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PBEC Trade Report December 2023

AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTIVITY UNDER MICRO-TAX THREAT: A Productivity Commission research paper has suggested an increasingly complex and inefficient tax system risks limiting productivity growth. The paper says the number of sector-specific industry levies had grown from 26 to 248 since 1980.

SOUTH KOREA & EU LAUNCH DIGITAL TALKS: Negotiators have been meeting in Brussels this week for the first negotiating round for a South Korea-EU Digital Trade Agreement. Meanwhile South Korea and Indonesia have met this week to review the implementation of their bilateral trade agreement.

TAIWAN PURSUES JAPANESE SUPPORT: President Tsai has continued her pursuit of building Japan’s support for Taiwan’s bid to join the CPTPP FTA. In a meeting this week with the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association she expressed hope Japan would continue to provide Taiwan’s bid with support and assistance.

NZ MINISTER TO SERVE WTO MC13: New Zealand’s newly appointed Trade Minister McClay will serve as one of three vice chairs for the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference in Dubai in February. He will support the UAE’s Trade Minister as chair and work with the Trade Ministers of Cameroon and Panama as vice chairs.

CHINA LIFTS AUSTRALIAN MEAT SUSPENSIONS: China has further wound back its trade actions against Australia by announcing it will lift bans against three of the country’s largest meat export establishments. Meanwhile China has imported 314,000 tonnes of Australian barley since duties were removed in August.

INDIA & EU SEEK TO ADVANCE GI TRADE TALKS: Negotiators from India and the EU are meeting virtually this week to advance talks for an agreement on geographical indications. It is a 5th round of GI talks. A 7th round of broader FTA negotiations is scheduled to be held in New Delhi in February.

AUSTRALIA & UAE TO LAUNCH TRADE NEGOTIATIONS: Australia and the United Arab Emirates will begin negotiations in 2024 for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. Negotiations for an FTA with the broader Gulf Cooperation Council began in 2007 but stalled in 2009 after four negotiating rounds.

INDIA LAUNCHES WTO APPEAL: India is to appeal a second WTO Dispute report that found against its tariff treatment of ICT products. The report followed a complaint by the EU. The lack of a functioning appeal body means the status quo will continue. India may to seek to find a solution as part of FTA negotiations.

SINGAPORE & MERCOSUR SIGN FTA: Singapore and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) have signed the South American’s groups first free trade agreement with a Southeast Asian economy. The FTA signing in Rio de Janeiro followed the substantial conclusion of negotiations in July 2022.

US CONTINUES SHRIMP INQUIRY: The US Commerce Department is continuing its dumping and subsidy investigations into frozen warm water shrimps from Ecuador, Indonesia, India and Vietnam. It follows the US ITC finding there was a reasonable indication local industry had been materially injured by the imports.

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