Hong Kong (CNN) – The United States may be on the cusp of the cheapest stimulus package its citizens can imagine - in the form of a free trade agreement with the European Union across the Atlantic Ocean, according to Karel de Gucht, the EU’s trade commissioner.
But Mexico's candidate for the top job at the World Trade Organization said a deal between the two could pose problems in Geneva.
“The challenge that is posed by the negotiations between the EU and the US is enormous,” said Herminio Blanco.
“We think it's a no-brainer that the United States and Europe should be in negotiations to have a comprehensive, ambitious agenda to not only lower tariffs…but also to deal with regulatory issues, to deal with services,” said Myron Brilliant, senior vice president for international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce to CNN’s Richard Quest.
Responding to Quest’s challenge that such an endeavor could not be achieved in “our lifetime”, Brilliant said he is mistaken.
“I'll tell you why you're wrong about that. The United States needs jobs. We have an OK economy. We've seen a resurgence in manufacturing. We've seen a potential for a reduction of energy prices, right? But we need a global economic agenda.”
In a lively exchange best watched in the video here or above, Brilliant said the biggest impediments to US-EU success for a free trade agreement - already valued at $5 billion - is regulatory.
Hong Kong (CNN) - For Renault-Nissan, relativity may help manage expectations for a 2013 already predicted to end in the red.
“The (automobile) market in Europe continues to decline and the contraction is even bigger than what we have foreseen,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn to CNN’s Richard Quest.
“Even with this very bad start to the year… we’re going to go from a very bad market to a bad market. Instead of having an 8% decline, we’re going to probably see something like (a) 3% to 5% decline for the year.”
The Brazilian-born auto chief made the forecast at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show. The annual event opens to the public Thursday.
European governments can help automakers, Ghosn added, by bringing predictability to the economy and “eliminating uncertainty”.
“One of the reasons consumers are not buying cars or other goods is because they are uncertain about the future.”
As head of Japan’s Nissan Motor Company since 1999, Ghosn said he hopes the country’s new government of Shinzo Abe will bring the currency to a “historic level” of 110 to the dollar.
Since October 1, the yen has already risen nearly 20% and currently hovers near 93 yen to the dollar thanks to Abe's promises for a weaker yen, looser monetary policy and pledges of fiscal stimulus.
“Finally we have a government which has a vision and trying to do something about deflation (in) Japan.”
Hong Kong (CNN) - Fears that China could soon be facing its own Lehman-style banking meltdown are being fueled by a National Audit Office report which found 531 billion yuan (US$84 billion) worth of irregularities in local government debt.
According to the Chinese government website (www.gov.cn), the audit found 10.7 trillion yuan of local government debt at the end of 2010, a result of easy loans made possible by the government’s 2008-2009 stimulus injection.
Most of the money, say analysts, has found its way into the construction industry, creating entire cities, complete with apartments and offices that remain empty and unsold.
Many companies also have unpaid inventories, according to the government audit, and have little or no oversight of accounts.
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