(Stanley White – Reuters)
Japanese officials said on Tuesday there was still a significant way to go before reaching a broad agreement on trade with the United States, a day before President Barack Obama visits for a summit.
A U.S.-Japan agreement is critical to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation grouping that would stretch from Asia to Latin America. A TPP deal is central to Obama’s policy of expanding the U.S. presence in Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also touted the TPP as a main element of his economic strategy to increase growth and shake off years of stagnation. Read more here.
(STR Trade Report)
The European Parliament voted April 16 to support a proposal to tighten the European Union’s product safety rules and impose tougher penalties for violations. The vote means the work done this year can be taken up by the next Parliament and used as a basis for further negotiations with EU member states, which are reportedly having difficulty reaching agreement.
According to a Parliament press release, MEPs approved a plan to improve the traceability of goods and thus strengthen consumer protection by replacing the current voluntary system with mandatory country of origin labeling for manufactured non-food products sold in the EU single market, whether imported or produced in the EU.
This “made in” labeling requirement would apply to all such items with a few exceptions, such as medicines, living plants and animals, plant protection products and antiques. EU manufacturers would be able to choose whether to put “made in EU” on the label or name their specific country. For goods produced in more than one place, the country of origin would be where the item underwent “the last substantial, economically justified processing” resulting in a “new product” or representing “an important stage of manufacture” (as defined in the EU Customs Code). Read more here.
(Susan Lunn – CBC News)
CBC News has learned a split around the cabinet table has stalled what was once a warming trade relationship with China.
The dispute has pitted some of the most powerful members of cabinet against each other on an issue that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pegged as critical to the future of Canada’s prosperity.
Concerns from some cabinet ministers, including Jason Kenney and James Moore, began around the takeover of Alberta energy company Nexen by China National Offshore Oil Company. But sources tell CBC the prime minister’s concerns today focus on the threats of cyber espionage and cyber security. Read more here.
German container shipper Hapag-Lloyd and its Chilean peer Compania Sud Americana de Vapores have signed a binding merger agreement that will create the world’s fourth-largest container-shipping company in terms of capacity.
Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd said CSAV would control 34% of the merged entity after two capital increases totalling US$1.02 billion, reported Dow Jones Newswires.
The two companies will have a combined annual revenue of $12.46 million and a transport capacity of one million, 20-foot containers aboard 200 ships. Read more here.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has initiated a re-investigation, in accordance with the Special Import Measures Act (SIMA), of the normal values and export prices of refined sugar, refined from sugar cane or sugar beets, in granulated, liquid and powdered form (refined sugar), originating in or exported from the United States of America, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and the amounts of subsidy of refined sugar originating in or exported from the European Union.
Complete details are available here.
This memorandum outlines the requirements and procedures with respect to the import into Canada of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment or prescribed information, as well as the in transit movement of nuclear substances through Canada.
Complete details are available here.
On April 17, 2014, pursuant to paragraph 41(1)(a) of the Special Import Measures Act (SIMA), the President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) made a final determination of dumping in respect of certain hot-rolled carbon steel plate and high-strength low-alloy steel plate originating in or exported from the Federative Republic of Brazil (Brazil), the Kingdom of Denmark (Denmark), the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesia), the Italian Republic (Italy), Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
On the same date, pursuant to paragraph 41(1)(b) of the SIMA, the President of the CBSA terminated the dumping investigation in respect of the above mentioned goods from Chinese Taipei.
Complete details are available here.
(Ulrika Lomas – Tax-News)
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has said that trade negotiations with the United States must secure a comprehensive deal on tariffs, commitments on services, and a new regulatory framework.
In a speech to a conference on the future of transatlantic trade, De Gucht said that an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could result in an extra EUR120bn (USD165.7bn) a year in output. On the tariff front, De Gucht argued that “a successful market access pillar would lead to lower tariffs, more open services markets, and greater access to public procurement.” Read more here.
The U.S. has told China its currency must be allowed to rise if it and the global economy are to see stable growth. The U.S. Treasury’s twice-yearly report to policymakers says the yuan is “significantly undervalued”.
Unlike the euro and the dollar, the value of the yuan is not set by the market but is kept within certain limits of other world currencies. The U.S. has long argued that the bands are set too low, making Chinese goods cheaper on the world market.
China had allowed the yuan – also known as the renminbi – to rise, but the report said this had not gone far enough. It also noted that “China has continued large-scale purchases of foreign exchange in the first quarter of this year, despite having accumulated $3.8 trillion in reserves, which are excessive by any measure.” Read more here.
For conspiring to fix the prices of rubber parts used in U.S.-made automobiles, the U.S indicted one current and two former executives of Japanese parts firm Bridgestone Tuesday.
A federal grand jury in Cleveland, Ohio, issued the indictment accusing Yoshiyuki Tanaka, Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida of plotting with other companies to set prices and stifle competition in sales of anti-vibration rubber parts sold to Japanese automakers in the United States between 2001 and 2008. Read more here.
(Bruce Smith – Post & Courier)
U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police are training together in Charleston and then riding along with each other to patrol waterways along the United-States-Canadian border, checking for everything from safety violations to drug and cigarette running.
