UK considers joining existing US-Mexico-Canada trade deal as hopes of standalone post-Brexit agreement fade
Sky News, Sept 22, 2021 – A senior government figure suggests an alternative route to boosting trans-Atlantic trade could be the UK joining the existing free trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, known as USMCA.
SAARC Meet Cancelled As Pak Insists On Taliban Participation: Report
NDTV (New Delhi, India), Sept 22, 2021 – meeting of foreign ministers of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, slated to be held on Saturday in New York, has been cancelled.
It is learnt from reliable sources that Pakistan wanted the Taliban to represent Afghanistan in the SAARC meet.
European Union-style bloc pitched for Latin America, Caribbean
Reuters, Sept 19, 2021 – Latin American and Caribbean nations should aspire to a bloc like the European Union, Mexico’s president and other leaders said at a summit on Saturday, in a bid to wrest influence away from the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS).
AMLO Wants a United Latin America
Jacobin Magazine, Aug 16, 2021 – Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called for a union of Latin American countries. Drawing on the revolutionary vision of Simón Bolívar, it aims for regional integration as a bulwark against foreign interference.
Belarus, Russia ready to develop political integration if people desire — Lukashenko
TASS, Sept 9, 2021 – Belarus will be ready to develop the economic integration with Russia, if people of both states will so desire, President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday….
“We will do everything that is in the interest of our peoples. If we ever need an even closer military, political or other dimension, an economic integration, we will do it immediately, as soon as we feel our people in Belarus and Russia,” the president underscored.
Lukashenko Agrees to Tightly Integrate Belarus with Russia
Breitbart, Sept 10, 2021 – Putin said after the meeting that Lukashenko and his negotiators agreed to programs including the integration of currency, indirect taxes, counterterrorism programs, and energy policies, including a single electric power market for both countries.
‘MADE IN NORTH AMERICA’:
Canada Joins Mexico in Seeking Consultation with U.S. Over USMCA Content Rules
AgWeb|Reuters, Aug 30, 2021 – The USMCA, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, requires 75% North American content for a vehicle to be considered as being from North America.
CENTRAL ASIA: ‘PRAGMATIC’ REGIONALIZAION
Afghanistan and Central Asia’s ASEAN Moment
The Diplomat, Aug 10, 2021 – What is required is a new approach toward cooperation in Central Asia able to foster a stable regional political environment. Rather than relying on states external to the region, the Central Asian republics should take their future into their own hands. In this, they should turn to the example of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
This pragmatic approach to cooperation is precisely what is required in Central Asia. Previous attempts at cooperation failed because they did not unite all the regional states in a comprehensive partnership based on consensus. They also failed to regularize regional diplomacy between the regional states to resolve disputes and diffuse conflict. This is only possible if such an institution, like ASEAN, follows a strict policy of noninterference in the affairs of the five states of the region — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
East African Community to conclude review of common external tariff in 2021
News Ghana, Aug 12, 2021 – The East African Community (EAC), a regional intergovernmental organization, plans to conclude a comprehensive review of the uniform tariff rate, the Common External Tariff (CET) in 2021, an official said Wednesday.
Peter Mathuki, secretary general of the EAC, told a virtual forum that the six member states — Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda — have agreed to increase the number of tariff bands to four from the current three in order to boost the region’s industrialization agenda.
REGIONAL Vaccine Pass:
EAC calls for a coordinated approach on Covid-19
The East African, Augst 13, 2021 – The East African Community wants a coordinated approach by all partner states in combating Covid-19.
The EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki wants Covid-19 testing charges and quarantine administrative procedures harmonised across the region, to ease free movement of people.
“We are also pushing for the adoption of the EAC Pass, which integrates all EAC Partner States’ negative test results for Covid-19, and those already vaccinated to ensure safe and seamless travel across the region.”
REGIONAL Education System:
East Africa: Partner States Make Progress in Adopting Competency Based Education
The East African, August 8, 2021 – In 2016, EAC Heads of States meeting in Dar es Salaam, declared the EAC as a Common Higher Education Area. This means national higher education and training systems are to operate and are guided by the common regional framework under which curricula, examinations and certification as well as academic and professional qualifications, and the quality of the educational and training output in higher education would be harmonised.
This is in addition to the Standards and Qualifications rolled out in 2015 by the East African Community, which each university in the region is expected to adhere to.
