The EU intends utterly to eclipse Nato, backed by the two legally binding 2009 Defence Procurement Directives, which enhance the power of the European Defence Agency (EDA). This is becoming an embryo EU defence ministry. EDA’s statute enables decisions to be taken by majority voting, and where any single state can threaten a veto, a subset of member states can act unilaterally as a bloc in the name of the whole of the EU (so called “structure cooperation”). However, EU Defence is not so much about defence, as protectionism of Continental defence industrial interests, whose technology rather lags behind their US counterparts.
The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) will have a huge impact on Europe if Turkmenistan and Iraq also become suppliers, energy expert and vice director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies Paolo Magri told AA. When asked whether the recent deal between Iranians and the UN Security Council’s permanent members and Germany (P5+1 countries) will lead to Iran also becoming a TANAP supplier, Magri expressed it is too early to make assessments on the matter.“Iranian oil was extremely relevant to Europe. Sanctions are preventing us from importing. If Iran comes to back to the market, it will be a big support to these corridors,” he said.
Miriam Etter, a volunteer who runs the food bank, admits that many locals in the area are shocked to hear that some residents are in need of emergency food handouts. But it’s an evident and growing need for some people across the U.K. Based on unofficial data there are up to 600 food banks in the country, more than half of which are operated and run with the assistance of the charity the Trussell Trust, including the one at Westminster Chapel.The Trussell Trust says that there has been a 170% rise in the numbers turning to food banks for emergency provision in the last year.
The Chinese, investing heavily in Africa to secure its oil and other raw materials for their expanding economy, are spearheading a new era of railroad building to unlock the continent’s interior. This is an echo of the long-gone colonial empires when a century ago British and French engineers first opened up Africa to plunder its riches. The railroad frenzy is being accompanied by a massive push to build several major ports along the coast of East Africa to accelerate exports across the Indian Ocean, mostly to China, India and Japan, as well as lay down a network of oil and gas pipelines to these ports.
As the political crisis in Ukraine continues, its severely depleted central bank reserves are putting it at serious risk of a balance-of-payments crunch, its metrics looking worse than almost every big emerging economy. With demonstrators blockading government buildings in protest at President Viktor Yanukovich’s rejection of closer ties with the European Union, the creaking economy is coming under growing pressure. Based on a comparison of monthly import needs and maturing short-term debt, Ukraine’s reserves compare poorly with most of its peers, according to data released by Bank of America Merrill Lynch
An uncomfortable prospect for global exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will unfold in India this week — buyers from countries that import 70 percent of the world’s LNG will meet to discuss how to get a better deal. …The meetings may herald the early stages of an Asian buyers’ club for natural gas in supercooled form transported on ships. Should such a grouping gain traction, a historical precedent would be the formation of the International Energy Agency, which was set up by western economies to counter OPEC after the first oil shock in the 1970s.
A US panel raised the specter of sanctions against China, warning Congress that Beijing has not contained its rampant spying on American interests, a major national security concern. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in its annual report also flagged China’s massive increase in military spending as a worry, citing naval expansion as a threat to America’s role in Asia, AFP reports. The report accused China of “directing and executing a large-scale cyber espionage campaign,” penetrating the US government and private industry.
Japanese mobsters driving flash cars purchased with bank loans. Executives bowing in apology for loaning millions to those underworld figures. And high-level officials vowing to squash the crime syndicates, known as yakuza. Japan Inc. is engulfed in its worst mob scandal in years and it’s shining a rare light on the links between big business and shadowy organised crime groups usually known for low-brow ventures like extortion and loan sharking. The yakuza occupy a grey area in Japan’s usually law-abiding society.
With triple tax exemption (federal, state, and local), combined with higher-than-average yields, Puerto Rican bonds became so popular in recent years that it was able to rack up $70 billion of debt now held by institutional investors and mutual funds alike. The debt-to-GDP ratio is now nearly 70% and growing, not including pension obligations, which raises the ratio to over 90%. With a per capita debt load of $19,000 and growing, Puerto Ricans shoulder almost 4 times the burden of U.S. leader Massachusetts which carries a deficit of $5,077 per citizen.
India is now the world’s third-largest grain producer after China and the United States. The adoption of higher-yielding crop varieties and the spread of irrigation have led to this remarkable tripling of output since the early 1960s. Unfortunately, a growing share of the water that irrigates three-fifths of India’s grain harvest is coming from wells that are starting to go dry. This sets the stage for a major disruption in food supplies for India’s growing population. In recent years about 27 million wells have been drilled, chasing water tables downward in every Indian state.
The proposed corridor will cover 1.65 million square kilometres, encompassing an estimated 440 million people in China’s Yunnan Province, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bihar in Northern India through the combination of road, rail, water and air linkages in the region. This interconnectedness would facilitate the cross-border flow of people and goods, minimise overland trade obstacles, ensure greater market access and increase multilateral trade. Leaders hope the economic corridor will bring back to the days of the ancient Silk Road and its south-western trade route.
Is Thailand poised to become the Germany of Asia — a rich, export-driven manufacturing powerhouse and regional logistics hub? The prime factors underpinning Germany’s economic success are its strong manufacturing base (particularly automotive), industrious workforce and fortunate geography enabled by first-rate infrastructure. Thailand already has most of these characteristics, albeit at a different stage of development. The Thai government is now moving in a very deliberate, some might say strategic, way to fill in a missing piece of the equation — infrastructure.
