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The European Free Trade Association and Malaysia begin Fourth Round of Trade Negotiations

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In April, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) held its fourth round of trade negotiations with Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. The EFTA is made up of four countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Discussions on the free trade agreement (FTA) were originally launched in November 2012 and the first round of negotiations was held in March 2014. The EFTA and Malaysia also signed a Joint Declaration in July 2010.

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The Big Players in ​​ASEAN-Africa Trade

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Op-ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

The Asia-Africa Summit has been taking place in Jakarta over the past few days, with government officials from over 100 countries taking part. High-level dignitaries attending the event have included Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Indian Minister Sushma Swaraj, as well as heavy hitters from the smaller nations of both regions.   

Themed “The Realization of the Asia-Africa Partnership for Progress”, calls were made to push for reform of the global economic architecture, this included implied criticism of the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank, with suggestions that they had done little to deal with issues both in Asia and certainly in Africa. Noting that China’s weight in the IMF was the same as a medium-sized European country, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee stated that such institutions no longer reflected the true world order and welcomed China’s recent plans for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

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Mauritius to Tighten India Tax Treaty Loophole, Singapore to Benefit

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Jul. 26 – Mauritius, long the largest sender of foreign direct investment into India thanks to a loophole in its tax treaty which allows Mauritius-based holding companies to offset capital gains taxes (CGT), is finally looking to close this loophole following pressure from the Indian government.

The Indian government has estimated that over US$74 billion of foreign money has gone through Mauritius into India since 2000 (good for an estimated 40 percent of India’s total FDI since the early 2000s), and India’s Department of Revenue estimates that it loses between US$100 million and US$500 million annually thanks to the loophole.

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China to Join RCEP, Creating Massive Free Trade Area with ASEAN, India, and Japan

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Plus Myanmar issues new foreign investment law

Nov. 9 – China is set to commence negotiations to create a 16-nation trade bloc, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with its launch expected to be formally announced at the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh later this month. The RCEP will include the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and will have the effect of lowering trade barriers and custom duties across the region by the end of 2015. ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. A map of the participating members of the proposed RCEP can be seen below.

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Global Impact of a China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Agreement

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By Joshua Gill

Jun. 29 – Last month, at the Fifth Trilateral Summit between China, Japan, and South Korea the three countries jointly announced their intent to begin negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of 2012. The announcement raises questions not only about the impact of the successful negotiation of such an agreement, but also about its feasibility.

While the result of the Summit (namely the Joint Declaration on the Enhancement of Trilateral Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership) proudly declares that trilateral cooperation first began in 1999, relations between the three countries have hardly been without incident in the past few years. China-Japan and South Korea-Japan disputes over islands in their respective bordering seas as well as fishing disputes between the countries are just a few of the myriad disagreements between the countries.

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Australia, Malaysia Sign Free Trade Agreement

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97 percent of traded goods to be rated at zero tariffs with immediate effect

May 23 – Australia and Malaysia signed a free trade agreement yesterday that brings about a considerable easing of tariffs and trade between the two countries. The Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) was signed off by the respective trade ministers of each nation, namely Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Craig Emerson. The agreement covers 97 percent of all goods, including small cars, rice and wine. Some 99 percent of these products have had tariffs reduced to zero.

The FTA also permits Australian businesses to invest in Malaysian businesses previously under the restricted industry category, including those in the services industry and markets such as tourism, education, insurance, and telecoms among other areas. Australian equity is now permitted at a level of up to 70 percent ownership in these markets.

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China-Japan-South Korea Sign Trilateral Agreement and Launch FTA Talks

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By Xiaolei Gu

May 14 – Leaders from China, Japan, and South Korea concluded the Fifth Trilateral Summit Meeting and signed the Trilateral Agreement for the Promotion, Facilitation and Protection of Investment (hereinafter referred as the Trilateral Agreement) at a summit in Beijing yesterday. The Trilateral Agreement represents a stepping stone towards a three-way free trade pact to counter global economic turbulence and to boost economic growth in Asia.

According to a joint declaration, the three nations will further enhance the “future-oriented comprehensive cooperative partnership” to unleash vitality into the economic growth of the three countries, accelerate economic integration in East Asia, and facilitate economic recovery and growth in the world.

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India Signs Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Ethiopia

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May 31 – India signed a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on May 25, 2011 for the prevention of double taxation and fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The contract was signed by External Affairs Minister of India on behalf of the Government of India and by Sufian Ahmed, Minister of Ethiopia in the attendance of the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

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Sharma: FTA with Africa Next Logical Step for India

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Nov. 17 – Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma believes that the relationship between India and Africa will be the defining partnership of the 21st Century and stated that an FTA with different regions on the continent would be the next logical step during the India Economic Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Speaking at a session titled “The New South: Developing the Africa-India Partnership,” Sharma expressed his beliefs that India and Africa share a special strategic relationship which targets each other’s strengths, experiences and resources in a mutually beneficial manner.

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India and Canada Launch FTA Talks

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Nov. 12 – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Friday that they have begun discussing the possibility of a bilateral free trade agreement.

The two leaders officially launched the talks after meeting privately on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Seoul, commenting in a joint statement that “both sides expect a timely conclusion of an ambitious agreement.”

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