OPEC+ compromises on oil supply increase

OPEC+ compromises on oil supply increase
Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 04 December 2020

OPEC+ compromises on oil supply increase

OPEC+ compromises on oil supply increase
  • Members acknowledge the ‘extraordinary efforts’ of Saudi energy minister

DUBAI: The world’s biggest oil producers have reached a compromise agreement on the supply of crude oil for next year, in an attempt to ensure an ongoing recovery in markets that remain fragile as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a week of online deliberations, OPEC+, the alliance of producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to increase output from January by only 500,000 barrels per day — significantly less than the 2 million barrels originally planned.
The new levels will be subject to monthly monitoring by OPEC+ ministers, chaired by Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, and could be increased or reduced according to market conditions.
Details of the compromise deal were agreed upon after long discussions among 23 producers, organized from the Vienna home of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The participants acknowledged the “perseverance, diligence and extraordinary efforts” of Prince Abdul Aziz in helping to combat the effects of the pandemic on global energy markets.
Some exporters had argued that the fragile demand for crude meant the full 2 million-barrel increase — as scheduled in the historic agreement last April that is credited with dragging oil prices back from decade-long lows — should be delayed for a further three months.
Others — most notably the UAE — took a more positive view of demand in the months ahead.
The compromise arrangement was hammered out against a background of rising oil prices after news of effective vaccines lifted economic prospects. Brent crude stood at close to $49 as the OPEC+ meeting closed.
Energy experts welcomed the deal. Robin Mills, chief executive of consultancy Qamar Energy, told Arab News: “The plan to make modest monthly increases makes sense. It does not overwhelm the market, gradually regains some market shares, and can be adjusted according to progress on vaccines.”


France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
Updated 17 January 2021

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
  • All eyes on President-elect Biden to resolve disputes between partners

PARIS: The EU and the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden should suspend a trade dispute to give themselves time to find common ground, France’s foreign minister said in remarks published on Sunday.

“The issue that’s poisoning everyone is that of the price escalation and taxes on steel, digital technology and Airbus,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

He said he hoped the sides could find a way to settle the dispute. “It may take time, but in the meantime, we can always order a moratorium,” he added.

At the end of December the US moved to boost tariffs on French and German aircraft parts in the Boeing-Airbus subsidy dispute, but the bloc decided to hold off on retaliation for now.

The EU is planning to present a World Trade Organization (WTO) reform proposal in February and is willing to consider reforms to restrain the judicial authority of the WTO’s dispute-settlement body.

The US has for years complained that the WTO Appellate Body makes unjustified new trade rules in its decisions and has blocked the appointment of new judges to stop this, rendering the body inoperable.

The Trump administration, which leaves office on Wednesday, had threatened to impose tariffs on French cosmetics, handbags and other goods in retaliation for France’s digital services tax, which it said discriminated against US tech firms.

Overturning decades of free trade consensus was a central part of Trump’s “America First” agenda. In 2018, declaring that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he shocked allies by imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from most of the world.

While Trump later dropped tariffs against Australia, Japan, Brazil and South Korea in return for concessions, he kept them in place against more than $7 billion worth of EU metal. The bloc retaliated with tariffs on more than $3 billion worth of US goods, from orange juice and blue jeans to Harley Davidson bikes, and took its case to the WTO.

While Biden promises to be more predictable than Trump, he is not expected to lift the steel tariffs immediately. Even if he wants to, he could run into reluctance from producers in “rust belt” states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania that secured his election win.

Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE, said the US was unlikely to award Europe a “free pass,” noting that countries that had offered concessions to have their tariffs lifted could complain if Europe won better treatment.

Resolving future trade disputes could become easier, if Biden reverses Trump policy that paralyzed the WTO by blocking the appointment of judges to its appellate body.