Finance (International)

EU proposes windfall tax on energy sector

Windfall profits generated by major energy companies since prices began surging after Russia invaded Ukraine are being targeted by the European Commission which would use the money to subsidize consumers’ and industries’ natural gas and electricity bills this winter. “Companies are making revenues they never accounted for, they never even dreamt of,” EC Commission President Ursula von der Leyden said today, hoping to generate €140 billion. “It is wrong to receive extraordinary record profits benefiting from war and on the back of consumers.” [node:read-more:link]

Afghan assets under Swiss management

The U.S. said today that $3.5 billion in assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, part of the reserves seized when the Taliban took control 13 months ago, will be placed in trust in Switzerland. Managed by an international board and shielded from the Taliban, a new Afghan Fund, could cover the costs of critical imports, debt payments and printing new Afghan currency. [node:read-more:link]

Russia heavily into political meddling

A U.S. intelligence report declassified September 13 claims that Russia has spent the equivalent of more than US$300 million trying to influence politicians in more than 24 countries since 2014. “We think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” a White House official said, explaining that “Russia likely has transferred additional funds covertly in cases that have gone undetected.” [node:read-more:link]

UN official urges lifting Iran sanctions

Alena Douhan, a Belarussian professor of international law who is the UN Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, is calling for the removal of unilateral sanctions on Iran, first imposed in 1979 when the Islamic revolution drove the Shah from power. In a report released September 12, she said among other things that delivery of medicines and medical equipment is “severely undermined” by the effects of sanctions on finance, trade, shipping, insurance and over-compliance on the part of foreign businesses and suppliers. [node:read-more:link]

G7 agrees to cap Russian petroleum prices

Canada today joined its G7 partners — Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — in agreeing to contain the costs of imported Russian crude oil and petroleum products in a bid to curb its ability to fund its war in Ukraine. Beginning in early December, the initiative would ban “services which enable maritime transportation of Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products globally” above a price cap to be set by “a broad coalition” of countries. Russia had already threatened to ban exports to countries that implement a cap. [node:read-more:link]

UN seeks help for flood-stricken Pakistan

The United Nations today issued an urgent appeal for US$160 million to help Pakistan cope with “epochal” floods that have affected 22 million people, killed more than 1,100, and destroyed homes, businesses, crops and infrastructure. “The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said [node:read-more:link]

Russia sanctions have mixed results

In the decades since the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia’s relationships with the West were often tense but economic ties remained robust. Since its invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia and its politicians and business sectors have been targetted by a range of sanctions which have dramatically changed many relationships but the sanctions have had arguably mixed results. [node:read-more:link]

Natural gas export idea rests with industry

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants Canada to increase its shipments of liquefied natural gas to Europe in a bid to reduce reliance on Russia, but a lack of infrastructure and an unproven business case stands in the way. “We are creating the atmosphere for very direct talks between the business sectors of Canada and Germany,” he said August 23 during a visit to Toronto. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already expressed skepticism about the economics. [node:read-more:link]

Russian disinformation targetted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled plans today for a team which he said will focus on countering Russian disinformation and propaganda. The initiative is part of a package of new measures, including extended sanctions, designed to support Ukraine and punish Russia for invading Ukraine six months ago with global repercussions. [node:read-more:link]

Putin and Xi to attend G20

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says his Russian and Chinese counterparts both plan to attend November’s G20 meeting in Bali. He says he has been assured that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping would attend the first summit since Russia invaded Ukraine six months ago and since China ratcheted up tensions over Taiwan, potentially setting the stage for a confrontation with the U.S. and its G20 allies. [node:read-more:link]

Russia’s economy a Potemkin construct?

For months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that his country’s economy is flourishing despite sanctions, the withdrawal of global companies and a shortage of manufacturing materials. Economists and ordinary Russians evidently disagree, suggesting that Putin’s stance is akin to the storied fake villages constructed in by a Crimean governor, Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin, to disguise the dilapidated reality during a visit in the late 1700s by Empress Catherine II. [node:read-more:link]

Latvia labels Russia “terrorism” sponsor

The parliament in Latvia is calling on its NATO allies to impose more comprehensive sanctions on Russia, which it has formally designated a “state sponsor of terrorism” over its invasion of Ukraine. “Latvia recognises Russia's actions in Ukraine as targeted,” it said August 11, also calling for increased western military, financial, humanitarian and diplomatic support. [node:read-more:link]

No energy surtax planned

After UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lambasted the global petroleum sector for what he called profiting at the expense of the poor, Canada’s finance department said it aims to ensure everyone pays “their fair share of tax” but declined comment on whether it could impose a surtax on companies reporting huge profit increases. [node:read-more:link]

OPEC+ approves small production hike

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, agreed today to increase combined daily production by 100,000 barrels, a fractional amount amid concerns that a global recession will crimp demand. Average crude prices have risen in recent months due to western sanctions on Russian output and although OPEC+ agreed to increase daily output by 648,000 barrels, many countries have fallen short. [node:read-more:link]

Terrorist’s death refocuses attention on Taliban

The weekend U.S. drone killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in a Kabul “safe house” has resulted in renewed scrutiny of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers and further undermined their efforts to secure international recognition and desperately needed aid. The Taliban promised in 2020 that they would not harbour al Qaeda members. [node:read-more:link]


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