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Gazprom to receive European funding for second Nord Stream gas pipeline

Nord Stream2 pipesGazprom’s plans to lay a second gas pipeline along the bed of the Baltic Sea came one step closer to fruition yesterday when five European companies agreed to finance 50% of the Nord Stream 2 project to the tune of € 4.75 bn. Under the terms of the agreement, (more…)

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Johnson to push G7 to impose new sanctions on Russia over Syria

Chemical gas attack SyriaUK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to use today’s G7 meeting in Lucca to call on fellow member states to ramp up sanctions against Russia following the latest developments in Syria, according to The Times, unless Moscow (more…)

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ChemChina gets OK for Syngenta deal

SyngentaChemChina has won EU antitrust approval for its $43bn takeover of Swiss pesticide maker Syngenta, paving the way for China’s largest overseas acquisition to date. The EU’s approval is conditional on ChemChina’s agreeing to (more…)

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EU backs down on Nord Stream 2

Nord StreamThe European Union is giving up on efforts to stop construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 project and is instead seeking a mandate from its member countries to negotiate with Russia over their concerns that Moscow’s plans to build a second pipeline to pump more gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea to Germany, will make Europe too reliant on Russian gas.
The Russian state-run enterprise Gazprom already supplies the EU with around one third of its gas requirement, but its plan to build a second pipeline has bitterly divided the EU, with Eastern European and Baltic Sea states worried that a new pipeline will increase their dependence on Russian gas and undermine Ukraine’s role as a transit country. Germany and other beneficiaries in northern Europe, in contrast back the plan.
Nord Stream2 pipesIn a March 28 letter addressed to Denmark and Sweden, the Commission said it was inviting all EU states to voice their concerns and would seek a mandate from EU energy ministers to negotiate an agreement with Moscow on behalf of the bloc.”It is our view that a specific legal regime would need to be established for the offshore section, and that such specific legal regime should include some fundamental principles stemming from EU energy law,” the Commission said. “It cannot be built or operated … in a legal void.”
Discussions would focus on how EU rules aimed at ensuring competitiveness and transparency in the gas market could be applied to the offshore pipeline, the Commission said.

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Brexit could help EU-India FTA but report scotches hopes of UK side deal

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EU investigates Chinese plans for Belgrade to Budapest rail link

Belgrade to Piraeus rail linkChina’s plans to build a 350km, $2.89m high-speed railway between Belgrade and Budapest are under investigation by the authorities in Brussels on the grounds that they may fall foul of EU laws which stipulate that transport projects of this magnitude should be put out to public tender.
An MoU (more…)

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EU extends Russian sanctions – but rift widens with Tillerson appointment

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Russian sanctions: As widely anticipated, European Union leaders last week voted to extend economic sanctions against Russia over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine for a further six months. There were, however, signs of a rift beginning to emerge between some East European countries – led by Poland (more…)

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Tillerson ready to question sanctions as Merckel and Hollande back extension

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex TillersonTillerson: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande yesterday put their collective weight behind a six-month extension of the package of economic sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea nearly three years ago; but the long-term future of the strategy is looking increasingly uncertain in the light of Donald Trump’s choice of Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State. Tillerson has long been known to have a good personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to be sceptical about the efficacy of the sanction strategy and this week claims have also emerged in several US media outlets that he had visited the White House more than 20 times in an effort to ensure that his company was not put at a competitive disadvantage by the manner in which the sanctions were imposed. The oil chief was said to be concerned that European nations might not apply the restrictions as strictly as the US. (more…)

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Russian Minister passes Turkish Stream buck back to Brussels

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei LavrovRussia will only agree to build a European extension to its Turkish Stream pipeline once it receives cast-iron guarantees that it will not meet with opposition from Brussels, its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said yesterday, effectively (more…)

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Crunch time looms for Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream2 pipesThe future of Gazprom’s plans to lay a second 1,200km long pipeline along the bed of the Baltic Sea – Nord Stream 2 – should become clearer next week, with EU officials due to decide on Monday if it will ease restrictions (more…)

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German Minister blocks Aixtron takeover and looks to curb Chinese spending spree

german-economy-minister-sigmar-gabrielAixtron: With China’s appetite for buying up European companies showing no sign of abating and its year-on-year investment in Europe jumping by 62% to a record €20bn last year, the German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel this week ramped up pressure (more…)

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Shell & Co ready to defy Poland over Nordstream 2, says Gazprom chief

Alexey Miller Gazprom CEOThe international consortium put together to build the Nordstream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany are getting ready to defy the Polish authorities by coming up with a new financing model by the end of the year, according to Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller. His announcement took observers by surprise as it comes just days after (more…)

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Juncker plays WTO card over steel row as Li calls for more EU-China trade

