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Donald Trump threatens new tariffs on $4bn of EU products

Donald Trump has threatened fresh tariffs on $4bn of European products including cheese, scotch whisky and olives, ratcheting up pressure on the EU in a long-running row over aircraft subsidies.

The US trade representative`s office released a list of 89 additional items – including olives, Italian and Dutch cheese, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, pasta, coffee and ham – that could face tariffs. These join products worth $21bn that were announced as potential targets for tariffs in April, which included roquefort cheese, wine, champagne, olive oil and seafood such as oysters. The latest list also includes a number of copper products and other metals.

[The Guardian]

Johnson’s WTO Brexit plans ‘naive’, says UK trade chief

The United Kingdom’s trade minister has dismissed as “naïve and unrealistic” the prospect of the country being able to use World Trade Organization rules to continue trading with the EU after Brexit, in a rebuke to the plans of Boris Johnson, the likely next prime minister.

“The idea that you could invoke Article 24 (of GATT) and continue to trade (with the EU) on the same basis is unrealistic,” International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told UK lawmakers on Wednesday (3 July).

The idea of invoking Article 24 of GATT is at the heart of how many Brexiteers want to plan for a No Deal Brexit. Johnson, the front-runner in the Conservative leadership contest, has said that the UK would be able to continue trading with the EU on unchanged terms after a no-deal Brexit by invoking Article 24 of GATT.

However, invoking Article 24 would require the EU’s agreement, which it has repeatedly ruled out in case the UK leaves the bloc without a deal. Fox is backing Johnson’s opponent Jeremy Hunt in the contest.


The European Commission scrambles to defend Mercosur deal

The European Commission barely had time to celebrate reaching its historic trade agreement with the South American bloc (comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) — after 20 years of negotiations — when a storm of criticism blew in.

Senior politicians and agriculture lobbies said the deal is a risk to Europe’s sacrosanct farming sector and food safety standards, and threatened to block its approval.

The Mercosur trade agreement needs to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, as well as some 40 national parliaments across Europe.



Middle East

Canadian export agency lifts suspension on Saudi Arabia business

Canada’s export financing agency has lifted its suspension on Saudi Arabia-related activity, citing an improving environment for the nation’s businesses since a diplomatic row with the Kingdom last summer, reported Bloomberg.

Amy Minsky, Export Development Canada`s Spokeswoman, said, “EDC has now made the decision, based on our monitoring, that business conditions in Saudi Arabia have improved to a point where we can again start considering support for Canadian companies exporting to the market.”

“We believe there are opportunities for Canadian companies in the country and we do not want to preemptively close the door to them,” Minsky said.


Europeans urge Iran to abide by nuclear pact

European signatories to a nuclear pact with Iran said on Tuesday (2 July) they were “extremely concerned” by Tehran’s apparent breach of the 2015 deal, as Israel said it was preparing for possible involvement in any confrontation between Iran and the United States.

Iran announced this week it has amassed more low-enriched uranium than is permitted under the nuclear pact, a move that prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to say Iran was “playing with fire”.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased since Trump pulled Washington out of the pact last year and moved to bar all international sales of Iranian oil. Washington also blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, something Tehran denies.




Bid to boost trade between Ethiopia, Kenya faces hurdles

Kenya and Ethiopia are still struggling to conduct robust trade between them despite penning a number of bilateral agreements and instituting several trade-friendly measures.

This is according to Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba, who singled out non-tariff barriers for the current subdued bilateral trade. The barriers include long bureaucratic procedures, bans and sanctions.

[Daily Nation]