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PBEC Trade Report March 2021

WTO APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has this week become the first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organization. Her appointment was ratified by the WTO General Council. She will take up the global trade role on March 1. Her term will expire in August 2025.

AUSTRALIAN INQUIRY DELAYED: Australia has delayed for a 3rd time its reporting dates for a dumping and subsidy inquiry into precision pipe and tube steel from China, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. COVID-19 has been blamed for the delays. Inquiry recommendations will now be made by July 2; 10 months late.

PHILIPPINES LOOKS TO EU TRADE TALKS: President Duterte has flagged an interest in resuming FTA negotiations with the European Union. He made the comments in Manila while accepting the credentials of a new EU Ambassador. Negotiations for an FTA began in 2015 but stalled after two rounds.

KIWI FARMERS WANT PROMPT RCEP RATIFICATION: New Zealand farmers have called on the country to promptly ratify the RCEP FTA. In a submission to a Parliamentary Committee, Federated Farmers said it would also be important for New Zealand to continue to work for improvements to the trade agreement.

AUSTRALIAN NEGOTIATORS PREPARE FOR FURTHER TALKS: Negotiators for FTAs with the United Kingdom and European Union face further video rounds in the coming weeks. A 4th round of Australia-UK negotiations begins on February 24 and a 10th round of Australia-EU negotiations on March 9.

US INQUIRY REJECTS BLUEBERRY CLAIM: The International Trade Commission has abandoned an inquiry into imported blueberries. The USITC determined increased imports of blueberries were not a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic producers. The USTR sought the safeguard inquiry in September 2020.

UK & INDIA INCH TOWARD FTA: Trade Secretary Truss and Commerce Minister Goyal have agreed an economic partnership agreement between the economies will be launched during a planned visit by Prime Minister Johnson in 2021. The agreement is seen as a roadmap toward the negotiation of an FTA.

JAPAN SEEKS CAR TARIFF TALKS: Japan has told the WTO it wants early consultations with the Philippines to better understand emergency safeguard tariffs Manila has introduced to protect its local auto industry. The duties of $US1455 for cars and $US2286 for trucks will apply while a Tariff Commission inquiry is held.

SINGAPORE-UK FTA BEGINS: The UK-Singapore FTA entered into force on February 11. This followed its signing in December 2020 and provisional application on January 1. Under the new trade agreement, UK and Singaporean businesses will receive the same benefits that apply under the EU-Singapore FTA.

LONG-SERVING US BUSINESS ADVOCATE TO RETIRE: One of the world’s leading business and trade advocates is to retire. US Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Tom Donohue will step down in March after 24 years leading the world’s largest business organization. He will be succeeded by Suzanne Clark.

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