Free trade deal talks

Seal of Makati City

European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and Trade Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. met earlier this month on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN 20th summit in Phnom Penh to discuss the general contents of the upcoming bilateral deal.

“We discussed the chapters in the EPA economic partnership agreement. They wanted additional chapters to the agreement such as government procurement, environment, labor, intellectual property rights, competition, and human rights,” Mr. Cristobal said on the sidelines of a press briefing with the Trade department.

“On our part, we said we were looking at greater market access, development cooperation, trade in service, and more trade facilitation activities,” he added.

The informal meeting with Mr. De Gucht came ahead of an upcoming scoping exercise for the EUPhilippines free trade agreement FTA. Scoping exercises, as a prelude to formal FTA negotiations, are conducted to determine which industry sectors, regulatory policies, economic and business laws, and government procedures can and will be covered by the terms of the FTA.

In a related development, the Trade department has commissioned from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies an impact study on the upcoming bilateral agreement.

Results of the study are expected to come out in June, Mr. Cristobal said. The study is intended to guide the Trade department’s initiatives to pursue another round of private sector and government consultations on the FTA.Meanwhile, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority PEZA is eyeing more European investments in the business process outsourcing BPO, according to a statement released yesterday.

“We hope that even more EU investors will make use of the PEZA’s business-friendly environment in the future,” the statement quoted PEZA Director-General Lilia B. de Lima as saying during a meeting with EU ambassadors yesterday.

The EU diplomats visited Vestas Services Philippines, Inc., a European BPO company specializing in renewable energy located in the PEZA zone in Makati City.

via Free trade deal talks pressed | BusinessWorld Online Edition.

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Making jobs for people

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 21:  In t...

“The real issue is not the target, the real issue is can we mobilise all of the South African resources… in order that all of us do what we can to put people into some kind of job,” Gordhan told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Johannesburg.

This included government, business and civil society.”We are not doing enough in South Africa as a whole,” he said.

The government had set the target of five million jobs by 2020, but Gordhan said it was more important to get everyone into some kind of job.

“In respect of our younger people, to have the basic experience of working, that is the objective at this point in time.”

Job creation was not the sole preserve of government, he said.

“You cant just look at government, because 70% of those jobs must come from the private sector.”

Its the private sector that must create jobs. For them to do this they must invest.”Gordhan said businesses had around R500 billion in profit surplus lying in banks, which they should be investing. Business, however, was risk averse, which he said was to some extent understandable.

Recent comments by First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan were quite instructive, Gordhan said. Gordhan said Jordaan had said South African businesses needed to take a medium or long-term view, not just react to short-term risks.

“There are immense prospects that other countries are seeing on the African continent, that we ourselves are not seeing adequately,” Gordhan said.Business should also be taking advantage of opportunities offered by South Africas membership of BRICS – the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa economic partnership.

Gordhan said there needed to be frank talk about what was holding up investment, especially as the economy was recovering.

“The globe is not going to collapse… after every crisis there is a recovery. We are in a period of recovery, just a very uncertain one… [its] not very smooth.”

When asked whether South Africas labour laws were restricting job creation, Gordhan said there were efficient structures in South Africa for raising these issues.

“Whichever side has concerns should use those forums and create a climate for dialogue… and resolution so that we can move ahead.”

He said international organisations had different views on whether South Africas labour legislation was rigid.

“And by and large the view would be that we are not an overly rigid economy.”

He said anyone with concerns about the proposed labour law amendments should approach Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant as she had an open door.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill were adopted by Cabinet last month. They would now be considered by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on labour before being submitted to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces for adoption.

This was after over a year of debate on the two bills in the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

via All of South Africa needs to create jobs: Gordhan – Times LIVE.

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Big chance for small business

Small Businesses Girvan still has many small i...

BizLaunch was unveiled yesterday in Johannesburg by Clive Pintusewitz, Standard Banks director of small enterprise development.

The new package, aimed at businesses within their first year, will enable small businesses to keep track of their cash, pay suppliers, deposit funds into a business bank account and get basic advice – all for just R90 a month.

Businesses that have been operating informally can also get BizLaunch, even if they have been in existence for over a year.

Other impediments that lead to closure include access to funding and markets, and cash flow management.

“We know that there is a big issue with small businesses and we want to see them grow. What we have done is to look at the needs of those businesses and packaged a solution that brings a lot of support to those businesses,” Pintusewitz said.BizLaunch offers unlimited transactional banking. They are targeting 80000 businesses in the current financial year.

“We have partnered with Softline Pastel, who are the leading accounting software to offer MyBusiness Online, which is a solution built specially for start-up businesses. What we have seen is that one of the reasons businesses fail is because they cannot track their finances and cannot manage invoices and payments,” he said.

“In our interaction with our clients we have learnt that small businesses fail because they do not get revenue. The second is managing your cost and stock. Also, when they have ordered the stock and the customers take time to pay, it creates a cash-flow problem.”

BizLaunch will be available at all Standard Bank branches.

Pintusewitz said for those who do not have access to a computer there was a mobile version if they have a smartphone, and soon an offline version will be available.

via Big chance for small business – Sowetan LIVE.

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Entrepreneurs need to persevere

Entrepreneur of the Century

The desire to succeed by South Africans has resulted in an entrepreneurial culture, which continues to grow at an encouraging rate that is vital to fuel economic development in the country in 2012 and beyond.

While people can learn the principles of entrepreneurship, I think it is very hard to train someone to be an entrepreneur. The steps and the risks needed to succeed in your own business cannot be taught. Ultimately, building a successful business and a legacy is about passion; having a vision and sticking to it.

Starting a business and finding the right concept and vision is a gruelling process.

via Entrepreneurs need to persevere.

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Germany taxes Swiss bank accounts

Banknotes of the Swiss franc

Germany and Switzerland signed an amendment to their deal on taxing secret offshore accounts on Thursday, toughening terms for tax dodgers after the main German opposition party blocked the original accord, saying it was too lenient.

The amendment makes it more likely the deal will get the backing from opposition-ruled states and be approved by the German parliament, ending years of tortuous negotiations and netting the country billions of euros.

The German finance ministry said Germany and Switzerland had agreed to raise the retroactive levy on German funds stashed away in Swiss bank accounts to a rate between 21 and 41 percent, from a previously agreed range of 19 to 34 percent.

They also agreed a one-off tax of 50 percent for those who inherit Swiss bank accounts and do not want to declare them, the finance ministry said.

Under the revised deal, German officials will be allowed to put in up to 1300 requests with their Swiss counterparts to investigate cases of fiscal evasion, versus a previously agreed 999.

Germans will have to alert the Swiss authorities when they move their money out of Swiss bank accounts from Jan. 1 2013, versus a previously agreed May 31, in order to prevent an exodus into other offshore accounts.

via Germany, Switzerland revise deal terms – International | IOL Business | IOL.co.za.

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