News Archive – July-Dec 2017

Russia’s Central Bank Considering Cryptocurrency Within EEU, BRICS
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Dec 28, 2017 – Russia’s central bank says it is considering the possibility of introducing a digital currency within the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). Bank of Russia First Deputy Chairwoman Olga Skorobogatova told reporters in Moscow on December 28 that the issue will most likely be studied during 2018, including consultations within Russian’s partners in the EEU and BRICS.
The Return of Global Russia: An Analytical Framework
Plans include steps toward financial and monetary integration, common currency
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dec 14, 2017 – Putin elevated Eurasian integration to a top foreign policy priority in 2012, and Moscow has stepped up diplomatic efforts to ensure Russia’s position at the heart of a broader economic and trading bloc, which eventually is meant to include all former Soviet states. This bloc—the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)—was formally established by treaty in May 2014 and initially included Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan joined in 2015….
Moscow’s ambitions for the EEU are not limited to trade. Future plans include steps toward financial and monetary integration, possibly leading to the establishment of a monetary union or even a common currency.
Putin backs idea of joint customs points on borders of EAEU countries
Creation and operation of the EAEU ‘our greatest common achievement’
TASS (Russia News Agency), Dec 14, 2017 – Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the idea of joint customs points on the borders of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)…. The agreement is the basic document defining the accords between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan for creating the Eurasian Economic Union for the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce and conducting coordinated, agreed or common policies in key sectors of the economy, such as energy, industry, agriculture and transport.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand launch currency settling framework
First step in harmonizing currency regulations
Global Trade Review, Dec 13, 2017 – A stated aim of the Asean group of nations is to further integrate Southeast Asian economies. With this arrangement, three of its largest members are looking to take the first step in harmonising currency regulations. It will enable entities in each of the countries to obtain a range of financial services in the corresponding currencies of counterparts in the other nations, such as deposits and foreign exchange hedging.

For Mexico, NAFTA isn’t delivering on promise of higher wages, economic prosperity
Dallas News, Dec 7, 2017 – Growth of 2.5 percent a year since 1994 is less than half the developing-world average. It’s pretty much the same as the U.S. and Canada. But even that’s misleading. Because Mexico’s population expands much faster, the economic pie has to be divided among more and more people. So the average Mexican earns less today, relative to U.S. and Canadian peers, than before NAFTA.
“The main idea was to promote convergence in wages and standards of living,” said Gerardo Esquivel, an economics professor at the Colegio de Mexico. “That has not been achieved.”

A borderless Africa? Some countries open doors, raise hopes
AP, Daily Mail (London, UK), Dec 6, 2017 – For years African leaders have toyed with the idea of free movement by citizens across the continent, even raising the possibility of a single African passport.
Now some African countries are taking bold steps to encourage borderless travel that could spur trade and economic growth on a continent in desperate need of both.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced during his inauguration last week that the East African commercial hub will now give visas on arrival to all Africans. That follows similar measures by nations including Benin and Rwanda…. The African Union has cheered such steps, calling it the direction the 54-nation continent needs to take.
Small arms, terrorism: ECOWAS, NILS to harmonise laws
NAN (News Agency of Nigeria), Dec 5, 2017 – The ECOWAS is to partner with the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) to co-ordinate legislative action on the containment of small arms proliferation and terrorism financing. In a statement issued by Kanayo Nwajei, Communication Adviser to the Director -General of NILS, lawmakers and other key stakeholders would meet on Dec. 7 for a meeting to discuss Small Arms proliferation and Terrorist Financing. It stated that the partnership between both parties is aimed at harmonising laws on the security challenges within the sub-region…. The conference would have more than 200 participants drawn from the ECOWAS Parliament, Select-members of security related committees of some national parliaments of ECOWAS member states in attendance.

Eurasian Economic Union: Many Problems, Few Solutions
Member nations ‘don’t want to relinquish a share of political sovereignty’, Dec 5, 2017 – The primary shortcomings of the EEU were engineered unwittingly — or perhaps inescapably — into the bloc at its very inception. The most glaring issues are grossly unequal economies, the highly personalized style of semi-authoritarian leadership typical in the post-Soviet space and the reluctance by any members to yield any significant say over internal policy decisions to supra-national institutions. This combination, said political analyst Denis Berdyakov, will indefinitely hamper the development of the EEU.
“Initially, all the elites wanted to feel the benefits of integration, but they didn’t want to relinquish a share of political sovereignty,” Berdyakov said. “Other global blocs are quickly growing strong and the EEU is just not keeping up with them.”

