Oil prices fell along with weak stock markets on Thursday, but trading was tepid ahead of a meeting by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The meeting is expected to result in a supply cut aimed at draining a glut that has pulled down crude prices by 30 per cent since October.
International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were at 61.04 dollars per barrel at 0531 GMT, down 52 cents, or 0.8 per cent from their last close.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at 52.38 dollars per barrel, down 51 cents, or 1 per cent.
Traders said oil prices were being weighed down by weak global financial markets, which saw stock markets tumble on Thursday.
Since early October, crude oil has lost around 30 per cent of its value amid surging supply and fears that an economic downturn will erode fuel demand.
“A massive liquidation in long positions by money managers has dampened market confidence on oil prices considerably,” said Benjamin Lu of Singaporean brokerage Phillip Futures.
OPEC is meeting at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday to decide its production policy.
Led by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s crude oil production PRODN-TOTAL has risen by 4.1 per cent since mid-2018, to 33.31 million barrels per day (bpd).
Oil output from the world’s biggest producers – OPEC, Russia and the United States – has increased by a 3.3 million bpd since the end of 2017, to 56.38 million bpd, meeting almost 60 per cent of global consumption.
The increase alone is equivalent to the output of major OPEC producer United Arab Emirates.
Russia, a major oil producer but not a member of OPEC, will meet with the producer cartel on Friday to discuss production levels, and it is widely expected that a supply cut will be agreed.
“Markets…believe the production cut deal will be in range of 1-1.3 million bpd,” ANZ bank said on Thursday.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his government was ready to seize and redistribute tracts of idle farmland mostly owned by his top Zanu PF allies.
This follows a land audit which unearthed multiple farm ownership by influential officials in violation of the one-man-one-farm policy by government.
"The land reform program is done and dusted," Mnangagwa said while addressing some traditional leaders in Kadoma on Monday. "As government, we have embarked on a land commission audit. The audit has unearthed that most of the bigwigs have more than one farm."
To address the anomaly, President Mnangagwa said government was going ahead with plans to repossess the farms for redistribution to other Zimbabweans who did not benefit from the country's controversial land reform process in the past 18 years. Mnangagwa also said his government would also move to downsize some of the farms considered too big.
"The preliminary reports have shown us that most senior officials within the party (Zanu PF) have more than one farm.
"As government, we are going to address the anomaly. We are going to repossess those farms and redistribute them. We are going to downsize on some of the farms.
"There are some individuals, very influential, whom we cannot name who have more than one farm and we are going after them," he said.
The Zanu PF led government, then under the now former President Robert Mugabe, in 2000 embarked on a violent land reform process which saw militant war veterans storm white owned farms and grabbing implements, livestock and farm houses.
The chaotic exercise saw some locals allocated pieces of land to both build homes and to fend for their families. Some influential government officials and security bosses used their stamina to grab bigger and more fertile pieces of land with rich infrastructure while some even went for more than a single farm. Although he led the one-man-one-farm mantra, then Mugabe was this year said to be owner of 21 farms, some of which he secretly leased to white farmers.
However, other reports linked the once feared leader to a total 13 farms under his and family ownership.
"I am still receiving evidence of what the (former) first family had. When that process is complete they will select one farm and the rest will be given elsewhere," Mnangagwa told the Independent Foreign Service in a wide-ranging interview August this year.
"It's not a question of voluntary giving up, but about complying with the policy."
Mnangagwa, who is often regarded as a reformist, has refused to return land into the hands of its former white owners saying the land reform process was "irreversible".
Credit: New Zimbabwe
Issues related to tax and residence permits are frustrating Chinese investors interested in doing business in Tanzania, the Chinese ambassador, Ms Wang Ke, has said.
Ms Wang was speaking during a forum aimed at promoting investment and trade partnerships between Chinese and Tanzanian companies held in the city yesterday. It brought together 136 companies from Tanzania and 70 from China.
The envoy stressed the need for increasing efforts to improve the business environment in the country. The business community has repeatedly complained about overstated tax estimates and multiple taxes and absence of a one-stop centre that makes it convenient for foreign investors to register and apply for residence permit in one place.
"We understand that the government has noticed and attached great importance to this by taking measures to make improvements," she said.
According to the ambassador, China has increased its investments in the country, overtaking the UK as the number one source of investments in Tanzania. She said Chinese Investment volume has reached $7 billion in sectors that include energy and infrastructure and that Chinese companies were ready to invest in other areas including the cashew nut sub-sector.
For his part, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Executive Director Godfrey Simbeye said it was important that the government worked to improve the business environment to attract more investors. "The government is trying but... it is discouraging that a Chinese investor producing tiles has to compete with fake products for markets," he said.
For his part, the Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr Joseph Kakunda, said the government has noted all the concerns raised by the ambassador and they were being addressed. He said the government was willing and ready to provide the required support.
He said the government has introduced an online portal where foreign companies can apply and register from their countries of origin before coming to Tanzania for final processes.
On trade between the two countries, the minister said: "We have been experiencing a huge trade imbalance by importing more of value added products and that is why we are looking for investors in agro processing, manufacturing and other vital sectors," he said.
He said the country produces 275,000 tonnes of cashew nuts annually and has the capacity to add value to 127,000 tonnes. However, he noted so far only 30,000 tonnes are processed for value addition.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the China Council for Promoting South-South Cooperation Lyu Xinhua said they have launched an English website for international trade where different countries can reach partners for possible investments.