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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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China confirms $22bn gold discovery

Shandong Gold mineThe Shandong Gold Group this week confirmed that it has discovered what is thought to be China’s largest gold deposit in the eastern district of Xilin. According to the Group, the 2,000m deposit contains 382.58 tons of high-quality gold with a potential value of more than $22bn and represents around 20% of China’s entire gold reserves. (more…)

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Australia rebuffs China over Silk Road

Li Keqiang and Turnbull Australia 230317China is expected to suffer a rare setback in its drive to develop its $4trn One Belt One Road global trading, transport and logistics network this week during Premier Li Keqian’s visit to Canberra, with an unnamed Australian officials predicting that Australia will rejected Beijing’s request for its $3.8bn Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility infrastructure fund to be formally aligned with the New Silk Road strategy . The rebuff comes amid concerns that such a move could damage relations with the US at a time when Australia is pressing Washington to bolster its presence in the region and taking a tougher line on inward investment from China.
S Kidman & Co cattle farmLast year, the Canberra government blocked two potential Chinese acquisitions – bids in excess of $7.6bn for the Ausgrid electricity company due to be submitted by the State Grid Corporation and the Hong-Kong-based Cheung Kong Infrastructure company; and attempts by a Chinese consortium to purchase the S Kidman & Co cattle farm that stretches across more than 1% of Australia’s land mass.
The debate over whether Australia should align its state infrastructure fund with One Belt One Road follows on from Canberra’s hesitation over joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). In 2014, Australia initially decided not to join following lobbying by the US and Japan, but eventually relented after the UK and several other western nations broke ranks and signed up.

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Alibaba to open ‘e-hub’ in Malaysia

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group CEO is on track to open an ‘e-hub’ close to Kuala Lumpur International Airport as part of the company’s plan to establish an electronic world trade platform, its CEO Daniel Zhang said today. The facility in the KLIA Aeropolis zone would (more…)

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Vodafone and Idea join forces in to take on Jio in India’s ‘vicious’ price war

Idea and VodafoneIn the latest development in the struggle for domination of India’s mobile telecoms market, UK giant Vodafone’s wholly-owned India Mobile Services and the domestic Idea Cellular operator are to join forces, it was announced yesterday. The result (more…)

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Russian credit rating edges upwards as Moscow keeps budget deficit in check

Russians and rouble signRussian credit rating: With its economy moving up through the gears and the government in Moscow managing to keep the budget deficit in check, S&P announced that it was upgrading the Russia’s credit rating from stable to positive, leaving its foreign-currency rating one step short of investment grade at BB+.
“External pressures (more…)

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Governor looks to position AIFC as centre for Islamic banking in CIS

AIFC Governor Kairat KelimbetovKazakhstan is planning to promote its new Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) as a leading regional platform for the spread of Islamic finance and banking across the CIS region, the centre’s governor Kairat Kelimbetov confirmed this week. (more…)

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Turkmen President in talks with Qatar over TAPI pipeline development

Berdimuhamedov and Al-Thani March 2016Turkmenistan is considering turning to Qatar for financial and technical help with the development of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov announced after a meeting with Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha this week. (more…)

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New investment fund set to strengthen ties between Russia and Turkey

Putin and ErdoganThe flourishing political and economic alliance between Russia and Turkey wracked up a notch this week with the announcement that the two countries had now formally agreed to set up a joint Russia-Turkey Investment Fund.
The two signatories to the agreement (more…)

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BJP looks to trigger FDI surge into retail sector after election victory

Modi wins Uttar Pradesh March 2017Indian retail: BJP’s resounding victory in this month’s Uttar Pradesh assembly elections is expected to trigger a speedy relaxation in the rules governing inward investment into India’s fiercely protected multi-brand retail sector, the Times of India reported on Monday.
According to its sources, (more…)

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