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PBEC Trade Report January 2024

US TO INVESTIGATE APPAREL COMPETITIVENESS: The US International Trade Commission is to investigate the export competitiveness of apparel industries in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. A public hearing will be held on March 7. The five economies are key sources of apparel for the US market.

AUSTRALIAN TRADE AMBASSADOR COMPLETES TERM: Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation, George Mina, has completed his assignment in Geneva. He took up the position in 2020. He previously served in a range of senior diplomatic and trade roles.

IT’S “FISH MONTH” AT THE WTO: The WTO has begun “fish month” and plans to use the coming weeks to finalize an agreement on curbing subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing in the world’s oceans. It plans to submit an agreed text to the WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February.

US LAUNCHES RED SEA MARITIME INQUIRY: The US Federal Maritime Commission is to hold a public hearing on February 7 to investigate how conditions in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are impacting on commercial shipping services and global supply chains. The hearing will be held in Washington DC.

AUSTRALIAN STATE LEADS FOOD & FIBRE EXPORTS: Victoria was Australia’s largest food and fibre exporter in 2022/23 with sales rising to a record $19.6 billion. This represented 24% of exports by state value. Grain and meat were the largest export commodities and China, Japan and the US the largest markets.

INDIA PURSUES TARIFF PREFERENCES: Commerce Minister Goyal used the week’s India-US Trade Policy Forum to again push for the return of tariff preferences on Indian exports to the US. USTR Tai indicated the request could be considered. India lost access to the preferences in 2019 under the Trump Administration.

NZ APPOINTS ACTING LEAD DIPLOMAT: Brook Barrington has been appointed Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade following the retirement of Chris Seed. Mr Barrington has previously held the role and has more recently been Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

AUSTRALIAN EXPORTERS SEEK ACTION: The Export Council wants new appropriately funded initiatives to boost business exports. In a submission to Parliament’s Treaties Committee it says this would assist regional MSMEs determine regulatory requirements, gather market information and meet partners/buyers.

SINGAPORE & MALAYSIA TO BOOST ECONOMIC CONNECTIVITY: Singapore and Malaysia have signed a memorandum of understanding to work on the development of a special economic zone between Johor and Singapore. They plan to use the zone to boost the cross-border flows of goods, services and people.

CANADA CHALLENGES US LUMBER DUTIES: Canada is to use the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement to challenge US dumping and subsidy duties on Canadian softwood lumber. Trade Minister Ng said Canada was disappointed the US continued to impose what she described as unwarranted and unjust duties.

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