Economy & Trade

A Brave New World: China, Russia & ASEAN Lead Eurasian Free Trade

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Greater Eurasia

A strange sense of an unexpectedly inverted trade world has permeated this weeks St.Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). A feeling of developing changes in the manner in which global trade is conducted is beginning to be replaced by something new, if yet embryonic.

It is a sense that Eurasia is starting to come into its own to replace trade initiatives now being discarded, partially with the momentum created by China’s Belt & Road Initiative but also due in part to a new, unproven and more aggressive version of United States hegemony. That includes a reaction to the related issues created by the latters use of sanctions as a trade weapon.

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Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement with Beijing Brings Chinese Goods to the EU Border

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The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that China signed off last week with the Eurasian Economic Union is going to develop to be a game-changer in Eurasian trade, including with the European Union. To recapitulate, the Eurasian Economic Union was formed on January 1, 2015 and is a trade bloc that currently includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. Oft cited as “Russia’s answer to the EU”, it remains little understood and has been somewhat ignored by Western businesses. While many international companies interact with China, there remains an ignorance of the EAEU. That is a mistake as developments within it have the potential to shake up and alter European trade flows between the EU and China and possibly to India and ASEAN as well. The EAEU comes right up to the EU border via Belarus, and it borders with Latvia, Lithuania and most significantly, Poland. In addition to this, Moldova has just become an observer nation with a view to later membership, which also provides a border to the EU via Romania. All possess huge investment potential as a result of the potential for Chinese involvement with the EAEU and EU access.

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Silk Road Development Weekly

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All the latest Belt and Road and related infrastructure, opinion, and financial news from across the New Silk Road.

Analysis & Opinion

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A Digital Free Trade Agreement for Africa’s Silk Road

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By Michael Mudd

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was signed into being on March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, where 44 African heads of state and governments met and agreed to the binding commitment. The AfCFTA will come into effect after ratification by at least 22 countries.

This will be one of the world’s largest free-trade areas comprising 55 countries with 1.2 billion people generating over US$4 trillion in combined consumer and business spending. The AfCFTA will therefore open up a significant number of countries to create a single continental market for goods and services, as well as a customs union with free movement of capital and business travelers across their borders. According to the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa, intra-African trade is likely to increase by 52.3 percent under the AfCFTA and will double upon the further removal of non-tariff barriers.

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Silk Road Development Weekly

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All the development news from the Belt and Road and beyond.

Opinion & Analysis

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Chinese Contractors Winning Bid for EU Funded Peljesac Bridge in Croatia Raises Eyebrows

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A Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has won the bidding for a contract to build a bridge in Croatia, an EU member state. The awarding of the contract has led to further allegations concerning Chinese state funding amounting to subsidies and a lack of transparency over the bidding process. The same anti-China arguments were unveiled during China’s building of a railway between Belgrade and Budapest, which also raised concerns about Chinese bidding on projects affecting the EU, although in that case the project was Chinese funded.

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China’s Belt Road Import Growth Overtakes Export Growth for the First Time

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China’s imports from “Belt and Road” countries increased faster that of exports for the first time, in 2017, according to China’s State Information Center.

The value of goods exported to China from Belt and Road nations reached US$666 billion last year, an increase of 20 percent year on year. This represented 39 percent of China’s total import value, according to the SIC.

That compared to China’s exports to these same countries at US$774.26 billion, shows a rise of 8.5 percent year on year. The growth of imports outpaced exports for the first time since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed five years ago.

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Watch: Chris Devonshire-Ellis featured on “Educated Interviews” about China and the Belt and Road Initiative

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Chris Devonshire-Ellis, Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates, and Publisher of the Asia Briefing series of titles about China, India, ASEAN, Russia & the Belt & Road, discusses the development of his firm, the practices operations in China, India, ASEAN and Russia, and how foreign investors can engage with China’s Belt & Road infrastructure projects.

The “Educated Interviews” series are conducted by Enkh Orgodol in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

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Silk Road Development Weekly

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All the latest analysis, opinion, financial, and infrastructure development news from across the Belt and Road and beyond.

Analysis & Opinion

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Aside from Trump and Kim’s Meet, Mongolia’s North Korea Relations Remain Robust

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The North Korean Embassy, Ulaan Baatar

Among talk of the potential Trump-Kim summit taking place in Mongolia (other likely candidates include the Korean DMZ and Singapore), not much attention has been paid to the relations the two countries have. In fact, Mongolia is just about the only country in the world to maintain good relations with the US and North Korea, and has long been used as a quiet and secret venue to host unofficial talks between the two, although never at the presidential level. Transport connectivity between Ulaan Baatar and Pyongyang is well established, either by train or via air.

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