Energy enviro-trade politics and WTO concerns on private standards

Just sharing some nice coverage of Canada - Keystone energy-enviro (geo)politics. Investigative articles by Bloomberg looks at the problem that Canada (considered an ethical oil exporter) has had in now trying to export product from its new Alberta oil frontier to the US and China:
I find this quite interesting in two areas of resource-based industry and Malaysia research interest: a) that it parallels changing enviro-trade requirements on palm oil (although this is happening via private standards and not at G2G level**) and b) with Petronas' exposure in Canada and the changing global oil trade.
On trade issues, I just read the useful newsletter update that crossed my desk from trade lawyers, Fratini Vergano; writing on 2 May: "WTO SPS Committee Members fail again to advance their work relating to private standards - At a meeting of the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (hereinafter, SPS Committee) on 25-26 March 2014, WTO Members continued discussions relating to private standards for food safety and animal and plant health, but failed to resolve any issues. WTO Members have raised concerns regarding private standards for almost 9 years, yet little progress has been made.....In 2013, China and New Zealand submitted proposed definitions of the term ‘private standards’, which differed greatly, but they continued working on a joint proposal for a working definition of the term. Following an SPS Committee meeting on 16-17 October 2013, it was announced that China and New Zealand had produced a compromised draft definition and were in the process of working with other WTO Members to draft a definition that could be accepted by the entire SPS Committee...At the most recent SPS Committee meeting on 25-26 March 2014, some Members were not able to accept the draft... The issues relating to regulation of private standards have dragged on for almost 9 years. Reportedly, at the most recent SPS Committee meeting, China maintained that it would be “disaster” if a definition is not agreed upon soon. Additionally, it was reported that China’s concerns were shared by El Salvador, India, Ecuador and Belize, which is said to be concerned for its papaya and citrus exporters. As the focus of market access has shifted from tariff measures to non-tariff measures, private standard requirements imposed by retailers are one of many (de facto, if not de jure) non-tariff barriers that can create additional unjustified costs for exporters when those costs are not justified for SPS reasons...."

Khor Yu Leng giving a seminar at Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya

07 March 2014 | Friday 
3.00 - 5.00 pm
Seminar Room
Institute of China Studies
Fifth Floor of Za'ba Library Building
University of Malaya

China is Malaysia’s top trading partner but China’s FDI in Malaysia lags in relative terms. China and Malaysia have jointly established the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and Qinzhou Industrial Park (QIP) to further boost bilateral trade and investment. Investment promoters see Malaysia as a country for China to reach markets within country-of-origin rules; and the state of Pahang where the MCKIP is planned will likely be selected as the gateway for bringing investment and jobs into the Malaysia Eastern Corridor, which covers an economically lagging area on the peninsula. Sources indicate that the industrial park projects are linked to two significant land deals. The first may relate to the QIP land swap arrangement for land in the Binhai township. The second, at the MCKIP, is said to include the conversion of some state-controlled land for the use of the industrial park. Country data indicates a large imbalance in FDI flows with the broad conclusion that Malaysia OFDI flows to China exceeds the reverse by a factor of five to eight times or even more. However these statistics may still misrepresent the picture since many Malaysian tycoons use Hong Kong as a base for their investments into China. To begin to correct this imbalance, Malaysia will quickly need to draw in China OFDI equivalent at least to what it has received in recent years from Germany. Such a rapid transformation in Malaysia-China investment outcomes is unlikely without more significant investment drivers in place. The relatively small size of the MCKIP (just over a tenth of the size of its twin project in Qinzhou) is suggestive of a continued imbalance in Malaysia-China foreign investments.
About the speaker
Khor Yu Leng is a political economist and graduate of Oxford University and the London School of Economics. First working in the financial sector, she is now an independent analyst, working on customized research and qualitative analysis reports for global corporate clients. She is a specialist in market research, resource-based industries, frontier markets, sustainability and risk. Yu Leng was Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore for 2013. “ISEAS Perspective: The Significance of China-Malaysia Industrial Parks“ was issued 17 Jun 2013 and she is currently working on a co-author academic article on Malaysia-China investment ties. Yu Leng has been interviewed or cited by international media including the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, BBC News and Al Jazeera. 

*As the Institute of China Studies is located in a library building, seminar participants are advised not to bring in any briefcases or bags to avoid possible delay caused by the usual necessary library bag checks, or having to leave the bags or briefcases outside the library entrance. Please come in through the main entrance of the Za’ba Library. Also, please refrain from parking outside a parking bay to avoid having your vehicle clamped by campus security. (In case of serious parking problem, please call our office for assistance: 03-79565663, 03-79561695 or 03-79588173) Please do not hesitate to contact us for enquiries and to confirm your attendance.