Ukraine had dodged a “death spiral” by protecting its eastern trade flows. Putin has been tightening the screws for months, blocking shipments of goods and targeting heavy industry in the eastern region that depends on the Russian market. A freeze on imports of railway carriages has hit 80 per cent of Ukraine’s carriage output. Another victim is Roshen chocolate, owned by Petro Poroshenko, a champion of the EU cause in Ukraine’s parliament. Roshen sales in Russia have been banned for “toxic impurities”. The guerrilla warfare tactics have pushed Ukraine to the brink of financial collapse.
Thousands of opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took to the streets on Saturday to express outrage over the country’s deepening economic crisis, seeking to rebuild momentum sapped after a string of electoral defeats.
The nationwide day of protests was the first called by opposition leader Henrique Capriles since he lost by a thin margin to Maduro in April’s snap election following the death of Hugo Chavez and came just two weeks before key mayoral elections.
The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals. China, which overtook the United States as the world’s top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary. “China is the only country in the world that is a major crude producer, consumer and a big importer.
Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts. And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”
The MOU ultimately aims at securing an Eurasian railway logistics system by connecting Moscow, Bladivostok, Rajin, and Busan. According to the MOU, Busan port will be connected to Rajin via sea route and then connected to Moscow in railway. However, Seoul and Moscow agreed to start the Rajin-Khasan railway project at first, considering the variable of North Korea. Because of the “5-24 Measures,” which prohibit direct investments in the North, Seoul is seeking a way of indirect investment by driving South Korean private sector acquisition of the stakes.
Russia is launching the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered icebreakers. The icebreaker of the LK-60Ya model, named Arktika as a tribute to the prominent Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker of the same name, is due to begin sea trials in 2017. The ship will prove effective for the deep-water areas of the Northern Sea Route and the shallow waters of Russia’s Arctic shelf. Russia is due to build three such icebreakers in the next decade. Russia has been actively using the Northern Sea Route for almost 80 years now, with ice-breakers ensuring naval and civilian ship traffic across thick ice along the route.
Goldman Sachs has announced that Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank Group, will serve as chairman of Goldman Sachs’ international advisors. In this role, Zoellick will advise the firm on global strategic issues and oversee the work of our 16 international advisors. He will be based in Washington, DC. ‘Bob Zoellick has extraordinary knowledge of the global economy and has devoted himself to helping emerging economies realize more of their potential’, said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
Iran will lead a club of the world’s biggest natural gas exporters as its own shipments abroad are hampered by U.S. and European Union sanctions that force the country to burn off billions of dollars worth of the fuel. Mohammad Hossein Adeli, the country’s former deputy foreign minister, was elected secretary-general of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, whose 13 member countries hold 60 percent of the world’s reserves, the group said in a statement. Adeli, vowed to turn the Persian nation into a “major player among the gas exporting countries,” he told reporters after a group meeting in Tehran.
The recent endorsement by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a multibillion dollar construction corridor encompassing Bangladesh, China, India and Burma—if it materializes—could redraw the economic and geopolitical map of Asia. Termed “an international gateway to South Asia,” the BMIC corridor, as it is known, was the highlight of Li’s recent visit to India. The Chinese premier’s office commented that the link “will surely release enormous growth energy and provide new vitality for the Asian economic integration and global growth.”
In a world where budgets are tight, and bottom lines daunting, it makes sense that governments around the world have to do more with less, or they just have to do less. Surprisingly, one part of the state apparatus that most countries seem happy to outsource is one of its most fundamental—security. At home, cash-strapped American cities, and even communities, are turning to private forces to protect public order. And a report out of the UN on Monday shows that the private security industry is experiencing a global economic boom that many of its customers would love.
France receives almost 80% of its energy from nuclear power, more than any other country in the world. The state-owned energy giant, Areva, which mines for uranium and builds and operates nuclear plants, gets a third of its uranium (French) from two mines in Niger, where it is the second largest employer after the state. Later this year, Areva is expected to begin extracting uranium from a site called Imouraren, which is thought to contain the second largest uranium deposit in the world.
Puerto Rico’s is an overdue collision with reality. The territory’s finances have long been stretched. San Juan has run up debts of about $70bn, not far short of its $100bn gross domestic product. Many US states have been wrestling with their finances in recent years, and the island’s problems – which combine a struggling economy, bloated state spending and a terrifying entitlement overhang – do not look unfamiliar. In San Juan’s case, however, they are writ extremely large.
Brazil and China can’t seem to agree on what either country is getting out of their economic ties. Take this most recent example: China Construction Bank, a huge state-owned lender, just sunk around $716 million into a 72% stake in Brazil’s Banco Industrial e Comercial, a nearly 19% premium (paywall) on BicBanco’s current share price. Some might argue that the move positions CCB to profit from Chinese investment in Brazil. But to hear the head of another Chinese bank tell it, that might be a naive move.
The U-S.-led shale boom will have a lasting impact on global energy prices and push crude oil prices down to $80 a barrel, according to an analysis by Germany’s BND intelligence agency obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The BND said the U.S. shale boom would have a greater impact on global markets than it predicted in a previous analysis earlier this year. The effects from the unconventional production of oil and natural gas in the United States will be pronounced over the next 10 to 20 years,” the report said.
