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Posts Tagged ‘pact’

China and Taiwan sign historic trade pact

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

CHONGQING, China, June 29, 2010 (AFP) – Taiwan and China signed a historic trade pact Tuesday.

The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, hailed by both sides as a milestone and a commercial imperative in an era of strong regional cooperation, was signed by senior delegates in the southwest Chinese city of Chongqing.

The signing of the agreement, by far the most sweeping ever between the two sides, marks the culmination of a policy introduced by Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou after assuming power in 2008.

Chen Yunlin (R), the head of a semi-official Chinese agency, toasts with his Taiwan counterpart Chiang Ping-kun, chairman for the Taiwan’s Strait Exchange Foundation, during the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signning ceremony in Chongqing, Sichuan in China on June 29, 2010. AFP photo

“Signing this agreement is not only an important milestone in economic ties between the two sides,” said the leader of the Taiwanese delegation, Chiang Pin-kung.

“It’s also a huge step forward for the two amid the trend of regional economic integration and globalisation.”

China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner, its largest investment destination, and now also home to a growing number of Taiwanese.

It is estimated that about one million people from the island live in China, especially in the Shanghai area.

The trade pact looks set to push interaction between the two sides to a new level.

The deal will confer preferential tariffs, and in some cases zero tariffs, on 539 Taiwanese products from petrochemicals and auto parts to machinery — representing 16 percent of the island’s total export value to China.

At the same time, only about 267 Chinese items, or 10.5 percent of China’s export value to Taiwan, will be placed on the “early harvest” list enjoying zero or falling tariffs.

Source: SGGP

N.Korea scraps pact with S.Korea military

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Top US Senators press Obama on S.Korea trade pact

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 4:48 am

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2010 (AFP) – Two senior US senators pressed President Barack Obama in a letter released Monday to submit a long-delayed free trade agreement with South Korea to Congress for approval.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, a Democrat, and the panel’s top Republican, Senator Richard Lugar, urged Obama to work with lawmakers to end feuds over beef and automobiles that have held up the pact.

“Submission of the agreement to Congress also would be considered a significant show of solidarity with a close and reliable ally,” they said in a letter dated Friday, calling for action “as soon as possible.”

South Korea said in mid-November that it was ready for talks to ease concerns among US lawmakers about the accord, notably on market access for US beef exports and automobiles.

US lawmakers have cited official figures showing that South Korea shipped about 700,000 cars to the United States in 2007 — the year the agreement was signed — while just 5,000 moved in the opposite direction.

Analysts in Seoul have said the figures exclude more than 125,000 vehicles made by a General Motors subsidiary in Korea while including vehicles made by a Hyundai plant in Alabama.

“A renewed commitment to move on the KORUS FTA will create an atmosphere more conducive to resolution of these issues,” said Kerry and Lugar.

“The Korean government has not yet ensured that US beef exporters have access to Korea’s markets in accordance with international standards, and Korea’s history of non-tariff barriers to its automotive sector also raises serious concerns,” they said.

Source: SGGP

French, Dutch demand tighter Stability Pact

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

PARIS, May 3, 2010 (AFP) – France and The Netherlands called on Monday for extra rigour in the EU’s Stability Pact after the Greek debt debacle, with France targeting financial stability and the Dutch attacking slack budgets.

Greek riot policemen block a street near the parliament building during a strike by municipal workers in the center of Athens on May 3, 2010. AFP photo

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told Le Monde newspaper that advance warning systems were needed to prevent a repetition of the Greek crisis and that new criteria must be decided to monitor the eurozone’s 16 members.

“We must imperatively place under our radarscope the monitoring of competitiveness and financial stability,” Lagarde said in the interview, referring to the Stability and Growth Pact which was intended to push countries from budget deficits to surpluses.

In The Hague, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said that a massive bailout by the eurozone and the IMF for Greece called for “new and much stricter agreements” on respect for the rules of the pact.

“It is important to learn from this situation and to look anew at the European rules of the Stability and Growth Pact,” minister Jan Kees de Jager said in a statement.

“I am in support of new and much stricter agreements on adherence” to the rules, he said.

In Paris, Lagarde said that not enough attention had been placed on the growing gap between Germany’s export-driven economy and the mounting debt problems facing Greece, Portugal and Ireland, all within the eurozone.

Lagarde has argued recently that Germany was running an unsustainably big trade surplus with the rest of the eurozone.

On Sunday, European finance ministers approved a 110-billion-euro bailout over three years to save the Greek economy from drowning in debt and shore up the euro amid fears of a chain reaction across the single-currency zone.

