Nepal Becoming Hotbed of Animal Trafficking

Nepal is fast becoming an unlikely epicenter for the trafficking of rare and endangered animals, The New York Times reports. One recent trafficking attempt led a Nepali court to convict five men of smuggling baby chimpanzees from Nigeria, which can be sold on the black market to zoos, exotic-pet owners and even brothels. Nepal has arrested hundreds of traffickers in recent years who appear to be taking advantage of its lax custom rules and permeable borders with China and India. The less-than-year-old chimps are being held at Nepal’s Central Zoo while the court determines whether to return them to their home country, Nigeria.

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Mexico Becomes First Country to Approve New NAFTA Deal

Mexico recently became the first nation to ratify the new North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA), with its Senate approving the proposed rules in a landslide 114 to 4 vote, The Washington Post reports. Mexico remains a strong advocate of the program, which has been a huge boon to its economy, allowing 80 percent of its exports to flow into the U.S. Canada is also on board with the new NAFTA proposal, but is waiting to see how the agreement shakes out with leaders in the U.S. as ratification is pending on an agreement between the Trump administration and Congress. Mexico is currently the number one trade partner of the U.S.

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Philippine President Duterte Threatens War Over Trash

Canada has become the latest recipient of ire from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who told our northern neighbors on Tuesday that he will declare war on the country if they do not cart off tons of trash delivered to Manila between 2013 and 2014, NPR reports. The 100 shipping containers in question were sent to the Philippines as part of an agreement between the countries in which Canada would donate money to education initiatives if the Philippines accepted recyclable waste. The containers in dispute were initially classified as “recyclable trash,” however, once inspected by customs officials they found “household trash” consisting of bottles, bags and used diapers. Waste exchange between industrialized and developing nations has become a contentious issue, with Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand also experiencing their own trash-related tribulations. Canada says it has been working to resolve the trash dispute and is ensuring the waste "is processed in an environmentally responsible way."

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Trump Administration Takes Aim at Iranian Oil Production

The Trump Administration’s plan to curb Iran’s crude oil exports may cost consumers at the pump this summer, CNBC reports. On Monday the White House proffered the policy that would end all sanctions waivers for those buying Iran’s oil and heavily rely on OPEC to increase production and keep gas prices stable. The move comes at a time that relations with Iran are particularly tenuous and amidst talks with the country regarding an exchange for U.S. prisoners being held on questionable charges.

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International Trade Supports 1 in 5 Tennessee Jobs

International trade in Tennessee is serious business, supporting one out of every five jobs in the state, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. A just-released study by Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC — a consulting firm that examines the economic impact of global enterprise — shows that international commerce provides Tennesseans with 806,100 jobs, with export of more than $20 billion in goods and services generating $3 billion in revenue for the state. NAFTA is credited as a large contributor to these numbers. Despite concerns that the policy would send American jobs to other countries and have a negative financial impact, the report shows that there has been an increase in goods sold to participating countries Mexico and Canada. Exports from Tennessee to NAFTA members climbed 470% since the plan’s inception and trade-related job growth outpaced the overall job market five times over.

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City in China Intends to Replicate the Magic of Music City

The city of Chengdu, China, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a music-fueled entertainment district in hopes to replicate the magic of Music City, reports The Tennessean. Music Row executives have been hosted on trips where Chengdu officials have unveiled their vision for their own music corridor called the Chengdu Musical Fun District, which includes several new music venues, recording studios, office space to host publishing companies and instrument makers. They were also given presentations of the incentive and rent-reduction programs that the district will offer an array of music businesses that set up shop there.

The investment will include incentives for music businesses to set up shop in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province. It is also part of a broader effort in China to invest in copyright and open the nation up to creative commerce that has been undermined by rampant piracy. The two cities have discussed joining through the international Sister Cities program as well.

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