From his office deep inside the Pentagon, Yoda has outlasted the Cold War, countless military conflicts and 10 presidential elections. But can he survive the sequester? Yoda is the reverential nickname for Andrew Marshall, a legendary if mysterious figure in national security circles. A bald, enigmatic 92-year-old strategic guru, he resembles the Jedi master of “Star Wars” fame in more ways than one. Another defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Hagel thinks that the Office of Net Assessment should be reorganized and that it “can be strengthened potentially by realigning it so that it remains close to him and his senior team.”
Iceland wants to turn itself into a hub for business in the Arctic and strike more trade accords on its own after scrapping talks to join the European Union, its foreign minister said. “The focus of Iceland’s foreign policy is on the Arctic,” Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said in an Oct. 25 interview in Reykjavik. The island will work for deeper cooperation within the Arctic Council and seek to provide a base in the region to help support trade with China, Singapore and South Korea, among others, he said.
The tax inspectors swept into this picturesque village in Crete during the middle of a saint’s day celebration recently, moving from restaurant to restaurant demanding receipts and financial records. Soon, customers annoyed by the holiday disruption confronted them. Pushing, shoving and angry words followed, and eventually the frightened inspectors were forced to flee.”People are so angry and so poor,” said Nikolis Geniatakis, who has run his restaurant here on the main square for the last 34 years and who watched the confrontation from across the street.
Bangladesh poor selling organs to pay back loans microcredit loans that were meant to lift them out of poverty
Kalai, like many other villages in Bangladesh, appears a rural idyll at first sight. But several villagers here have resorted to selling organs to pay back microcredit loans that were meant to lift them out of poverty. Journalist Sophie Cousins reports on an alarming consequence of the microfinance revolution.They, like millions of other rural Bangladeshis, grow up facing a life of hardship. In an attempt to alleviate poverty, countless numbers take on debt with microcredit lenders, only to find themselves in a difficult situation when they are unable to repay the loan.
French nuclear energy giant Areva signed a deal with Mongolia’s state-owned Mon-Atom on Saturday to develop two uranium mines in the Gobi desert, officials said. Areva said in a statement that the agreement would create a company that would be 66 percent owned by Areva and 34 owned by Mon-Atom, and that Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation would take an equity interest. Further details of the deal, which was signed during a visit to Mongolia by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, were not immediately announced.
Algeria plays a critical role in the international oil and gas market. It is the third largest natural gas producer in the Arab world after Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the leading gas exporter in Africa and an energy supplier to France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, US and China. The EIA estimates Algerian proven crude oil reserves at 12.2 billion barrels but its real geological prize is its 160 trillion cubic feet reserves of natural gas. Opec economists in the Vienna secretariat estimate that Algeria could well double its oil and gas production in the next decade.
China’s global hunt for crucial energy supplies is taking it into America’s backyard, with two Chinese state firms winning production rights to a multi-billion-barrel deepwater oilfield off Brazil. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) each took a 10 per cent stake in Brazil’s “Libra” field, alongside three other companies, at an auction on Monday. Beijing is seeking oil, natural gas and other raw materials to keep the world’s second largest economy moving. “Everyone is scrambling for resources worldwide,”
The Chinese currency may have just moved a step further in that direction with the October 10 signature between the European Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China (the country’s central bank) for the establishment of a “currency swap” mechanism. The terms of the deal are a bit technical but the goal is simple: facilitating commercial exchanges between the Eurozone and China by giving European banks access to 350 billion yuan (42.4 bllion euros) or “RMD” and giving Chinese banks access to 45 billion euros.
The Angolan government has bought arms from Russia in a $1 billion deal, Portuguese news agency Lusa said. With the deal Angola becomes the principal purchaser of Russian arms on the continent, outstripping Uganda. “Angola has inked with the state-owned Rosoboronexport monopoly a $1billion agreement which includes the supply of eight Sukhoi 30 hunt planes, transport Mi-17 helicopters, ordinance, light weapons and ammunition. Angola, which is recovering from decades of civil war, maintains close ties with Cold War ally Russia.
The volume of shares traded outside of public exchanges is growing fast in Europe. Trades on so-called “dark pools” jumped 45% over the past six months, according to a new report (pdf) from Fidessa, a technology firm. These off-exchange venues processed €207 billion ($283 billion) in the six months to September, accounting for around 4% of total trading, Fidessa reckons. Others put the market share of dark-pool trading at 7% or 10% across Europe, with the highest percentages in major trading hubs like London.
Brazil is pushing ahead with a planned $1 billion purchase of anti-aircraft missile batteries from Russia in a deal that will cement a strategic defence partnership between the two BRICS nations, the Brazilian Defence Ministry said. Brazilian officials said they expect to sign a contract by the middle of 2014 for short- to medium-range surface-to-air Pantsir S1 missile batteries and Igla-S shoulder-held missiles. Amorim said defence cooperation between the two members of the BRICS group of leading emerging nations, which also includes China, India and South Africa, could “counterbalance” other options that Brazil wants to keep open – a reference to traditional arms suppliers such as the United States.
The countries in the ASEAN aim to achieve full economic integration by 2015. Given how poorly integration has turned out for the EU, that might not seem like such a good idea. But, if nothing else, at least the ASEAN can learn from the EU’s mistakes. Economic integration would allow free flow of goods, services, and labor. Under the plan, tariffs would become almost non-existent. This would help the ASEAN corner more foreign direct investments, which at the moment go mostly to China and India. However, there are a series of economic, religious, and political problems that threaten to derail the ASEAN’s attempts at economic integration.
