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Author: Echobiz

UAE, Ukraine to Start Talks on Bilateral Trade Deal

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The United Arab Emirates and Ukraine on Monday announced their intention to start negotiations on a bilateral trade deal, expected to conclude by the middle of next year, the UAE economy ministry said.

The UAE state has tried to remain neutral in the Russia-Ukraine war despite Western pressure on Gulf oil producers to help isolate Moscow, a fellow OPEC+ member.

The UAE’s minister of state for foreign trade, Thani Al Zeyoudi, and Ukraine’s economy minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, signed a joint statement on negotiations towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the ministry said.

It would be the UAE’s first such deal with a European country, following more than $3 billion in trade and investment pledges made during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the Gulf state in February 2021.

“For us, Ukraine is a key trade partner. The growth and investment potential was high before the whole geopolitical situation; we think it’s time to push things forward,” Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade, told Reuters.

UAE-Ukraine non-oil trade amounted to just over $900 million in 2021, up nearly 29% over the previous year, and 12% more than in 2019, according to the UAE ministry.

Talks will likely center on opportunities to expand trade in the services sector, and on food security where the UAE, a trade hub, is making a push. Ukraine is a major supplier of grain to the Middle East.

The ministry statement said a CEPA with Ukraine would open up access to new markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East for Ukraine’s agricultural and industrial output.

“This is not only going to bring added value to the UAE but also to Ukraine as well,” Al Zeyoudi told Reuters.

The UAE has signed free trade deals with India, Israel and Indonesia this year, aiming to build its position as a global trade and logistics hub at a time of rising competition from Saudi Arabia.

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Growth in Arms Trade Stunted by Supply Issues: Report

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Sales of arms and military services grew in 2021, researchers said Monday, but were limited by worldwide supply issues related to the pandemic, with the war in Ukraine increasing demand while worsening supply difficulties.   

The top 100 arms companies sold weapons and related services totaling $592 billion in 2021, 1.9% more than the year before, said the latest report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 

However, the growth was severely impacted by widespread supply chain issues.   

“The lasting impact of the pandemic is really starting to show in arms companies,” Nan Tian, a senior researcher at SIPRI, told AFP.   

Disruptions from both labor shortages and difficulties in sourcing raw materials were “slowing down the companies’ ability to produce weapons systems and deliver them on time,” Tian said. “So what we see really is a potentially slower increase to what many would have expected in arms sales in 2021.”   

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also expected to worsen supply chain issues, in part “because Russia is a major supplier of raw materials used in arms production”, said the report’s authors.   

But the war has at the same time increased demand.   

“Definitely demand will increase in the coming years,” Tian said.   

By how much was at the same time harder to gauge, Tian said pointing to two factors that would impact demand. 

Firstly, countries that have sent weapons to Ukraine to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars will be looking to replenish stockpiles.   

Secondly, the worsening security environment means “countries are looking to procure more weapons.”   

With the supply crunch expected to worsen, it could hamper these efforts, the authors noted. 

Companies in the U.S. continue to dominate global arms production, accounting for over half, $299 billion, of global sales and 40 of the top companies.   

At the same time, the region was the only one to see a drop in sales: 0.9 percent down on the 2020 figures.   

Among the top five companies — Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics — only Raytheon recorded an increase in sales.   

Meanwhile, sales from the eight largest Chinese arms companies rose 6.3% to $109 billion in 2021.   

European companies took 27 of the spots on the top 100, with combined sales of $123 billion, up 4.2% compared to 2020.   

The report also noted a trend of private equity firms buying up arms companies, something the authors said had become increasingly apparent over the last three or four years.   

This trend threatens to make the arms industry more opaque and therefore harder to track, Tian said, “because private equity firms will buy these companies and then essentially not produce any more financial records.” 

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EU Chief Says Bloc Must Act Over US Climate Plan ‘Distortions’

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EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday the bloc must act to address “distortions” created by Washington’s $430-billion plan to spur climate-friendly technologies in the United States.