Israel’s African Union status is as important as Ben & Jerry’s – analysis
Jerusalem Post, July 26, 2021 – Last Thursday, as Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop sales beyond the Green Line and reassess its relationship with Israel continued to reverberate, Jerusalem regained its observer status on the 55-nation African Union (AU) some 19 years after it was revoked…. Those who pressed Ben & Jerry’s to change its business practices toward Israel want to cast Israel as a racist, colonialist, apartheid regime that should be shunned, much as South Africa was during the days of apartheid. Africa knows something about racist, colonialist, apartheid regimes, and yet rather than continuing to boycott Israel, it is extending a hand.
China aims to create an alternative regional bloc in South Asia
Kathmandu Post, July 11, 2021 – China’s attempts to make inroads into South Asia continue.
The latest one is the establishment of the China-South Asian Countries Poverty Alleviation and Cooperative Development Center in Chongqing City on Thursday.
Of the eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which is almost in a coma, five have joined the Beijing-led initiative. India, Bhutan and the Maldives are conspicuous by their absence.
Diplomats and security experts say that the initiative launched by Beijing, which is a minus India alliance created when the SAARC process is stalled, is to counter India and aims to build China’s inroads into the region and that it carries a significant underlying geostrategic meaning.
Iran hails ties with Eurasian Union
‘Positive assessment’ for Iran’s membership in Eurasian regional bloc
Tehran Times, July 11, 2021 – Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali has praised the level of ties between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, underlining the importance of the economic body….
Emphasizing Iran’s commitment to a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Union, he praised the approach of the union secretariat and member states to this issue and added, “In the approach of Russia and Mr. Putin himself, we see a positive assessment for the expansion of relations with Iran in the form of the Eurasian Economic Union and Iran’s membership in this union.”
Iran, Eurasian Economic Union, and the World’s Politics
DND (Pakistan), March 11, 2021 – The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is flashing in international news after Iran indicated that it would like to become a full member of the EAEU….
Although the Office of Chairman of the Board of Eurasian Economic Commission said that no official request from Iran has been received for full membership but shockwaves of this news can be felt in Middle Eastern, Israeli and NATO allied media and the serious US Think Tanks like Jamestown Foundation have reacted sharply. A number of newspapers of the GCC countries have indicated that such development would create bitterness among the EAEU states and the GCC states.
Africa Will ‘One Day Have a Common Currency’ Says Secretary General of African Continental Free Trade Area
Bitcoin.com, July 13, 2021 – The secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) secretariat, Wamkele Mene, says Africa will “one day have a common currency” via a proposed “Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).” He adds that such a currency will help “ease constraints of settling intra-African trade in foreign-denominated currency.”
ECOWAS: West African bloc aims to launch single currency in 2027
DW (Germany), June 19, 2021 – The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday announced 2027 as the new date to launch its single currency, the “eco.”
The bloc had planned to launch a common currency this year but postponed the plan due to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cracks Emerge In South America’s Mercosur Trade Bloc
International Business Times, July 8, 2021 – Uruguay has said it wants to negotiate its own trade deals, while Brazil wants to lower tariffs on imports from abroad to boost competitiveness, threatening Argentina’s exports in particular.
Argentina’s leftist President Alberto Fernandez on Thursday urged respect for Mercosur’s so-called “consensus” principle — a construct Brazil and Uruguay said they considered “archaic” and economically paralyzing.
RCEP Asia Trade Pact Draws US Allies Toward China – Analysis
Eurasia Review, July 7, 2021 – U.S. trade experts are watching warily as the world’s biggest free trade pact advances slowly toward ratification and brings some of America’s closest Asian allies into an economic bloc that includes China but leaves the United States on the sidelines…. Concluded in November 2020 after eight years of negotiations, RCEP embraces all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Collectively the countries account for about 30% of global GDP.
How the Pan-Arab electricity market can promote regional cooperation
Brookings, Feb 19, 2021 – Working with the World Bank, the LAS and Arab countries have made a strong economic case for greater integration among the power systems in the region, underpinned by establishing and operating the PAEM. The agreements of the PAEM are designed to become legally binding to any Arab country that signs them—by facilitating electricity trade transactions….
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the need to limit the region’s vulnerability to global oil price volatilities, has added a new sense of urgency and a renewed political commitment to rethinking regional supply chains and integration.
The ASEAN harmonization of technical standards on health supplements – An industry perspective
RAPS (Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society), June 28, 2021 – Although it is recognized there is much to be done, harmonization of the proposed 10 sets of technical standards is expected to be a major first step forward in enabling regulatory submissions and reviews of health supplements in the ASEAN region.