Britain’s cash-strapped military launched a search for buyers for its sole remaining aircraft carrier, saying it would entertain bids from companies, charities and trusts. The ageing, battle-worn HMS Illustrious – 210 metres long and 22,000 tonnes – is one of the Royal Navy’s best-known symbols. It has ferried equipment during the Gulf War and supported evacuations of British nationals from Sierra Leone over the past 32 years. The Royal Navy’s treatment of Illustrious contrasts with that of the ship’s sister carriers, the HMS Ark Royal and HMS Invincible, which were auctioned off in 2011 and later sold for scrap.
The Pentagon is considering reorganizing its internal think tank, an organization credited with helping the US win the Cold War, according to defense sources. The office has been around since 1973, and is the ultimate rarity in Washington, where senior officials come and go like the seasons. Andrew Marshall, who is over 90 years old, was its boss on Day 1 and continues to be its boss. But now as the Pentagon looks to build itself for the decade ahead, a period with fewer spending cash, the revered office could be reorganized or, as some have suggested, eliminated.
Iran is looking to join the Brics nations in order to subvert US-imposed sanctions which have been crippling the country’s oil-based economy.
Iran, which continues to enjoy a relatively cosy relationship with the Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – despite a severe economic clampdown, has been scouting for opportunities across the world in order to boost its oil resources, the nerve-centre of the country’s economy. “Iran supports the Brics group and is prepared for membership and presence in Brics’s fund,”
The European Union took another step to shore up its battered banking sector after Britain agreed to new rules placing many of the largest lenders in the euro area under the supervision of the European Central Bank. The British decision, which was announced at a monthly meeting of the bloc’s finance ministers here, clears the way for the E.C.B. which is expected to have direct oversight of about 130 of the largest financial institutions in countries using the single currency by the end of 2014.
As the U.S. struggles to avert a debt default, Asia’s policymakers have trillions of reasons to believe they may be shielded from the latest financial storm brewing across the Pacific. From South Korea to Pakistan, Asia’s central banks are estimated to have amassed some $5.7 trillion in foreign exchange reserves excluding safe-haven Japan, much of it during the last five years of rapid money printing by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Data this week showed those reserves continued to pile up, with countries having added an estimated $85.2 billion in the July-September quarter, according to data for 12 Asian countries.
After finding favour with energy resource-rich countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, India’s proposal for a common power market in South Asia is now gaining traction with power-deficit countries of the region like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. While Indian power companies have a strong footprint in the hydropower sectors of Bhutan and Nepal, estimated to have generation potential of 30,000 mw 40,000 mw respectively, they have now found toeholds in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Pakistan, too, has solicited Indian investment in its power sector.
Middle East oil and gas production growth prospects have been dimmed by a slump in exploration license awards, drilling activity and average reserves found per well over the last few years, according to analysts Wood Mackenzie.
There was a sharp rise in licensing for international oil companies in the Middle East in the last decade – ranging from Iraq oil exploration to Qatari LNG projects – with drilling activity and the reserves found per well surging in the years that followed as a result.
Kenya has moved a step closer to becoming an oil exporter after a new discovery in the north of the country. British company Tullow Oil announced in late September that drilling work had revealed the presence of oil in the Auwerwer and Upper Lokone sandstone reservoirs. The company will now carry out further tests. For the company, which began drilling in Kenya last year, this is the fourth consecutive discovery of oil there. Earlier this year, the firm decided there was enough oil for commercial exploitation of reserves in the country’s Turkana area.
The news came three days ahead of the German federal elections on September 22 and went nearly unnoticed: Eon, Germany’s biggest energy group, signed a gas deal with Azerbaijan. The company will import 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas over the next 25 years from the Shah Deniz field, Azerbaijan’s biggest natural gas field in the Caspian Sea. The natural gas will be imported starting in 2019 through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The construction of TAP was decided in June of this year.
These days, when we talk about emerging market growth in wealth management the conversation tends to focus on Asia, or possibly the Middle East and Latin America. Africa, meanwhile, remains largely forgotten. But there is mounting evidence that global banks and asset managers are turning their attention towards Africa in a drive to harness investment opportunities, as well as the chance to connect with the region’s emerging wealthy. Bank of China (BoC) last month announced a strategic business partnership with South Africa’s fourth biggest lender, Nedbank, to increase business between China and Africa.
China proposes to build a Maritime Silk Road with Southeast Asia countries where it is locked in a vexed dispute over the South China Sea to boost its foreign trade, state media here reported today. The Maritime Silk Road (MSR) formed the basis the plans to enhance trade between China and ASEAN countries during the current visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Indonesia and Malaysia where he stated the MSR would help turn the “Golden Decade” between China and the region into “Diamond Decade”.
If you thought the US’s fiscal cliff—that combination of rising taxes and slashed fiscal spending that scared investors and shook the economy in December 2012—was bad, have a gander at what Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, faces. He entered the job with a mandate to grow the economy and escape deflation. But before Abe took over, the government passed a tax hike on consumption to show that the Japanese government is serious about shrinking its ¥1 quadrillion ($10.3 trillion) in public debt.