U.N., European Union and Pope Criticize Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement
New York Times, Dec 6, 2017 – Pope Francis said, “I cannot remain silent.” The United Nations secretary general spoke of his “great anxiety.” The European Union expressed “serious concern.” American allies like Britain, France, Germany and Italy all declared it a mistake.
A chorus of international leaders criticized the Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it a dangerous disruption that contravenes United Nations resolutions and could inflame one of the world’s thorniest conflicts.
Secretary General António Guterres and Pope Francis both expressed alarm that the announcement would provoke new tensions in the Holy City, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The unchanging world of free trade
EU claims to be guardian of global system
ICIS, Dec 6, 2017- In reality, nearly one year since Trump got into office, the world’s trade system remains practically unchanged and the EU claims it has now become its guardian….
“Over the last year, the EU has signed a series of trade agreements – CETA with Canada entered into force and we reached a political agreement on an FTA with Japan. The EU continues negotiating an upgrade of the existing FTA with Mexico and a new one with Mercosur [Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay],” continued Van Sloten.

Progress on EU-Mercosur Deal Sparks Hopes of a ‘Game Changer’
Bloomberg, Dec 4, 2017 – Brazil and Argentina may be on the verge of shaking off their well-earned reputation for protectionism, if the European Union and the Mercosur customs union finally sign a deal after nearly two decades of talks….
“If Mercosur closes a deal of this magnitude with the EU, it’ll be a game changer for economic recovery in Brazil and Argentina,” said Matias Spektor, a professor of international relations at Brazil’s FGV business school, adding that it would signal to the rest of the world a recovery from “ten years of economic populism.”
Europe and South America Push for One of Largest Trade Accords – Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide, Dec1, 2017 – Talks between Europe and South America to create one of the world’s largest trade agreements enter a crucial phase this week as both sides seek to iron out remaining obstacles before a self-imposed deadline next month. Negotiators from the European Union and the Mercosur customs union that’s made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are in Brussels from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 as part of formal talks that resumed last year….
A deal would not only contrast with rising protectionist sentiments in many parts of the world but would also highlight a shift toward more economic openness in much of South America during recent years. Europe’s trade and investment talks with the U.S., or TTIP, would have created the world’s largest free trade area but stalled. Negotiations with the southern part of the Western hemisphere would still account for a quarter of global gross domestic product and bilateral trade exceeding $100 billion.
Since the ouster of leftist regimes in Brazil and Argentina, Mercosur (Market of the South) has taken the initiative over UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), although UNASUR remains as a potential vehicle for further geopolitical integration. The leftist UNASUR bloc had been developing a divergent, maverick brand of regional mercantilism that could also be described as “regional protectionism.” Under their scheme, South American nations would still surrender sovereignty gradually to a continental authority like the European Union, but would combine continental resources and “Unite!” in protection and defiance against the corporate globalist network of regions managed by the EU, Western “colonialists,” “imperialists” and financiers.
A similar sentiment was occurring within the African Union (AU), but globalist financiers encouraged both of these early integration efforts anyway, believing that they could overtly or covertly steer both blocs into the globalist web at a later stage of regional development. That is exactly what is happening on both continents today, within both Mercosur and the AU.

Gulf row holds back single currency plan – Bahrain cenbank
Reuters, Oct 26, 2017 – A row between Qatar and some other Gulf Arab states has paused progress to a single currency in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Bahrain’s central bank governor said on Thursday, adding he hoped work on the project would resume soon.

Russian PM: Eurasian Union states will consistently eliminate national barriers to trade (Armenia), Oct 25, 2017 – The states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will consistently eliminate national barriers to trade, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday…. A plan for 2018-2020 is being prepared, in order to eliminate the exceptions and limitations that hinder free movement of goods.
Belarus against delays in formation of common markets in EAEU
Belarus News, Oct 25, 2017 – Belarus thinks it is unacceptable to drag out the formation of the common markets of gas, oil, and oil products in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Belarusian Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov noted at the session of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council in Yerevan, Armenia on 25 October, BelTA has learned.

