Hungary free trade

English: Hungarian speakers in Eastern Europe.

Hungary i/ˈhʌŋɡəri/ (HungarianMagyarország [ˈmɒɟɒrorsaːɡ]) is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in theCarpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The capital and largest city is Budapest. Hungary is a member of the European UnionNATO, theOECD, the Visegrád Group, and is a Schengen state. The official language is Hungarian, also known as Magyar, which is part of the Finno-Ugric group and is the most widely spoken non-Indo-European language in Europe.

Following a Celtic (after c. 450 BC) and a Roman (AD 9 – c. 430) period, the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century by theHungarian ruler Árpád, whose great-grandson Saint Stephen I was crowned with a crown sent by the pope from Rome in 1000 AD. TheKingdom of Hungary lasted for 946 years, and at various points was regarded as one of the cultural centres of the Western world. After about 150 years of partial Ottoman occupation (1541–1699), Hungary was integrated into the Habsburg Monarchy, and later constituted half of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy (1867–1918).

great power until the end of World War I, Hungary lost over 70 percent of its territory, along with one third of its ethnic population, and all its sea ports under the Treaty of Trianon, the terms of which have been considered excessively harsh by many in Hungary. The kingdom was succeeded by a Fascist regime, and then a Communist era (1947–1989) during which Hungary gained widespread international attention during the Revolution of 1956 and the seminal opening of its border with Austria in 1989, thus accelerating thecollapse of the Eastern Bloc. The present form of government is a parliamentary republic, which was established in 1989. Today, Hungary is a high-income economy and a regional leader in some respects.

Hungary is one of the thirty most popular tourist destinations of the world, attracting 8.6 million tourists a year (2007). The country is home to the largest thermal water cave system and the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grasslands in Europe (Hortobágy).

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary

Hungary has undergone major macroeconomic and structural adjustment in its transition to a market economy. Under extremely difficult economic and social circumstances, notably the collapse of trade with the former east-block countries and the consequent initial job losses, the Government has largely resisted protectionist pressures – even in the face of large twin fiscal and trade deficits in 1995 and high levels of government (internal and external) debt. Instead, Hungary has pursued new trade opportunities, especially with the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and partners in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). A new WTO Secretariat report on Hungary’s trade and investment policies states that Hungary’s preparations for accession to the EU will lead to more structural and institutional adjustment. Some of the reforms, particularly in the areas of intellectual property rights and competition policy, go beyond Hungary’s WTO obligations.

via http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp77_e.htm

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Greece free trade zones

DSC04009-Greece Patmos Chora

Greece Listeni/ˈɡrs/ (Greek: Ελλάδα, ElladaIPA[eˈlaða] ( listen)), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική ΔημοκρατίαElliniki DimokratiaIPA: [eliniˈci ðimokraˈtia][10]), and historically Hellas (Ancient Greek: Ἑλλάς, HellasIPA: [hellás]), is a country in Southern Europe, politically also considered part of Western Europe.

Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiographypolitical science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. This legacy is partly reflected in the seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking Greece 7th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state was established in 1830, following the Greek War of Independence.

Greece has land borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of mainland Greece, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited), including Crete, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Ionian Islands among others. Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).

developed country with an advanced, high-income economy and very high standards of living (including the 21st highest quality of life as of 2010), Greece has been a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 and the eurozone since 2001, NATO since 1952, and the European Space Agency since 2005. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, theOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. Greece is the largest economy of the Balkans.

Athens is the capital and the largest city in the country (its urban area also including Piraeus).

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece

Greece has three free trade zones, located at the Piraeus, Thessaloniki, and Heraklion port areas. Goods of foreign origin may be brought into these zones without payment of customs duties or other taxes and remain free of all duties and taxes if subsequently trans-shipped or re-exported.

Documents relating to the receipt, storage, or transfer of goods within the zones are free from stamp taxes.

Handling operations are carried out according to EU regulations 2504/88 and 2562/90.

Transit goods may be held in the zones free of bond. The zones may be used for re-packing, sorting and re-labelling operations.

Assembly and manufacture of goods are carried out on a small scale in the Thessaloniki free zone.

Storage time is unlimited, as long as warehouse charges are promptly paid every six months.

via http://www.austrade.gov.au/Doing-business-in-Greece/default.aspx

Russia free trade

Map of the federal subjects of the Russian Fed...

