Tankers to be blacklisted for trade with Caracas

Sanctions could disrupt global sea trade by raising tanker rates. Vessels that could be targeted include 25 supertankers, which can each carry 2 million barrels of oil. (AFP)
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Updated 07 June 2020

Tankers to be blacklisted for trade with Caracas

  • Some US officials say that President Donald Trump has become frustrated by the failure to oust Maduro, who retains the support of the Venezuelan military as well as Russia, China, Cuba and Iran

LONDON: The US is considering imposing sanctions on dozens of additional foreign oil tankers for trading with Venezuela, US officials said, the latest effort to sever what Washington sees as a lifeline for President Nicolas Maduro.

Some sanctions could be announced in the near term while others could be imposed over a longer period if the trading activity persists in violation of US restrictions, one of the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Four shipping sources said that potential sanctions on at least 40 ships could be imposed soon, although the Trump administration had not finalized a decision.

Such a move could disrupt global seaborne trade by sharply raising tanker rates. Vessels that could be targeted include 25 supertankers, which can each carry a maximum of 2 million barrels of oil, and 17 smaller vessels, the sources said.

“The net effect may be a clear message to all ship owners: consider Venezuela off limits,” said a senior US official. A State Department spokesman said that US authorities “continue to engage with companies in the energy sector on the possible risks they face by conducting business with PDVSA,” but did not directly address the question about the expected sanctions.

“Flag registries, shipping companies and their associated suppliers/vendors be warned: Illegal transactions with the illegitimate regime of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro may subject you to crippling financial and economic sanctions,” the White House’s National Security Council warned in a tweet on Tuesday.

Taking aim at two heavily sanctioned foes, the US is also seeking to deter further fuel shipments from Iran to gasoline-starved Venezuela, US officials have said.

The US and dozens of other nations regard Maduro and his socialist government as illegitimate because of a 2018 election widely seen as fraudulent. Maduro has accused Washington of orchestrating a coup to remove him to gain control of the South American nation’s oil reserves.

US officials have steadily added tankers and shipping companies to the blacklist over their dealings with Venezuela since Washington imposed sanctions last year, and have warned of more targets if they fail to abide by sanctions.

Some US officials have said privately that President Donald Trump has become frustrated by the failure to oust Maduro, who retains the support of the Venezuelan military as well as Russia, China, Cuba and Iran.

Earlier this week the US Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on four shipping firms for transporting Venezuelan oil, escalating the political standoff by curbing the OPEC nation’s crude exports.


Saudi Arabia’s 6-point plan to jumpstart global economy

Updated 07 July 2020

Saudi Arabia’s 6-point plan to jumpstart global economy

  • Policy recommendations to G20 aim to counter effects of pandemic

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as president of the G20 group of nations, has unveiled a six-point business plan to jump start the global economy out of the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yousef Al-Benyan, the chairman of the B20 business group within the G20, told a webinar from Riyadh that the response to the pandemic -— including the injection of $5 trillion into the global economy — had been “reassuring.”

But he warned that the leading economies of the world had to continue to work together to mitigate the effects of global lockdowns and to address the possibility of a “second wave” of the disease.

“Cooperation and collaboration between governments, global governance institutions and businesses is vital for an effective and timely resolution of this multi-dimensional contagion transcending borders,” Al-Benyan said.

“The B20 is strongly of the view there is no alternative to global cooperation, collaboration and consensus to tide over a multi-dimensional and systemic crisis,” he added.

The six-point plan, contained in a special report to the G20 leadership with input from 750 global business leaders, sets out a series of policy recommendations to counter the effects of the disease which threaten to spark the deepest economic recession in nearly a century.

The document advocates policies to build health resilience, safeguard human capital, and prevent financial instability.

It also promotes measures to free up global supply chains, revive productive economic sectors, and digitize the world economy “responsibly and inclusively.”

In a media question-and-answer session to launch the report, Al-Benyan said that among the top priorities for business leaders were the search for a vaccine against the virus that has killed more than half-a-million people around the world, and the need to reopen global trade routes slammed shut by economic lockdowns.

He said that the G20 response had been speedy and proactive, especially in comparison with the global financial crisis of 2009, but he said that more needed to be done, especially to face the possibility that the disease might surge again. “Now is not the time to celebrate,” he warned.

“Multilateral institutions and mechanisms must be positively leveraged by governments to serve their societies and must be enhanced wherever necessary during and after the pandemic,” he said, highlighting the role of the World Health Organization, the UN and the International Monetary Fund, which have come under attack from some world leaders during the pandemic.

Al-Benyan said that policy responses to the pandemic had been “designed according to each country’s requirements.”

Separately, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said that it was “too early” to say if the Kingdom’s economy would experience a sharp “V-shape” recovery from pandemic recession.