It has been a good week, on the whole, for trade, with ABAC urging APEC to progress FTAAP through amalgamation of ASEAN, the TPP and RCEP via the Bogor goals. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. The bottom line is that most Asia-Pacific nations are very well disposed towards free trade deals. And the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) which has been demonstrating the opposite of cooperation by walking through trade treacle on its way to a regional tariff-free zone for the last ten years, is finally showing some signs of movement towards its goal. The GCC consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, so we can award stars to Dubai at least (confused? don’t be, it’s part of the UAE and a lot more market-friendly than most of the rest of it), although the remainder are all under a cloud of one kind or another at present.
Singapore, while slinging around many of the same acronyms, has also been re-affirming its commitment to free trade in general, and the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) in particular. Like Hong Kong, it sets out to be a regional centre for holding companies (aka trade), and like Hong Kong, it is successful because of the welcome it offers to international companies. I am stunned to read that there are more than 10,000 European companies in Singapore. Of course, I don’t know how many of them are trading companies: there are 300,000 Chinese companies in the BVI, and I suppose that not many of them trade. But if you put your wealth in a place, and assuming that you are not over the hill like me, where else would you put your trading subsidiary, all otherwise being equal?