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China has overtaken the U.S. to become the EU's biggest trade partner while the rest of the world slides into the red due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country pushed past the United States in the third quarter to become the European Union's top trade partner, as the pandemic disrupted the US while Chinese activity rebounded.

Over the first nine months of 2020, trade between the EU and China totalled 425.5 billion euros ($514 billion), while trade between the EU and the United States came in at 412.5 billion euros, according to Eurostat data.

GDP Growth by Country

These figures show the year-on-year change in GDP for some of the world's richest countries, with China's economy larger than it was a year ago while others have seen massive decline 

For the same period in 2019, the EU's trade with China came in at 413.4 billion euros and 461 billion euros with the US.

Eurostat said the result was due to a 4.5 percent increase in imports from China while exports remained unchanged.

'At the same time trade with the United States recorded a significant drop in both imports (-11.4 percent) and exports (-10.0 percent),' Eurostat said.

The EU has been China's top trade partner since 2004 when it overtook Japan, but this is the first time the inverse has been true, France's Insee statistics agency said Wednesday.

After a Covid-19-related shock in the first quarter the Chinese economy has rebounded, with the economy growing year-on-year in the third quarter.

Insee said Chinese imports from Europe picked up in the third quarter, while purchases of personal protective equipment had boosted Chinese exports.

China Wind Turbine Production Getty

Workers are seen during the production process of wind turbines during a government organised tour at Goldwind Technology in Yancheng, in Jiangsu province on October 14

China's economy has grown 4.9 per cent in the third quarter from last year proving the country is back to its pre-pandemic trajectory with consumer spending and industrial production going back to normal levels.

The figures are far more favourable than the dire economic data coming out of most Western countries, showing how China has bounced back quickly despite being the first country to suffer the coronavirus outbreak.

As the virus spread across the globe, China started to bring the outbreak under control and began to reopen its economy, growing 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, and 3.2 per cent in the April-June quarter.

China has been widely condemned for its handling of coronavirus.

After initially covering up the outbreak, Beijing obscured an investigation into how it started and published infection rates which have been widely questioned and partly blamed for the West's slow response to prepare for the pandemic.

Since China fought off the outbreak, Chinese firms have taken advantage of their good fortune while their global rivals grapple with reduced manufacturing capacity.

Chinese firms have benefited from strong global demand for masks and medical supplies, with exports rising 9.9 per cent in September from a year earlier while factory activity also picked up.

The country's technology sector has also taken advantage of the work-from-home phenomenon with apps including DingTalk and WeChat bringing in huge revenues.

Now the International Monetary Fund is projecting China's economy to expand by 1.9 percent in 2020 which means it'll be the only major world economy to grow this year.

It comes as a new study that found traces of coronavirus in US blood samples from December last year is adding to the growing evidence that the virus was circulating for months before China announced its existence, casting more shadows over the truth about the pandemic and fuelling suspicions of a cover-up by Beijing.

Claims the global outbreak began in a livestock market in Wuhan last winter have crumbled in the face of scientific evidence proving the virus was all over the Western world weeks and even months before China declared the first cases to the World Health Organization on December 31.

Research published on Monday revealed that 39 blood samples taken between December 13 and 16 last year in California, Oregon and Washington state had tested positive for Covid antibodies, meaning the people who gave them had been infected weeks earlier.

The evidence is the earliest trace so far of the virus on US soil, and a further 67 samples from between December 30 and January 17 tested positive in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

It adds to a growing body of proof that the virus had spread thousands of miles outside of China long before its existence was acknowledged. Scientists in Italy say they now have proof the virus was there in September 2019, traces of it were found in Brazil in November, a French hospital patient had it in his lungs in December, and the virus was present in sewage in Spain in January.

 

Source: AFP

Published in World

Ex-Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the board of the African Development Bank to ignore calls for an independent investigation of its President, Akinwumi Adesina, by the United States Government.

Obasanjo in a letter dated May 26 to Kaba Niale, Chairman of the AfDB board of governors, urged the organisation to follow laid down processes to protect and preserve the bank.

He asked African leaders to speak against introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedures, laws, rules and regulations of the bank.

He said, “Unfortunately, the United States Government, through the US Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the ethics committee of the board of directors and the Chairman of the board of governors of the bank.

“Instead of accepting the exoneration of the President of the bank, they called for an independent investigation.

“This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the bank. The US Treasury Secretary disparaged the bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the bank which has been in place since 1964.

“This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.

“As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its board of directors to approve a $10bn crisis response facility to support African countries. In addition, the bank successful launched a $53bn “Fight COVID-19” social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75 per cent interest rate.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Adesina maintained his innocence as allegations of corruption and other forms of misconduct against him rise.