“With this plan, Greece is completely protected for two and a half years,” said Lagarde, rejecting suggestion that Spain and Portugal would also face a crisis over their public finances.

“They are not at all in the same situation. They did not provide false figures, talk nonsense over their deficits,” she said.

Lagarde acknowledged that changes to the EU Stability and Growth Pact, adopted in 1997, had been under discussion for years, but argued the Greek crisis had brought new urgency to the debate.

“When it ends up costing you 110 billion euros, you do change your approach,” she said.

The pact notably dictates that member states must not let their budget deficits climb higher than three percent of GDP. Greece’s deficit is on track to reach 8.1 percent of GDP this year.

The pact, originally intended by Germany to be a rigorous corset to ensure convergence of eurozone public finances and prevent a Greece-style crisis, was subsequently diluted owing to opposition by some other leading eurozone countries.

France and Germany are also looking at tightening surveillance of rating agencies such as Standard and Poor’s, accused of compounding the Greek crisis when it cut its rate to junk status last week.

The Netherlands will contribute 4.8 billion euros (6.4 billion dollars) of the total 110-billion-euro aid package.

“Aid to Greece is essential for the financial stability of the eurozone” — the 16 countries that share the euro, De Jager said.

“Although I am not happy with the situation, I know that the alternative of doing nothing for Greece could turn out to be even more unpleasant, also for the Netherlands.”

The minister added that allowing Greece to leave the eurozone “is naturally not an option”.

He said: “The Greek debt is in euros. That debt would only increase.”

De Jager is to discuss the Dutch contribution with a parliamentary finance commission on Friday.

If members of the commission are in agreement with the Dutch contribution, which has already been approved in principle, it was likely to be officially adopted at a plenary sitting of parliament next Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Dutch lower house explained.

Source: SGGP

Russia lauds nuclear pact — but reserves right to withdraw

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2010 at 8:44 am

The US-Russia nuclear arms pact to be signed this week enhances trust between the Cold War foes but Moscow may quit the pact if US missile defence plans go too far, a top Russian official said Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama(R) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a meeting in Copenhagen in 2009. (AFP Photo)

The nuclear arms treaty to be signed by US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday “reflects a new level of trust between Moscow and Washington,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Speaking to journalists in Moscow, Lavrov said the new disarmament treaty, which succeeds the 1991 US-Soviet START agreement, corresponds perfectly to the national interests of both the United States and Russia.

The previous pact, he said, contained much that was favorable to the United States and of a “discriminatory character” toward Russia — a situation which will be wholly avoided in the new treaty, Lavrov said.

He stressed that the agreement to be signed this week in Prague explicitly acknowledges a direct link between offensive nuclear weapons and missile defences.

But he also admitted that the pact placed no restrictions on either side developing and deploying new missile defences, warning however that US moves to do so could provide grounds for Russia to quit the treaty unilaterally.

“Russia will have the right to abandon the START treaty if a quantitative and qualitative buildup of the US strategic anti-missile potential begins to significantly affect the efficiency of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces,” Lavrov told reporters.

Lavrov spoke to reporters amid US media reports that Obama plans on Tuesday to unveil a radical overhaul of the US nuclear arms strategy, placing explicit new limits on the use of such weapons.

In an interview with The New York Times, a senior US administration official said the new strategy would stress non-nuclear deterrence but would also make exceptions for “outliers like Iran and North Korea.”

US commentators have described the new US-Russia nuclear pact as a key step toward an eventual total elimination of nuclear arms, a generations-old disarmament goal that has been revived by the Obama administration.

Asked to comment on how Russia felt about a nuclear-free world, Lavrov was circumspect.

“To talk seriously about practical steps towards a world without nuclear weapons, attention should be drawn to a whole range of factors that could potentially upset global strategic stability,” he said.

Chief among those factors, according to Lavrov, is the deployment of weapons in space, an area that previous US administrations have acknowledged work in and that Lavrov said Russia and China were hoping to make off-limits.

Work toward a nuclear-free world would also depend on greater scrutiny and regulation of non-nuclear weapons deployed by air, land and sea with huge destructive power.

The new US-Russia treaty limits each side to a ceiling of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads, a reduction of around 30 percent by comparison with the 1991 START treaty.

Critics however say counting gimmicks and the current state of the US and Russian nuclear stockpiles make the new pact more a symbolic document than a real nuclear weapons-reduction tool.


Source: SGGP

UN chief calls for new climate pact push

In World on December 23, 2009 at 11:33 am

UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for world powers to make a new effort to secure a legally binding climate deal next year amid new diplomatic wrangling over the failure of the Copenhagen summit.