With the U.S. economy lagging, however, and as the American government continues to pile up debt, many parties are looking for alternatives to the dollar. OPEC, for example, plans to begin pricing oil using a basket of currencies and may start doing so as soon as 2018. Such moves suggest that the dollar may slowly be losing its position as the premier global reserve currency. China has been working diligently to position the renminbi as a global alternative to the dollar. Already, China has set up direct currency swapping agreements with several countries, including Brazil, the US, and Japan.
“The free-trade zone [will] play an important role in China’s next round of reforms and opening up, the success of which will be crucial to invigorating the economy and unleashing its growth potential,” said Jian Chang, China economist at Barclays. Major financial reforms are also expected to be carried out, including easing capital controls for firms in the zone by allowing full yuan convertibility and removing restrictions on bank interest rates.
In October, a tour group of 20 of China’s top tycoons will be paying a different kind of luxury visit to America. The tour is organized by Gopher Asset, an asset management firm, and the aim is for these Chinese super-rich to investigate how Single Family Offices (SFOs) operate in the United States. A SFO is a private company that manages investments and trusts for very wealthy individuals or families. According to the latest Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report 2013, China has more than 10,000 individuals whose net worth is over $30 million.
Russian Arctic Coast Sees More Maritime Traffic: How The Kremlin Is Supporting Cargo Vessels Using Northern Sea Route
“Last year, cargo shipments via the NSR [Northern Sea Route] rose 53 percent year on year to over 1.26 million metric tons. In 2013, this figure has already amounted to 1.5 million metric tons,” Putin said.The Russian government has allocated $1.48 billion to modernize the port of Sabetta so it can handle the increase in maritime traffic and building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility there. The LNG export facility will allow tankers to move the energy resource to Asian markets where demand is extremely high.
Bad times are coming for India, says Jim Rogers. So where does the high-profile investor suggest for the next emerging-markets gold rush? “You should get on the next plane you can and head to Myanmar or North Korea — maybe Angola,” Rogers told BBC Radio 4 reporter Simon Jacks. In those Asian countries in particular, “there are extraordinary things happening — positive things happening,” he says. All those countries could do with a boost. Myanmar — the former Burma — is ranked among the 10 worst economies in the world (Angola’s on that list too), while North Korea’s unstable currency is only one of the factors making it tricky to invest in the “Hermit Kingdom”.
China has inked a deal to farm three million hectares (about 11, 583 square miles) of Ukrainian land over the span of half a century—which means the eastern European country will give up about 5% of its total land, or 9% of its arable farmland to feed China’s burgeoning population. Under the deal between China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or XPCC, and KSG Agro, an Ukrainian agricultural company, crops and pigs raised in the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk will be sold at preferential rates to two Chinese state-owned grain firms.
The Swiss-based ‘bank of central banks’ says a hunt for yield is luring investors en masse into high-risk instruments, “a phenomenon reminiscent of exuberance prior to the global financial crisis”. This is happening just as the US Federal Reserve prepares to wind down stimulus and starts to drain dollar liquidity from global markets, an inflexion point that is fraught with danger and could go badly wrong. “This looks like to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse,” said William White, the Bank for International Settlement’s former chief economist.
In early September China became a full shareholder in Kashagan, buying a share of CanocoPhilips. Partially, this is a very serious factor, because initially the mega-project was thought to be the resource base for the pipeline of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and the main oil flows would go to the West. China’s participation in the project means that at least 1/10 of its oil will go to the East. The necessary infrastructure exists already – the Chinese have built a pipeline through the whole of Kazakhstan. Parallel to this, they are developing gas infrastructure.
Russia is to reestablish its military presence in the resource-rich Arctic by re-opening a Soviet-era base to patrol the increasingly navigable Northern Sea Route, President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
Putin said 10 naval ships had arrived at the New Siberian Islands in the Arctic Ocean, as Russia asserts its rights over an area where vast energy resources are becoming more accessible as the sea ice retreats.
Russia’s military said it planned to sail regular naval patrols along shipping lanes in its territory in the Arctic Ocean that opened to commercial vessels only in the last few years, as Arctic ice began melting at a record pace. The Ministry of Defense announced the move after a flotilla led by the flagship of the Russian Northern Fleet — the Pyotr Velikiy, or Peter the Great — completed a trip across the Arctic Ocean last week to great fanfare at home, where the news media presented the voyage as an example of Russia’s proud naval heritage.
The largest developing nations for the first time have the worst market opportunities as optimism for stronger growth shifts to the U.S. and Europe, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll. India fared the poorest, followed by Brazil, Russia and China, a worldwide poll of investors, analysts and traders who are Bloomberg subscribers showed this week. The number of respondents who see the European Union as one of the two best opportunities rose to 34 percent, its best showing in the poll dating to 2009, with the U.S. at 51 percent.
Huge Natural Gas Fields In The Eastern Mediterranean are Set To Transform Cyprus Into European Energy Hub
Cyprus plans to become a regional hub in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea for the export of liquefied natural gas as the small island and its neighbors sit on huge offshore reserves, Cypriot officials say.
The nation’s aspirations are driven by recent discoveries in the Levant Basin, a stretch of sea that extends from the coasts of Israel, Lebanon and Syria and is estimated to contain 122 trillion cubic feet of gas.