Russia i/ˈrʌʃə/ or /ˈrʊʃə/ (Russian: Россия, tr. RossijaIPA: [rɐˈsʲijə]), officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation (Russian: Российская Федерация, tr. Rossijskaja FederacijaIPA: [rɐˈsʲijskəjə fʲɪdʲɪˈratsɨjə]), is a country in northernEurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borderswith NorwayFinlandEstoniaLatviaLithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), BelarusUkraineGeorgiaAzerbaijan,KazakhstanChinaMongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the United States by the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth‘s inhabited land area. Russia is also the eighth most populous nation with 143 million people. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning nine time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world’s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources and is the largest oil producer and second largest natural gas producer globally. Russia has the world’s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world’s fresh water.

The nation’s history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus’ ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus’ lands were overrun by theMongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus’. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.

Following the Russian Revolution, Russia became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world’s first constitutionallysocialist state and a recognized superpower, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world’s first human spaceflight. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet state.

Russia has the world’s 11th largest economy by nominal GDP or the 6th largest by purchasing power parity, with the 5th largest nominal military budget. It is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8G20, theCouncil of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and is the leading member of theCommonwealth of Independent States.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia

Russia has signed a free-trade deal with seven other former Soviet republics that will scrap export and import tariffs on a number of goods.

The agreement was announced following talks in St Petersburg. The other signature countries are Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan.

No details have yet been revealed about what goods will be included.

Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan may join by the end of the year.

The free trade agreement now needs to be ratified by the parliaments of the eight countries who have so far signed up, before becoming effective in 2012.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the move would make their collective economies “more competitive”.

Analysts said Ukraine’s inclusion was significant, as the country had previously sought closer trade ties with the European Union.

However, Ukraine’s current government of President Viktor Yanukovych is seen as being more pro-Russian than its predecessor.

Last week, Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years for acting beyond her powers over a 2009 gas deal.

The European Union said the trial was politically motivated, but this was denied by Kiev.

via http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15363770

 

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How to stimulate entrepreneurs

English: South Africa (orthographic projection)

In the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI), which measures a country’s entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses, South Africa fell from 39 last year to 45 this year.

Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the Sanlam Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, said stimulating entrepreneurship was the key to igniting economic growth and job creation.

“This decline might be attributed to many various factors. But one of the major factors is the lack of a positive entrepreneurial culture in South Africa,” said Naidoo.

She said research had shown that South Africa’s society had a culture that neglected entrepreneurial activities, especially individuals who had failed in the past.

“The South African educational structure (primary to tertiary education) does not place enough emphasis on equipping learners with the correct knowledge and skill to become successful entrepreneurs,” she said.

According to the latest GEDI rankings of the 79 countries surveyed, South Africa has in the space of a year lost ground on nations such as Colombia and Peru, which have significantly smaller GDPs.

Naidoo said most economically competitive countries in the world had significantly higher levels of entrepreneurial activity.

She said the latest data gathered by Endeavor Brazil, which revealed that SMEs were responsible for 96% of the jobs in Brazil and represented 98% of all companies in the country.

Naidoo said promoting a culture of entrepreneurship was the responsibility of the public and private sector.

“It is essential that each party works together to create an environment within society that serves as a sustainable platform for a positive entrepreneurial culture to grow,” she said.

“Government also plays an important role in ensuring that policies and programmes are aligned with fostering entrepreneurial growth.”

via ‘No business culture in SA’ – Sowetan LIVE.

Lesotho trade and export

Lesotho, Maseru

Lesotho (Listeni/lɨˈst/ li-soo-too), officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, completely surrounded by its only neighboring country, the Republic of South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population live below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.

Lesotho’s economy is based on diamonds exported all over the world and water sold to South Africa, manufacturing, agriculture, livestock, and to some extent the earnings of laborers employed in South Africa. Lesotho also exports woolmohairclothing, and footwear. One of Levi’sjeans manufacturing facilities is located there. Also in Lesotho is one of Russell Athletic plants. Lesotho is geographically surrounded by South Africa and economically integrated with it as well. The majority of households subsist on farming or migrant labor, primarily miners who remain in South Africa for 3 to 9 months. The western lowlands form the main agricultural zone. Almost 50% of the population earns some income through crop cultivation or animal husbandry, with over half the country’s income coming from the agricultural sector.