Xinhua/Rex/ShutterstockEU-China trade:The president of the European commission has warned China that it must stop dumping cheap steel in Europe or it could fail to gain market economy status with the World Trade Organisation, which Beijing is desperate to secure.
Jean-Claude Juncker said that Beijing and the EU had agreed to establish a working group to discuss the crisis in the steel industry and monitor steel shipments from China.
“The EU will defend its steel industry. We are not defenceless, and we will use all the means at our disposal,” Juncker said in Beijing after talks with the Chinese government.
steel exportsAn increase in cheap Chinese steel being imported into Europe has been blamed for the crisis facing the industry, which has put thousands of jobs at risk in the UK and across the continent. China makes more than half of the world’s steel but is suffering from slowing domestic demand. In the first quarter of the year Chinese steel exports to the EU rose 28%, driving prices down by more than 30%. 
Speaking at the same forum Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that the two sides should “properly deal with” trade disputes, oppose trade barriers and speed up negotiations on a China-EU investment treaty. 
EU China tradeIn addition to accusations of dumping, trade relations between the two sides have also been put under pressure by long-standing complaints from European enterprises working in China about unfair restrictions that make it difficult for them to compete with local rivals. Foreign companies would soon enjoy the same treatment as their Chinese counterparts, Li promised, with the government continuing to reform its foreign investment management system, ease market access, enhance intellectual property protection and guarantee the legitimate rights of all types of enterprises, and remaining committed to creating a fair, transparent and expectable investment environment.
He called for European companies to invest more in China’s advanced manufacturing, service industry and the central and western parts of the country, “We want trade between China and Europe to grow on a stable platform,” he said.
China is now the EU’s second biggest trading partner behind the United States while China sells more goods and services to the EU than anywhere else in the world. 

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UK ministers begin post-Brexit trade talks with visits to India and China

UK Business Secretary Sajid Javidpost-Brexit trade talks: UK Business Minister Said Javid was due to hold preliminary talks with government ministers in Delhi today, at the start of of world tour and probably years of negotiations as London seeks to establish new trade deals with individual countries to replace the 50-odd such agreements it enjoyed as part of the EU. 
“Following the referendum result, my absolute priority is making sure the UK has the tools it needs to continue to compete on the global stage,” he said. “That is why I am in India today to launch these initial trade discussions. There is a strong bilateral trade relationship between our two countries and I am determined that we build on this.”
UK Chancellor George Osborne in ParliamentThe discussions kick off a schedule of trips to the US, China, Japan and South Korea over the next few months, and come after George Osborne met a Chinese government delegation in London on Thursday and promised to foster “stronger trade ties” with the world’s second largest economy.The chancellor is undertaking a four-day trip to China later this month for the G20 finance ministers’ meeting and will visit several cities to promote UK-Chinese relations.
Javid will also meet Tata board members on Saturday to discuss the company’s efforts to find a buyer for its British steel business, which includes the blast furnaces at Port Talbot in South Wales. The sale process is understood to have been put on hold amid the economic uncertainty created by the vote to leave the EU.

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EU extends Russian sanctions for another year as Moscow retaliates

War in UkraineEU extends Russian sanctions: EU yesterday confirmed that it was rolling over the sanctions that it imposed over two years ago on the grounds that the 2015 Minsk peace deal aimed at ending the Ukraine conflict had “not [been] fully implemented.” EU ambassadors (more…)

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Putin extends EU food embargo

EU food import banEU food embargo: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree banning imports of Western food products until the end of 2017, according to a posting on the Kremlin’s website. The move comes after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed (more…)

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Brexit expected put brakes on India-EU FTA negotiations

Indian Commerce Secretary Rita TeaotiaBrexit: UK’s vote to leave the EU is expected to delay Indian attempts to establish a free trade agreement (FTA) with Brussels which have been under negotiation for the best part of a decade. It is also likely to have an impact on its talks over a similar deal with (more…)

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EU extends Russian sanctions as Juncker meets Putin in St Petersburg

Women and Russian soldiers in Ukraine

Local women watch armed men, believed to be Russian soldiers, assemble near a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe March 5, 2014

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Russian sanctions: The European Union yesterday resolved to extend the ban on its members conducting business with Russia for another 12 months until June 23. Brussels is also expected to use a meeting of EU ambassadorson Tuesday to also extend a wider ban until the end of the year.
The ban prohibits: (more…)

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Junker and Putin set to thrash out future of Nord Stream 2 at SPIEF

Juncker and PutinThe future of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline proposed between Russia and Germany is expected to be discussed by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and Russia’s Vladimir Putin when they meet at the SPIEF conference in St Petersburg this week. The two leaders (more…)

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Merkel proposes economic zone stretching from ‘Lisbon to Vladivostok’

German Chancellor Angela MerckelGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend put forward the idea of creating a common economic zone between the EU and Russia “from Lisbon to Vladivostok” and a gradual rapprochement between Moscow and Brussels. Speaking at the Christian Democratic Union’s Congress in Mecklenburg, she also repeated her readiness (more…)

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