In a strange parallel to the great nineteenth century’s ‘Scramble for Africa’, the world’s poorest continent is set once again to become the object of fierce Western competition. However, whereas Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kipling waxed lyrical about colonial possessions and the ‘White man’s burden’, today the prize takes the form of lucrative defence contracts and licenses for the local manufacture of hardware. As you might imagine, this is a very different ‘scramble’ altogether.
In the last three years, the G20 group of nations has taken up tough geoeconomic issues bedevilling both developed and developing countries. These include matters such as bringing transparency in global energy and commodities markets. Addressing them is vital as the world faces turmoil in both energy and food markets. The new discoveries of shale oil, turbulence in traditional West Asian energy markets and massive food subsidies being doled out by developing country governments like India have had a disruptive effect globally.
A top US intelligence official has said the inputs collected about terror financing have saved lives and the US doesn’t gather trade secrets of other nations.”"International criminal organisations, proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, illicit arms dealers, or nations that attempt to avoid international sanctions can also be targeted in an effort to aid America’s and our allies’ interests,” he said. It is no secret that the intelligence community collects information about economic and financial matters and terrorist financing, he said.
The Israeli military’s top-secret Unit 8200, the Jewish state’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency, has spawned a generation of high-tech start-ups and more technology millionaires than many business schools, and these days the cyber security sector is booming. Unit 8200 is now the Israeli military’s biggest branch in manpower terms. It has grown swiftly in recent years as cyberwarfare has become one of the major security threats to military organizations and industrialized states whose vital infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattack.
Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy Thursday agreed to create a bilateral committee aimed at delineating the two countries’ maritime zones despite possible objections by “third countries” and pointed to the prospect of a three-way cooperation with Cyprus. Speaking after talks with Venizelos in Cairo, as daily Kathimerini reports, Fahmy stressed that “each country has its own interests and it does not concern us if third countries are bothered by this,” apparently referring to Turkey.
Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh said earlier that imports of gold and crude oil in considerable quantities were exerting a deplorable effect on the trade balance deficit. He indicated that the government was pondering a possible reduction of purchases abroad by increasing purchases of gold inside the country. In particular, it might buy gold from temples, he said. Officials on the cabinet of ministers deny the presence of any plans to buy out temple gold at the moment.
European countries are losing out to China in their quest to source natural gas from the Central Asian states. Moving away from dependence on Russia and Middle East hydrocarbons was a key energy objective of European countries in the 1990s, and the oil and natural gas resources along the Caspian Sea was seen as a vital alternative. Instead, European oil dependence on Russia and the Middle East has grown from 75% in 2000 to 84% by 2010. In addition, EU reliance on gas imports has also risen from 49% to 62% during the period.
For the first time ever, the Chinese yuan is one of the world’s ten most frequently traded currencies, according to a Bank of International Settlements (BIS) survey. The currency ranked ninth on the bank’s top-ten list, jumping eight places from the seventeen spot it held when the survey was last conducted three years ago. BIS attributes the move to the rapid growth of offshore yuan trading, which boosted the currency’s daily turnover by three-and-a-half times since the last survey to $120 billion. “The role of the renminbi in global FX trading surged, in line with increased efforts to internationalize the Chinese currency,” the BIS said.
BRICS Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations on Thursday agreed to set up a $100-billion foreign currency reserve pool to counter the impact of a pull-out by foreign investors when the US Federal Reserve started tapering its quantitative easing programme. The US Federal Open Market Committee meeting, scheduled for September 17-18, is expected to indicate when the Fed might start tapering the stimulus programme. China would contribute $41 billion towards the currency reserve pool. Brazil, India and Russia would contribute $18 billion each to the fund, while South Africa would contribute $5 billion. No timeline was drawn for the fund to become operational.
Qatar’s LNG supply to the world will not be affected if the US launches an attack on Syria, a senior official has said. When asked whether there will be any consequences on the LNG supply routes going out from Qatar in the event of a US attack on Syria, Nakilat’s managing director Mohamed Ghannam said: “I see no reason (for it to get affected in any way).” According to him, Qatargas and RasGas will be able to honour their commitments for the supply of LNG and Nakilat will be able to deliver the cargoes as scheduled .
Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate, besides Iraq. But after two and a half years of war, exploration is at a standstill since international oil companies once operating in Syria have abandoned their operations as the violence escalates and sanctions target Syria’s energy sector.
Insatiable demand for minerals and rare earth elements, coupled with dwindling resources on land have stakeholders across the world looking to a new frontier: the deep sea. Advancing mining technologies are making the prospect of exploiting seafloor minerals—including gold, copper, zinc, cobalt and rare earth elements (REEs)—not only possible but also imminent, with commercial licenses to be granted by the International Seabed Authority from 2016. China has a stronghold on REEs, controlling a staggering 97% of global production.
Chinese oil giant Sinopec will pay $3.1 billion for a one-third stake in the Egyptian oil and gas business of US firm Apache Corp. it said Friday, as China builds up its access to global energy reserves. The deal, which is still subject to regulatory approval, marks Sinopec’s first entry into Egypt’s upstream oil and gas sector, according to a company statement. It is the latest major Chinese resources acquisition abroad and comes after CNOOC, another Chinese state-owned energy giant, bought Canada’s Nexen in a $15 billion deal last year despite political opposition in that country.
