Abbott makes historic free trade deal with Japan
In a deal that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has claimed to be just as significant as the 1957 trade treaty with Japan, Australia and Japan have reached a historic trade agreement. The deal, which has been seven years in the making, will allow Australian to access cheaper cars and consumer goods, and will provide for better access to Japanese food markets for the agricultural sector.
PM Abbott shared that the deal reflects the shared values of Japan and Australia, and that the agreement showed a commitment to “democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.” This was the first time Japan had “negotiated a comprehensive economic partnership agreement or free trade agreement with a major economy, particularly a major economy with a strong agricultural sector.
Japan has traditionally been very protective of its agricultural sector, which is part of the reason why the agreement took so long to flesh out. In 2013 Australian beef exports to Japan were worth $1.4bn. With the new trade agreement, the industry will have a chance to grow beyond this. The tariff on Australian beef has been reduced from 38.5 percent to 19.5 percent (for frozen meat) and 23.5 percent (for fresh meat). The cut will take place over 15 years. The deal will also provide new duty-free access for Australian dairy products in Japan.
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For its part of the deal, Australia will remove the 5 percent tariff on Japanese cars and manufactured items. This will allow greater market access for Japanese goods, and will make them cheaper for Australian consumers.
“The relationship between Australia and Japan is about much more than economics and trade and growing wealthy together. It’s about respect, it’s about values. I hope that thanks to this agreement that has been finalised today, that Australia can be pivotal to ensuring that in the years and decades to come, the people of Japan have energy security, resource security and food security,” he said.
Japan and Australia also decided on a joint research venture in regards to their defence programs. The research will be focused on submarines and hydrodynamics, including the analysis of propulsion and water resistances around submarine hulls. Further talks will be held in June, with the idea that further joint ventures could be determined. Eventually, the two countries would like to work together to upgrade interoperability of their respective defence organisations and expand practical military cooperation.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.