BBC reports that the US and Vietnam are holding joint naval exercises in the South China Sea this week. "The week-long activities focus mainly on non-combatant exercises and are part of the 15th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Washington and Hanoi."
CHINA'S TRADE SURPLUS GREW TO $28.7 BILLION IN JULY
Keith Bradsher at the New York Times reports that China's trade surplus grew to $28.7 billion in July, "the largest total since January of last year."
SINOPEC TO COMPLETE OIL STORAGE PROJECT BY 2011
Platts reports that Sinopec announced on its website that it would complete its oil storage tank project on Cezi island by 2011. Once finished, the oil tanks would have a capacity of 84.91 million barrels and would bring Sinopec's total capacity to 122.65 million barrels.
CHINA NOT TO CLOSE 2000 + FACTORIES, BUT TO ELIMINATE EQUIPMENT AT THEM
Jason Dean at China Real Time reports that the story yesterday about China closing 2,000 + inefficient factories is an exaggeration.
"In fact, the MIIT’s list is generally quite specific about which equipment in which factory should be eliminated: two blast furnaces at Haicheng City Xiyang Steel Co. in Liaoning province, one cement mill at the Hongdong County Huoyue Construction Materials Co. in Shanxi, 91 rotary drums at the Shijiazhuang City Tongtai Leather Industry Co. in Hebei etc. Only about a dozen factories are listed for full closure, including a pair of paper plants in Hebei, five printing-and-dyeing operations in Guangdong, and a trio of liquor factories in Sichuan."JAPAN LEAVES BENCHMARK RATE AT 0.1%
Mayumi Otsuma at Bloomberg reports that the Bank of Japan has left its benchmark interest rate at 0.1%.
"[Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki] Shirakawa said the discussion of the yen, which is approaching a 15-year high against the dollar, dominated today’s meeting because of the risk it poses to exporters and the economy."KNOC DISCOVERS OIL IN KURDISH REGION OF IRAQ
AFP reports that the Korean National Oil Company (KNOC) has discovered oil in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
"[T]he Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) said in a statement it was too early to estimate the size of the reserves. It said a formal announcement of the discovery would be made only after consultation with local authorities."The newspaper that broke the story reported that there was an estimated 2 billion barrels in the newly found reserves. South Korea has been banned from participating in any oil concessions in the rest of Iraq because it has chosen to participate in exploration in Kurdistan before the relationship between Baghdad and Kurdistan has crystallized in terms of oil.
45% OF ELECTRICITY IN PORTUGAL TO COME FROM RENEWABLES THIS YEAR
Elisabeth Rosenthal at the New York Times reports that
"[n]early 45% of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17% just five years ago."
[C]omplaints about rising electricity rates are a mainstay of pensioners’ gossip here. Mr. Sócrates, who after a landslide victory in 2005 pushed through the major elements of the energy makeover over the objections of the country’s fossil fuel industry, survived last year’s election only as the leader of a weak coalition.KAZAKHSTAN LARGEST PRODUCER OF URANIUM IN THE WORLD
Nirode Masson at IDN reports that Kazakhstan is now the largest producer of uranium in the world.
"Kazakhstan has a major plant making nuclear fuel pellets and aims eventually to sell value-added fuel rather than just uranium. It aims to supply 30 percent of the world fuel fabrication market by 2015, according to World Nuclear News (WNN)."GATES SUGGESTS CLOSING OF JOINT FORCES COMMAND IN NORFOLK
Thom Shanker at the New York Times reports that Defense Secretary Gates has announced plans to close the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, as part of a plan to reduce spending by the military.
"The White House, which is under intense political pressure to address the rapid increase in the national debt, quickly stepped in to back Mr. Gates, saying his plan would free money that could be better spent on war fighting."WORKER PRODUCTIVITY FELL IN JULY BY AN 0.9% ANNUAL RATE
Courtney Schlisserman at Bloomberg reports that "the measure of employee output per hour fell at a 0.9% annual rate, the first drop since late 2008."
"Hours worked climbed at a 3.6% rate, leading to a 2.6% increase in the amount of goods and services produced.HOTTER SEAS LEAD TO POSSIBILITY OF MORE DANGEROUS HURRICANES
A lengthening workweek signals employers have reached efficiency limits after productivity climbed by the most in five decades in the 12 months to March."
Brian K. Sullivan at Bloomberg reports that a hotter Atlantic Ocean is likely to lead to more and stronger hurricanes this hurricane season. The sea is hotter now that it was when hurricane Katrina formed.
HIGHER TEMPERATURES REDUCE RICE YIELDS
Richard Black at BBC reports that a new study has found that higher temperatures reduce the rice yield globally.
"Yields have fallen by 10-20% over the last 25 years in some locations.NON-FARM EMPLOYMENT MOSTLY FLAT FOR LAST DECADE
The group of mainly US-based scientists studied records from 227 farms in six important rice-producing countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, India and China."
Free Exchange hosts a graph of non-farm employment from 1939 and notes that in the last decade the gauge has been mostly flat.
A CALL FOR A GLOBAL ARCHITECTURE FOR FOOD POLICY
Joachim von Braun at the Financial Times argues that a global architecture for food policies is overdue. He further states that food security is worse now than it was in 2008 when food riots took place around the world.