Nihat Ergün, Turkish Minister of Technology, believes that trade volume between Turkey and Mexico should rise to as much as $5 billion following a 17 December 2013 agreement that will become the foundation for free trade negotiations.

Balkans business news reports that the Strategic Cooperation and Partnership Framework for the 21st Century had been signed by Turkish President Abdullah Gül and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto in Ankara on 17 December.

“Mexico and Turkey drew the attention of the world with their economic performance in the last years. However, economic relations of these two countries aren’t enough,” Ergün said.

Both countries recognize vast economic potential with each other and believe that the agreement will offer many opportunities. “Turkey is a door opening to Europe and Asia, while Mexico is a door opening to America and the Caribbean,” states Mexican President Nieto.

Hurriyet Daily News adds that the two countries have signed agreements in the fields of protecting mutual investments, incentives, preventing double taxation, aviation to establish direct connections with Turkish Airlines and Mexican companies, science, technology, tourism, security and fighting against organized crime.

Quebec’s cheese producers won’t stand alone; Premier Pauline Marois has stated that the Canada-Europe free trade agreement (FTA) won’t get her endorsement without a guarantee from Ottawa that the Quebec cheese industry will be compensated.

[caption id="attachment_5535" align="alignright" width="300"]AP Photo/Yves Logghe AP Photo/Yves Logghe[/caption]

According to the Brampton Guardian, the small cheese producers in Quebec fear they could lose close to $450 million a year if in competition with the European cheese makers. The Canadian federal government has ensured cheese producers that they’ll receive some compensation. However, cheese producers in Quebec are left without any word on when, or if, they’ll receive that compensation.

Marois believes that her stance on the FTA will not endanger the deal; however, her accord will not be presented without a final word on the producers’ compensation.

Despite the issue, which Marois stated has “caused some problems,” she fully supports the Canada-Europe FTA. "Our goal is to increase our exports to Europe by 10 per cent in five years," said Marois. "There is no doubt in my mind that this new agreement will help achieve this goal."

For the full story, click here.

Oh, Christmas Tree! Christmas-Around-the-World

Big, small, short or tall – at the center of most Christmas celebrations is a brightly lit, beautifully decorated tree! Christmas trees weren’t always so decorated; the first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510. The first printed mention of a Christmas tree (or “Tannenbaum”) at all appeared in Germany in 1531. The Christmas tree first got its electrical glow in 1882 when American inventor Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for the holiday trees. The strings of lights were first mass-produced in 1890.

Are they real or fake?

In the US, 98 percent of Christmas trees are grown on farms, while only 2 percent are cut from the wild. In Europe, nearly 60 million Christmas trees are grown each year! Did you know that many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten? Apparently, the needles are a good source of Vitamin C, but we’ll leave the taste testing to the experts!

Artificial trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century, originally crafted using goose feathers, dyed green and attached to wire branches. Artificial trees caught on in the US later, and, in 1930, US-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree using brush bristles. It used the same machinery that was used to manufacture toilet brushes! Today, 80 percent of artificial trees, worldwide, are manufactured in China.

I think we’ll need a bigger tree…

France holds the record for the world’s largest Christmas present. In 1886, they gifted the US with the Statue of Liberty weighing in at 225 tons and standing at a whopping 46.5 meters high!

The other favorite holiday plant

The Poinsettia flower, native to Mexico, was brought to America in 1828 where its coloring caused it to become a holiday sensation.  Today the plant is known in Mexico and Guatemala as "La Flor de la Nochebuena" (Flower of the Holy Night, or Christmas Eve). Aside from the Christmas tree, Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant. Most Poinsettias are sold within a six-week period leading up to that holiday, representing some $60 million worth. The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 50 percent of the world-wide sales of Poinsettias.

You can find these facts and more at the Mirror, University of Illinois pages on Christmas trees and Poinsettias, and Youngstapreneur.

And if you’re in the mood for a carol or two, be sure to read our Integration Point Carols: Twas the Night Before Christmas, Twelve Days of Global Trade Compliance, and the classic, Deck the Halls – A Global Trade Management Spin on the old classic!

Wherever you may be in the world celebrating Christmas – Integration Point wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!