trade

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, met in New Delhi on Thursday for the 15th Annual India-Russia summit. Although normally a low-key event, this year’s meeting was important, coming as both countries rethink their foreign policies. Russia’s isolation from Europe has intensified in recent months. Meanwhile Modi has been working hard to strengthen India’s ties with the rest of the world.

The meeting resulted in renewed promises between the two nations to cooperate on energy sharing, defence deals and the diamond trade. For context, here are three significant facets of the India-Russia relationship. Read more

When the IMF announced this year that China’s economy had overtaken the US economy at purchasing power parity, there was some skepticism about the usefulness of PPP calculations and widespread amazement about the speed at which China had made this transformation.

Both themes carry over in a note on Friday from HSBC, which examines the data more closely to conclude that, even after switching variables, the size and importance of the Chinese economy cannot be denied. Read more

By Simon J Evenett of the University of St Gallen

Three reports on protectionism have recentyly been published in as many weeks: by the WTO , by the European Commission (EC), and by the independent Global Trade Alert, which I coordinate. What do these reports reveal about the sectors at greatest risk of 21st century protectionism? What do they mean for businesses operating internationally and for investors? Read more

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Last week was a bad week for us sceptics of global governance, or so it seemed. The US and China struck a deal on reducing carbon emissions that some fairly serious people found not to be meaningless. (Others demurred.) The same two countries also agreed to update the Information Technology Agreement, a plurilateral trade deal that has not been reformulated since a decade before the release of the iPhone. Finally, the US and India made an apparent breakthrough in resolving a spat over food subsidies that had brought already desultory progress in the World Trade Organization to a halt.

But before the multilateral bunting is strung across the streets of Geneva in recognition of the US-India achievement, some caution is in order. For one, the “breakthrough” is a minor clarification over what a particular paragraph in an agreement means. Second, if the deal is used to lever open past WTO agreements on farm subsidies, it will turn out to be a very poor trade-off indeed. Read more

By Kavaljit Singh of Madhyam

After months of stalemate, India and the US have agreed to resolve their differences over food stock holdings, opening the way for future implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the World Trade Organization – the biggest trade deal in the WTO’s entire history.

The two countries have reportedly agreed that a “peace clause” – which protects member countries that breach farm subsidy caps under the Agreement on Agriculture from being challenged at the WTO – will continue indefinitely until a permanent solution is found. The US agreed to Indian demands to rewrite the peace clause to give adequate protection to such member countries. Read more

The World Trade Organisation released its latest forecasts for global trade on Tuesday and it is not a pretty picture. The WTO’s economists have lowered their forecasts sharply. They now expect global trade volumes to grow just 3.1 per cent this year, down from the 4.7 per cent they predicted in the spring. The main reasons for the gloom should be familiar by now: the slow recovery in those all-important developed economies and the return of geopolitical threats such as the Ukraine crisis.

This downgrade was pretty sharp from the WTO but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more to come in the months ahead. Read more

Nations have negotiated trade agreements in one form or another for centuries. And for centuries economists have undoubtedly been facing the same question: Do trade agreements really matter?

The orthodox answer is obviously that they do. When you lower the barriers to trade goods flow more freely across borders and businesses, consumers and economies as a whole benefit as a result. But HSBC and the Economist Intelligence Unit are out with a new business survey that offers some interesting practical realities. Read more

South Korean carmakers are up in arms over Chile’s proposed bill to impose an environment tax on diesel vehicles, which is likely to hit Korea’s car exports to the Latin American country and cause diplomatic friction.

Chile is one of the key export markets for Korean automakers such as Hyundai Motor and its affilate Kia Motors, both making rapid inroads into emerging markets. Korean cars are the best-selling imported vehicles in Chile, with 30 per cent of the country’s fast-growing auto market. Read more

For years, the big-picture, long-term story in the global economy has been that of convergence. The dates and metrics vary but not the broad forecast: if current trends hold, then, around the middle of this century, per capita incomes in emerging economies will ‘converge’ with those in the rich world. The result: A ‘middle class’ world and vast fortunes for all those clever enough to position themselves to take advantage. But the OECD is out today with two bits of research/futurology that make clear the picture is a lot more complicated than that. And convergence may not happen as fast as many expect. The message of the first (the hefty annual “Perspectives on Development”) is that, bar China, the “BRIICS” (the Brics plus Indonesia) are likely to fall well short of seeing their per capita incomes reach the average of OECD countries by 2050. Read more

To see how China is managing its growing clout over trade and investment around the world, it might help to take a look at how an economic hegemon evolved in the past – Britain’s colonists in eighteenth and nineteenth-century India.

In reality, China is still in the East India Company stage of global economic strategy – opportunistic and pragmatic rather than ideological and intellectually coherent. (It is something of an irony that the one-party autocracy of China is proving itself eclectic while the open-market democracy of the US has been doctrinaire.) And while there are some signs that China’s economic statecraft is moving towards the transparent and plurilateral, most of its policies towards other emerging markets are opaque and self-interested. Read more

In India, summer, when the temperatures soar, is mango season. And no mango variety is as prized as the luscious Alphonso mango, often referred to as the king of fruits.

Alphonso mangoes usually sell at prices out of reach of the Indian common man, as most of the annual crop is exported to Europe, where deep-pocketed consumers are willing, and can afford, to pay more for rare tropical treats. Read more

By William R. Rhodes, William R Rhodes Global Advisors

Political and economic conditions are evolving in ways that could promote the onset of a new era of global protectionism. A revival of beggar-thy-neighbor policies cannot be discounted. The main cause is the continuing sluggishness of global economic growth, plus scant prospects for significant improvement.

The leading industrial economies today, five years after the financial crisis, continue to underperform. This year, GDP growth is likely to be around 1.3% in the Euro-zone, 1% in Japan, and 2.6% in the United States. Read more

China’s weak March trade numbers today rattled markets and raised new questions about both the extent of the economy’s slowdown and just how reliable any trade data ex Beijing is in itself these days, given the huge distortions seen last year due to over-invoicing.

But then all of that is testament to the fact that China’s monthly trade data are, for good reason, the most closely watched of their kind in the world today. Why? Standard Chartered offers a good reason in a new report, also out today: China is the first “megatrader” the world has seen since the fall of the British empire. Read more

The Pacific Alliance is all the rage in Latin America. As today’s FT special report shows, the members of this newly-formed free trade pact include some of the region’s best-managed and most reform-minded economies: Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. These countries do not represent some kind of Platonic ideal. They suffer problems aplenty. But their governments do pride themselves on hard-nosed business dealing rather than gassy ideology. That being the case, is there a way for portfolio investors to actually trade the idea? Read more

While the focus in Ukraine has turned to government formation, Russia’s response, and chase-the-president, it’s worth keeping an eye on some of the economic charts.

Here’s a run down. Read more