Extra-Regional Updates

Ethiopia Rides Manufacturing Boom

The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has ushered in a manufacturing boom that is set to make the country a major regional player across several lines of products. The widespread eagerness to invest is made that much more due to a large domestic market and an increasing number of skilled workers.

It is no wonder that some have dubbed Ethiopia as the 'Bangladesh of Africa' and with good reason. There has been tangible success already, with Chinese, Turkish and European garment manufacturers seeking to expand their operations.

However there are plenty of other areas worthy of attention. The major manufacturing activities are in the production of food, beverages, tobacco, textiles and garments.

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Russia may accept Chinese control of oil and gas fields

Russia may consider allowing Chinese investors more than 50 percent stakes in its strategic oil and gas fields, an official said on Friday, an about-face by Moscow that underlines its need for foreign help to develop energy reserves. While closely guarding control of the oil and gas fields that supply the lifeblood of its economy, Russia has forged alliances with some Western companies to obtain the know-how it needs to tap hard-to-reach deposits.

But now that Western sanctions over Moscow's role in Ukraine have all but halted that cooperation, Russia has overcome a "psychological barrier" and is ready to deepen its economic ties with China, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said.

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Eurozone industrial production fell

Eurozone industrial production fell 0.1 percent in January from December 2014, the European Statistical Agency stated  in a statement .The slight decline was driven by a drop in production of durable consumer goods, which decreased 2.2 percent.Capital goods and non-durable consumer goods both increased 0.1 percent and energy by 0.9 percent, the statement said.

Industrial production remained stable in the EU28 as production of energy rose by 0.6% and intermediate goods and non-durable consumer goods were both stable.

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Seychelles to become 161st WTO member

On 24 March, the National Assembly of the Republic of Seychelles ratified, unanimously, the WTO Protocol of Accession of the Republic of Seychelles. On 25 March, President James Michel signed the Instrument of Acceptance of the Accession Protocol, confirming its membership terms, at a plenary meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers in Mahé, Victoria, Seychelles. President Michel handed the Instrument to the Director of the WTO Accessions Division, who received it on behalf of WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

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Food safety body agrees to e-working group “time out” on definition of private standards

WTO members meeting as the committee dealing with food safety and animal and plant health have agreed to a time out in the efforts of an electronic working group to agree on a working definition of SPS-related private standards after failing to bridge their impasse on the issue. At a meeting of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, members agreed to a proposal from the co-stewards of the e-working group for a “cooling off” period to reflect on how to overcome the impasse.

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Canada: New government faces challenging economic trends

Canada elected a new government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, handing an unexpected defeat to the conservative government that was in power for much of the last decade. The new government is expected to increase public spending, especially in infrastructure, over the next several years. It is also expected that the tax code will be altered to favor the middle class and lower income populations, at the cost of high earners. Prime Minister Trudeau’s choice of a former private sector executive as the new finance minister, against the claims of experienced politicians, has been well received.

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 United Arab Emirate’s dip.

According to various projections, UAE’s economic growth is expected to slow down in 2015 from last year. For instance, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast that UAE will clock a growth rate of 3% this year, down from the 4.6% recorded in 2014, as the oil price slump takes a toll on real estate and corporate activity. In fact, even the UAE government’s planned spending cuts are expected to diminish the country’s growth rate by one percentage point each year until 2020. However, on the whole, UAE remains one of the most diversified economies in the Middle East region largely because of Dubai’s strength in sectors other than oil, such as tourism, IT and finance.

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Russia still in recession, central Europe gains from domestic demand

The two largest countries under our Emerging Europe purview, Russia and Turkey, have had their share of challenges during the third quarter and in the beginning of the current quarter due to external as well as domestic factors. Concerns about slowing global growth have hit Russia’s economy badly amid the renewed fall in energy prices. Unless commodity and energy prices recover sharply, the largest economy in emerging Europe is likely to see the recessionary climate persist for the next few quarters. For Turkey, which has its share of problems related to its fiscal discipline, import-export imbalance, and regional troubles, the Justice and Development Party’s victory in the recent parliament elections came as a morale booster. 

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Latin American economy nearing contraction

Latin America’s economic activity continues to show signs of weakness and, although major currencies in the region have demonstrated some stability in the past weeks due to central banks actively intervening in the markets, high volatility persists. According to an estimate elaborated by FocusEconomics, Latin America’s GDP decelerated from a 0.6% year-on-year increase in Q1 to a paltry 0.1% expansion in Q2. More recent data suggest that the region’s economy contracted 0.3% in Q3.

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