Plans to set up Eurasian medical agency in Eurasian Economic Union
BelTA, June 3, 2021 – “The EEC believes that we need to seriously consider the idea to set up a universal Eurasian mechanism for assessing the quality, effectiveness and safety of medicines,” [Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Board Chairman] Mikhail Myasnikovich said. “I am talking about an Eurasian medical agency similar to the one in the European Union.”
EURASIAN UNION, ASEAN:
Glazyev: Eurasian Economic Union prepared to consider preferential trade regime with ASEAN BelTA (Belarus), June 3, 2021 – “Our integration associations are so mature and developed that we are willing to consider launching the preferential trade regime between the two integration associations: the EAEU and ASEAN,” [Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC)] Sergei Glazyev said.
Asean needs own laws to curb China in South China Sea, say experts
Free Malaysia Today, March 16, 2021 – Asean countries must come up with their own legislation to balance the “maritime power” if it is concerned about China’s hold on the South China Sea, said a think tank. Collin Koh of S Rajaratnam School of International Studies said proper legislation will allow Asean countries to have their own coast guard law in direct response to China’s coast guard law.
Taliban vows to guarantee safety of trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline
Eurasianet, Feb 6, 2021 – A Taliban delegation has paid a surprise visit to Turkmenistan to pledge support for a planned natural gas pipeline across Afghanistan, providing welcome reassurance for a project whose viability has long been rendered doubtful by security concerns. Signs point to the trip having been brokered by the U.S. government, which has long championed what is known as TAPI, named after the four countries the pipeline would cross: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
The Complex Task of Reviving Multilaterals in Latin America
Oliver Stuenkel, Americas Quarterly, Feb 1, 2021 – ….Furthermore, after four years of Donald Trump’s America First policy, the election of a U.S. president committed to multilateralism and international rules and norms seems to present an ideal moment for strengthening regional institutions. And yet, formidable obstacles stand in the way. To begin with, Trump may have left the White House, but the leaders of the hemisphere’s second- and third-largest countries hold a profoundly Trumpian view of world affairs. Both Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro [Globalists Freak as “Tropical Trump” Bolsonaro Wins in Brazil] and Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador are deeply skeptical of institutions that limit their countries’ sovereignty, and neither of the two has articulated a coherent vision for the future of Latin America or hemispheric cooperation….
In this challenging regional scenario, five guiding principles stand out in the quest to revive multilateral institutions in the Americas. First, given high levels of polarization, the more cooperation can be kept at the bureaucratic and technical level, the better. Attempts at collaboration must be shielded from populist rabble-rousers who would seek to use them for political purposes….
Oliver Stuenkel is a contributing columnist for Americas Quarterly and teaches International Relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo. He is the author of The BRICS and the Future of Global Order (2015) and Post-Western World: How Emerging Powers Are Remaking Global Order (2016).
The BIMSTEC and issue of regional integration
Observer Research Foundation, Jan 15, 2021 – …Also, a majority of the BIMSTEC member countries are members of another regional cooperation — the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). SAARC is in a coma after it couldn’t hold its regular summit, which was to be held in Pakistan in November 2016. It is the SAARC that has a very good organisational structure and many excellent study reports, decisions and declarations. Yet, it has been pushed to this comatose state despite the long commitment of the member states to make it a live and vibrant regional forum. It is said that all that is lacking in SAARC is proper implementation of its decisions and commitments. Unless the countries which are members of both SAARC and BIMSTEC identify and realise the causes behind the failure of the SAARC, a similar scenario is likely to be repeated by them with BIMSTEC as well.
New Currency Union Possible
Numismatic News, Dec 29, 2020 – The world has its newest and largest trading block. Along with this new trading block comes the possibility the 15 countries involved may consider using a common currency.
On November 15 Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea joined the 10 Association of Southeastern Asian Nations or ASEAN members to form the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership….
Common currency proposals on the drawing board that have yet to become a reality include the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, West African Economic and Monetary Union, Gulf Cooperation Council, East African Community, Caribbean Single Market and Economy, South African Customs Union, Southern African Development Community, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Union of South American Nations, Economic Community of Central African States, Economic Community of West African States, African Economic Community, Union States of Russia and Belarus, Arab League, and the Eurasian Economic Union….
