Patrick A Messerlin and Erik van der Marel at VoxEU argue that the US and the European Commission should launch transatlantic negotiations in opening the services sector as a prelude to multilateral negotiations. Key excerpts:
"Services providers are busy redesigning their strategies for coping with the ongoing economic crisis. To take the appropriate decisions, they need predictable future market access in services. Meanwhile, as many services are still highly protected, opening services markets would deliver large benefits to consumers impoverished by the crisis."
"Is there any appetite for services negotiations now? Yes. The July 2008 Signalling Conference held under the aegis of the Doha Round showed a substantial number of participants expressing strong interests in most services, offers and requests in mode 3 in many services (foreign direct investment), and even a willingness to include mode 4 (movement of natural persons, by far the most contentious part of any service negotiations) in some services.2. EUROZONE UNEMPLOYMENT UP TO 9.4% IN JUNE, CONSUMER PRICES FELL AT ANNUAL RATE OF 0.6%
Such a willingness to negotiate appears particularly strong in three services: business, communication, and distribution services. Together, these three services in the EC, US, and top eight countries represent almost one-third of the world GDP, a size so huge that negotiators could work on deals within as well as between these services sectors. The three services face high levels of regulatory constraints, ensuring huge economic gains in case of market opening. Finally, negotiations are made easier by the fact that business and communication services are resilient to the current crisis, while the inflationist pressures to come should make governments eager to have distribution services as competitive as possible.
Last but not least, the foreign policy dimension of the whole endeavour is crucial for Europe. Many US decision-makers are looking to Asia for good reasons (Bergsten, 2009) while Europeans have not yet fully grasped the growing importance of Asia nor captured its attention, as illustrated by the disappointing June 2009 Asia Europe Ministerial meeting on energy."
Reuters reports that eurozone unemployment rose to 9.4% in June, up from a revised figure of 9.3% in May.
"The European Union’s statistics office also said on Friday that inflation in the euro area had moved much further into negative territory than forecast in July, with consumer prices falling at an annualized rate of 0.6%.3. US OPEN TO BRINGING RUSSIA INTO NATO
The drop raised worries about deflation and heightened expectations that the European Central Bank will maintain its loose monetary policy."
Yevgeny Bendersky at the Compass reports that
"Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told US lawmakers Tuesday during the House International Relations Committee hearing that the United States would consider Russian membership in NATO."Gordon said:
"[I]f Russia meets the criteria and can contribute to common security, and there is a consensus in the alliance, it shouldn't be excluded."Bendersky points out that some in Eastern Europe might be cold to the idea. Given that membership would freeze, so to speak, the current borders by militarily integrating the members, it may arguably provide superior protection than the current relationship. It certainly would make adventurism a much more complicated affair.
4. NIPPON OIL IN TALKS WITH SK ENERGY TO BUILD NEW REFINERY IN VIETNAM
Megumi Yamanaka and Yuji Okada at Bloomberg report that Nippon Oil Company has announced it might build a refinery in Vietnam with SK Energy Co.
"'We’ve been in talks with SK and have agreed on the need for participating in a refining project' in Asia, Nippon Oil Chairman Fumiaki Watari said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. Vietnam is a potential location for the first venture between Japan and South Korea’s biggest refiners, and the plant may process 200-300 kb/d of crude oil, he said.
Seo Young Joon, a spokesman at SK Energy in Seoul, said he couldn’t immediately comment. Idemitsu Kosan Co., Japan’s second-largest refiner, and Mitsui Chemicals Inc. plan to spend $5.8 billion to build a 200 kb/d plant in Vietnam."
"'We know that about 25% of Japan’s refining capacity will be unnecessary in the next five years.' Watari said."Vietnam inaugurated its first refinery this year with capacity of 148 kb/d and which is poised to supply about 30% of Vietnam's product requirement--see Daily Sources 7/28 #8. The EIA projects its total petroleum demand was about 288 kb/d in 2008. Hanoi projects GDP will grow by 5.5% in 2009, adding perhaps as much as 10 kb/d in demand this year.
5. INDIAN FIELD BEGINNING PRODUCTION TO UP INDIAN CRUDE PRODUCTION BY 25%
The Economic Times reports that Indian crude production is expected to rise by about 25% when Cairn begins pumping from the Mangla field of its Rajasthan acreage next month.
"'We are operationally ready to commence oil production in August,' Cairn India CEO Rahul Dhir said. In its various filings to the government, Cairn has indicated that production will quickly touch 30 kb/d by the end of third quarter this year and reach a plateau of 175 kb/d (8.75 million tonnes a year) in 2011. Goldman Sachs, however, has pegged the peak output at 190 kb/d (9.5 million tonnes a year)."Using EIA projections, Indian crude production in 2008 was 693.7 kb/d. Its imports came in at 2.056 mb/d, so the Mangla field at 175 kb/d would represent about 8.5% of its import requirement. However, some of those imports are reexported as products, for example to the US--Reliance is set to restart its old Jamnagar refinery shortly, bringing another 660,000 kb/d of nameplate capacity on line. It is expected to double Reliance gasoline exports to about 170 kb/d.
