International Trade

Regional News • World
EU and China strengthen economic cooperation
EU and China strengthen economic cooperation
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Périgois

China and the EU have reached a political agreement in principle on a new investment agreement. Among other things, the agreement is intended to improve market access for European companies in China and ensure fairer competitive conditions. The agreement had been under negotiation since 2013. Most recently, China had made concessions on the contentious issue of labor rights. The communist leadership has promised to make "lasting and sustained efforts" to ratify two conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) against forced labor. As the world's most populous country with some 1.4 billion people, China is an important trade and economic partner for the EU. Last year, goods worth an average of 1.5 billion euros were traded daily between the two economic areas.

Regional News • Middle East
Special Report: UAE shipping firm is helping Venezuela avoid U.S. oil sanctions

Tankers managed by firms based in the United Arab Emirates have transported millions of barrels of oil produced by state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, since June, according to the internal documents and a publicly available shipping database. A shipping document shows that on July 31, the newly rebranded ships under a newly rebranded firm set sail carrying some 650,000 barrels of Venezuelan Boscan crude after a ship-to-ship transfer from the Alasfal, a Crude Oil Tanker flagged in Liberia, off Venezuela's coast.

The three supertankers - the Kelly, Marbella and Rene - each transported nearly 2 million barrels of Venezuelan crude and fuel in the first half of 2020 after coming under Issa's management, a batch of internal PDVSA shipping documents show.

Regional News • Europe
Post-Brexit trade deal agreed upon by UK and EU
Post-Brexit trade deal agreed upon by UK and EU
Credit: unsplash.com / Étienne Godiard

Both sides have confirmed a trade deal on Thursday afternoon. "The deal is there," the British government announced. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and negotiator Michel Barnier announced a joint press conference. The agreement appears to have averted a harsh economic rift at the turn of the year.

The trade agreement is to regulate economic relations between the island and the continent from January 2021. The most important point is to avoid tariffs and ensure the smoothest possible trade. However, the agreement also covers fishing as well as cooperation on energy, transport, justice, police and many other issues.

Regional News • Europe
France and Britain decide on plans to resume freight traffic
France and Britain decide on plans to resume freight traffic
Credit: unsplash.com / Andrey Sharpilo

According to the BCC, Britain and France will decide on a plan to resume freight traffic after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on measures to reopen the French border. The measures will apply from Wednesday, the BBC said, citing French Europe Minister Clément Beaune.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
European Parliament sets deadline for Brexit deal until Sunday
European Parliament sets deadline for Brexit deal until Sunday
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Manfred Weber

The European Parliament has given the negotiations on a possible trade pact with Great Britain until Sunday. With just two weeks to go before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, the European Union is still negotiating a follow-up deal with Britain that would avoid tariffs and serious trade barriers. However, according to British government sources, the negotiating parties are still very far apart on key issues.

The European Parliament has given the negotiations on a possible trade pact with Great Britain until Sunday. If a finished text is available by midnight, it is prepared to schedule a special session for ratification, according to a decision by the parliament's leadership.

Regional News • Europe
No-deal Brexit now a 'strong possibility' according to Boris Johnson
No-deal Brexit now a 'strong possibility' according to Boris Johnson
Credit: 10 Downing Street / via Wikimedia Commons (Open Government Licence v3.0)

The British Prime Minister Johnson no longer considers a deal likely - but wants to continue negotiating.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is dampening expectations for a trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union. "There is now a high probability that we will get a solution similar to Australia's relationship with the EU, rather than one similar to the Canada-Europe relationship," Johnson said.

Australia and the European Union currently trade based on the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which would equate a no-deal brexit.

Business • Farming & Agriculture
UK faces shortage of Christmas trees due to Covid-19 export restrictions from Denmark
UK faces shortage of Christmas trees due to Covid-19 export restrictions from Denmark
Credit: Steve Wilson (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Due to a recent outbreak of a mutated Covid-19 version in mink, Denmark has heavy export restrictions in place. Following the United Kingdom has problems importing Nordmann Firs of which it normally uses around a million trees every year.

According to MailOnline Domestic suppliers are working hard to fill any gaps in demand to ensure people can get a tree for their house, but face an increase in demand of sometimes up to 1,000%.

Business • Economy
New World's largest trades bloc created

15 countries have formed the world's largest trading bloc.

It is named 'RCEP', short for 'Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership'. The countries involved include 10 Southeastern Asian companies, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The long road to this point started back in 2012. The US was excluded from the deal after pulling out of a rival Asia-Pacific deal in 2017.

The deal was confirmed by each individual country signing copies of the trade agreement, and then showing it to a camera in a virtual ceremony.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Bolsonaro announces that Brazil won't buy Covid-19 vaccine from China
Bolsonaro announces that Brazil won't buy Covid-19 vaccine from China
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

"We won't buy the vaccine from China," says Bolsonaro on his Facebook page on Tuesday after the Ministry of Health had announced the purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac.

