Issue 26 | August 3, 2012

Russia takes final step toward becoming World Trade Organization Member Russia has recently accepted its terms to becoming the 156th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk commented that this significant step in expanding the WTO will benefit all countries in the WTO, but that trade relations between Russia and the U.S. need to be addressed so that American businesses "have access to the same benefits from Russia's membership that their foreign competitors have." The termination of the Jackson-Vanik amendment's restrictions in regards to providing Russia with permanent normal trade relations is still in progress.  Read more.  


Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to expand and upgrade facilities The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will be upgrading facilities to compete for cargo business and prepare for new business from the widening of the Panama Canal, set to be completed in 2014. The upgrades to build new piers, terminals and rail yards will cost about $6 billion. The Ports are also conscious of the impact the expansion will have on the local environment. New cargo terminals will reduce air pollution and handling equipment will be fueled by electricity instead of the diesel fuel that it currently uses. Read more .

Japanese exports to the United States increase while U.S. exports to Japan decrease According to the Japanese Finance Ministry, Japanese exports to the United States increased 15.1 percent in June. However, United States exports to Japan fell 3.5 percent, widening Japan's current trade surplus to $6.25 billion. Last June, due to the series of disasters that affected Japan, Japan's exports to the U.S. had decreased 6.1 percent. Japanese automotive companies, in particular, suffered setbacks in their supply chains. Read more.

United States sets duties on Mexican, Korean washing machines

The U.S. Department of Commerce established punitive anti-dumping duties on approximately $1 billion worth of imported washing machines. The case, brought by American washing machine manufacturer Whirlpool, sought to address alleged dumping by Mexican and South Korean manufacturers, whom the Department estimates sold their products at prices 9.62 percent to 82.41 percent below fair value. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown praised the decision as a good step to "encourage companies like Whirlpool to continue moving jobs back to the U.S." Read more.

Venezuela formally joins Mercosur trade bloc
Venezuela officially entered the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) on July 31, joining Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay in South America's largest trade organization. The decision was finalized at the Mercosur presidential summit where the heads of the four nations (Paraguay has been suspended from active Mercosur membership after a coup removed its president in June) determined that Venezuela would be given four years to conform to Mercosur regulations on tariffs and other norms. Speaking after the summit, President Hugo Chavez declared that Venezuela's entry into the trade bloc would establish the organization as the "fifth world power, with a regional GDP of over US $3.3 billion". Access to new markets given by the Mercosur agreement is expected to boost the contribution of Venezuela's industrial sector to GDP from 14 percent to 20 percent within eight years. President Chavez also spoke of establishing a South American "petroleum alliance as a complement to Mercosur. Read more.
Compiled by Ashley Arikawa, Simon Huang and Galaxy Kaji, Global Initiatives Interns

For more information, contact Jasmin Sakai-Gonzalez, 213.580.7569.