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EU trade pact with Vietnam close to finish line

As Brussels relies on bilateral talks to increase trade relations with the ASEAN group, it is getting closer to concluding two free trade agreements with Vietnam.

The two agreements that deal with free trade and investment protection are expected to be signed on Sunday (30 June) in Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi.

According to the European Council, these are the most ambitious free trade agreements that have ever been put together with a developing country.

If they come into force, tariffs on 99% of goods will be reduced over a ten-year period. The high Vietnamese import duties on cars will then fall by 78% and those on wine by 50%.


Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt divided over Brexit plans

Tory leadership rivals Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are at loggerheads over how the UK should leave the EU.

Both contenders for prime minister claim they can renegotiate a Brexit deal that the EU says is closed.

Mr. Johnson said the UK must leave on 31 October “deal or no deal” but Mr. Hunt called this a “fake deadline” that could trigger a general election if Parliament rejects a no-deal Brexit.

The winner of the contest will take over from Theresa May on 24 July.



EU makes last-ditch effort to keep Iran from leaving nuclear deal

European states will announce a multimillion-euro credit line to ease trade between the EU and Iran in a last-minute and probably doomed effort to persuade Tehran not to take the first step to quit the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s withdrawal is almost certain to deepen the Gulf crisis, and prompt US demands for Europe states – primarily Britain, France and Germany – to quit the deal and join Washington in imposing sanctions on Tehran.

Iran is due to take furthermore serious steps to breach the deal on 7 July, when it has pledged to increase uranium enrichment purity levels over the 3.67% limit set in the deal.

[The Guardian]


Middle East

Dh4.4 billion deal to expand Abu Dhabi-Dubai rail network

Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Etihad Rail, chaired an Etihad Rail board meeting on Tuesday (June 25) and approved the plan to connect Abu Dhabi with Dubai and other emirates.

The project includes links to strategic ports and industrial areas nationwide, covering a distance of 310km. The two packages launched on Tuesday are part of a 650km line from Ghuweifat to the Port of Fujairah on the eastern coast.

Works on the 650km line will focus on the design and construction of rail infrastructure, including earth works, bridges, tunnels, animal-crossings and tracklaying, connecting Package B with Package A, and Package C with Package B.

[Khaleej Times]

Businesses seek grace period before ban on single-use plastic bags begins in Bahrain

The government has already announced that the first phase of the move, which focuses on banning the production of single-use plastic bags and import of non-biodegradable plastic bags, will come into effect in July.

It will later be extended to include a permanent ban on plastic bags at malls and supermarkets, a decision that has been warmly welcomed by environmentalists.

However, a leading businessman told the Gulf Daily News that companies were requesting a 12-month grace period, having already invested in large quantities of plastic bags.




Rwanda to revise investment code to attract more investors

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has revealed plans to revise the current investment code in order to meet set investment targets from both local and foreign companies registering in Rwanda.

“We still have to discuss with stake holders but some of the focus areas will include exports, infrastructure investment and cost elements like logistics and transportation” said Guy Baron, RDB Chief Investment Officer.

Baron said that with stakeholders, like Rwanda Revenue Authority and ministries of trade and commerce, reforms in the code will include issues, for example, address the long-standing issues of high cost of imported goods as a result of cost of logistics during exports of goods.

[KT Press]