ECOWAS single currency tops Niger meeting
Journal duCameroun, Oct 24, 2017 – The implementation of a roadmap for the long proposed West African single currency topped the agenda of a meeting of five heads of state of the region in Niamey, Niger on Tuesday.The fourth meeting of the ECOWAS Presidential Task Force on the Single Currency Program, attracted to Niamey Presidents Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Togolese leader Faure Gnasssingbe.
The meeting was chaired by Niger’s head of state, Mahamadou Issoufou, who was appointed by his peers in 2013 to oversee the process for the realization of a single current for the region.
….The fifteen nations making up the regional grouping are looking to realize a single currency by 2020.

Asean moves closer to common market

Business Inqjuirer (Philippines), Oct 17, 2017 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is moving further closer to creating a common market, but member-nations are concerned that the normalization of monetary policy rates in the United States would hinder growth in the region, according to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III….Currently chaired by the Philippines, Asean’s other members include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

A modest proposal for the U.K. as it eyes NAFTA — join Canada instead
Report suggests the U.K. is considering joining NAFTA, but here’s a backup plan if Trump kills the trade deal
By Don Pittis, CBC News (Canada), Oct 16, 2017 – Last week, the London Telegraph, a newspaper famously well-connected to the British conservative establishment, broke a story that Britain was seriously considering becoming part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The paper said government ministers were considering joining NAFTA as a Plan B if the U.K. failed to negotiate a post-Brexit deal with Europe.
But now that U.S. President Donald Trump is sowing seeds of doubt over whether NAFTA can survive, maybe Britain needs a Plan C.
And C stands for Canada.
This modest proposal may not be well-received by all Britons or by many Canadians, but if British ministers really did have their hearts set on redrawing the lines so that their islands are grouped with North America instead of Europe, joining the Canadian Confederation might be a good first step.

US Chamber warns against Trump’s ‘highly dangerous’ NAFTA demands
Mexico: ‘Country specific’ rules of origin within NAFTA ‘unacceptable’
Voice of America, Oct 6, 2017 -The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned on Friday that the Trump administration was making “highly dangerous demands” in the North American Free Trade Agreement modernization talks that could erode U.S. business support and torpedo the negotiations.
John Murphy, the chamber’s senior vice president for international policy, said the largest U.S. business lobby was urging the administration to drop some of its more controversial NAFTA proposals, including raising rules of origin thresholds….
Karen Antebi, the trade counselor at Mexico’s embassy in Washington, told a forum on Friday that while there were “rumors” of a 50 U.S. percent content demand for autos, formal texts had not been proposed on rules of origin.
“Mexico has been firm and consistent that country specific rules of origin within the NAFTA would be unacceptable,” she said.
Chamber of Commerce fears Trump will pull out of NAFTA
The Chamber of Commerce warned Friday that the Trump administration appears to be on the path to pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, on the eve of the fourth round of talks to renegotiate that deal….
Recent comments by top U.S. trade officials suggest there has been little progress in other areas and appear to be laying the groundwork for a pull-out. In an op-ed last month for the Washington Post, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned, “If we don’t fix the rules of origin, negotiations on the rest of the agreement will fail to meaningfully shift the trade imbalance. Our nation’s ballooning trade deficit has gutted American manufacturing, killed jobs and sapped our wealth. That is going to change under President Trump, and rules of origin are just the beginning.”
NAFTA Talks Expose Disagreement Over Mexican Trucking Access
NAFTA provision allows Mexican trucks to enter, operate in U.S.
Transport Topics, Oct 5, 2017 – As efforts to renegotiate terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement shift from Ottawa to Washington, two trucking industry groups and the Teamsters union are taking aim at a provision in the current agreement that allows trucks from Mexico to operate in the United States.
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sept. 28, said the original NAFTA trucking provision harms American truckers and jeopardizes highway safety….
American Trucking Associations Chief Economist Bob Costello responded with a letter in which he urged Lighthizer to support the Mexican truck program and decried what he said was “fearmongering” about Mexican trucks driving beyond the commercial border zones.

