Saudi Arabia to host ‘virtual’ G20 meeting on oil markets

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, Saudi energy minister and chairman of the G20 event.
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Updated 27 September 2020

Saudi Arabia to host ‘virtual’ G20 meeting on oil markets

  • Energy ministers will also discuss plans for ‘green’ economic recovery from ravages of coronavirus pandemic

DUBAI: Energy ministers from the G20 countries under the presidency of Saudi Arabia will meet virtually on Sunday to discuss volatile oil markets and plans for a “green” recovery from the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kingdom is strongly backing a “circular carbon economy” strategy to remove harmful greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.

The two-day event is the second time this year that energy policymakers have come together, following the historic meeting last April that helped stabilize crude markets in meltdown.

Markets have since recovered and the price of benchmark Brent crude has more than doubled, but doubts about their resilience have resurfaced amid fears of a “second wave” of economic lockdowns.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister and chairman of the G20 event, has highlighted the need for tight discipline by members of the OPEC+ oil producers’ alliance to combat market “uncertainty.” 

“If we are serious about mitigating the impact of the shock and navigating through these extraordinary times, this is our only path,” he said.

The G20 said ministers would discuss ways to “strengthen collaboration toward market stability and security and discuss promoting and advancing sustainable energy systems through the Circular Carbon Economy platform,” and address “advancing universal access to energy and clean cooking for all.”

There is consensus on the need to mitigate harmful emissions, but some European countries and nongovernmental organizations are believed to be pressing for a stronger stance on fossil fuels.

The Saudi strategy, supported by the US and Russia, is for a more inclusive stance on hydrocarbon resources, while simultaneously promoting renewable sources such as solar and wind.


Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Updated 20 October 2020

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

  • Both sides call on each other to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors

BRUSSELS: Britain and the EU said on Monday the door was still open for a deal on their post-Brexit relationship, calling on each other to compromise to find a way to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors.

With just over two months before Britain ends a status quo transition arrangement with the EU, talks on a trade deal are deadlocked, with neither wanting to move first to offer concessions.

A no-deal finale to Britain’s five-year Brexit drama would disrupt the operations of manufacturers, retailers, farmers and nearly every other sector — just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic repeated on Monday that the EU still wanted a trade deal but not “at any cost” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday there was no point in continuing talks.

“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides — we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after meeting Michael Gove, Britain’s point man on the existing divorce agreement, in London.

“The EU is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.

Britain, increasingly frustrated by the EU’s refusal to start text-based talks, called on the bloc to make the first move, with its housing minister saying that Brussels only had to make “some relatively small but important changes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on the EU to “go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion.”

A spokesman for Johnson again ruled out prolonging any negotiation beyond the end of this year, when the transition period runs out, saying the EU “must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas with a genuine wish to respect UK sovereignty and independence.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had been due in London for talks with British counterpart David Frost this week. Instead, they will now speak by telephone on Monday to discuss the structure of future talks, Barnier’s spokesman said.

Negotiations broke down on Thursday, when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, including state aid and fisheries. EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done, and European leaders have asked Barnier to continue talks.

British officials have repeatedly said any deal has to honor Britain’s new status as a sovereign country and not try to tie it to EU rules and regulations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said compromises on both sides would be needed. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain needed a deal more than the 27-nation EU.

Britain is launching a campaign this week urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure. In a statement accompanying the launch, Gove says: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”

More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.