Water and diamonds are Lesotho’s significant natural resources. Water is utilized through the 21-year, multi-billion-dollar Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), under the authority of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority. The project commenced in 1986. The LHWP is designed to capture, store, and transfer water from the Orange River system to South Africa’s Free State and greater Johannesburg area, which features a large concentration of South African industry, population, and agriculture. Completion of the first phase of the project has made Lesotho almost completely self-sufficient in the production of electricity and generated approximately $40 million (R300 million or 300 million Maloti) annually from the sale of electricity and water to South Africa. The World BankAfrican Development Bank,European Investment Bank, and many other bilateral donors financed the project.

Lesotho has taken advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to become the largest exporter of garments to the US from sub-Saharan Africa. In mid 2004 its employment reached over 50,000 mainly female workers, marking the first time that manufacturing sector workers outnumbered government employees. In 2008 it exported 487 million dollars mainly to the U.S.A. Since 2004 employment in the sector was somehow reduced to about 45,000, in mid 2011, due to intense international competition in the garment sector. It was the largest formal sector employer in Lesotho in 2011.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesotho

MASERU — The trade agreement between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) will help member countries like Lesotho fight the current economic recession, the Minister of Trade and Industry Popane Lebesa has said.

Lebesa was speaking at a two day workshop held in Maseru last week to inform local businesses about the benefits of the trade agreement signed between the two trading blocs.

The seminar which was attended by manufacturers, prospective exporters and farmers  focused on trade opportunities created by the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two trading blocs.

Experts from the EFTA countries were also present.

“This seminar has come at a very crucial time, when the economies of the world are hit by the global financial economic crisis. This is also a time when the countries are coming together to fight the effects of the global financial crisis and Lesotho is no exception” Lebesa said.

He said the private sector should take the opportunity and explore the markets created by the FTA.

“Producers, industrialists and farmers must take the opportunities brought by the rules of origin between the EFTA countries and SACU.”

EFTA secretariat Geir Ulle said: “We believe that businesses in Lesotho can benefit in the Free Trade Agreement.”

“Basotho must take an initiative and export into the EFTA countries. Many of your exporting competitors are not in agreement with the EFTA. This should provide a lot of opportunities for the exporters from Lesotho.”

Speaking at the same occasion Markus Stern of the Promotion Trade Services Switzerland said that Basotho must first research the market and the trends before they can export to the EFTA countries.

He said there is also great potential for development in eco-tourism, leather, textiles, handicrafts and many other products from which Lesotho can benefit.

via http://www.lestimes.com/?p=1705

 

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Latvia for business – Freeport of Riga

English: Map showing the Baltic states with th...

Latvia i/ˈlætviə/ (Latvian: Latvija), officially the Republic of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Republika), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia (border length 343 km), to the south by Lithuania (588 km), to the east by the Russian Federation (276 km), to the southeast by Belarus (141 km), and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden. With 2,067,887 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi) it is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union. The capital of Latvia is Riga. The official language is Latvian and the currency is called Lats (Ls). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.

The Latvians are a Baltic people, culturally related to the Lithuanians. Together with the Finno-Ugric Livs (or Livonians), the Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian is an Indo-European language and along with Lithuanian the only two surviving members of the Baltic branch. Indigenous minority languages are Latgalian and the nearly extinct Finno-Ugric Livonian language. In terms of geography, territory and population Latvia is the middle of three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Latvia and Estonia share a long common history: historical Livonia, times of German (Teutonic Order), Polish-Lithuanian, Swedish, Russian, Nazi German and Soviet rule, 13th century Christianization and 16th century Protestant Reformation. Both countries are home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia and 25.5% in Estonia) of whom some are non-citizens. Latvia is historically predominantly Protestant, except for the region of Latgalia in the southeast which is historically predominantly Roman Catholic.

Latvia is a unitary parliamentary republic and is divided into 118 administrative divisions of which 109 municipalities and 9 cities. There are five planning regions: Courland (Kurzeme), Latgalia (Latgale), Riga (Rīga), Vidzeme and Zemgale. The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918. It was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union between 1940–1941 and 1945–1991 and by Nazi Germany between 1941–1945. The peaceful “Singing Revolution” between 1987 and 1991 and “Baltic Chain” demonstration on August 23, 1989 led to the independence of the Baltic states. Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence on August 21, 1991.