In sickness and in health
Himal Southasian, Dec 21, 2020 – In many ways, the call for the regional revival of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 was designed to fail. After all, the geopolitical red tape that followed the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Fund played to a predictable pattern of gridlocked regionalism, with India and Pakistan at loggerheads about how the funding was to be disbursed. Plagued by chronic trust deficit, weak institutionalisation and stasis, Southasia once again finds itself between a rock and a hard place.
NORTH AMERICA, ASEAN, EU:
Post-pandemic: welcome to the multi-speed world of regional disparities
Global Geneva, April 26, 2020 – It is important to note that these trends were underway before the pandemic. Owing to the US-China trade war, by 2019 America’s trade with each Canada and Mexico had risen to above US$300 billion per year, while US-China trade had fallen to $270 billion. Meanwhile, China’s trade with its Southeast Asian neighbors in ASEAN had nipped $300 billion, showing how Asia continues to integrate…. For its part, Europe had also announced in 2019 an EU-wide strategic industries initiative to support more national champions in clean-tech and other industrial areas to stave off competition from China.
Former Qatari Premier: Israel and Gulf States to Sign Non-Aggression Pact
Between Israel, GCC nations, Egypt, Jordan, possibly Morocco
The Algemeiner, February 13, 2020 – Qatar’s former prime minister said on Monday that Israel and the Persian Gulf states would soon sign a non-aggression pact that could also include Morocco.
“Now it [Trump’s peace plan] will be followed by a non-aggression agreement between Israel and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in addition to Egypt, Jordan and possibly Morocco,” wrote Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani on Twitter, according to i24 News.
NEW WORLD DISORDER:
Elites favor federations like the European Union. Non-elites revolt
EU exception prioritized ‘free trade’ economic integration before attempting political fusion
By Jason Parker, Washngton Post, Feb 10, 2020 – ….But in a largely forgotten part of the story, the “federal moment” in postwar global history, according to historian Michael Collins, saw nearly a dozen federated entities proposed or attempted between 1945 and 1970. These experiments grouped together colonial units into larger, multiethnic federations. Most — the West Indies Federation, the Central African Federation and Malaysia, for example — were vehicles for decolonization. Others, such as the United Arab Republic and the “beta version” of the European Union, were the initiative of already independent states….
What they had in common was that, in virtually all cases, insularity and identity trumped solidarity and cooperation as local non-elites rebelled against the elites who favored federations….
The story echoed in most of the other attempted unions of the federal moment in Africa and the Middle East. The exception to this failure of the federations was the early version of the European Union. The E.U.’s durability stemmed in part from its slower, piecemeal process of integration, reversing the sequence of the other 1950s federations. Rather than prioritizing political integration as a means to economic cooperation, the then-European Economic Community first reorganized trade and economic arrangements long before attempting any meaningful political fusion — an understandable approach, given the herculean task of rebuilding the European economy after the war.
Jason Parker is professor of history and Cornerstone Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M University.
Even so, the theme was given renewed impetus by the creation of the [British] Round Table Movement in 1909, with the journal of the same name founded in 1910. The Movement initially pressed for organic union, but ultimately for a Commonwealth of independent nation states, ironically the antithesis of such a union. The Round Table Movement consisted largely of acolytes of Lord Milner, his so-called “kindergarten” men such as Lionel Curtis. The union in South Africa prompted thinking about a wider conception of union. In his more lofty and idealistic moments Curtis envisaged “an organic union to be brought about by some establishment of an Imperial government, constitutionally responsible to all the electors of the Empire, and with power to act directly on individual citizens.” 10 ….
There were numerous federations or mooted federations across the British Empire during this period, including the Malay Federation, 1948–1963; the East African High Commission, 1948–1961; the previously discussed Central African Federation, 1953–1963; the West Indies Federation, 1958–1962; and the Federation of South Arabia, 1962–1967. These were not always British initiatives, with nationalists and other agents in the colonies themselves thinking through the possibilities of federation for their own ends….
Moreover, that canvas was in fact far bigger than the British Empire. The decolonising federal moment was a genuinely trans-national, world historical one, which deserves deeper, comparative historical analysis. 73
From Decolonisation and the “Federal Moment” by Michael Collins, Published online: 25 Feb 2013
We Don’t Need a North American Union!
The New American, Thursday, February 6, 2020 – Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) joins The New American’s Christian Gomez to discuss his vote against the USMCA trade scheme and the need for a U.S. “Amexit” from the United Nations and Iraq.