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WTO overcomes last-minute hitch to reach first global trade deal

The World Trade Organization reached its first ever trade reform deal on Saturday to the roar of approval from nearly 160 ministers who had gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali to decide on the make-or-break agreement that could add $1 trillion to the global economy

The approval came after Cuba dropped a last-gasp threat to veto the package of measures.

"For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered," WTO chief Roberto Azevedo told exhausted ministers after the talks which had dragged into an extra day on the tropical resort island.

"This time the entire membership came together. We have put the 'world' back in World Trade Organization," he said. "We're back in business... Bali is just the beginning."

Canada's International Trade Minister Ed Fast on Friday described the Bali agreement as "a promising package that includes market access in agriculture, gains for least-developed countries and an important trade facilitation agreement that will improve the movement of goods across international borders."

The talks, which had opened on Tuesday, nearly came unstuck at the last minute when Cuba suddenly refused to accept a deal that would not help pry open the U.S. embargo of the Caribbean island, forcing negotiations to drag into Saturday morning.

Cuba later agreed on a compromise with the United States.

Trade skepticism

But there was skepticism how much had really been achieved.

"Beyond papering over a serious dispute on food security, precious little was progress was made at Bali," said Simon Evenett, professor of international trade at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. "Dealing with the fracas on food security sucked the oxygen out of the rest of the talks."

The talks had begun under a cloud because of an insistence by India at the outset that it would only back an agreement if there was a compromise on food subsidies because of its massive programme for stockpiling food to feed its poor.

India, which will holds elections next year, won plaudits at home for taking a stand on behalf of the world's poor.

An eventual compromise was greeted with jubilation by Trade Minister Anand Sharma. While India had insisted on a permanent exemption from the WTO rules, the final text aimed to recommend a permanent solution within four years.

"Much of the focus was on shielding public stockholding programmes for food security in developing countries, so that they would not be challenged legally even if a country's agreed limits for trade-distorting domestic support were breached," the WTO said in its release Saturday.

The other issue was about tariff quota administration -- that is, how a specific type of import quota, where volumes inside the quota have a lower duty, is to be handled when the quota is "persistently under-filled," the WTO said.

"Members have agreed on a combination of consultation and providing information when quotas are under-filled."

Five countries reserved the right not to apply the system after six years, including the U.S. Barbados, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Texts unchanged from versions negotiated in Geneva would add some governments' development and land-use programmes to the list of "general services" that are candidates for being allowed without limit because they cause "little" trade distortion.

The text also includes a "strong political statement to ensure export subsidies and other measures with similar effect are low," and text on improving market access for cotton products from "least-developed" countries.

Rescues from brink

The agreement is a milestone for the 159 WTO members, marking the organisation's first global trade agreement since it was created in 1995.

It also rescues the WTO from the brink of failure and will rekindle confidence in its ability to lower barriers to trade worldwide, after 12 years of fruitless negotiations.

The deal would lower trade barriers and speed up the passage of goods through customs. Analysts estimate that over time it could boost the world economy by hundreds of billions of dollars and create more than 20 million jobs, mostly in developing countries.

It still needs to be approved by each member government.

"It is good for both developed and developing members alike," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said.

Red tape

A study by the Washington, D.C.-based Peterson Institute of International Economics estimated the agreement would inject US$960 billion into the global economy and create 21 million jobs, 18 million of them in developing nations.

The deal slashes red tape at customs around the world, gives improved terms of trade to the poorest countries, and allows developing countries to skirt the normal rules on farm subsidies if they are trying to feed the poor.

The ministers had gathered with a clear warning that failure to reach agreement in Bali would turn the WTO into an irrelevance and trigger a rush toward regional and bilateral trade pacts.

It came almost 20 years to the day since a similar nail-biting conclusion to another marathon negotiation - the talks to agree the creation of the WTO itself, which wrapped up in mid-December 1993. That was the last global trade deal.

The Bali meeting was also noticeable for its lack of anti-WTO protests compared to the street battles when ministers met in Seattle 14 years ago.

The Bali accord will help revive confidence in the WTO's ability to negotiate global trade deals, after it consistently failed to clinch agreement in the Doha round of talks that started in 2001 and proved hugely over-ambitious.

As the Doha round stuttered to a halt, momentum shifted away from global trade pacts in favour of regional deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries, and a similar agreement it is pursuing bilaterally with the European Union.

 

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International trade in logs and timber worth $50 billion in 2013

International trade in logs and timber worth $50 billion in 2013 | world trade organization | Scoop.it

The total value of global trade in logs and softwood timber is estimated to have reached more than $50 billion (£30.3 billion) in 2013 – the highest level since before the economic crash of 2008 – with prices for both commodities rising.

