Global Business Gateways offers business highlights on Trade, Investment and Travel & Tourism on our Network pages, and business highlights from our member countries around the world. Included here are some recent highlights from our Network pages. Please check our country pages for news and information on specific countries.
AFGHANISTAN: Kabul Joins Neighbors in Adopting the “New Delhi Declaration”
Following the recently held two-day Regional Economic Cooperation Conference (RECC) on Afghan Reconstruction on November 18-19, 2006 in New Delhi, India, a “New Delhi Declaration” was signed to solidify the good intentions of Afghanistan and its neighbors to bring stronger ties together in the region.
President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh jointly opened the conference attended by key players in Afghanistan's economic reconstruction including Pakistan, Iran, China, members of the G-8 group of industrialized nations, and donor agencies.
In his address, President Karzai said the tasks of reconstructing Afghanistan and restoring peace in the region remain largely unfinished. "To those of our partners who may be pondering their continued involvement in Afghanistan, I say the job is not over and the stakes are still very high."
President Karzai appealed to leaders of the G-8 industrialized countries and donor agencies to renew their commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan. "I hope the conference will bring to Afghanistan what we so badly need: assistance, investment and lasting stability," President Karzai said in his address.
For more information on India visit the AFGHANISTAN BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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INDIA: Aims to double bilateral trade with USA in three years
India and the United States agreed on an action plan, including involvement of private sector big business leadership, to double their bilateral trade from the current 20 billion to 40 billion dollars in three years.
The agreement was reached at the third ministerial-level meeting of the US-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) co-chaired by Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and US Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
With India already among the United States' fastest growing major bilateral trade relationships, Nath and Schwab hoped the cooperative steps endorsed will serve to further trade and investment, with the goal of doubling two-way trade in three years.
For more information on India visit the INDIA BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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BULGARIA: Negotiating entry to Common European Economic Space
Bulgaria has launched the first stage of negotiations for accession to the common European Economic Space (EES).
EES entry was part of Romania and Bulgaria's EU entry requirements stated in the accession treaty, Bulgarian National Radio reported.
Deputy Economy and Energy Minister Nina Radeva would lead the negotiations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dimitar Tsanchev, said. The negotiations would focus on three economic aspects including agriculture, financial aid and the transition period before entering EU's free internal market.
EES was created in 1994 and includes the EU member states and Norway, Island and Lichtenstein from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EES membership advantages include free traffic of stock, services, people and capital and strict regulations of competition, state financing and public procurements.
The agreement with EES member states would include ways of imposing common social policy, consumer protection and accounting standards.
For more information on Bulgaria visit the BULGARIA BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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BARBADOS: Signs on to CARICOM-Costa Rica FTA
A free trade agreement between Costa Rica and Barbados, that essentially eliminates barriers to trade and facilitates cross-border movement of goods and services between the territories, went into effect recently.
Barbados is the third Caribbean nation to join the agreement, which includes 12 of the 15 CARICOM member countries.
In addition to trade in goods, the agreement provides for the application of anti-dumping measures and for the enhancement of sanitary measures.
For more information on Barbados visit the BARBADOS BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus press on with customs union
An informal summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), in Sochi, Russia, resulted in an agreement between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to press ahead with the creation of a customs union early in 2007.
EurAsEC is the most advanced integration initiative in the former Soviet Union. In addition to the three countries, EurAsEC members include Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the newest member, Uzbekistan.
Leaders in Sochi decided Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, as the countries which are furthest along the path to a customs union, will aim to prepare the necessary documents by the end of 2006 and sign them in the first half of 2007. The remaining EurAsEC members will accede to the agreements prepared by the three as soon as they are ready, officials announced on August 16.
Speaking at a news conference in Sochi, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the countries will also continue to pursue membership in the World Trade Organization: “Kazakhstan and Russia have advanced the most in this respect, and we will help others achieve membership in WTO.”
The President of Armenia Robert Kocharian and the newly installed Prime Minister of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich also attended the meetings in Sochi as guests.
For more information on Kazakhstan visit the KAZAKHSTAN BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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SINGAPORE: Regional trade clearing utility proposed
The Singapore Exchange has proposed the creation of a clearing utility and depository to clear and settle trades in the ASEAN region. The initiative was proposed by Singapore Exchange CEO Hsieh Fu-Hua as a way to lower costs and avoid regional marginalization at “Crossing Borders: Towards an Integrated Asean Market,” a Citigroup conference on integration in Southeast Asia.
“We would like to see the establishment of a regional clearing and depositary utility, owned by the exchanges, to facilitate clearing and custody for cross-border trading in Asean,” Hsieh proposed.
Although the lack of a common regulatory framework and regional politics will not allow the kind of integration found in European markets, Mr. Hsieh suggested that integration was possible “by harmonizing market standards and practices.”
For more information on Singapore visit the SINGAPORE BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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LIBYA: Russians moving in
According to Mikhail Kamynin, Russian foreign ministry spokesman, Russian companies have intensified activities in Libya in recent years, especially in the areas of fuel and energy. Several Russian companies have been registered, have opened representation offices in Libya and are taking part in tenders for prospecting. Kamynin said power engineering, investment, industrial and transport infrastructure were also interesting areas for bilateral cooperation.
For more information on Libya visit the LIBYA BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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FIJI: Foreign investment in restricted sectors to be allowed case-by-case
An amendment to the Foreign Investment Act will allow foreign investors to enter restricted activities without local partners, but the investment must be approved by the ministry responsible for investment. Agriculture is a key restricted sector that can sometimes require significant capital investment. Currently, 40 percent local participation is required. Under the amendment, the minister could waive the requirement on a case-by-case basis. The determination would be made based on several factors, including the business history of the investor, financial ability, management systems, expertise and level of technology to be introduced, the type of agro-businesses, the need for the investment; and any other relevant matters.
For more information on Fiji visit the FIJI BUSINESS GATEWAY.
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THE BAHAMAS: IMF recommends value-added tax
A recent International Monetary Fund survey recommended the addition of a value-added tax (VAT) for the Bahamas. The survey noted that low inflation, a sound banking system and generally prudent fiscal policies have set the stage for private-sector-led growth. The survey also urged tax reform to reduce the government deficit and help accession to the WTO. "To this end, a comprehensive tax reform – entailing the introduction of a value-added tax or sales tax and a lowering of important tariffs – would help sustain revenues and reduce vulnerability to external shocks, while also facilitating the possible accession to the World Trade Organization, (WTO)" the IMF report stated. Bahamian Prime Minister Cynthia Pratt noted, however, that although it would be useful to explore a possible VAT there are no plans to implement a VAT now or in the immediate future.
For more information on The Bahamas visit the BAHAMAS BUSINESS GATEWAY.