The United States Department of Treasury had called for an independent of the allegations against Adesina despite the AfDB clearing him of all wrongdoing.

He said, “In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the bank’s governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.”

 

SAHARAREPORTERS

Published in Bank & Finance
When Barack Obama took office as America's 44th president, he was faced with an acute, three pronged economic challenges.
 
The American financial system was in crisis to  a greater extent than at any time since 1933. 
America's international imbalances  was  on a worsening downward slide, The economy was  in  a deep  recession supercharged by falling consumer purchasing power, declining house values, and cascading business losses. 
 
In addition to the above mentioned, he was faced with four chronic problems viz 
A worsening  thirty years trend of inequality and insecurity Energy crisis and climate change, Increasing cost of health care Decay of America's public spaces and facilities. 
 
All of the above mentioned scenario sounds familiar? That was the situation in  Almighty America  barely up to 8 years ago And this is our story in Nigeria today Now you will agree with me the story has changed for America. 
America is out of recession  thanks to  a brilliant,  hardworking  and tireless  president 
 
How was the feat achieved ? 
 
He blamed the out gone republican government most especially the two George Bush for the Economic mess? 
NO ! 
 
He clamped  down on any discerning voice of opposition and threw them into jail  with spurious, unfounded criminal and fraud charges? 
NO 
 
He restored confidence in the American economy not just with inspiring words /vague promises  or as in the case with our Nigerian president by engaging in  series of" blame it on Jonathan" propaganda, but by demonstrating that help was on the way. The American economy was vigorously restructured,  
necessary stimuli were injected into the economy, the  federal government embarked on  a  more robust housing and mortgage rescue program. 
 
Let's learn from United States of America. 
We can kick out recession, We can jump-start the Nigerian economy But we need to be aware of the cost of borrowing because Unnecessary borrowing may further kill our economy rather than revive it.
 
I advocate for a moderate deficit expenditure based budget. As at January 2015  our GDP stood at $574 billion making Nigeria the largest economy in Africa  and about the 24th largest in the world. 
 
What Nigeria needs therefore is not a large deficit budget but an ambitious tax hike to increase government income and  an aggressive Industrialisation drive followed by massive increase in employment. 
 
This is what is required to stimulate the economy and drive us out of recession.
 
 
Mr Itohoimo Udosen
Public/Political Affairs Analyst
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Published in Opinion & Analysis
The prices of crude oil rose on Monday as hopes for an end to the year long tariff row between the United States and China approached a close.
 
Also the production cut deal by members and allies of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, contributed to price rally.
 
International Brent futures were at 65.25 dollars a barrel at 07:13 GMT, up 18 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last close, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at 55.94 dollars per barrel, up 14 cents or 0.3 per cent.
 
There are indications that US and China are close to a deal that would roll back US tariffs on at least 200 billion dollar worth of Chinese goods, just as Beijing has also pledged structural economic changes and elimination of retaliatory tariffs on US goods, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday in Washington.
 
The “substantive progress” China and the US have made in their trade talks has been “well-received” in both countries and around the world, a senior Chinese official said on Monday.
 
According to a Reuters’ survey, Supply from OPEC fell to a four-year low in February, as top exporter, Saudi Arabia and its allies over-delivered on the group’s supply pact while Venezuelan output registered a further involuntary decline.
 
“OPEC exports are off by over 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) since November,” Barclays bank said in a note released on Sunday.
 
“The supply picture looks generally tighter this year,” said energy analysts at Fitch Solutions in a note on Monday, adding they expected Brent to average 73 dollars per barrel in 2019.
 
There are also indications that Oil prices have been further pushed up by US sanctions against OPEC-members Iran and Venezuela. Barclays bank is of the view that this has resulted in a reduction of around two million bpd in global crude supply.
 
There are also signs that the US oil production boom of the past years, which has seen crude output rise by more than two million bpd since early 2018 to more than 12 million bpd, may slow down.
 
Published in Business
The U. S. has congratulated Nigeria on its successful presidential election and President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, in a statement, noted the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election.
 
Pompeo said the United States’ assessment was “in spite of localised violence and irregularities”.
 
He called on all Nigerians to ensure successful Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections on March 9.
 
Pompeo said: “The United States congratulates the people of Nigeria on a successful presidential election, and President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.
 
“We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the election and condemn those whose acts of violence harmed Nigerians and the electoral process.
 
“We note the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election, despite localised violence and irregularities.
 
“We also congratulate all the other candidates for their peaceful participation in the electoral process.
 