6. PAKISTANI SUPREME COURT REJECTS PETITION TO TRY MUSHARRAF ON TREASON CHARGES
BBC News reports that the Pakistani Supreme Court has rejected a petition to try former President Musharraf on charges of treason.
"The court had asked him to explain his decision in 2007 to invoke emergency rule and suspend the constitution.For more on the lawyers revolution in Pakistan, I wrote a long piece on it early last year--see The Law in Pakistan.
It has now ruled that parliament is the place to debate Mr Musharraf's actions.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry rejected a petition to launch a treason case against the former president.
Mr Chaudhry was himself removed from his position as a result of President Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule, but was reinstated after he resigned in August."
7. 40 DAY CYCLE OF PROTESTS IN IRAN MIRROR 1979 REVOLUTION, PRESS REPORTS OF CHINESE-IRAN MOU ON SOUTH AZADEGAN FIELD DENIED BY CNPC, US SENATE TO BAR THOSE SELLING PETROLEUM PRODUCTS TO IRAN FROM PARTICIPATION IN SPR
Michael Collins Dunn at the MEI Editor's Blog observes that the 40-day cycle in protests seen in the 1979 Iranian Revolution is being repeated in the current conflict over the elections. Juan Cole at Informed Comment has a good roundup of the recent political events in Iran. Meanwhile, Upstream Online notes that there have been stories that CNPC has signed an MOU with NIOC to develop the South Azadegan oilfield, taking a 70% stake in the field in return for covering 90% of development costs.
"However, a CNPC manager based in Beijing told Reuters today that the MoU was actually signed earlier this year and there has been no real breakthrough in talks with the oil ministry since then.In the meantime, Jean Chemnick and Katharine Fraser at Platts report that the US Senate has inserted language into the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill [H.R. 3183] which would prohibit companies that sell gasoline and diesel to Iran from entering into contracts to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
'The MoU is not a binding contract, and we are still negotiating with NIOC about specific details,' the CNPC source, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told the news agency."
"At least three companies fit that bill, Glencore, Shell Trading and Vitol, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In January, the three were named by DOE as suppliers to the SPR for deliveries this year. While it could not be immediately confirmed whether any of the three currently sell refined products to Iran, all of them are known active traders in oil markets throughout the world."In June, Reliance--a private oil company in India--halted gasoline exports to Iran, apparently because they expected difficulties for their exports to the US--see Daily Sources 6/4 #8. The UAE provides about 80% of Iranian product requirements, IIRC.
8. BAHRAIN CENTRAL BANK SEIZES TWO BANKS HELD BY SAUDI CONGLOMERATES
Frederik Richter at Reuters reports that the central bank of Bahrain has seized two banks owned by major Saudi conglomerates.
"The central bank said in a statement on Thursday it had assumed control of Awal Bank, owned by Saad Group and The International Banking Corporation, a unit of the Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers conglomerate.9. NIGERIAN PRESIDENT ENTERS TALKS WITH 6 NIGER DELTA GOVERNORS TO PREVENT THREATENED BOYCOTT OF MILITANT AMNESTY PLAN
The central bank said an investigation at both banks had shown a substantial shortfall in assets compared with their liabilities and that it would appoint an external administrator to identify creditors' claims and manage the distribution of the remaining assets."
Platts reports that Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has begun talks with six governors from the Niger Delta in an effort to avert a threatened boycott of the amnesty program for militants in the region.
"The governors of southern Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta, Cross River and Rivers states last week said they would pull back their involvement in the amnesty deal for Delta militants in protest of the federal government's plan to relocate the petroleum training college in Delta state to northern city of Kaduna.Earlier this week, the Nigerian Joint Revolutionary Council--an umbrella group of militants in the Niger Delta which includes MEND--warned a company linked to a current oil minister to stop operations to express their displeasure with the plan to locate the petroleum university in the north--see Daily Sources 7/28 #9.
'There is a serious misunderstanding about some of the issues raised, but the president is very concerned and has been talking with the Niger Delta governors individually,' Presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi in a statement. 'The president has respect for the Niger Delta region. He did not approach the crisis in the area as a Northerner.'
The governors also had grouse against a provision in the oil sector reform bill, which they said takes away royalties due Delta communities."
10. US ENVOY FOR SUDAN RECOMMENDS TAKING KHARTOUM OF TERRORIST LIST
Reuters reports that General Scott Gration, the US special envoy for Sudan, recommended to Congress that Sudan be taken off the state sponsors of terrorism list.
