Finance (International)

Canada increases Russian sanctions

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has joined her U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinkin, in calling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claimed annexation of four parts of Ukraine illegitimate “political theatre.” Joly used their Washington meeting to confirm new sanctions against Russian oligarchs, financial elites and Russia-backed senior officials in the occupied regions. [node:read-more:link]

Head-to-head in South Pacific

Increasingly concerned about China’s influence in the South Pacific, the U.S. signed an agreement with 14 states and announced $810 million in financial support. China proposed a sweeping trade and security deal with 10 countries in the region this summer only to shelve the plan when many rejected it. [node:read-more:link]

IMF hammers British budget

The International Monetary Fund is warning that the British government’s planned tax cuts are likely to increase inequality and add to inflationary pressures but Prime Minister Liz Truss’ new administration insists they will kickstart economic growth. It was reacting to Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s tabling September 23 of the most aggressive tax package in 50 years. [node:read-more:link]

Putin praises China’s “balance” in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has praised what he calls China’s “balanced position” on Russia’s war on Ukraine. However, the Russia leader also conceded during a meeting with Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan September 15 that China had “questions and concerns” about the conflict. Xi said China would “work with Russia to extend strong mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests” and “play a leading role in injecting stability and positive energy into a world of change and disorder.” [node:read-more:link]

Germany controlling Russian-owned refineries

Germany’s economic ministry confirmed today that it is taking over domestic subsidiaries of Russian-controlled petroleum refineries to ensure energy security before an oil embargo takes effect next year. The Rosneft facilities account for some 12 per cent of German refining capacity which imports several hundred million euros' worth of oil from Russia every month. [node:read-more:link]

Iran closer to Asian alliance membership

Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, said today that his country has signed a memorandum of understanding which puts it a step closer towards permanent membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation dominated by Russia and China. He said his country is entering “a new stage of various economic, commercial, transit and energy cooperation.” [node:read-more:link]

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]


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