting of a federal customs subcommittee, the newspaper quotes Andrei Slepnev, deputy minister of economic development, as writing in a letter to First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. Two officials in the Ministry of Economic Development confirmed the contents of Slepnev's letter, which was dated March 15, but they stressed the cuts are now only proposals, not final decisions, Vedomosti says.
Accessed on 22 March < http://www.foxbusiness.com/russia-cut-car-import-duties>
G. RECENT PUBLICATIONS ON TRADE AND INVESTMENT
Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2009, ESCAP, (available online, PDF, 260 pages, 4.2 MB)
The third edition of the revised Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific remains an authoritative reference on the social economic and environmental development of the Asian and Pacific region from 1990. Through more than 200 key internationally comparable indicators, it compares Asia and the Pacific with the world average and other regions, including Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and North America . It includes 128 reader-friendly charts and descriptive texts on 30 development topics.
Accessed on 28 March <http://www.unescap.org/ESCAP-SYB2009.pdf >
Creating Business and Social Value: The Asian Way to Integrate CSR into Business Strategies, ESCAP, (Available online, PDF, 143 pages, 1.30 MB)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a term used to describe the voluntary efforts of companies to assume a larger responsibility for the effect of their operations on society. As such, CSR is an important complement to development efforts of governments. Companies in the Asia-Pacific region are becoming increasingly aware that encompassing economic, social and environmental responsibilities into their business practice is likely to contribute to their business success at both the national and international level. This publication introduces ways businesses can practically integrate CSR in general, and the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact in particular, into business strategies and practices. It further provides examples of how a number of companies from the Asian and Pacific region have implemented the principles of the Global Compact in their day to day work. Finally, it provides a brief overview of what governments can do to support and facilitate company implementation of CSR.
Accessed on 28 March <http://www.unescap.org/tid/publication/indpub2565.pdf>
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Asia-Pacific Regional Report 2009/10, ESCAP, ADB, UNDP (available online, PDF, 132 pages, 6.25 MB)
The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 represents their commitment to move decisively to reduce poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality, improve human health and environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development by 2015. This Report takes stock of the status of achievement of MDGs in the Asia-Pacific region and identifies some of the key challenges. It then goes on to discuss the possible policy responses that may guide the region in its efforts to meet the challenges. In particlular, it emphasizes the role of social protection as well as regional and South-South cooperation for addressing some ofthe key challenges while strengthening global partnership.
Accessed on 28 March <http://www.mdgasiapacific.org>
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