Japan, EU sign landmark trade deal

The deal eliminates about 99 percent of the tariffs on Japanese goods to the EU, but remaining at around 94 percent for European imports into Japan for now and rising to 99 percent over the years. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Japan, EU sign landmark trade deal

  • Both sides are heralding the deal, which covers a third of the global economy and more than 600 million people
  • Besides the latest deal with the EU, Japan is working on other trade agreements, including a far-reaching trans-Pacific deal
The EU and Japan signed a sweeping free trade deal Tuesday that officials called a “clear message” against protectionism, as Washington imposes controversial tariffs and threatens a trade war.
The deal signed in Tokyo by the EU’s top officials and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the biggest ever negotiated by the EU and creates a free trade zone covering nearly a third of the world’s GDP.
“We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said.
“Together we are making — by signing this agreement — a statement about free and fair trade, we are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together,” added Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker.
The huge deal was signed as President Donald Trump unsettles allies and provokes rivals with his aggressive “America First” trade policy.
Both the EU and Japan have been hit with new US tariffs despite their longstanding alliances with Washington.
Juncker said the deal sent a message that “trade is about more than tariffs and barriers, it is about values.”
“There is no protection in protectionism,” he said.
Abe, standing alongside the two EU officials, said the agreement, “shows the world the unshaken political will of Japan and the EU to lead the world as the champions of free trade at a time when protectionism has spread.”


US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

Updated 10 December 2018
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US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister held talks Monday with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, after the Kingdom and its allies defied US pressure to cut oil production in a bid to prop up prices.
They discussed the “state of the oil market” and energy cooperation between the two countries during a meeting in eastern Dhahran city, the minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said on Twitter.
Perry tweeted that he discussed the need for “open, free, and fair markets with the Saudis.”
OPEC members and 10 other oil producing nations, including Russia, on Friday agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day from January in a bid to reverse recent falls in prices.
The decision came even as US President Donald Trump demanded that the cartel boost output in order to push prices down.
But Al-Falih shrugged off the pressure last week, saying “we don’t need permission from anyone to cut” production.
The US “is not in a position to tell us what to do,” he told reporters ahead of Friday’s OPEC meeting in Vienna.
Last week, for the first time in decades, the United States — which is not a member of OPEC — was a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products.
It was the latest sign of how the shale boom has lifted the US standing on global petroleum markets, prompting talk of “energy dominance” by Trump.
Perry’s visit to Dhahran came as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled state oil giant Aramco’s plan for a new energy megaproject in the area known as the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK).
The energy park is expected to attract an initial investment of $1.6 billion, Aramco said.