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PBEC Trade Report April 2021- Part II

Issue: 006: AUSTRALIA INVITES RCEP SUBMISSIONS: The Australian Parliament’s Joint Treaties Committee has invited public submissions as part of its ratification review of the ASEAN+5 RCEP FTA. Submissions to the parliamentary committee are due by April 16. Japan’s Parliament has also begun its ratification.

BIDEN DEMANDS BUY AMERICAN FOCUS: President Biden has this week directed each of his Cabinet to examine their department expenditures and to ensure they were following the new administration’s Buy American Policy. The Buy American Policy was one of the new administration’s first policy initiatives.

AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES NEW TRADE INITIATIVES: Trade Minister Tehan has launched a Services Export Action Plan. The plan was co-designed with industry. The Australia India Business Exchange, designed to help businesses from both economies with market insights and connections, was also launched this week.

SINGAPORE LEADS ASEAN SERVICES AGREEMENT: Singapore has this week become the first economy to ratify the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement. Negotiations for the agreement were completed in 2018.

The ASEAN region’s services trade is worth more than $US845 billion annually.

US PURSUES CURRENCY WITH VIETNAM: USTR Katherine Tai has used her first meeting with Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Ah to further highlight US concerns with Vietnam’s currency practices. A US inquiry into the topic is ongoing. They also discussed illegal timber practices, digital trade and agriculture.

NEW ZEALAND SEEKS VIEWS ON NEW MEMBERS FOR FTA: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has invited public submissions on the prospect of new economies joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP). A key would-be member is the UK. Submissions are due by May 2.

MALAYSIAN MINISTER MAKES FIRST TRADE MISSION TRIP: Trade Minister Azmin Ali has this week been leading his first trade mission due to COVID-19 interruptions since taking office a year ago. The mission to South Korea and Japan has also seen Azmin Ali meet with Ministers Yoo and Hiroshi in Seoul and Tokyo.

AUSTRALIAN FARMERS WARN EU: The National Farmers’ Federation has described the EU’s geographical indicators regime as a “trojan horse” for protectionism.” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said a proposed expansion of the EU’s GI products to include haloumi cheese continued a worrying trend of increased protectionism.

PHILIPPINES LOOKS TO CONCLUDE FTA: The Philippines is working toward concluding an FTA with South Korea by June. The Manila Bulletin reported this would allow the FTA to be ratified before 2022 elections.

A contentious issue in the negotiations, which began in 2019, is the tariff treatment of auto products.

INDIA EXTENDS TRADE POLICY: India has further extended its foreign trade policy due to the interruptions of COVID-19. The five-year policy includes contentious export promotion subsidies for industry and was first introduced in 2015. It was extended in 2020 for a year and has now been extended until September.

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