China hit back at Britain over claims that Beijing had “hijacked” the Copenhagen negotiations while Brazil and Cuba lashed out at the US President Barack Obama.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for world powers to make a new effort to secure a legally binding climate deal next year amid new diplomatic wrangling over the failure of the Copenhagen summit.

With scientists warning of the growing threat of drought, floods, storms and rising sea levels, Ban acknowledged international disappointment over the summit accord on restraining rising temperatures.

“I am aware that the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, including the Copenhagen Accord, did not go as far as many would have hoped,” Ban told reporters in New York.

“Nonetheless they represent a beginning, an essential beginning,” the secretary general added.

Ban said “the leaders were united in purpose, but they were not united in action,” and pressed them “to directly engage in achieving a global legally binding climate change treaty in 2010.”

The UN boss said he would set up a high-level panel on development and climate change in 2010 ahead of attempts for a new deal at a summit in Mexico City in December next year.

The leaders of the United States, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and major European nations assembled the last-minute Copenhagen accord, as it became clear the 194-nation summit was heading for failure.

They promised 100 billion dollars for poor nations that risk bearing the brunt of the global warming fallout and set a commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The outcome has been widely criticised, with recriminations among many of the participants.

China on Tuesday accused Britain of “fomenting discord” among developing countries after Britain’s climate change minister Ed Miliband said China had blocked a deal in Copenhagen.

Miliband wrote in a newspaper article that China vetoed attempts to give legal force to the accord reached at the summit and that it had blocked an agreement on reductions in global emissions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said “such an attack was made in order to shirk the obligations of developed countries to their developing counterparts and foment discord among developing countries.”

She told the state Xinhua news agency “the attempt was doomed to fail.”

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blamed the United States for the talks’ failure, saying Obama was not prepared to make sufficient emissions cuts.

“The United States is proposing a reduction of four percent from the date fixed by the Kyoto Protocol (1990). That is too little,” Lula said on his weekly radio programme.

This led other countries to avoid their “commitments to the objectives (of reducing carbon dioxide emissions) and financial commitments,” Lula added.

Brazil pledged voluntary carbon emission cuts of 36-39 percent based on projected 2020 output and urged rich countries to help poorer countries.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez accused Obama of being “arrogant” at the summit, while Britain had been the “executioner” for the United States.

“During the summit, there was just an imperial, arrogant Obama who doesn’t listen, who imposes and threatens developing countries,” the minister told a press conference.

Rodriguez added that “the British delegation played the role of the executioner” using attempts at “shameful blackmail” against developing countries.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday accused a handful of unnamed countries of taking the summit hostage.

India weighed into the dispute with its government hailing the lack of targets and legally binding measures and vaunting the united front presented with China, Brazil and South Africa.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told parliament India had “come out quite well in Copenhagen”.

He listed a series of accomplishments, including the thwarting of moves to impose binding targets for global reductions in carbon emissions — something India has always rejected.

“We can be satisfied that we were able to get our way on this issue,” Ramesh told lawmakers.

Bangladesh, one of the nations most vulnerable to global warming, said meanwhile that it will seek 15 percent of the first 30 billion dollars committed at the Copenhagen summit.


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Denmark proud of efforts to secure climate pact: PM

In World on December 20, 2009 at 4:37 am

COPENHAGEN, Dec 19, 2009 (AFP) – Denmark can be proud of its efforts to secure an agreement at the UN climate conference, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said on Saturday.

A view of the meeting (AFP photo)

“We made the difference. Denmark can be proud of itself for having built an historic bridge between the parties in the negotiations,” Rasmussen told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

“I don’t think you could find any example in history where you would have seen the leaders of the United States, Brazil, South Africa and India along with the heads of state from Europe and the small island states threatened by global warming all in the same room, working together as a group.”

The Danish premier came in for heavy criticism over his stewardship of the often rancorous 13-day meeting which was due to wrap up on Saturday after a deal was clinched by US President Barack Obama and other major leaders.

Rasmussen said that it was unrealistic to expect Denmark to deliver results on its own.

“I can’t just tell the Chinese or the Americans: ‘Do this or that’,” he said.

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Obama joins final push for climate pact

In World on December 18, 2009 at 1:53 pm

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – US President Barack Obama joined world leaders Friday in a final push for a climate pact but poor nations feared the agreement would fail to stave off the worst ravages of global warming.

