US sanctions Chinese oil trader for violating Iran restrictions: Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US is placing Chinese entity Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive Youmin Li on its sanctions blacklist. (File/AP)
Updated 22 July 2019

US sanctions Chinese oil trader for violating Iran restrictions: Pompeo

WASHINGTON: The United States is placing a leading Chinese oil importer on its sanctions blacklist for trading in Iranian crude, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday.
“As part of that maximum pressure campaign, I am announcing that the United States is imposing sanctions on the Chinese entity Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive Youmin Li,” Pompeo said in a speech.
“They violated US law by accepting crude oil,” he said.
The announcement was the latest step by Washington to ratchet up economic pressure on Tehran over its alleged military activities in the Middle East and its nuclear program by taking aim at business partners.
“We’ve said all along that any sanction will indeed be enforced. We can’t tolerate more money going to ayatollahs, putting American soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, putting their lives at risk. It’s too important.”
Zhuhai Zhenrong along with Chinese state refiner Sinopec are responsible for nearly all the Iranian crude that China imports.
Bloomberg reported that China took in about 12 million tons of Iranian crude in the first five months of this year.
It said that some of that crude is being held in “bonded storage” and not passing through Chinese customs, possibly to avoid the application of sanctions.


EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

Updated 13 December 2019

EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

  • EU is concerned about the rapid speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe
  • Johnson has until July 1 to request for a trade talks extension

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned of the tight timing for securing a trade deal with Britain, hours after Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a crushing election victory.
“The time frame ahead of us is very challenging,” von der Leyen said, following a discussion by EU leaders on the way forward after Brexit, now expected on January 31.
On the “first of February, we go to work,” she said.
EU Council President Charles Michel warned that the 27 member states would not accept a deal blindly, stressing that the bloc would insist that Britain respect European norms to win the deal.
“There is no question of concluding a deal at any price, said Michel, who coordinates EU summits, after the talks.
“Negotiations are over when the results are balanced and guarantee respect for the different concerns,” the former Belgian premier said.
“We have a way of doing things based on experience, transparency and maintaining unity” in the EU, he added.
EU is worried about the breakneck speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe and any British effort to undermine the unity among the remaining 27 members.
In a text released after the talks, the 27 EU leaders called for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations, which the leaders will follow closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest,” conclusions added.
Johnson has until July 1 to ask for a trade talks extension.
If he refuses to extend the negotiation period, a no-deal Brexit will loom at the end of 2020, with Britain in danger of an abrupt cut in trade ties with Europe, endangering its economy.