"'There is no evidence in our intelligence community that supports [Sudan] being on the state sponsors of terrorism list,' Gration said. 'It's a political decision.'"
"'We are actually hurting the very development things we need to do help the south become ... if they chose to secede, a viable economic state,' Gration said, noting that Washington could not bring in heavy equipment to build roads and railways.11. CHÁVEZ PROPOSES LAW GIVING GOVT ARBITRARY POWER TO CONTROL MEDIA
'At some point we are going to have to unwind some of these sanctions so that we can do the very things that we need to do to ensure a peaceful transition and a state that's viable in the (south) should they choose to do that,' he added.
In its latest report, the State Department described Sudan as 'a cooperative partner in global counterterrorism efforts.'"
Fausta Wertz at the Compass has the best summary of the news that Hugo Chávez's administration has now proposed a set of laws which would limit broadcasting rights and would make the rather arbitrarily defined violations are punishable with prison terms.
"The proposed law ... includes all media and applies to not only owners and publishers but also reporters, freelancers and anyone making a statement that could be interpreted as (my translation) 'any person who manipulates or distorts the news, creating a false perception of facts... as long as there is damage to social peace, national security, public order, or the mental health or public morals.'Wertz includes a link to the text of the law. She notes that the UN has registered its worries regarding the proposed legislation, but projects the protest will have little affect upon the administration's decision-making process ... correctly in my view.
The charge carries a compulsory 2-4 year prison sentence."
12. RESEARCHERS FIND THAT EFFORTS TO HALT OVERFISHING ARE SUCCESSFUL
BBC News reports that a team of researchers have released the findings of a two-year study which concludes that efforts to halt overfishing in 5 of 10 marine ecosytems have helped fishing stocks to recover.
"The authors observed: 'Some of the most spectacular rebuilding efforts have involved bold experimentation with closed areas, [fishing] gear restrictions and new approaches to catch allocations and enforcement.'(h/t Yves Smith at naked capitalism.)
But they warned that the signs of recovery should not be interpreted by policymakers as a sign that all was well beneath the waves.
The majority of fisheries were still in trouble, and were not being managed or regulated properly.
But Dr Worm said that the team's 'watershed paper' offered a blueprint for sustainable fishing.
'It clearly shows what needs to be done to not only avoid fisheries collapse, but to actually rebuild fish stocks and ecosystems.'"
13. US GDP DOWN AT ANNUALIZED RATE OF 1% IN Q2, CHICAGO PMI INDICATES BOTTOM
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its estimation today that Q2 GDP fell at an annualized rate of 1%. Ed Harrison of Credit Writedowns observes:
"Down 1.5% was the consensus expectation. But Q1 was revised down to minus 6.4% from 5.5%. The GDP Deflator for Q2 came in at 0.2%, which shows that disinflation risks tipping into deflation still. The dollar is weaker and the short end of the treasury curve is up massively on these data and revisions.Peter Boockvar at the Big Picture reports that the Chicago PMI was 43.4 in July, up from 39.9 in June. (PMI readings of above 50 indicate expansion; below 50 indicates contraction.) He observes:
Also ... the 2008 numbers were revised down. Q1 2008 was revised from positive 0.9% to negative –0.7%. Q2 2008 was revised way down as well from 2.8% to 1.5%. Q3 2008 was also very negative, now –2.7%. This confirms the December 2007 recession call.
There was a $140 billion reduction in inventories in Q2. I have been saying for some time that this would set us up for lots of upside come Q3 and Q4 as the inventory purge dissipates. So, we will get a technical recovery in my opinion. The question is whether there is any underlying demand uptick behind the inventory changes. In the data ... from the BEA website, you can clearly see ... that consumers are not even spending on basic items. Spending on non-durable goods was down 2.5% annualized. That is not good."
"Inventories remained extremely lean, falling to 25.4 from 34.2, the lowest since 1949 and is the perfect set up for a sharp contribution to GDP from this area in the 2nd half of the year, led by auto’s and related sectors. The employment index rose 6.4 points to 35.3, well below 50 but at the highest level since Dec ‘08. Prices paid fell a touch. Bottom line, the data confirms the backdrop for an improvement in GDP. The degree and sustainability of the recovery will however remain in the hands of end demand, aka, predominantly the US consumer."Rebecca Wilder at News N Economics observes that
"Households have been 'delevering' for a longer time period than previously thought--as recent as 2008 Q1, the saving rate that was reported to be essentially zero, 0.2%, is now 1.2%."Her chart of the US savings rate (with revisions as of today):
"The BEA has 'found' that households have been in fact saving roughly 1% of their disposable income per quarter since 1995, 0.9% per quarter in 2008."Well worth a look, as always.