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International trade: What you need to know in September 2023

by Stella Morgan

This monthly roundup brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on global trade. Here are the top international trade stories for the month:

1. BRICS and G20 add new members: The BRICS bloc, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has announced the addition of six new members – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. This expansion is the largest in the bloc’s history and aims to counterbalance Western-led organizations. Additionally, the G20 has added the African Union as a permanent member. The move reflects the determination of BRICS countries to foster unity and cooperation with other developing countries.

2. Rice supplies under strain as India restricts export: India has introduced several export restrictions on rice, leading to a surge in prices. The country banned shipments of non-basmati white rice in July and imposed a 20% duty on exports of parboiled rice in August. These measures have tightened global supplies and triggered a rise in rice prices. As India provides over 40% of global rice exports, the restrictions threaten world rice markets, with many countries heavily reliant on Indian rice imports.

3. Rising sea levels threaten world’s biggest ports: According to the Global Maritime Trends 2050 report, rising sea levels could hinder the functioning of some of the world’s largest ports by 2050. The report states that about a third of the world’s 3,800 ports are located in a tropical band that is vulnerable to the powerful effects of climate change. These changing weather patterns are already impacting port operations, with Panama experiencing large backlogs of vessels due to a severe drought.

In addition to these top stories, there have been other notable developments in global trade:

– Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal has been conditional on receiving support for its own food and fertilizer exports.
– The World Trade Organization’s Goods Trade Barometer suggests a recovery in global goods trade, driven by strong vehicle sales.
– The US plans to establish a “commercial issues working group” to address trade differences with China.
– Italy is considering withdrawing from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as its trade with China did not improve as expected.
– Japan may take China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) after Beijing banned all seafood imports from Tokyo.
– Various countries, including Colombia, are working on implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement to streamline border procedures and reduce unnecessary delays.
– Discussions on a free trade deal between Australia and the EU are expected to resume soon.
– Germany has urged the European Commission to delay new tariffs on electric vehicle sales between the UK and the EU.
– Companies are racing to acquire shipping and logistics facilities in Asia, with Vietnam, India, and Malaysia becoming focal points.
– The ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) has the potential to double the size of the region’s digital economy by 2030.

Overall, these developments highlight the dynamic nature of global trade and the various challenges and opportunities that arise in the ever-changing landscape. It is crucial for countries and organizations to adapt and collaborate to ensure a sustainable and inclusive global trade system.

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