“We call on all Nigerians to ensure successful state elections next week.
 
“Going forward, the United States remains committed to working together with Nigeria to achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations”.
 
In the presidential election, held on February 23, Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes and his closest challenger, People’s Democratic Party’s candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar polled 11,255,978 votes to emerge a runner-up.
 
Buhari, who was declared re-elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission, also won in 19 states, to defeat other 72 candidates including Atiku, who won 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory, to occupy the second position.
Published in World
The prices of crude oil declined on Thursday on the back of a record high production by the United States and weakening factory output in China and Japan.
 
International Brent crude prices were at $66.20 per barrel at 0525 GMT, after losing 19 cents, or 0.3 per cent from their last close.
 
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were at $56.90 per barrel, declining four cents from their last settlement.
 
American crude oil production has surged to an unprecedented 12.1 million barrels per day over the last year.
 
Traders are also of the view that China’s weakening economy also weighed on oil prices.
 
Factory activity in China, the world’s biggest oil importer, shrank for a third straight month in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis a decade ago, official data showed on Thursday.
 
Amid weak demand from China, oil producers are having to cut prices.
 
Russia’s Surgutneftegaz is selling April-loading ESPO crude oil at the lowest level in three months, charging $2.20 to $2.40 per barrel over benchmark Dubai quotes.
 
In Japan, Asia’s second-biggest economy, factory output posted the biggest decline in a year in January as China’s slowdown affected the entire region.
 
Published in Business
Venezuela’s military said Tuesday it was on alert at its frontiers following threats by US President Donald Trump and suspended air and sea links with the island of Curacao ahead of a planned aid shipment.
 
Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has vowed to bring aid in from various points Saturday “one way or another” despite military efforts to block it.
 
But commanders doubled down on their allegiance to President Nicolas Maduro after Trump urged them to abandon him.
 
“The armed forces will remain deployed and on alert along the borders… to avoid any violations of territorial integrity,” said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
 
Regional commander Vladimir Quintero later confirmed media reports that Venezuela had ordered the suspension of air and sea links with Curacao and the nearby Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba and Bonaire.
 
Shipments of food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering in the country’s economic crisis have become a focus of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.
 
Aid is being stored in Colombia near the Venezuelan border and Guaido aims also to bring in consignments via Brazil and Curacao, which is off the coast of Venezuela.
 
A Brazilian presidential spokesman said the country was cooperating with the United States to supply aid to Venezuela but would leave it to Venezuelans to take the goods over the border.
 
Maduro says the aid plan is a smokescreen for a US invasion. He blames US sanctions and “economic war” for Venezuela’s crisis.
 
Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of the Venezuelan legislature, has appealed to military leaders to switch allegiance to him and let the aid through.
 
He has offered military commanders an amnesty if they abandon Maduro.
 
But the military high command has so far maintained its public backing for Maduro — seen as key to keeping him in power.
 
“We reiterate unrestrictedly our obedience, subordination and loyalty” to Maduro, Padrino said.
 
Guaido posted a series of tweets calling by name on senior military leaders commanding border posts to abandon Maduro.
 
He has branded Maduro illegitimate, saying the elections that returned the socialist leader to power last year were fixed.
 
The United States and some 50 other countries back Guaido as interim president.
 
Trump has refused to rule out US military action in Venezuela. He raised the pressure on Monday, issuing a warning to the Venezuelan military.
 
He told them that if they continue to support Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”
 
Padrino rejected Trump’s threat, branding the US president “arrogant.”
 
If foreign powers try to help install a new government by force, they will have to do so “over our dead bodies,” Padrino said.
 
Venezuela’s deputy military attache at the UN announced Tuesday he was siding with Guaido.
 
“I declare myself to be in total and absolute disobedience to the illegally constituted government of Mr. Nicolas Maduro,” Colonel Pedro Jose Chirinos said in a video posted on social media.
 
Since Guaido declared himself interim president on January 23, he has received the support of an army colonel and an air force general, neither of whom actually have any troops under their command, a retired air force major general and a number of lower-level officers.
Published in World
Monday, 18 February 2019 12:42

Indian Oil signs first annual deal for U.S. oil

Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, has signed its first annual deal to buy U.S. oil, paying about 1.5 billion dollars for 60,000 barrels a day in the year to March 2020 to diversify its crude sources, its chairman said on Monday.
 
IOC is the first Indian state refiner to buy U.S. oil under an annual contract, in a deal that will also help boost trade between New Delhi and Washington.
 
The company has previously purchased U.S. oil from spot markets and signed a mini-term deal in August to buy 6 million barrels of U.S. oil between November and January.
 