Latvia is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE, IMF and WTO, and is part of the Schengen Area. It was a member of the League of Nations (1921–1946) and the Baltic Free Trade Area (1994–2004). Latvia is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank, and is together with Estonia and Lithuania involved in trilateral Baltic States cooperation and Nordic-Baltic cooperation.

After economic stagnation in the early 1990s, Latvia posted Europe-leading GDP growth figures during 1998–2006. In the global financial crisis of 2008–2010 Latvia was the hardest hit of the European Union member states, with a GDP decline of 26.54% in that period. Commentators noted signs of stabilisation in the Latvian economy by 2010, and the state of the economy continued to improve, as Latvia once again became one of the fastest growing economies of the EU in 2011. The United Nations lists Latvia as a country with a Human Development Index (HDI) of “Very High”.

via Latvia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In January 2012, 3.4 million tons of various cargoes were handled in the Freeport of Riga being the largest amount of cargoes handled during one month during the last 10 years. In January the Port of Riga in terms of cargo turnover was the largest port of the Baltic States, pulling ahead of Klaipeda, Tallinn and Ventspils. What is even more important – regarding strategically important types of cargoes – coal, containers and oil products, the results of the previous year were exceeded substantially.

via http://www.rop.lv/en/

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African free trade area

English: Map of the African Union with suspend...

AMBITIOUS PLANS to create a continental free trade area in Africa, first suggested 21 years ago by regional leaders, were recently adopted by the African Union. The union says the free intra-African economic trading system should be operational by 2017.

On January 31st at the union’s 18th summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, governments were told they needed to build infrastructure worth an estimated €46 billion over the next 10 years to facilitate the free trade zone across the continent.

While this target was acknowledged as challenging, Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi was mandated to lead a seven-member heads of state committee, called the high-level African trade committee, to look into ways of raising the funds required.

Africa, my dream.

The taxation of aid money in Africa, taxes from minerals and mining deals and revenues drawn from dealings with banks and multilateral bodies have all been suggested as ways to fund the continental trade boost.

“We are determined to address the issue of stability and lead to the prosperity of our continent,” African Union chairman Yayi Boni said. “We have to ensure growth rate is above the population growth in Africa.”

The development of trade between African states has increasingly become a priority for the African Union because of its member states’ inability to tackle widespread poverty, despite annual economic growth rates above 5 per cent in many member states over the past decade.

Although African economic growth slowed in 2009 due to the global recession, regional gross domestic product (GDP) was well above rates posted in countries in Europe and the US.

By 2010, the continent had bounced back with GDP doubling to 5.4 per cent that year, according to the World Bank.

Nevertheless, despite this success South African president Jacob Zuma has pointed out that less than 10 per cent of Africa’s trade is between its states and that boosting this area should be a priority as a way to further develop the continent.

via Major challenges remain for African free trade area – The Irish Times – Mon, Feb 13, 2012.

Cash expands by $187b in untaxed offshore accounts

Image representing Pfizer as depicted in Crunc...

U.S. companies led by General Electric Co. (GE) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) stockpiled an additional $187 billion in untaxed overseas profits over the past year, boosting their offshore holdings by 18.4 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The 70 U.S.-based companies studied hold $1.2 trillion in profits around the world. GE and Pfizer have built up the most money outside the U.S., at $102 billion and $63 billion respectively, according to securities filings. Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) were among the companies that increased their accumulated overseas profits by more than 40 percent in 2011.

As U.S.-based companies expand globally, they keep profits overseas, legally out of the reach of the Internal Revenue Service. Lawmakers from both political parties point to the stockpiling as a symptom of a failed corporate tax system, even while they remain deadlocked over whether the U.S. should impose higher or lower taxes on its companies’ global profits.

“You’re seeing more and more business go on overseas, because that’s where an increasing amount of the global purchasing power is,” said Matt Miller, director of public policy at the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based association of chief executives at large companies that backs lower taxes on overseas profits. “We need to get a competitive tax system that is not antiquated and has all the complexities we have today.”

via Cash Horde Expands by $187 Billion in Untaxed Offshore Accounts – Bloomberg