The BRICS member-countries have come close to establishing a reserve bank which will operate as a stabilization fund, Chinese Finance Minister Chen Zhu Guangyao said. Should such a fund be set up, it will prove helpful in restricting the dollar’s influence on the developing countries’ economies, experts say. Brazil came up with the initiative to set up a reserve bank in 2012. A relevant agreement was signed in March this year. The joint fund of the BRICS member-states is meant for offering support to the countries united in the BRICS Group in case their economic indices start to deteriorate.
Israeli gas partnerships are in talks to sell natural gas from the Tamar and Leviathan fields to customers in Egypt. In a notice to the TASE on Friday, Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L) confirmed, for the first time, that talks were being held. Energy market sources said today that the oil majors that operate Egypt’s two liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants were participating in the talks with the Israeli partnerships. These plants are currently only operating at partial capacity because of the natural gas shortage in Egypt.
North American energy companies are planning to use drones to monitor their pipelines—in part to check for potential gas or oil leaks, but also to limit “third-party intrusions,” a broad range of activity that includes anything from unwanted vehicles entering restricted areas around pipelines to environmental activists. The Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), a multi-national organization funded by some of the world’s largest pipeline operators like BP, Shell, TransCanada and Enbridge, is leading efforts to research and develop unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology for pipeline monitoring.
China’s Cosco, which runs a big part of the port of Piraeus, has already stated its interest and wants to expand its presence to take advantage of Greece’s geographical advantage as a gateway to Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa. The goal is to make Greece a gateway for the transportation of goods to Central and Eastern Europe. Cosco already has a deal in place with Hewlett Packard and acquiring Trainose is seen as an important potential booster for the development of the Greek company. Russian Railways also appears to have a strong interest, aiming to create a strong “slot” in Greece that would enable it to combine sea and rail transport.
The Indian rupee plummeted to a record low against the dollar on Monday, leading a rout by Brazil’s real and other emerging market currencies seen by investors as the most vulnerable to an exodus of foreign capital. A fierce selloff in many emerging currencies shows no sign of abating as the expected withdrawal of U.S. monetary stimulus prompts investors to shun markets seen as riskier because of funding deficits, slowing economies and inflation. The rupee fits that bill, as do the Indonesian rupiah, the South African rand and the Brazilian real. The rupiah plunged to four-year troughs on Monday while the rand lost another 1 per cent to bring year-to-date losses to almost 17 per cent against the dollar.
Underlying growing instability is the Egyptian state’s increasing inability to contain the devastating social impacts of interconnected energy, water and food crises over the last few decades. Those crises, already afflicting other regional states like Yemen and Syria, will unravel prevailing political orders with devastating consequences—unless urgent structural transformation to address those crises becomes a priority. The upshot is that Egypt’s meltdown represents the culmination of long-standing trends that, without a change of course, can only escalate with permanent repercussions across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and beyond.
Source: Reuters Greece will lift restrictions on home foreclosures to allow banks to recover bad loans, the finance minister said on Saturday, adding fuel to a row that may test the cohesion of its fragile coalition government. Cash-strapped banks are currently barred from auctioning most first homes owned by delinquent borrowers, under a temporary measure introduced […]
Libya’s government will use all means, including military force if necessary, to prevent striking security guards at the country’s main ports from selling its oil independently, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said. In a critical challenge to the government, strikes at Libya’s largest ports have pushed oil production and exports, the lifeblood of the north African country’s economy, to their lowest levels since the civil war that ousted veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Officials said strikes were still crippling the main facilities despite hopes the disputes would be at least partially resolved this week.
Central Asia has shrunken from the world spotlight since the disintegration of the famed Silk Road of antiquity, but remains well endowed in natural resources. Kazakhstan alone sits on the list of the world’s top 10 oil producers, and holds a whopping 15% of the world’s uranium. It also packs a punch when it comes to iron, gold, zinc, and coal. Turkmenistan has the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas (Russia is #1), and Uzbekistan holds as much oil as Libya. And due to the “Stans”‘ prime location, they are conveniently placed where they can serve both the European and burgeoning Asian markets, a prospect that Russia has done its best to block.
The US has verbally assured Germany that a pact to ban mutual spying will include a vow not to snoop for German business secrets, officials said on Wednesday. Washington has been seeking to calm Germany since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed large-scale global internet surveillance. There were allegations that Germany‘s embassy and EU offices in Washington had been bugged. The pact would include promises not to spy on each another‘s diplomatic missions or to conduct “economically related espionage,” Merkel‘s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said.
Greek tax authorities will seize the assets of businesses and individuals who do not settle their tax debts, the government said on Tuesday (13 August). Under the plans, the Greek finance ministry will issue warnings that assets will be seized if the recipients do not arrange a payment plan within 20 days to those who owe more than €10,000. The move is the latest attempt by the Greek government to clamp down on tax evasion. An estimated €60 billion in unpaid taxes and social security contributions are currently owed to the Greek government, leaving a gaping hole in the country’s budget.
Possible deals said to be in the works with Exxon Mobil, Russia’s Lukoil PetroChina Co, China’s largest oil explorer, may join with United States-based energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp to co-develop the West Qurna oilfield in Iraq, which would make the Chinese company the biggest single foreign investor in the Iraqi oil industry. An industry source close to the company confirmed to China Daily that the two companies are holding talks, but added: “It is not a good time now to release the details of the ongoing talks.”
