Accord on revised Pacific Rim trade pact stalled

Leaders and their spouses pose for a family photo ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit leaders gala dinner in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 10, 2017. (AFP / Vietnam News Agency)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Accord on revised Pacific Rim trade pact stalled

DANANG, Vietnam: Talks on a Pacific Rim trade pact abandoned by US President Donald Trump appeared to have stalled Friday as Canada balked at a basic agreement worked out in ministerial-level talks hours before.
Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January. Leaders of the 11 countries remaining in the TPP had been due to meet and endorse a deal worked out in last-minute talks overnight.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that the 11 leaders had to postpone their meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam.
“It was said that it is not at a stage where (the agreement) can be confirmed at the summit level,” said Abe, who was to co-chair the meeting. He made the comments to Japanese reporters after meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, who stayed away from the planned TPP leaders’ gathering while most other leaders showed up.
There was no immediate word from Canada on its stance. However, Trudeau had said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.
The chances for a deal by the time the summit ends on Saturday were unclear.
Earlier in the day, officials from Japan and some other countries expressed differing opinions on whether an “agreement in principle” had been reached.
The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the US, the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America first.”
Vietnamese officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.
The US president told an APEC business conference that “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore.” He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying “I am always going to put America first.”
Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to US involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.
In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.
The Chinese president drew loud applause when he urged support for the “multilateral trading regime” and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific.
APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments would eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.
But even talks this week on a declaration to cap the APEC summit had to be extended for an extra half day as ministers haggled over wording. It’s unclear what the exact sticking points were, but officials have alluded to differences over the unequal impact more open trade has had on workers and concerns over automation in manufacturing that could leave many millions in a wide array of industries with no work to do.
As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year’s host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West. The summit is an occasion for its leaders to showcase the progress its economy has made thanks largely to foreign investment and trade. Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.
APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.


Saudi Aramco Trading aims for 50% rise in oil trade volume in 2020

Updated 25 min 56 sec ago
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Saudi Aramco Trading aims for 50% rise in oil trade volume in 2020

  • About 50 percent of the 2.5 million bpd of oil products it trades currently are hedged
  • The company is also looking at building its capacity in trading liquefied natural gas

SINGAPORE: Saudi's Aramco Trading Company (ATC) expects to increase its oil trading volume to 6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, 50 percent higher than current levels, the company's top official said on Monday.

"Currently ... we're at 4 million barrels per day and with expansion I think our target is 6 million barrels per day," President and Chief Executive Ibrahim Al-Buainain said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC).

About 50 percent of the 2.5 million bpd of oil products it trades currently are hedged, he said.

The company is also looking at building its capacity in trading liquefied natural gas (LNG), using its Singapore office as a trading hub, Buainain said.

ATC plans to set up its European office in either Geneva or London and also aims to have an office in Fujairah to manage oil storage, he said.

In Singapore, Buainain said he expects the company's office to grow to 30 to 40 people within the next two years.

ATC also expected to benefit from a switch by ships to cleaner fuels in 2020 as mandated by the International Maritime Organization.

"The second-hand effect of the IMO is the oversupply of high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) which in our case is a positive because we are net short on fuel oil and that will help us in meeting our requirements (for HSFO) in power generation," Buainain said.

Buainain has headed the trading arm of Saudi Aramco since 2016.

ATC was set up in 2012 to market refined products, base oils and bulk petrochemicals. It started trading non-Saudi crude oil and refined products from its overseas refineries in the past years as the world's largest oil exporter seeks to optimise profits.