Pacific Immigration explore regional labour mobility
Would ‘naturally’ require movements of people across borders
Scoop (New Zealand), Oct 5, 2017 – Immigration officials from across the Pacific are meeting this week to discuss how their agencies can support labour mobility efforts to contribute to development and regionalism.
Topics covered include the Australia and New Zealand seasonal worker schemes and the role of trade agreements in supporting labour mobility.
The Pacific Immigration Director Conference (PIDC) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat are hosting the event…. Republic of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Justice Division of Immigration director Damien Jacklick and Vice-Chair of PIDC said labour mobility, as one of the key economic drivers for the Pacific islands, would naturally require movements of people across borders.

ECOWAS moves to harmonise educational system

The Guardian (Nigeria), Sep 25, 2017 – “The training would cover from primary to tertiary education and we are also looking at how to standardise certification of degrees and curricula in the sub-region. The training will start with a seven-member nation pilot project, involving the teaching of 300 train-the-trainers professionals from every nation.
E African region to harmonise tuition fees next year
PIE News (Professionals in International Education, London, UK), Sep 20, 2017 – University students across the East African region will, from January next year, begin paying the same amount of tuition fees, in the first step towards the actualisation of the newly created East African Common Higher Education Area.
While the institutions may charge different amounts for different programs, students from any country in the region will pay the same amount as domestic students in any of the six countries that form the common area – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the newest East African community member, South Sudan.
This move is in line with the framework for implementation of the Common Higher Education Area agreed upon by the six member countries of the EAC…. Benedict Mtasiwa, IUCEA chief principal officer for exchange programs, said the decision was expected to facilitate and increase student mobility across the region.

Trump tells rally U.S. will ‘end up probably terminating’ NAFTA
CBC News (Canada), Aug 22, 2017 – U.S. President Donald Trump gave a long campaign-style speech peppered with many off-script moments to a crowd of admirers in Phoenix, Ariz., Tuesday night…. At times going off-script for a long duration, Trump said he thinks the U.S. will “end up probably terminating” the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico “at some point.”
“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of,” he commented.
Why energy is one area where NAFTA’s Three Amigos might find common ground
Envision grandiose plan for ‘North American energy bloc’
Financial Post (Canada), August 11, 2017 – Energy ministers in Canada, Mexico and the United States have so far struck a conciliatory tone ahead of the August 16 talks, a stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric in which he threatened to dismantle the deal in favour of more U.S.-friendly policies.
Energy trade and investment ties between the three markets have been highly integrated since the NAFTA came into effect in 1994, but all three see several opportunities for further integration, nudging the continent closer to forging a North American energy bloc — a grandiose plan that has been tried, and repeatedly failed, for decades.
The premise: in an increasingly uncertain energy market, harmonized economic and environmental ties between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico could position North America as the dominant energy superpower.
Dallas News, Sept 30, 2014 – The task force was chaired by retired U.S. Gen. David Petraeus and former World Bank president Robert Zoellick. Its 137-page report, known as the Independent Task Report No. 71, will be released Wednesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City….
“In sum, we recommend a new partnership for North America, a new model for the world of integration and cooperation among sovereign states,” the report says. “The foundation for U.S. foreign policy in years to come should be ‘Made in North America.’”
The phrase “integration and cooperation among sovereign states” is a euphemism. In reality, the CFR advocates “cooperation among sovereign states” to surrender their sovereignty, superseded by a “North American” jurisdiction.

Eurasian Development Bank proposes creation of single currency for Eurasian Economic Union space
ARKA News Agency (Armenia), July 26, 2017 – The Eurasian Development Bank proposed the central banks of the Eurasian Economic Union member countries to create a single monetary unit for calculations, reports.
….The regional monetary unit is first of all needed for servicing trade flows, he said, and ‘it would be a payment unit of the Silk Road’.
….Harmonization of national laws with taking into account all the countries’ interests is being considered now.
Is EEU returning to single currency unit? – Vestnik Kavkaza (Russia), July 26, 2017 – The Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, said that he agreed with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev that the creation of a single currency unit is a necessary element of integration.
“As for currency units, is is an intermediate stage from national currencies to a single currency of the Eurasian Economic Union. It is necessary because it will create a full-fledged market of currencies, labor, capital flows, goods and services. I totally support this idea because I believe that a state formation can be full-fledged only if the number of consumers exceeds 200 million people,” the expert explained.

