Mexico and US agree to new round of energy policy consultations in the TMEC
Mexico’s economy secretary Raquel Buenrostro met on Thursday with her counterpart, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, to discuss consultations on the energy dispute. In a statement issued hours after the meeting, the economy ministry said Buenrostro proposed establishing “tri-national working groups” that will meet during December and early January to discuss various aspects of the energy consultations. If this plan is satisfactorily fulfilled, progress could be presented at the North American Leaders’ Summit, to be held in our country on 9 and 10 January 2023,” the text states.
In addition, the Ministry of Economy (SE) revealed a new twist in the negotiations with the United States: the Secretary of Energy, Rocío Nahle, “has taken a leading role” and is “leading” the ongoing consultations. The meeting came ahead of the arrival of White House officials in Mexico for the third round of consultations in the coming days.
Buenrostro also assured Tai that Mexico is “willing to address all aspects of the consultations simultaneously, prioritising those where a solution can be found more quickly, in order to demonstrate that results can be achieved through dialogue,” the report said. “Mexico seeks to reconcile differences in the consultation phase, without the need to reach an arbitration panel and guaranteeing national sovereignty.
Russian oil price peak “not a tragedy”, says Moscow
Russia expressed confidence on Tuesday that it would find new buyers for its oil, saying the imposition of a price cap on its exports by the West over Ukraine was “not a tragedy”.
The price ceiling that came into force on Monday is intended to restrict Russia’s revenues as punishment for its assault on Ukraine, while ensuring Moscow continues to supply the world market.
“I have no doubt that there will be buyers for our product,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters, adding that Russian authorities had prepared for the introduction of the price ceiling.
“We will see how the market reacts, but in any case our interests in this area will be secured one way or another,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
EU signals rapprochement with Latin America by signing new trade agreement with Chile
The European Commission on Friday took an important step forward in its outreach strategy towards Latin America. The EU club has reached a deal to modernise and expand its trade agreement with Chile. The deal opens the door for almost 100% of European exports to arrive tariff-free to the South American country and will also give the EU greater access to key raw materials in the ecological and digital transition (lithium, copper) of which Chile is a major producer. Behind this agreement is a move of political and geostrategic significance in the midst of the invasion of Ukraine, a war in which Europe has realised that the Russian narrative has sometimes found fertile ground in the Latin American region, where both Russia and China have gained political and economic weight in recent years.
For EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell, strengthening relations with Latin America has always been a priority. That is why this Friday, during the presentation of the agreement, which has been under negotiation for five years, he expressed his joy and pointed out that the pact reached “transcends the commercial sphere”. “It is not just that”, he added, referring to the fact that the final text, which is not yet known, includes chapters on gender equality, respect for the environment and even the possibility of unilaterally breaking the agreement if “democratic principles” are breached.
This movement, in essence, aims to make a virtue out of necessity. Internal documents of EU institutions acknowledge that countries such as Russia and, above all, China have gained much ground and influence in the region. It is even acknowledged that in many countries in the region there is a certain sense of European withdrawal. Hence, a trade and diplomatic offensive is being prepared for the coming year, in which Friday’s move is very much an initial milestone. The continuation, in theory, involves negotiations with Mercosur and Mexico. Spain’s presidency of the EU in the second half of 2023 is also an important element of this strategy: Spain has already announced its intention to organise an EU-Latin America summit during that six-month period.
China initiates WTO litigation over US chip sanctions
China has filed an appeal with the World Trade Organisation over US restrictions on chip exports, Beijing’s commerce ministry said in a statement late on Monday, accusing Washington of threatening global supply chains.
The United States announced new export controls in October aimed at restricting China’s ability to buy and manufacture high-end chips with military applications, complicating Beijing’s drive to boost its own semiconductor industry and develop advanced military systems.
The measures include export restrictions on some chips used in supercomputing, as well as stricter requirements for the sale of semiconductor equipment.
The aim is to prevent China’s military, intelligence and security services from acquiring “sensitive technologies with military applications”, the US Department of Commerce said in October.
The WTO dispute is aimed at defending China’s “legitimate rights and interests”, the ministry said in its statement, urging Washington to “abandon zero-sum thinking”.
US blacklists three dozen more Chinese companies on its trade blacklist
The US Department of Commerce has placed 36 Chinese high-tech companies, including manufacturers of aviation equipment, chemicals and computer chips, on an export control blacklist, citing concerns about national security, US interests and human rights. The inclusion of these companies on the “Entity List” means that any US company seeking to do business with them is likely to be denied export licences.
In some cases, companies based in other countries must also comply with requirements to prevent technologies from being diverted to uses prohibited by export controls.
