free trade

It has been a reliable guideline for governments doing business with the EU that elections to the European Parliament can safely be ignored. Yet given that the parliament has been given powers of disruption over trade and investment, two of the areas in which the EU has some authority, blissful ignorance of the legislature may be a luxury that emerging market governments can no longer afford.

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By Frederic Neumann of HSBC

It’s easy to be a little jaded when it comes to grand policy announcements. Rhetoric rarely matches reality. But, this week, on the sidelines of the Apec summit in Bali, a key agreement will get another push: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an ambitious free trade agreement among 12 economies. With trade slowing across the world in recent years, such pacts could not come at a better time. True, many obstacles remain. A year-end deadline for wrapping up the talks may not be met. But talks are progressing faster than skeptics had expected. Washington may be shut for business, but the world is moving on. Read more

And beyond that, you can see New Zealand

Taiwan has sealed an important free trade agreement with New Zealand – the two countries have no formal diplomatic relationship. It’s a big precedent for an island that almost no nation formally recognises.

New Zealand and Taiwan have agreed to start phasing out tariffs under the deal, signed on Wednesday. It will help boost Kiwi food exporters, but its greatest significance is the political boost it gives Taipei, which often finds its political interactions with other nations stifled by Chinese interference. Read more

On Latin America’s Pacific rim, deepening free trade appears to be the name of the game, as the region’s pro-markets countries of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile – have agreed to drop most tariffs to speed the consolidation of the Pacific Alliance.

At least, that is what Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, told beyondbrics on the sidelines of the group’s latest summit in the Colombian city of Cali on Thursday. Read more

The Amul girl is a much-loved Indian mascot whose amiable face is plastered on billboards promoting dairy products. She always looks remarkably sweet and cheery. So, when she does pipe up with sombre words of caution it’s probably worth listening.

R S Sodhi, managing director of Amul, the dairy farmers’ co-operative, has written to India’s ministry of commerce with words of warning regarding the pending free trade agreement with the EU. Read more

Free trade warriors: stop wasting your time on battling trade tariffs from emerging markets. Streamlining your own supply chain is what you should focus on.

That is, in short, the message of a new WEF report, Enabling Trade, released this week in Davos. Read more

Will free trade agreements help South Korea revive foreign interest in the country, which has been overshadowed by its giant neighbours such as China and India? Invest Korea, the country’s state-run trade-promotion agency, certainly hopes so.

South Korea welcomes greenfield investment by foreign investors although there is still some hostile public sentiment toward foreign buyers. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract FDI into Asia’s fourth-largest economy as China and India have emerged as magnets for foreign investments in the region. So what can Korea do? Read more

Few politicians in Latin America have the flair of Colombia’s finance minister, Juan Carlos Echeverry, when it comes to making a point. Opening up an economy is “as painful as giving birth”, Echeverry told Reuters recently.

The fact that Brazil and Argentina remain oblivious to Echeverry’s point, sticking uncompromisingly with protectionism, is an irritation for many in the region. Read more