 

According to Wood Resources International (WRI), which calculated the total from data for January to October, the US “continues to be the major destination for internationally-traded lumber” but countries in Asia imported twice as much timber in 2013 compared to five years ago.

WRI said: “There has been an unprecedented increase in demand for softwood lumber in Asia the past few years, with the three major importing countries, Japan, China and South Korea, together importing more than twice as much lumber in 2013 as compared to five years ago.”

 

Softwood timber is “by far the most commonly traded wood product worldwide” and the biggest increases in overseas trade have been from Canada to China and from Nordic countries to Japan.


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Sean Goins's curator insight, November 13, 2014 1:42 PM

softwood is the most commonly traded wood product worldwide and the us is the number one provider with prices reaching 50 million for it. of late Asia has had an increase in need for softwood so the us will have to respond by increasing production and collection of the this softwood to stay up with demand

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US-China press forward on expanding high-tech trade agreement

An agreement could lead to the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years.
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Sean Goins's curator insight, November 13, 2014 1:40 PM

china is pushing for the high tech trade agreement to be excepted and used

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Marketing Automation: The Key to Trade Show Success - Pardot

Marketing Automation: The Key to Trade Show Success - Pardot | world trade organization | Scoop.it

Excerpt...

 

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set up landing pages to collect lead informationsegment your email communications based on geography, interests, and more — making it easier to send out targeted and relevant trade show invitesprepare autoresponders that will send your leads helpful information as soon as they submit one of your trade show formsautomate follow-up with your leads after the trade show has endedassign trade show leads to the appropriate sales reps for follow up.
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CYDigital's curator insight, April 24, 2013 10:52 AM

Goes hand in hand with the adjacent scoop...and you can download Pardot's free white paper, “Leveraging Marketing Automation at Trade Shows” to get more information.


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CHILE: Fishing - aquaculture trade relations strengthened with China

CHILE: Fishing - aquaculture trade relations strengthened with China | world trade organization | Scoop.it

A Chilean delegation recently visited the main seafood processing plants and marketing firms in Qingdao in the context of the settlement of the Understanding Agreement with China.

 

The group, led by the head of the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA), Raul Sunico, visited three seafood processing plants and the main distribution centre of these products in the Chinese town.

 

Two of the companies visited are engaged in seaweed processing and the development of the related technology: Qingdao Gather Graet Ocean Seaweed Industry and Qingdao Bright Moon Seaweed Group.

 

"China is a desirable strategic partner for our country, especially now when we are seeking to enhance the activity of seaweed farming," said the Chilean undersecretary.

 

"So we want to know the value added product processing industry from these resources and the processing plants we have visited today are world leaders in this field," he added.

 

The Chilean delegation also visited the  Qingdao Chengyang Vegetables and Aquatic Products Wholesale Market, the largest wholesale market in Qingdao and seafood distributor throughout the country.

 

The last visit was to the processing plant of Qingdao Howyawl Group, which exports 90 per cent of its fresh, chilled and breaded products.

 

The director of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (SERNAPESCA), José Miguel Burgos; PROCHILE representatives; five small and medium enterprises in the Bío Bío Region and a mission of Patagonia Mussel, for whom the visit was an opportunity for the generation of commercial ties, also travelled to China.

 

Sunico deemed the bilateral agreement signed as "historic" because it "opens up important possibilities for the sector as a whole," a situation that the country should take advantage of.

 

"These agreements will help maintain and stimulate the flow of shipments and build competitive advantage over other seafood exporters," he stated.

 

Meanwhile, Burgos explained that "in practical terms, it means that when modifying their requirements the parties should inform the other one, and grant acceptable transition deadlines. This formalization is clearly a breakthrough in trade relations and international trade facilitation of our fishery and aquaculture products."

 

Chilean fishery product shipments to China generated revenues of USD 343 million in 2013, and it is expected that exports this year are higher given the current export volumes, primarily salmon ones.

 

Sunico said that last year, Chile exported around 700 tonnes of fresh salmon to China while for this year it is expected exports reach 2,600 tonnes.

 

The Chilean-Chinese agreement was also signed by the deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine Supervision (AQSIQ) of the People's Republic of China, Zhang Qingrong; and by Chilean Ambassador Jorge Heine.

 

By Analia Murias
editorial@fis.com
www.fis.com

 

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david adorno's curator insight, November 13, 2014 12:45 PM

Chile and China deciding on a trade agreement for fish and sea weed to form a mutually beneficial trade agreement.