Global Talent Update – April 2024

April 2024 Global Talent Update
This month’s Global Talent Update reports on plans to revamp relations between Switzerland and the European Union; a proposal to improve workplace diversity in Malaysia; Nigeria’s exportation of locally produced commodities to South Africa, Rwanda, Cameroon and Kenya; and the overturn of new labor rules proposed by Argentina’s president.


Talks to revamp relations between Switzerland and the European Union are set to start soon, as reported by Bloomberg. Switzerland walked away from a potential accord two years ago, shaking crucial political and economic ties and frustrating the bloc. The talks are now set to restart with the aim of repackaging what’s currently a vast array of bilateral agreements — covering everything from access to the EU’s market to freedom of movement and financial regulation — into a more streamlined deal.

Issues under discussion in the renewed negotiations include “five existing single-market treaties” as well as two new ones on electricity and food safety, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told a press conference in Bern. Cooperation agreements on research funding and the student mobility program Erasmus Plus are also on the table.

Among other provisions are that the 1972 free trade agreement between Switzerland and the EU is not part of the negotiations; Switzerland will keep its current high level of wages and working conditions; while willing to open up its electricity market, Switzerland will push for the right of Swiss consumers to keep regulated prices; and a controlled opening of Switzerland to international rail transport must not impair the domestic quality of public transport.

Any treaty that would emerge from successful negotiations might have to be approved by Swiss citizens in a referendum.

Read more at Switzerland-EU Relations Talks Will Likely Start in March, Government Says | Bloomberg.


Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, chairman of Bursa Malaysia, the national stock exchange in Malaysia, has proposed that all businesses, especially publicly listed companies, report their workforce diversity. He said the proposal would entail companies disclosing gender, ethnicity and generation as part of their sustainability reporting, instead of the act being voluntary. This, he said, would help empower Bumiputera — indigenous Malaysians — to be more competitive while increasing income capacity and the percentage of skilled labour.

The mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) disclosure would also encourage Malaysian companies to hire more Bumiputera, as a diverse workforce could attract more investment. If Malaysian firms fail to demonstrate sustainability and inclusivity, Abdul Wahid believes, it will affect foreign investor interest in local companies. It would not be an obligation for private companies to hire Bumiputera; they would only disclose DEI reports because it will indirectly raise awareness in their workforce ecosystem.

Abdul Wahid further said the government should consider introducing an equitable opportunity policy to ensure all citizens, especially Bumiputera, are given equal opportunities for employment and business. The proposal is necessary, he believes, because Bumiputera wealth creation and corporate ownership are still lower compared to non-Bumiputera. “This policy allows equality between races to be achieved and it is not marginalising any group,” he said. “This is to allow those who feel oppressed or do not receive equal business and job opportunities to complain to the authorities so that action can be taken against the involved companies.”

Read more at Bursa chairman: ‘Make workforce diversity part of sustainability reporting’ | New Straits Times.


After missing crucial deadlines for joining other nations in trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Nigeria is to begin the formal export of locally produced commodities to South Africa, Rwanda, Cameroon and Kenya under the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI), the Nigerian National Action Committee (NAC) of AfCFTA recently announced.

Nigeria missed trading dates in October 2022, August 2023 and October 2023, passing over the opportunity to join countries like Rwanda, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania and Tunisia, which have already commenced trading under the GTI. Although some businesses in Nigeria currently export products to these countries, they make such exports informally, but now Nigerian companies would start the official and formal export of commodities to African nations under the AfCFTA treaty.

Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Olusegun Awolowo said, “We are now at the stage of implementation. Therefore, trading hasn’t really commenced under AfCFTA. It is not an overnight thing, you have to go through all the protocols, sign them and agree.It is an initiative that enables countries to choose. Let’s take the companies and let them actually export from the various ports. Then we test the capacities of the ports, test the capacities of the shipments and the capacities of cargoes. Then the private sector can fully buy into it. So that’s what is going to happen.”

Read more at AfCFTA: Nigeria sets another date to commence official export to South Africa, Cameroon, others in April | Ripples Nigeria.


An Argentine court has overturned labor rules proposed by President Javier Milei that would make it easier to fire workers, in a new blow to the leader’s efforts to shake up regulations that he says have hampered the country’s struggling economy. The appeals court already temporarily suspended the incoming president’s new regulations in early January after a legal challenge brought by the main union group, the General Labor Confederation.

Now the three-judge panel has ruled that the regulations were unconstitutional, saying that Milei’s government went beyond its authority to decree them and that they first need to be approved by Congress. This latest ruling can be appealed before the Supreme Court, but Milei’s administration did not immediately say whether it would do so.

Milei in December announced a decree that would make several changes to labor rules, like increasing job probation from three to eight months, reducing severance compensation and allowing the dismissal of workers who take part in blockades during protests.

Argentina’s president, who describes himself as a libertarian and anarcho-capitalist, has promised to drastically reduce state spending to shore up a government budget deficit that he says is fueling inflation, which finished 2023 at 211%.

Read more at Argentinian court overturns Milei’s labor rules, in a blow to his reform plans | The Associated Press.