Canada pursue free trade agreement with ASEAN

Canada pursue free trade agreement with ASEAN

Canada continues to pursue a multilateral free trade agreement with Southeast Asian nations, and those involved with negotiations say bilateral deals in the region could lead to larger pacts.

The pursuit of a free trade deal with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), began three years ago but has so far harvested no results.

Since, Canada has explored the possibility of entering into bilateral pacts with some of the ASEAN member states – including the launch of consultations for a deal with Indonesia.

Kendal Hembroff, director general of trade policy and negotiations for Foreign Affairs, said a broad agreement is better than a narrower one.

But it “sometimes makes sense to do what you’re able to do at a given point in time.”

Those comments came during a March meeting of the International Trade committee.

In 2017, exploratory talks for a possible Canada-ASEAN trade deal started.

Face-to-face meetings between Canada and ASEAN members continued over the next few years and in 2018, Ottawa did a public consultation on a potential pact.

Twenty of the 49 submissions in that consultation were from agricultural stakeholders.

According to the government, stakeholders overall expressed support for a free trade deal and highlighted:

 “existing barriers for Canadian firms, including high tariffs, sanitary and phytosanitary issues and non-tariff barriers” could be addressed.

Hembroff told committee members Canada continues to pursue a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement.

“The pandemic has certainly reinforced the importance of an agreement with all of ASEAN, especially as an opportunity to be able to tap into regional supply chains.

That does not preclude us from pursuing the possibility of bilateral agreements with ASEAN member states.

And Canada recently conducted public consultations to seek the views of Canadians on a possible trade agreement with Indonesia,” she said.

Source: Grain News and Glacier Farm Media.

Singapore Downtown District poeple wearing protective masks for Covid-19, CoronaVirus

South-East Asian countries yearn to revive tourism

While some South-East Asian countries have gradually reopened their borders to foreign travelers, many feel that the region’s tourism industry has a way to go before it dispels the gloom brought by the COVID-19 pandemic on “a bumpy road” to recovery.

As part of encouraging moves in the region, Singapore is lifting border restrictions for visitors from the Chinese mainland from Friday, the city state’s authorities announced late last week. Visitors must take a Covid-19 test upon arrival and will not need to quarantine if they record a negative result.

Singapore’s move comes on the heels of Thailand welcoming the first batch of Chinese tourists under a special tourist visa program in late October. They were the first foreign arrivals in the tourism-reliant country in seven months.

The visa program was devised by the Thai authorities to restore, incrementally, a sector that by some estimates accounts for more than 10 percent of the country’s GDP, with almost 40 million visitors last year.

In South-East Asia, Thailand is far from alone in having its tourism industry ravaged by the pandemic.

In Indonesia, the number of foreign visitors plunged more than 70 percent from January to September compared with the same period last year.

A strategy of gradual reopening to foreign visitors is a good start for countries in South-East Asia, and China stands out as a target source market for tourists with its record on coronavirus control, said Xu Liping, director of Southeast Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

South-East Asia boost cooperation

Thailand was one of the top overseas destinations for Chinese tourists last year, accounting for by far the largest number of visitors by nationality. Some 11 million Chinese visitors put about US$17 billion into the economy.

In a bid to lift its tourism industry out of the doldrums, Thailand plans further moves to open up.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the first phase of reopening will be limited to 1,200 people, a far cry from a monthly figure of around 3 million before the pandemic. A full revival of tourism in South-East Asian nations is some way off, Xu said. “South-East Asia’s tourism sector is still facing a bumpy road ahead. It all depends on the situation with the epidemic,” he said.

World map with all states and their flags,3d render

Trade blocs in the world

Trade blocs consist of official pacts executed between nations, which allow those involved to obtain benefits related to international trade.

The members of the trade bloc are those who promote foreign investment, increased skills, as well as commercial exports and imports.

This type of mechanism is found in all parts of the world, from America through Europe and ending in Asia or Africa.

Trade Blocs team a group of countries, with the objective of obtaining economic benefits in International Trade, today we will talk about the main trade blocs in the world.