Obama flew in to a snowy Copenhagen to join about 120 heads of state and government at the climax of 12-day talks which have been marked by inter-continental wrangling and large-scale protests.

US President Barack Obama arrives at the airport in Copenhagen (AFP photo)

Fear of failure has dogged the talks as disputes on emissions targets between top polluters China and the United States and complaints that poor nations were being sidelined clouded hopes of a deal.

However leaders and top diplomats from around 30 countries crafted an outline agreement in talks that ended in the early hours. After fine-tuning by negotiators, the leaders resumed their talks in the morning before presenting the text to all heads of delegation.

“We tried to find an umbrella political accord, if you like,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, told reporters.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, chairman of the tortuous negotiations, warned against premature celebrations. “We’ve had a very constructive dialogue (but) … we’re not there yet,” he said.

A European delegate said the draft contained a call to prevent a rise in global temperatures of more than 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.

But he said there were few specifics on mitigation efforts nor on funding.

“Basically its become clear its going to be just a political declaration, its short on detail at the moment,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The two degrees declaration would stop way short of demands from poorer countries. Small island nations, their very existence threatened by rising seas, have called for a cap of 1.5 C (2.7 F).

Bruno Sekoli of Lesotho, chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said any rise above the 1.5 C mark would cause “unmanageable consequences.”

“It will leave millions of people suffering from hunger, diseases, floods and water shortages,” he said.

The South African Nobel prize winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu said a two degree rise would “condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development.”

“This is a moral issue, it is a mater of justice for especially the weak and most vulnerable,” Tutu added.

An internal UN memo seen by AFP earlier had shown national pledges for reducing greenhouse gas output would doom the world to warming of up to three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Scientists say such a rise would be disastrous, condemning hundreds of millions of people to worsening drought, floods and storms.

Diplomats said the draft accord outlines a package for poor countries most vulnerable to the ravages of an overheating world, kicking off with 10 billion dollars (seven billion euros) a year from 2010 to 2012, and climbing to 100 billion annually by 2020.

After days of deadlock, the mood brightened Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would contribute to the fund, a move welcomed by the G77 bloc of developing countries as “a good signal” but not enough.Related article: US pledges $100 billion

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had warned that the planet’s biggest ever meeting on climate faced a looming disaster because of the disputes on emissions cuts, saying failure “would be catastrophic for all of us”.

Clinton accused developing nations — without naming them — of backsliding on pledges to open their promised controls on carbon emissions to wide scrutiny, saying the issue is “a deal-breaker for us”.

China and India say they are willing to take voluntary measures to slow their surges in heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions.

But they are reluctant to accept tough international inspection and insist rich nations shoulder the main burden by accepting huge reduction targets.

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World leaders gather amid warnings on climate pact

In World on December 16, 2009 at 10:31 am

COPENHAGEN, Dec 16, 2009 (AFP) – World leaders gather at climate talks on Wednesday after UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged them to seize a “defining moment in history” and seal a global pact to halt the juggernaut of climate change.

Negotiators in Copenhagen have just three days left to broker one of the most ambitious yet complex deals in human history, but days of bitter wrangling between key players have provoked grim warnings of failure.

Britain’s Prince Charles (L) talks with Danish COP15 President Connie Hedegaard during the high level opening ceremony at the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen 15 December 2009. AFP PHOTO

China and the United States — the world’s two biggest carbon polluters — have brushed aside European calls for concessions on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the thorniest issue of all at the UN talks.

The summit aims to secure national pledges to curb the heat-trapping carbon gases wreaking havoc with Earth’s climate system, and set up a mechanism to provide billions of dollars for poor countries facing worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.

Ban told world leaders at the opening of the full ministerial session on Tuesday they faced a “defining moment in history.”

“We know what we must do. We know what the world expects. Our job here and now is to seal the deal, a deal in our common interest.”

Talks were moving too slowly, he warned, making it difficult for the leaders to reach agreement in the remaining days.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said sealing a deal was going to be “very difficult” with many issues to be resolved.

Former US vice president and environmental activist Al Gore called for world leaders to meet in Mexico City in July to complete the process.

But reflecting the deadlock, a new draft text gave no figures for a long-term goal of reducing emissions, a peak for emissions, an intended limit to warming, nor on financing for poor countries exposed to climate change.

These core questions were farmed out to small parties of ministers, charged with brokering a consensus by Friday when some 120 heads of state and government are to reach an outline political deal.

Any Copenhagen pact would be fleshed out next year in further talks, culminating in a treaty that would take effect from 2013.

Conference chairwoman Connie Hedegaard of Denmark said success was still within reach.

