US, India in ‘very detailed’ talks about halting Iran oil imports

India is a big buyer of oil from Iran, a target of US sanctions. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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US, India in ‘very detailed’ talks about halting Iran oil imports

NEW DELHI: The US and India are engaged in “very detailed conversations” over Washington’s request to completely stop India’s oil imports from Iran, a senior US State Department official said on Thursday.
US President Donald Trump this year ordered the reimposition of economic curbs on Iran after withdrawing his country from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. The US has since been trying to persuade countries to economically isolate Iran.
“We’re asking all of our partners, not just India, to reduce to zero oil imports from Iran and so I’m confident that will be part of our conversation with India,” the official told reporters, as the foreign and defense heads of the two countries met in the Indian capital.
“There are very detailed conversations taking place between the US and India on just the technical issues related to going to zero and those conversations will continue.”
Despite Trump’s efforts, government officials in India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and Iran’s top oil client after China, have been talking about wanting to continue trade ties, especially for oil, with Iran.
To lure Indian buyers, the Islamic nation has been offering extended credit terms and almost free shipping.
India would not stop Iranian imports but would finalize its strategy on crude buys after this week’s high-level meeting of US state and defense secretaries, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, and India’s foreign and defense ministers, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman, an Indian official told Reuters last month.
In another sign of New Delhi’s desire to keep buying Iranian oil, Reuters reported this week that India had allowed its state refiners to use Tehran’s tanker and insurance cover after western and Indian shippers started winding down their Iran operations ahead of a Nov. 4 deadline.
Nevertheless, India’s August oil imports from Iran plunged by a third as the state refiners waited for government permission to buy oil using Iranian tankers and cover.


Honda’s impending closure of Britain plant not Brexit-related: president

Updated 24 min 42 sec ago
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Honda’s impending closure of Britain plant not Brexit-related: president

TOKYO: Honda announced Tuesday it would shut a major plant in Britain, putting 3,500 jobs at risk as the auto manufacturer became the latest Japanese firm to downsize operations as Brexit looms.
The factory in Swindon, southwest England, is Honda’s only EU plant and has produced the manufacturer’s “Civic” model for more than 24 years, with 150,000 units rolling off the line annually.
The plant will shut in 2021, Honda announced, “at the end of the current model’s production lifecycle.”
The decision “has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people,” said Katsushi Inoue, chief officer for European regional operations, in a statement.
The firm blamed “unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry” for the decision but it comes amid investment uncertainty in Britain ahead of the country’s exit from the EU.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Honda president Takahiro Hachigo said: “I’d like you to understand this is not related to Brexit.”
He said it was “very regrettable” to have to close the plant but said it was the “best choice” given the need to reduce production capacity and reform its global facilities.
The firm also announced it would stop manufacturing the Civic model in Turkey in 2021.
Honda joins fellow car giant Nissan as well as Japanese firms Sony, Panasonic and Hitachi in scaling back operations in Britain ahead of the country’s departure from the European Union.
Analysts say that while Brexit was almost certainly a factor for Honda, other reasons were likely to have played a part, including a massive EU-Japan free-trade agreement recently signed and the wider struggles of the car industry.
“Honda seems to have been preparing for this for a long time. Then Brexit happened, which might have pushed the company to make the decision now,” Seiji Sugiura, analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, said.
Speaking ahead of the formal decision, local finance worker Sue Davis, 49, said the move would be “devastating” for the area.
“I think Swindon’s finished without Honda. My ex-husband works there, has done for 20 years. He’s going to be without a job, so I just think it’s really, really bad news.”
Local MP Justin Tomlinson tweeted ahead of Tuesday’s announcement that the decision had been made “based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.”
Earlier this month, Nissan axed production of the X-Trail SUV in the Brexit-backing northeast city of Sunderland, despite government assurances over the consequences from the EU exit.
Nissan Europe chairman Gianluca de Ficchy said then that the cuts were made “for business reasons” but admitted that “the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future.”
Auto giant Toyota also warned in February there would be no way to avoid a negative impact in the event of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama noted that the firm’s assembly plant in Burnaston, central England, which produces 600 vehicles per day, operates under the “just-in-time” system that relies on a smooth flow of components from the EU.
“We will have to halt the plant if the car parts are not brought in” from the continent, Tomoyama warned.
Japanese electronics giants Sony and Panasonic, as well as several banks, have moved some of their operations out of Britain since the 2016 referendum that set Brexit in motion.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pleaded against a no-deal Brexit in recent talks with his British and German counterparts, telling Theresa May last month: “We truly hope that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided and in fact this is the... wish of the whole world.”
And Japanese officials have reportedly become frustrated with their British counterparts as they negotiate a potential post-Brexit trade deal.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but its parliament last month rejected a draft divorce deal May negotiated with the bloc, prompting fears the country could crash out without an agreement next month.