Types of trade blocs

Usually, trade blocs are classified according to the degree of economic integration reached by their member countries. Thus, one can speak of:

• Economic Complementation Agreements: They hardly imply reciprocal tariff preferences for some of the products made in the countries that sign them.

• Customs Agreements: A single and same customs policy is implemented between the subscribing countries.

• Free Trade Areas: Founded by Free Trade Agreements (FTA), they usually imply the full lifting of tariffs between countries, except for certain protected products, considered “sensitive”.

• Economic Community: They imply the total liberation of trade in factors of production.

• Economic Union: It implies the total and full economic integration, not only in commercial and tariff matters but even in monetary and fiscal matters.

Main trade blocs of the world

  • The European Union (EU): this bloc is formed by countries such as Germany, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic up to Latvia, Croatia, France, and many more. This organization was founded in 1945 after the end of the Second World War and seeks to increase commercial and political consolidation between their countries, establish peace and solidarity among brothers.
  • MERCOSUR: Founded in 1991. It seeks to eliminate the barriers that separate nations, increase productive activity, and generate opportunities. The countries that form this organization are Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. Venezuela and Bolivia were part, currently, they have been suspended and are in a state of adhesion.
  • The Pacific Alliance: born in 2012 creates strategies to integrate and influence free trade in countries. It promotes and advocates for cultural, academic, and tourism exchanges, as well as research, among others. The countries in charge of this agreement are Peru, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia.
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): Founded in 1988, the countries that are part of are: the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Among the regulations of this agreement are the following: promoting free trade, increasing investment opportunities, ending trade barriers at the border, and consolidating benefits for citizens.
  • ANDEAN PACT: the member countries are: Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. Associates and observers. It seeks to consolidate, strengthen progress in terms of the quality of human life.
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): It was founded in 1967 by the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. There are currently ten member countries of this organization. It maintains international ties, seeks to increase economic growth and state stability.
  • The Southern African Development Community (SADC): the member countries are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Importance of these blocs

Trade blocs arise according to the needs of different nations, no matter how close or far they are. These are agreements and treaties signed and accepted by the members involved, which allow obtaining the benefits of free trade, allowing a greater variety of products to compete in the local market. This will favor the consumer who is likely to have the opportunity to pay lower prices on some goods.

The member countries together have greater negotiating power if they want to sign a trade agreement with another country or trade bloc.

Asian office workers wearing face masks working in the new normal office and doing social distancing during coronavirus covid-19 pandemic

A new center is launched to help ASEAN countries

A new center that aims to boost regional collaboration to prepare Asean for the changing nature of work was launched on Tuesday.

The Regional Centre for the Future of Work will institutionalize the collective effort to take advantage of emerging opportunities and tackle challenges, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Singapore Manpower Minister Josephine Teo in announcing the launch of this new center at a conference.

She added that the new center will bring together international experts and regional tripartite stakeholders to foster social dialogue, share knowledge, and build capabilities.

This comes as Covid-19 causes upheaval in labor markets worldwide.

Minister Teo highlighted how as many as 93 percent of the world’s workers experienced full or partial workplace closures in the first half of the year, and businesses were forced to adapt and shift to remote working arrangements.

“In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of working hours lost in the second quarter of the year was equivalent to 235 million full-time jobs”, she said. Vulnerable workers in informal and low-wage work were the hardest hit.

“We, the ASEAN countries, face common challenges related to the digital transformation of industries, implementing safe workplace measures and adapting HR (human resources) strategies to enable workers to fulfill their potential,” said the minister in her keynote address at the start of the three-day HR Tech Festival Asia conference.

How will this new center help?

The new center will support Asean in putting the statement into action by focusing on three areas that have become even more relevant during the pandemic, said Teo.

“Whether it is creating new jobs and training opportunities, implementing cost-cutting measures, or managing excess manpower, Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations must work together to ensure that business and workers can continue to thrive during this pandemic and beyond, especially those in lower-end and more precarious jobs,” said Teo.

She said the center’s first initiative is the ASEAN future of work track as part of the HR Tech Festival Asia event.