Questions are arising over the future of the World Trade Organization after a three-day ministerial conference ended in discord. Delegates in Buenos Aires failed to reach agreements on relatively simple e-commerce and agricultural issues, prompting ministers to call for ‘plurilateral arrangements’ to enable progress, Reuters reports. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom was cited as saying... View Article

The world’s first ‘Komodo bond’ issued by an Indonesian state-owned enterprise was launched in London today, offering investors “access to the local currency, enabling them to gain a higher return compared to USD Bonds,” according to Rini Soemarno, Minister of State Owned Enterprises of Indonesia. The Komodo bond – an Indonesian offshore rupiah-dominated bond –... View Article

His Excellency Tran Ngoc An has been appointed as Vietnam’s Ambassador to the UK.  Mr Tran takes over from His Excellency Nguyen Van Thao, who returned to Vietnam at the end of October after a three-year posting in London. Mr Tran was most recently Ambassador-Director General of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation at the... View Article

The free trade deal between the European Union and Japan was finalised today, with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker tweeting: “It’s done.” The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) follows four years of negotiations, and will cut tariffs, introduce cooperation on standards and regulations, and open up public procurement markets, the Financial Times reports. In a joint statement,... View Article

Singapore is focusing on the themes of ‘resilience’ and ‘innovation’ as Chair of ASEAN for 2018. At a lecture titled ‘ASEAN: Next 50’ on Tuesday, Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said that ASEAN would always be affected by external forces, and the challenge was to “collectively build a bigger, stronger ship” that... View Article

The Philippines is pursuing a new trade-based approach to development, calling for fairer rules and market access over aid projects, according to the Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy. Speaking at Asia House’s major conference in Hong Kong, Dr. Ceferino S Rodolfo said the Philippines was “not pushing for help, we are not seeking assistance.... View Article

The Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, gave an upbeat assessment of Hong Kong’s prospects in the emerging global trade order during a major Asia House conference in the city. In an expansive keynote speech, Mrs Lam emphasised the growing importance of ASEAN, the general rise of Asia in the global economy, and the... View Article

The conclusion of the ASEAN-Hong Kong free trade agreement yesterday (12 November) is being described as rejection of protectionism in the region. The ASEAN-Hong Kong China Free Trade Agreement was signed during the ASEAN summit in Manila on Sunday, along with a separate investment deal. Hong Kong, which is not covered by the current FTA... View Article

Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has launched a strong defence of free trade, saying that the recent pushback against it masks wider social problems. “Free trade has been made a scapegoat for some of the sorts of problems that economies are facing,” Mrs Lam said. “And Hong Kong is no exception.” Speaking at... View Article

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, has lowered taxes for millions of Malaysians in his final budget before upcoming elections. Taking advantage of a surprisingly improved economy, Mr Razak has outlined a ‘populist’ budget, according to Free Malaysia Today, which reports that Razak is ‘under pressure to win over voters upset with rising… costs.’... View Article