The European Union must “take action to rebalance the playing field where the IRA [Inflation Reduction Act] or other measures create distortions,” von der Leyen said in a speech at the College of Europe in the Belgian city of Bruges.

EU countries have poured criticism on Washington’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act, seeing it as anti-competitive and a threat to European jobs, especially in the energy and auto sectors.

The act, designed to accelerate the U.S. transition to a low-carbon economy, contains around $370 billion in subsidies for green energy as well as tax cuts for U.S.-made electric cars and batteries.

Von der Leyen said the EU had to work with the U.S. “to address some of the most concerning aspects of the law.”

She said that Brussels must also “adjust” its own rules to facilitate public investment in the environmental transition and “reassess the need for further European funding of the transition.”

French President Emmanuel Macron seized an opportunity on a state visit to Washington for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden last week to air deep grievances over U.S.-EU trade.

The White House touts the IRA as a groundbreaking effort to reignite US manufacturing and promote renewable technologies.

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No OPEC+ Oil Shakeup as Russian Price Cap Stirs Uncertainty 

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The Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia did not change their targets for shipping oil to the global economy amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. 

The decision at a meeting of oil ministers Sunday comes a day ahead of the planned start of two measures aimed at hitting Russia’s oil earnings in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Those are: a European Union boycott of most Russian oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports imposed by the EU and the Group of Seven democracies. 

It is not yet clear how much Russian oil the two sanctions measures could take off the global market, which would tighten supply and drive up prices. The world’s No. 2 oil producer has been able to reroute much, but not all, of its former Europe shipments to customers in India, China and Turkey. 

The impact of the price cap is also up in the air because Russia has said it could simply halt deliveries to countries that observe the limit. But analysts say the country would likely also find ways to evade the cap for some shipments. 

On the other side, oil has been trading at lower prices on fears that coronavirus outbreaks and China’s strict zero-COVID restrictions would reduce demand for fuel in one of the world’s major economies. Concerns about recessions in the U.S. and Europe also raise the prospect of lower demand for gasoline and other fuel made from crude. 

That uncertainty is the reason the OPEC+ alliance gave in October for a slashing production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November, a cut that remains in effect. Analysts say that took less than the full amount off the market because OPEC+ members already can’t meet their full production quotas. 

An OPEC+ statement Sunday pushed back against criticism of that October decision in view of the recent weakness in oil prices, saying the cut had been “recognized in retrospect by the market participants to have been the necessary and the right course of action towards stabilizing global oil markets.” 

The White House, which has pressed for more oil supply to keep gasoline costs down for U.S. drivers, at the time called the cut “shortsighted” and said the alliance was “aligning with Russia.” 

With the global economy slowing, oil prices have been falling since summertime highs, with international benchmark Brent closing Friday at $85.42 per barrel, down from $98 a month ago. That has eased gasoline prices for drivers around the world. 

Average gas prices have fallen for U.S. drivers in recent days to $3.41 per gallon, according to motoring club federation AAA. 

While U.S., European and other allies seek to punish Russia for the war in Ukraine, they also want to prevent a sudden loss of Russian crude that could send oil and gasoline prices back up. 

That is why the G-7 price cap allows shipping and insurance companies to transport Russian oil to non-Western nations at or below that threshold. Most of the globe’s tanker fleet is covered by insurers in the G-7 or EU. 

Russia would likely try to evade the cap by organizing its own insurance and using the world’s shadowy fleet of off-the-books tankers, as Iran and Venezuela have done, but that would be costly and cumbersome, analysts say. 

The cap of $60 a barrel is near the current price of Russian oil, meaning Moscow could continue to sell while rejecting the cap in principle. Oil use also declines in the winter, in part because fewer people are driving. 

“If Russia ends up taking off more oil than about a million barrels per day, then the world becomes short on oil, and there would need to be an offset somewhere, whether that’s from OPEC or not,” said Jacques Rousseau, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners. “That’s going to be the key factor — is to figure out how much Russian oil is really leaving the market.” 

The OPEC+ statement set its next meeting for June 4 but said the coalition could meet at any time to address market developments. 