Trump list scraps NAFTA tribunals: ‘Biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand’
Canada May Walk Away From Trump’s NAFTA Talks Over A Single Issue
Huffington Post, July 25, 2017 – The Trump administration released its wish list for NAFTA talks last week, and among the items is a request to scrap Chapter 19 of the trade deal. The chapter creates multinational tribunals to rule on disputes when a NAFTA country wants to impose anti-dumping duties on exports from another country.
Canada’s Trudeau: NAFTA Dispute Resolution System Is Essential
US News & World Report | Reuters, July 25, 2017 – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that a fair dispute resolution system is essential for any trade pact that the country signs, including a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
….Under Chapter 19, binational panels hear complaints about illegal subsidies and dumping and then issue binding decisions. The United States has frequently lost such cases.
From the Archives: Review of U.S. Rulings by Nafta Tribunals Stirs Worries – New York Times, April 18, 2004 – The tribunal declared a Mississippi court’s judgment at odds with international law, leaving the United States government potentially liable for hundreds of millions of dollars…. “This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand,” said John D. Echeverria, a law professor at Georgetown University…. The availability of this additional layer of review, above even the United States supreme Court, is a significant development, legal scholars said….The tribunals have the potential to upset the settled American constitutional order.

An integrated banking framework of the future: Can ASEAN avoid Europe’s mistakes?
Comparing ASEAN integration to its EU ‘model’
As ASEAN works towards its Banking Integration Framework goal, it is at risk of walking straight into the same traps as the EU did
ASEAN Today, July 25, 2017 – Indonesian bank, Mandiri, looks set to become the first ‘Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bank’ operating in Malaysia. The state-owned bank was granted a status as a cross-regional lender and has announced plans to begin operations in Malaysia. The move is a major stride towards the Asian Development Bank’s goal of achieving an ASEAN Banking Integration Framework (ABIF) by 2020.
In 1997, 30 years after the birth of ASEAN, the Heads of States gathered in Kuala Lumpur and hatched their plan ASEAN Vision 2020. The plan outlined closer economic integration, with the “free flow of goods, services and investments.”

Repeal bill has caused a constitutional crisis, says Scotland’s Brexit minister
UK’s Brexit legislation to transpose EU law into British, so same rules apply on Brexit day
The Telegraph (London, UK), July 16. 2017 – Officially the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, it would mean all powers, including those over fishing and agriculture, going to the UK Government before being devolved on to Edinburgh once common frameworks have been established on a UK basis.
But Mr Russell insisted the transfer should happen the other way round. He said that for the SNP to support the vital Brexit legislation, there would have to be an acceptance that “in all areas of devolved competence, the powers that presently exist in Europe will come back to the devolved administrations, to Scotland, to Wales and Northern Ireland”.
Britain Is Shamed and Brussels Triumphant. But Is That Good for Europe?
Bloomberg, July 12, 2017 – Now Brussels is reborn. Two events have changed everything. The first, ironically, was Brexit. Far from killing the EU, Brexit has helped reunite it. The second was the election of Emmanuel Macron in May this year, which has given the European project a purpose—or the promise of one.
For all the public talk of sorrow, Brussels can barely contain its glee at Britain’s spectacular reversal of fortune. The nation that had been Brussels’ main critic and the most adept earner of opt-outs from EU projects hasn’t so much shot itself in the foot as machine-gunned both legs repeatedly. Farage’s triumphant speech looks as premature as George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner after the invasion of Iraq. Far from acting as a beacon for other leavers, the chaos the Little Englanders created scared voters in the Netherlands and France into choosing pro-European leaders, while Theresa May’s mistaken desire to urge a hard Brexit united the other members of the EU against her. She called an election in June to consolidate that mandate but lost her majority in Parliament and her credibility—and revived talk of Britain ultimately staying in.
Scenarios such as described in these two articles were foreseen in Brexit and the Globalist Response, written shortly after the Brexit vote on June 23, 2016.