Greece says ‘not a euro more’ in cuts as EU officials call for speedy deal

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, left, welcomes EU Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici at Maximos Mansion in Athens, on Feb. 15, 2017 for talks on the bailout-dependent country's slow-moving negotiations with its international creditors. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Updated 16 February 2017
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Greece says ‘not a euro more’ in cuts as EU officials call for speedy deal

ATHENS/VIENNA: EU officials urged Greece and its lenders on Thursday to conclude a long-overdue bailout review quickly to safeguard economic recovery but Athens said it wouldn’t ask “a euro more” from its austerity-wracked citizens.
Inconclusive talks between Greece and its international creditors on economic reforms and debt relief are in danger of retriggering the crisis that almost ended in Greece being pushed out of the euro zone two years ago.
Failure to agree on various aspects of what must be done has cast doubt over the future of Greece’s €86 billion bailout program, with new aid withheld while the stalemate persists.
On Thursday, EU officials were urging speed to avoid catastrophe and one German politician close to Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted that one bone of contention — the participation of the International Monetary Fund — may be got around.
But Greece remained firm that is would not imposed more austerity than already agreed on is population, which has been living with deep recession, deflation and a roughly one-in-four jobless rate.
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, who had visited Athens on Wednesday, said he was “hopeful” for a political agreement before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers next Monday.
“An agreement on the way forward for the Greek program is absolutely necessary .... With (a) little effort from all stakeholders, (it) seems to me doable,” Moscovici told reporters in Vienna.
But with just four days to go there was little public sign of compromise.
“The Greek government is negotiating with responsibility and resolve ... but all of that must, however, be without any additional burden, and without additional costs for Greek society,” Greek government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told a news briefing.
“Our aim continues to be an agreement with not even a euro more of additional measures.”
The Greek government has resisted the imposition of more austerity by the lenders, particularly on groups such as pensioners who have already seen 11 cuts to their income.
Costs
In Brussels, the European Commission’s vice president responsible for the euro, Valdis Dombrovskis, said there are costs in delaying agreement on Greece’s bailout review, and a solution needs to be found swiftly.
“There is a common understanding that time lost in reaching an agreement will have a cost for everyone,” Dombrovskis told Greek news portal Euro2day.
Dombrovskis said the situation in Greece could not be compared with to the situation in early 2015 when the country narrowly avoided default and toppling out of the euro zone.
Greece has about €7.5 billion of debt falling due by July, which it is unable to pay without more loans from lenders.
So far it has received some €31.7 billion from the latest bailout accord, its third since 2010.
Disagreements over labor and energy market reforms lenders want Greece to adopt have been complicated by broader misgivings from the IMF, which will not participate in the most recent bailout because of concerns Athens will never be able to extricate itself from debt.
European policymakers have said that the bailout program cannot continue without IMF input, although a Manfred Weber, a German who heads the conservative bloc in the European Parliament, said on Thursday IMF participation is no longer crucial.
The fundamentals of the Greek economy have been strengthened, Dombrovskis said, but that strong growth potential was contingent on reforms being implemented.
“So policy makers are faced with this choice — work hard to reach an agreement that will build on progress made or slip back into uncertainty. I think the choice is obvious,” he said.
Recent Greek economic data has shown how tenuous the recovery is, with inflation rising and economic growth contracting again.


Abu Dhabi, Shanghai plan exchange focusing on China trade

Updated 24 April 2018
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Abu Dhabi, Shanghai plan exchange focusing on China trade

DUBAI: The emirate’s international financial center, has agreed in principle with the Shanghai Stock Exchange to cooperate in establishing an exchange focusing on China’s foreign trade and investment, ADGM said on Monday.
The partners signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the exchange in Abu Dhabi. It would cater to companies and investors involved in China’s Belt and Road initiative, a Beijing-backed drive to win trade and investment deals along routes linking China to Europe.
“At ADGM, we have the international platform to serve different kinds of enterprises and investors — global, regional and local — seeking exposure to the Middle East and North Africa and Belt and Road projects,” said Richard Teng, chief executive of ADGM’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
Teng said he could not give specifics of which instruments the new exchange would trade or when it might open, saying this would depend on demand among stakeholders in both ADGM and Shanghai.
Chinese financial institutions have approached ADGM to discuss the financial environment in Abu Dhabi and their development needs in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he added.
Trade and investment ties between China and the GCC have been growing rapidly. The region is a big oil supplier to China, and Sino-United Arab Emirates trade exceeded $46 billion in 2016, according to Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency.
Ultimately, the new exchange will support not only the Belt and Road initiative but also the internationalization of the Chinese yuan in the region, Teng said.
Abu Dhabi is trying to build up ADGM, which opened in October 2015 and is smaller than the international financial center in neighboring Dubai, as part of a drive to develop its economy beyond oil exports.