 

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«Укренерго» отримало 372 млн євро від ЄБРР і Нідерландів

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У компанії кажуть, що згадана фінансова допомога «прискорить придбання критично необхідного обладнання та відновлення мереж, пошкоджених російськими ракетами»

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Wildlife Summit to Vote on Shark Protections 

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Delegates at a global summit on trade in endangered species were scheduled to decide Thursday whether to approve a proposal to protect sharks, a move that could drastically reduce the lucrative and often cruel shark fin trade.

The proposal would place dozens of species of the requiem shark and the hammerhead shark families on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The appendix lists species that may not yet be threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade in them is closely controlled.

If Thursday’s plenary meeting gives the green light, “it would be a historic decision,” Panamanian delegate Shirley Binder told AFP.

“For the first time, CITES would be handling a very large number of shark species, which would be approximately 90% of the market,” she said.

Spurring the trade is the insatiable Asian appetite for shark fins, which make their way onto dinner tables in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

Despite being described as gelatinous and almost tasteless, shark fin soup is viewed as a delicacy and is enjoyed by the very wealthy, often at weddings and expensive banquets.

Shark fins, representing a market of about $500 million per year, can sell for about $1,000 a kilogram.

From villain to conservation darling

Sharks have long been seen as the villain of the seas they have occupied for more than 400 million years, terrifying people with their depiction in films such as “Jaws” and their occasional attacks on humans.

However, these ancient predators have undergone an image makeover in recent years as conservationists have highlighted the crucial role they play in regulating the ocean ecosystem.

According to the Pew Environment Group, between 63 million and 273 million sharks are killed every year, mainly for their fins and other parts.

With many shark species taking more than 10 years to reach sexual maturity, and having a low fertility rate, the constant hunting of the species has decimated their numbers.

In many parts of the world, fisherman lop the sharks’ fins off at sea, tossing the shark back into the ocean for a cruel death by suffocation or blood loss.

The efforts by conservationists led to a turning point in 2013, when CITES imposed the first trade restrictions on some shark species.

“We are in the middle of a very large shark extinction crisis,” Luke Warwick, director of shark protection for the nongovernmental organization Wildlife Conservation Society, told AFP at the beginning of the summit.

Heated debate

Thursday’s vote followed a fierce debate that lasted nearly three hours, with Japan and Peru seeking to reduce the number of shark species that would be protected.

Japan had proposed that the trade restriction be reduced to 19 species of requiem sharks, and Peru called for the blue shark to be removed from the list.

Both suggestions were rejected, however.

“We hope that nothing extraordinary happens and that these entire families of sharks are ratified for inclusion in Annex II,” Chilean delegate Ricardo Saez told AFP.

Several delegations, including host Panama, displayed stuffed toy sharks on their tables during the earlier Committee I debate.

The plenary was also scheduled to vote on ratifying a proposal to protect guitarfish, a species of ray.

The shark initiative was one of the most discussed at this year’s CITES summit in Panama, with the proposal co-sponsored by the European Union and 15 countries.

Participants at the summit considered 52 proposals to change species protection levels.

CITES, which came into force in 1975, has set international trade rules for more than 36,000 wild species. Its signatories include 183 countries and the European Union.

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Країни ЄС продовжують узгодження стелі цін на російську нафту

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Частина членів ЄС вважає пропозицію країн «Групи семи» (G7) про ліміт на рівні 65-70 доларів за барель занадто доброю для Росії, інші твердять, що це занадто низька ціна

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Країни ЄС поки не змогли узгодити стелю цін на російську нафту

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Ідею обмеження цін на закупівлю російської нафти, яку перевозять танкери, було запропоновано кілька місяців тому міністром фінансів США Джанет Єллен

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Інфляція в Європі залишатиметься високою – голова Бундесбанку

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Йоахім Наґель сказав, що Європейський центральний банк (ЄЦБ) знову підвищить процентні ставки в грудні, щоб знизити інфляцію до 2% у середньостроковій перспектив

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