IOC chairman Sanjiv Singh said the annual contract will begin from April. He declined to give the name of the seller or pricing details, citing confidentiality.
 
A trade source, who is not authorized to speak to media, said IOC has signed the deal with Norwegian oil company Equinor.
 
Equinor, which has set up an office in New Delhi to support oil marketing and trading, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
 
Indian Oil buys about 75 per cent of its oil needs through long-term deals, mostly with OPEC nations.
 
The term deal will help cut IOC’s dependence on OPEC crude, said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of east of Suez oil for consultants FGE in Singapore.
 
“Lots of geopolitical issues are going around. We expect lots of volume going away from Venezuela, west Africa and Iran, so it makes sense to have guaranteed term supplies from the U.S., where crude production is increasing,” she said.
 
“There is a push for diversification everywhere. South Korea is giving a freight rebate for non-Middle East crude imports,” she added.
 
India and the United States, which have developed close political and security ties, are also looking to develop bilateral trade, which stood at 126 billion dollars in 2017 but is widely seen to be performing well below its potential.
 
The two countries have set up seven groups of chief executives with top U.S. and Indian firms to boost bilateral trade in areas including energy.
 
Last week India’s top gas importer Petronet LNG signed an initial deal to invest and buy LNG from Tellurian Inc’s proposed Driftwood project in Louisiana in the United States.
 
 
NAN
 
Published in Business
Monday, 18 February 2019 09:32

Dollar weakens against peers

The dollar fell versus a basket of its peers on Monday as rising expectations of a U.S.-Sino trade deal led investors to shift away from the safety of the greenback into riskier assets.
 
Both the U.S. and China reported progress in five days of negotiations in Beijing last week, although the White House said much work remains to be done to force changes in Chinese trade behaviour.
 
Negotiations will continue next week in Washington as investors hope for an end to the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
 
“Trade is the big focus for the markets…with talks shifting from Beijing to Washington, we could get more news flow,” said Michael McCarthy, chief markets strategist at CMC Markets.
 
“I expect the euro to remain under pressure this week while dollar and yen could also fall if we see risk-aversion based on negative trade news flow.”
 
The Aussie gained 0.2 per cent to 0.7154 dollar, after firming 0.48 per cent on Friday on hopes of a U.S.-China trade breakthrough. The kiwi dollar gained around 0.3 per cent on the dollar to 0.6886 dollar.
 
In Asia, the yen was steady versus the greenback at 110.53.
 
The escalating trade dispute between the world’s largest economies have kept markets highly volatile since last year.
 
U.S. duties on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports are set to rise from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
 
This happens if no deal is reached by March 1 to address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.
 
The dollar index, a gauge of its value versus six major peers, was down by 0.16 per cent at 96.74.
 
The index has gained 1.2 per cent so far this month in spite of weaker-than-expected U.S. data as well as a more cautious Federal Reserve, which is widely expected to keep rates steady this year due to a slowdown in growth and muted inflation.
 
The dollar index has gained mainly because of the euro, which has around 58 per cent weightage in the index.
 
The single currency was up 0.2 per cent at 1.1317 dollar in early Asian trade, after two straight weeks of losses.
 
Notwithstanding Monday’s gains, traders are betting on a weaker euro in the coming months as they expect the European Central Bank to keep its monetary policy accommodative due to low growth in the common area, tepid inflation and political uncertainties.
Published in Bank & Finance
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to declare the situation on the border with Mexico a national emergency, in a move that would grant him vast powers and would likely be contested in Congress and in the courts.
 
Some members of Trump’s own Republican Party have expressed concerns about the national emergency, fearing both a degradation of the role of Congress and setting a precedent.
 
Democrats have long argued there is a humanitarian issue at the border but there is no national emergency.
 
The national emergency comes at the end of a process which saw Trump largely lose to Congress over funding for his proposed vast expansion of the border wall.
 
Trump pushed the federal government into the longest shutdown in history, ending last month after 35 days.
 
Trump announced his intention a day before funding for the government was again set to run out and as Congress was approving appropriations, but without cash for Trump’s wall.
 
The president has agreed to sign the funding bill and keep government open.
 
Trump is expected to take executive action to announce funding for the wall from alternative funds.
 
The entire process is being denounced by Democrats as a blatant attempt to bypass Congress, which is constitutionally viewed as having the power of the purse.
 
The appropriations bill has set aside 1.375 billion dollars for physical barriers on the border.
 
Trump campaigned on the border wall and pledged Mexico would pay for it.
 
He was also once a fierce critic of former president Barack Obama when he took executive action, evading Congress.
 
 
Published in World
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