The same day, earlier, the Ministry of Health had announced the purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a vaccine developed by Chinese pharmacist Sinovac. The company has an agreement with the government of São Paulo to supply the ready vaccine and also to transfer the production technology to the Butantan Institute (see details below).

"Everything will be clarified even today. We will not buy the vaccine from China", said the president.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
British House of Lords rejects Single Market Act by a large majority
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Credit: Annie Mole (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The British House of Lords rejected the Single Market Act by a large majority. It voted 395 to 169 against the draft. If the law passes at a later point Boris Johnson's government could use the law to cancel parts of the exit agreement between London and the EU.

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Tesla sues US government over tariffs on goods from China
Tesla sues US government over tariffs on goods from China
Credit: unsplash.com / Afif Kusuma

The electric car manufacturer Tesla has sued the United States government and wants to legally enforce an exemption from US punitive tariffs on imports from China.

With Tesla being one of several hundreds of companies starting such proceedings on the import tariffs, the company is seeking to avert existing import tariffs as well as compensation for tariffs that have already been paid.

Regional News • World
EU demands concessions from China before concluding investment agreements
EU demands concessions from China before concluding investment agreements
Credit: unsplash.com / Janine Meuche

The EU is demanding concessions from China before negotiations on the planned investment agreement are concluded. If an agreement is to be reached at the end of the year as planned, China still has a lot to do in the areas of market access and sustainable development, said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday evening after talks with China's President Xi Jinping.

The EU could already celebrate as a success that on Monday China signed an agreement on the mutual protection of geographical indications for food. Champagne, Feta cheese or also Parma ham will thus in future be among 100 European products that are protected in China against unauthorized imitation. Conversely, the geographical indications of 100 Chinese products such as Pu'er tea, Moutai schnapps or Panjin rice will also be protected in the EU.

Regional News • Europe
United Kingdom threatens to back out of parts of EU withdrawal treaty

According to reports from the Financial Times, the United Kingdom's government under prime minister Boris Johnson plans to render some regulations from the EU withdrawal treaty void.

The British government allegedly plans to pass laws on Wednesday that could override parts of the Brexit agreement on state aid and border regulations with Ireland.

Regional News • Europe
Johnson demands Brexit deal until 15th of October
Johnson demands Brexit deal until 15th of October
Credit: Ben Shread / Cabinet Office

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has demanded a fully negotiated Brexit deal until the 15th of October. If this is not the case, there will be no free trade between the United Kingdom and European Union after the transition period, according to Johnson.

Regional News • Asia
Japan to pay $536 million to companies for moving production out of China
Japan to pay $536 million to companies for moving production out of China
Credit: Chris / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

According to Bloomberg the Japanese government has announced that it'll pay 57 companies a total of $536 million in subsidies in order to move production from factories in China back to Japan or other countries.

This follows after the government has announced in April that it aims to reduce the dependency on Chinese supply chains. Another 30 companies will receive additional funds for an undisclosed amount.

Regional News • World
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Public records: UK has sold surveillance technology to 17 repressive governments
Credit: Jonathan McIntosh

The Independent reports that public records show exports of security technology from the United Kingdom to repressive regimes despite rules to prevent it. Security technology such as wiretaps, spyware and other telecommunications interception equipment shouldn't be exported to regimes that might use them for internal repression purposes.

Public records show that despite the rules exports worth £75 million have been approved to 17 countries including China, Saudia Arabia, the United Arba Emirates and Bahrain. All 17 states have been rated "not free" by the Non-Governmental Organisation Freedom House.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
iPhone assembler Foxconn allegedly plans $1 billion investment into plant in India
Foxconn factory at Czech Republic
Foxconn factory at Czech Republic Credit: Nadkachna (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The Taiwanese hardware and technology company Foxconn allegedly plans to invest up to $1 billion in India. The goal is to expand an existing factory southeastern India near Chennai where the company assembles iPhones for Apple.

According to a source published by the news agency Reuters "There’s a strong request from Apple to its clients to move part of the iPhone production out of China". Neither Foxconn nor Apple have commented on the news.

Regional News • Americas • South America
Argentina exits Mercosur trade talks

Mercosur released a statement last Friday (April 26) that Argentina decided to withdraw from ongoing trade negotiations with the South American trade bloc to focus on the growing economic crisis at home. The bloc, formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, has recently been hobbled by political squabbling and government changeovers.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Berlin regional government accused U.S. government of "modern piracy"

German officials said a shipment of 200.000 N95 face masks destined for Berlin was seized at Bangkok airport and diverted to the U.S.

Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel called the incident an act of “modern piracy.” Berlin Mayor Michael Müller, a Social Democrat, said: “the actions of the U.S. president are…inhumane and unacceptable.”