China’s economy could be $1 trillion smaller than it says. Christopher Balding, a professor at Peking University, lays out the case in a new working paper that finds some very strange patterns in China’s official statistics, which have long been viewed with skepticism. He believes the government manipulated housing price data between 2000 and 2011 to produce lower inflation results. Overall, China says private housing prices grew 8% between 2000 and 2011, at a time when its economy never grew less than 8% in a year, sometimes growing more than 10%. With reports of a real-estate boom, it’s implausible that inflation would run at 2.43%—and real housing prices would fall by almost 20%, as the data imply.
No. President Enrique Peña Nieto is proposing constitutional changes that would open the door for private companies, including international oil majors, to explore for and produce petroleum in partnership with the government and its oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos. The company, known as Pemex, has had a monopoly on production for 75 years, and will remain state-owned. Mexico will keep ownership of the reserves and will share profits with oil companies that find and produce the oil. That is a big change from the past, where Pemex only paid companies a fee for contract work, but it falls short of sharing the oil itself, which many oil companies wanted.
In an attempt to give a greater economic role to the regional grouping, Russia is encouraging the strengthening of the ‘energy club’ within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In recent years, SCO member states have sought greater energy cooperation. This follows a formulated dialogue and integrated concept for the creation of an energy club. SCO member states want to create a unified energy market for oil and gas exports, while promoting regional development through preferential energy agreements.
Russia is intent on transforming its Arctic coastline into a commercially viable alternative to the Suez Canal. In 2011, President Vladimir Putin said: “I want to stress the importance of theNorthern Sea Route as an international transport artery that will rival traditional trade lanes in service fees, security and quality.” Russia uses icebreakers to escort commercial vessels, and charges fees for the service. In 2007, it launched the Fifty Years of Victory, a nuclear-powered behemoth able to break 2.5 metres of ice at speed.
“It’s hard work but worth it,” Garcia says. Amazon Indians like Garcia, who inhabit a Denmark-sized region along the borders with Venezuela and Brazil, have for decades made a living exploring the rain forest for valuable rocks that contain tantalum and tungsten, both of which are used to manufacture smartphones and other mobile devices. While the Indians do the digging, they rely on another, more powerful group to get the ore to market: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC. The rebel army uses the cash it makes from selling metals to help finance one of the world’s longest-running guerrilla wars.
Iraq’s Kurdistan region has started to export crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly approved a second route for crude through Iran after Turkey, although a KRG official denies any crude was going through Iran yet. Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington.
Within one week in June, Cypriot Andrew Georgiou suffered a massive heart attack and his father was diagnosed with leukaemia, just as they were fighting to recover much of their life savings wrapped up in the country’s EU-led bailout.
A victim of Cyprus’s chaotic financial rescue, Georgiou cannot be sure his stressful legal battle for the lost money wrecked his family’s health. But, as he said with grim understatement, “it sure as hell didn’t help”.
South and East Asia have become the world’s major oil consumers, but they lack the supply. Energy security thus lies at the heart of Asia’s economic transformation, prosperity and development. Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Suddha Chakravartti explain how China, India and their smaller neighboring economies are scrambling to find ways to secure and deliver enough oil from suppliers to consumers. The vastness and heterogeneity of Asia contrast with the relative compactness and homogeneity of Europe. Nevertheless, Asia does exist as a geopolitical, geo-economic and analytical entity.
Beijing drafts plan for symbolic bridge, but lacks approval from Taiwanese authorities. The mainland government has recently approved a national road project that includes two cross-strait highways linking both sides of the Taiwan Strait. If completed, the project would be a literal and figurative bridge between the mainland and Taiwan and would mark a major milestone in cross-strait relations. However, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s top cross-strait policy planning body, said the project had been “unilaterally worked out by mainland authorities”.
A $US500 million Chinese-built port opens this week in Sri Lanka, giving Beijing a vital foothold on the world’s busiest international shipping lane as it seeks to secure maritime supply routes. The massive terminal in Colombo is located mid-way on the lucrative east-west sea route and has facilities on a par with Singapore and Dubai. The Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), which is 85 per cent owned by the state-run China Merchant Holdings International, is designed to handle mega ships – a first for Sri Lanka which is aiming to become the region’s shipping hub.
Against the backdrop of the three-day investment roundtable in Cape Town, South Africa, John Iwori, who attended the event, writes that African countries are forging a common front in the shipping and energy sectors of the continent’s economy
That most African countries are working at cross purposes is an understatement. In spite of their proximity, they prefer to work against their common interests. They hardly see each other as partners in progress. In fact, they see themselves as enemies.
Mongolia’s fairytale economic boom is developing cracks. The failure of the country’s fifth-largest bank and delays to the development of its giant copper mine underscores fears that its growth potential is built on shaky foundations. Yet greater economic realism may ultimately be welcome. The surprise insolvency of Savings Bank, which controlled about 8 per cent of Mongolia’s banking assets, has rattled the country’s economic cheerleaders. The central bank closed down the lender and transferred its deposits to a state-owned rival after it ran up bad loans worth $109-million (U.S.) – more than twice its capital, according to Fitch Ratings.
Rosneft, Russia’s newest energy giant, is a key pillar of this initiative. As one of Putin’s favoured firms, Rosneft owes a great deal of its success to Kremlin’s state-centred energy strategy — itself a part of a larger strategy to re-establish Russia as a global power. In that context, efforts to develop the company seem to have gained pace over the past years, and Russia’s currently rank, first with its 12.7 share in world oil production as of 2012, would likely to stay same, at least in short term.