The move represents a tightening of US efforts to prevent China, especially its military, from acquiring advanced technologies such as next-generation computer chips and hypersonic weapons.
It is the latest in a years-long escalation of US restrictions on Chinese technology that began under President Donald Trump and has continued under President Joe Biden’s administration.
EU adopts 15% global minimum tax for multinationals
The European Union on Thursday adopted a plan to levy a 15% global minimum tax on multinational companies, after leaders gave final approval following months of wrangling.
The landmark agreement among nearly 140 countries aims to stop governments rushing to cut taxes to lure the world’s richest companies to their territory.
“The European Union has today taken a crucial step towards tax fairness and social justice,” said EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.
“Minimum taxation is key to meeting the challenges of a globalised economy.”
The plan was drawn up under the leadership of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and already had the backing of Washington and several major EU economies.
But implementation of the minimum tax in the 27-nation European Union has already been delayed because member states have raised objections or adopted blocking tactics.
Such a minimum tax will require an international agreement by EU member states that has so far failed to materialise.
Mexico approves the import of GM maize from the US until 2025
The United States and Mexico have agreed to a three-year truce in the war over GM maize. After weeks of tension and forced marches in the negotiations, the countries have agreed that Mexico will be able to import US yellow maize until January 2025. With this postponement, the intention of López Obrador’s government to ban the arrival of GM grain from the neighbouring country to the north has been put to rest. The Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader), Víctor Villalobos, has reported that, if after this period the country does not achieve self-sufficiency, the issuing of a new presidential decree will be reviewed. “Our counterparts in the United States have considered this response satisfactory and we have presented a document for discussion, possibly in the second half of January, where this issue will be definitively resolved,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday in Sinaloa.
Northern Ireland: an attractive destination for foreign investment
What about the ideal investment destination? One with low costs, a strong talent pool, high-quality infrastructure, access to international markets and generally a good place to live, right?
Uniquely positioned between the European continent and North America, the country has an incredible offer for everyone: students, companies, startups, tech firms and much more. The statistics make this incredibly clear.
Almost 1,200 international companies have invested in Northern Ireland. Over 70% of new investors in the country reinvest. Not one, but two world-class universities – Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University – are located there. Operating costs are 30% lower than elsewhere in the UK and Europe. Corporation tax is the second lowest in Western Europe at 19%.
Vietnam’s GDP growth in 2022 accelerates to 8.02%, fastest since 1997
Vietnam’s gross domestic product grew by 8.02% in 2022, the fastest annual pace since 1997, supported by strong domestic retail sales and exports.
The reading is higher than the official growth target of 6.0%-6.5% and growth last year of just 2.58%, when COVID-19 closures took their toll on the economy and affected factory activity.
The high annual growth figure comes despite fears of a global recession and its impact on export demand from Vietnam, a key manufacturer of products such as textiles, footwear and electronics for major international brands.
“The economic performance is noteworthy amid global economic and political uncertainty and challenges,” the General Statistics Office (GSO) said in a report.
GDP growth in the fourth quarter was 5.92 per cent, slowing from 13.71 per cent growth in the third quarter, according to the GSO.
Exports in 2022 increased by 10.6 per cent to $371.85 billion, while retail sales grew by 19.8 per cent, according to the GSO.
Dubai abolishes 30% tax on alcohol to attract more tourism
Dubai will abolish its 30% tax on alcohol sales during 2023, the emirate’s municipality announced, the latest move in a series of liberalising policy changes in recent years aimed at boosting tourism and attracting more foreign residents.
“Dubai Municipality has temporarily stopped charging the 30% tax on alcohol companies for a period of one year, from 01/01/2023 to 31/12/2023. Companies authorised to sell in the Emirate of Dubai have been notified of this decision,” the Dubai Municipality wrote in a post on its official Twitter account.
The move is likely an attempt to increase tourism and stimulate more business between visitors and residents, as Dubai moves towards its goal of becoming the “happiest place on earth”. Alcohol is a very expensive commodity in Dubai, with a pint of beer typically costing $15 and a glass of wine $20 or more.
Local alcohol distributors were the first to announce the news: Dubai-based alcohol chain Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI) wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday: “You can now: save 30% of the municipal liquor tax. We have reflected it in all our prices.” It added that the UAE’s 5 per cent sales tax (VAT), however, still applies.
He also said that personal liquor licences, which were previously a requirement for all Dubai residents to buy alcohol in shops and cost Dh270 ($73.50), are now free. Before 1 January, liquor licences had to be renewed annually and had a processing time of about four weeks. However, buying alcohol in bars did not require a licence.
In Madrid, 31 December 2022
International Trade and Sanctions Department