But she added: “We can’t risk failure. No one here can carry that responsibility. That means that the keyword for the next two days must be compromise.”

But both China and the United States appeared in little mood to move on the key issue of emissions.

US President Barack Obama has offered to cut US carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2020 over a 2005 benchmark, a figure that aligns with legislation put before the US Congress.

The offer by the United States, the world’s second biggest polluter after China, has been widely criticised by other parties as inadequate.

“I am not anticipating any change in the mitigation commitment,” said US chief delegate Todd Stern, explaining that it was tied to legislation currently before Congress.

Beijing’s climate ambassador said China’s voluntary plan for braking the forecast growth in its emissions was not open to negotiation.

“We announced those targets, we don’t intend to put them up for discussion,” Yu Qingtai told reporters.

China also said Wednesday it was opposed to “carbon tariffs” being imposed on the developing world, an idea floated in Europe and the United States.

Europe, which has already pledged to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020 in comparison with 1990 and offered to go to 30 percent if others follow suit, said the big polluters had to relent on cuts.

“There are two countries in the world representing half the emissions of the world, and that’s the United States and China,” said Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, representing the 27-nation European Union.

European powerhouse Germany likewise pointed the finger.

“Both want to keep every option open up to the last hours of the conference… We don’t have much time left,” said its environment minister Norbert Roettgen.

EU leaders last week agreed a package of 7.2 billion euros (10.6 billion dollars) in aid to help developing countries tackle global warming.

But the Group of 77 developing nations — actually a caucus of 130 states that includes China — said the proposal failed to address the issue of setting up long-term financing mechanisms.

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APEC leaders douse hopes on climate pact

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

SINGAPORE, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – Asia-Pacific leaders on Sunday buried hopes a key UN meeting next month would forge a binding pact to combat climate change, saying talks would drag on well past the Copenhagen meeting.

Instead they backed a face-saving proposal from Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen — who jetted in for hastily arranged talks in Singapore — aimed at forging a political statement of intent at the December meeting.

World leaders leave after the declaration statement at the Presidential Palace during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Singapore on November 15, 2009. (AFP photo)

Complex negotiations towards a legally enforceable successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012, would then continue to work out differences between rich nations and developing countries including China.

At Sunday’s talks attended by leaders including US President Barack Obama and China’s Hu Jintao on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit, there was broad consensus this was the best option for the climate negotiations, officials said.

“There was an assessment by the leaders that it was unrealistic to expect a full, internationally legally-binding agreement to be negotiated between now and when Copenhagen starts in 22 days,” US Deputy National Security Adviser Mike Froman told reporters.

Froman said Rasmussen told the meeting “he would seek to achieve a politically binding agreement that covered all the major elements of the negotiations” during the December 7-18 conference.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mexican Prime Minister Felipe Calderon had convened the Singapore talks before the closing session of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

In a final declaration, APEC called for “an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen” but dropped a proposal included in earlier summit drafts to slash their greenhouse gas emissions to half their 1990 levels by 2050.

Environmental group WWF said the leaders had “missed a great opportunity to move the world closer to a fair, ambitious and binding agreement” in Copenhagen and that they should start solving the issue rather than merely discussing it.

“This does not look like a smart strategy to win the fight against climate change,” spokeswoman Diane McFadzien said in a statement.

China’s Hu told fellow APEC leaders that he hoped for “positive results” in Copenhagen and vowed his government was “ready to work together with all parties to achieve this goal.”

The president repeated Beijing’s position that the developed world must bear the brunt of emissions cuts and provide technology and financial help to poor countries to try to mitigate climate change.

He said developing countries should “explore a path of sustainable growth suited to their own conditions and development stages.”

Arkady Dvorkovich, chief economic adviser to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said the leaders “are ready to strike a political agreement which would give an impetus to the negotiations process.”

Medvedev called for a “roadmap” to govern negotiations in 2010-2011 for a new treaty, he said.

Japanese leader Yukio Hatoyama told reporters he hoped to attend the Copenhagen talks and said he had pressed the other leaders gathered in Singapore to do the same.

Obama, speaking to fellow APEC leaders before the summit wrapped up, acknowledged the concerns of developing nations.

“We must seek a solution that will allow all nations to grow and raise living standards without polluting our atmosphere and wreaking havoc on our climate,” he said.

“Such a solution cannot be possible without the participation of the APEC economies,” he said.

Industrialised nations are pressing emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil, which are now huge emitters, to strengthen promises to tackle their own greenhouse gas output, but developing nations fear drastic cuts would impede their economic progress.

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