“It’s good news for security on both sides of the border. It’s good news for the taxpayers – one ship instead of two – and of course it’s wonderful to watch the partnership in training,” Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the United States said Tuesday as he visited the Coast Guard’s Maritime Law Enforcement Academy.
Doer and officials from both nations got to see personnel train for the Shiprider program, which officially began last year after several years of pilot testing and evaluation. All training for Shiprider is done in Charleston in eight-day courses. So far 236 have graduated from the program. Read more here.
(Martin Cash – Winnipeg Free Press)
Canada is in the midst of the most ambitious trade-expansion plan in the country’s history, and this time policy-makers and politicians want to make sure small- and medium-sized businesses are invited to the party.
Canada recently completed free-trade agreements with the European Union and South Korea and is in the process of negotiating deals with India and Japan, which means barriers to entry to markets around the world are falling for Canadian goods and services.
In a couple of speeches in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Ed Fast, Canada’s minister of international trade, said Ottawa is marshalling its resources to hone in on opportunities for Canadian businesses in markets around the world. Read more here.
The euro zone’s trade surplus widened in February from a year earlier on rising exports with imports unchanged, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday.
Exports from the 18 countries using the euro increased by 3 percent on the year after a 1 percent rise in January, while imports were flat when compared with a year earlier, data showed. The annual data are non-seasonally adjusted. Read more here.
(Pete Fehrenbach – IndustryWeek)
The American Chemistry Council and several related trade groups filed a federal lawsuit against Canadian Pacific over the rail carrier’s recent decision to require rail cars hauling certain chemicals to comply with new safety standards beginning this week, according to a report from KSTP.com in Minneapolis.
KSTP reports that Tom Schick, the ACC’s senior director of regulatory and technical affairs, said Canadian Pacific’s decision “blindsides the chemical industry and has ramifications for America’s public health, agriculture, pharmaceutical, construction, defense, and manufacturing sectors.”
In a statement, the chemical industry group calls the railroad’s decision “abitrary, unilateral and illegal” and says the chemicals involved are “essential to the economy and to national health” and that transporting them by rail is “extremely safe.” Read more here.
(Laurie Burkitt – Wall Street Journal)
Over the past three years, Chinese authorities have fined Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $9.8 million, sanctioning the retailer for using misleading pricing, selling poor-quality products and even peddling donkey meat that turned out to be fox.
Wal-Mart has increased testing and inspections. Food testers at Wal-Mart distribution centers in China check more than 600 products daily to catch flaws before the food is sent out to stores. After Wal-Mart found the fox meat labeled as donkey in January, the company said it would start testing its products’ DNA.
But Wal-Mart is also doing something rare for a Western company: Telling Chinese authorities they need to clean up their own act. Read more here.
The World Trade Organisation has raised its forecasts for global trade for 2014, but said it did not expect a return to historic highs until next year at the earliest.
The figures remain down on forecasts of a year ago, mainly because of the slow pace of European recovery, but the WTO said the situation there is starting to turn around.
After the weakness in growth at the start of this decade, with the hangover from the 2008 financial crisis dragging the figures down, 2014’s 4.5 percent projected growth has been raised by two tenths of a point, and the 5.3 percent trade growth forecast for 2015 is back to the record pre-crash high. Read more here.
(Suzie Chen – Taipei Economic and Cultural Office)
Taiwan is looking at potential multilateral co-operation agreements. In the Asia-Pacific area, we have a bilateral economic co-operation agreement with New Zealand and Singapore. The Free Economic Pilot Zones (FEPZs) launched in August last year further demonstrate our determination to transform into a free-trade island.
The government is trying to create more favourable trade conditions by seeking to join regional trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). These pacts will provide a level playing field for domestic businesses that compete in international markets. Read more here.
Top Japanese and Australian diplomats Friday reaffirmed a bilateral free trade agreement which the two sides reached earlier this week during a summit between leaders of the two countries.
During a meeting held here between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, the two foreign chiefs agreed to accelerate efforts to sign and ratify the bilateral free trade agreement and to improve bilateral security cooperation, Xinhua quoted the Japanese foreign ministry as saying. Read more here.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced additional sanctions Saturday in response to the escalating tensions in Ukraine, accusing Russia of “violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“We are imposing sanctions on two additional individuals and on a Crimean oil and gas company,” said a statement released by Baird.
“[We] will continue to work with allies and like-minded countries to apply pressure to Russia until it de-escalates the situation in Ukraine.” Read more here.
Pre-clearance, pre-inspection already exists at Peace Bridge in Fort Erie and at airports
The idea of a single mulitmillion-dollar customs plaza built on one side of the new international bridge that will connect Windsor, Ont., and Detroit has been floated and is getting support from border experts.
Two years ago, Canada and the U.S. agreed on a new crossing to be built over the Detroit River and paid for by Canada. However, Canada expected the U.S. to build its own $250-million customs plaza in Michigan.
While Canada has moved ahead on the project, building a $1.6-billion, four-lane highway leading up to the site of the proposed bridge and acquiring land in Michigan, the U.S. has yet to announce funding for a plaza. Read more here.