OPEC, non-OPEC panel to discuss sharing oil-output boost

A panel called the Joint Technical Committee will on Tuesday consider proposals on distributing the agreed output increase of 1 million barrels per day. (Reuters)
Updated 07 September 2018
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OPEC, non-OPEC panel to discuss sharing oil-output boost

  • OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed in June to return to 100 percent compliance with oil output cuts that began in January 2017

DUBAI/LONDON: An OPEC and non-OPEC technical committee will next week discuss proposals for sharing out an oil-output increase, sources familiar with the matter said, a tense topic for the producer group after it decided in June to ease supply curbs.
A panel called the Joint Technical Committee will on Tuesday consider proposals on distributing the agreed output increase of 1 million barrels per day, the sources said.
“The talks will look at various mechanisms” to reach the required production level, a source said.
If resolved, the talks could lead to an easing of tensions within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Iran had been against the June decision, which came amid pressure from US President Donald Trump to reduce oil prices.
There are four proposals on how to distribute the increase, presented by Iran, Algeria, Russia and Venezuela, one of the sources said, suggesting agreement will not be straightforward.
One idea, to share it pro-rata among participating countries, is unlikely to be approved by Russia and Saudi Arabia since it would give them less than the supply boosts of 300,000 and 400,000 bpd that they respectively want, the source said.
OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed in June to return to 100 percent compliance with oil output cuts that began in January 2017. Months of underproduction in Venezuela and elsewhere had pushed adherence above 160 percent.
The June meeting concluded with a deep disagreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, longtime rivals in OPEC.
Saudi Arabia said the decision implied a reallocation of extra production from countries unable to produce more to those, such as Riyadh, that can. Iran, facing a forced cut in its oil exports because of US sanctions, disagreed.
The proposals will next be presented to ministers attending a monitoring meeting in Algeria on Sept. 23, sources said.


France unveils major tax cuts as growth flags

Updated 24 September 2018
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France unveils major tax cuts as growth flags

  • Critics say most people have been left behind by President Emmanuel Macron’s policies so far
  • Patience is wearing thin for many as unemployment has barely budged since Macron’s election in May 2017

PARIS: The French government on Monday unveiled billions of euros in tax relief for businesses alongside further budget cuts, as President Emmanuel Macron struggles to deliver more jobs and higher growth as promised.
The former investment banker’s poll ratings have dived in recent weeks as growth has slowed despite a series of reforms presented as unavoidable shock treatment for getting France on solid financial footing.
Critics say most people have been left behind by Macron’s policies so far, which have seen him raise taxes on retirees while cutting a wealth tax on top earners.
Pensions and welfare benefits will be shaved further in the 2019 budget — Macron complained in June that France spends “a crazy amount of dough” on social programs.
And 4,100 more public sector jobs will be axed as Macron aims for a deficit of 2.8 percent of GDP, below the 3 percent limit set for EU members.
Higher taxes on fuel and cigarettes will also hit consumers next year.
But the government says the pillar of the 2019 budget will be a combined €20 billion ($23.5 billion) of tax cuts for businesses and six billion euros in tax relief for households, including a gradual end to an annual housing tax.
“The long-term goal is to build a new French prosperity that will benefit all French people in all regions,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said as he presented the budget in Paris.
But he acknowledged that results from Macron’s reform drive so far “are unsatisfactory compared with our European neighbors, and we certainly don’t intend to stop here.”
“We’re doing less well than our European partners on unemployment, growth, the deficit and debt,” Le Maire said.
Patience is wearing thin for many as unemployment has barely budged since Macron’s election in May 2017, standing at 9.1 percent.
The 40-year-old centrist captured the presidency with a pledge to shake up an economy he says is held back by excessive regulations and rigid labor laws.
But growth has been slowing and is now widely expected to reach just 1.6 percent this year, and the government is forecasting an uptick to just 1.7 percent next year.
A poll released Sunday found just 29 percent satisfied with Macron’s leadership, while a separate survey last week said only 19 percent of French people held a positive view of his record.
He has promised to balance the budget in France for the first time in more than 40 years by the end of his term in 2022 — a task that will require an overhaul of state spending.
That has led him to take on France’s powerful labor unions to a degree not seen in decades, overcoming stiff resistance to new laws making it easier to fire people and ending the privileged status of rail workers.
He has also promised to cut 120,000 public sector jobs by the end of his term in 2022, a daunting prospect in a country known for its expansive bureaucracy which guarantees civil servants jobs for life.
Yet Macron has appeared to be dismissive of the concerns of everyday voters, most recently telling an unemployed gardener to go get a job in a restaurant or construction instead.
His reformist zeal has also exposed him to criticism that his policies favor businesses in particular, and he has struggled to shake off perceptions that he is “president of the rich.”
The vow to cut social spending is unlikely to reassure the lowest earners in France, where the number of people living below the poverty line has swelled to 14 percent of the population, according to national statistics office INSEE.