Раздел: Економика

экономические новости

Upset by Trump’s Iran Waivers, Saudis Push for Deep Oil Output Cut

When U.S. President Donald Trump asked Saudi Arabia this summer to raise oil production to compensate for lower crude exports from Iran, Riyadh swiftly told Washington it would do so.

But Saudi Arabia did not receive advance warning when Trump made a U-turn by offering generous waivers that are keeping more Iranian crude in the market instead of driving exports from Riyadh’s arch-rival down to zero, OPEC and industry sources say.

Angered by the U.S. move that has raised worries about over supply, Saudi Arabia is now considering cutting output with OPEC and its allies by about 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) or 1.5 percent of global supply, sources told Reuters this week.

“The Saudis are very angry at Trump. They don’t trust him anymore and feel very strongly about a cut. They had no heads-up about the waivers,” said one senior source briefed on Saudi energy policies.

Washington has said the waivers are a temporary concession to allies that imported Iranian crude and might have struggled to find other supplies quickly when U.S. sanctions were imposed on November 4.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on November 5 that cutting Iranian exports “to zero immediately” would have shocked the market. “I don’t want to lift oil prices,” he said.

A U.S. source with knowledge of the matter said: “The Saudis were going to be angry either way with the waivers, pre-briefed or even after the announcement.”

A U.S. State Department official said: “We don’t discuss diplomatic communications.”

The U.S. shift towards offering waivers adds to tension between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as Washington pushes for Riyadh to shed full light on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

“The Saudis feel they were completely snookered by Trump. They did everything to raise supplies assuming Washington would push for very harsh Iranian sanctions. And they didn’t get any heads up from the U.S. that Iran will get softer sanctions,” said a second source briefed on Saudi oil thinking.

Saudi energy ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Since the summer, Riyadh has led the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers to hike supplies by over 1 million bpd to keep a lid on prices as U.S. sanctions were imposed.

Brent oil had surged above $86 a barrel in October on tight supply worries, but prices have since slid to $66 on concerns about oversupply.

Unexpected waivers

Trump had wanted lower oil prices before the U.S. midterm elections earlier this month. Washington gave waivers in November to eight buyers to purchase Iranian oil for 180 days.

This was more waivers than were initially expected. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a key Trump administration ally, wants prices at $80 or more for his economic reforms, sources familiar with Saudi thinking say.

“The waivers were totally unexpected, especially after calls to raise output. A few people are upset,” said a senior Gulf oil source familiar with the discussions among OPEC and its allies on output policy.

While the United States set a time limit for the waivers, it did not tell the eight recipients how much oil they could buy and has not eased payment restrictions, complicating purchases.

Iran’s oil exports are expected to drop sharply to about 1 million bpd in November from a peak of 2.8 million bpd earlier this year. Although output is expected to recover from December thanks to waivers, it is still not clear by how much.

Riyadh’s concern is to avoid the kind of oversupply in the market that led to a price collapse in 2014 to below $30.

But the lack of clarity about the level of Iran’s supplies makes it tough for Saudi Arabia to work out appropriate production levels, especially after Russia raised output steeply in recent months and has said it wanted to produce more in 2019.

Saudi Arabia would need to convince Russia to join in any move for new supply cuts.

“First the Saudis let oil prices rise to $86 per barrel and then flooded the market. Can they now cut back enough going into a seasonally weak time of the year? Without Russia it won’t be credible,” said Gary Ross, CEO of Black Gold investors.

Saudi Arabia must also contend with rising U.S. production that has hit record levels above 11 million bpd and is set to climb further next year. U.S. exports could surge from the second part of 2019 when new pipeline infrastructure opens.

Rapidan Energy Group said it saw a supply glut now lasting much more than just a few months in 2019.

“Now that the market has correctly priced weaker-than-anticipated Iran sanctions and much bigger inventory builds next year, we wish to emphasize that ‘OPEC plus’ officials face more than a single-year supply tsunami in 2019,” Rapidan said.

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US Envoy for Iran Warns EU Banks, Firms Against Non-Dollar Iran Trade

European banks and firms which engage in a special European Union initiative to protect trade with Iran will be at risk from newly reimposed U.S. sanctions, the U.S. special envoy for Iran warned on Thursday.

It is “no surprise” that EU efforts to establish a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for non-dollar trade with Iran were floundering over fear in EU capitals that hosting it would incur U.S. punishment, Special Representative Brian Hook said.

“European banks and European companies know that we will vigorously enforce sanctions against this brutal and violent regime,” he said in a telephone briefing with reporters.

“Any major European company will always choose the American market over the Iranian market.”

The SPV is seen as the lynchpin of European efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran from which U.S. President Donald Trump, who took office after the deal was sealed, withdrew in May.

Iran has warned it could scrap the agreement, which curbed its disputed program in exchange for sanctions relief, if the EU fails to preserve the deal’s economic benefits.

The SPV was conceived as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods in an effective barter arrangement circumventing U.S. sanctions, based on global use of the dollar for oil sales.

Brussels had wanted to have the SPV set up by this month, but no country has offered to host it, six diplomats told Reuters this week.

Their reluctance arises from fears that SPV reliance on local banks to smooth trade with Iran may trigger U.S. penalties, severing the lenders’ access to U.S. financial markets, diplomats said.

Criticizing EU efforts to bypass sanctions, Hook reiterated a warning that such an EU effort sent “the wrong signal, at the wrong time.”

However, he added that waivers from sanctions granted to eight of Iran’s biggest oil importers were to ensure the U.S. measures did not harm allies or raise oil prices.

“We have looked at these on a case by case basis, taking into account the unique needs of friends and partners, and also ensuring that as we impose sanctions on Iran’s oil sector that we do not lift the price of oil,” Hook said.

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High-Level China US Trade Talks Resume

China’s Ministry of Commerce says high-level trade talks between officials from the world’s two biggest economies have resumed.  But whether or not Washington and Beijing will be able to strike a deal and avoid a looming sharp hike in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods remains uncertain.

 

Commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng says the resumption of talks began after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke on the phone on November 1st.

 

“Working groups [of both sides] are keeping close contact to carefully carry out a consensus that the two leaders reached during the call,” Gao Feng said Thursday.  He added that companies in both the United States and China have been affected and are responding to the trade dispute, which has triggered tit-for-tat in tariffs on goods.

 

After the phone call earlier this month, Trump said he thought the two could make a deal, but added Washington is prepared to levy more tariffs on Chinese goods if no progress is made.

 

On January 1, Washington’s 10 percent tariff rate on $200 billion in Chinese goods is set to rise to 25 percent.  Trump has also said that if the two can’t reach a deal, Washington would impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports, about $267 billion worth. 

 

Trump and Xi are scheduled to meet in the coming weeks on the sidelines of a leaders summit for the Group of 20 nations in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Earlier this week, there were reports that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the country’s top trade negotiator would travel to Washington.

 

According to a Reuters report Thursday that quotes three U.S. government sources, China has delivered a written response to U.S. demands for wide-ranging trade reforms.

 

It was not immediately clear if the response could help bridge a wide gap between the two on trade or meet Trump’s demands for change.

 

The U.S. president has repeatedly criticized Chinese practices of industrial subsidies, intellectual property theft, the lack of a level playing field for U.S. companies in China and the trade deficit.

 

What happens next depends on Beijing’s attitude, said Darson Chiu, a research fellow at the Taiwan Institute for Economic Research.

 

“If Beijing is willing, on the one hand, to reduce the scope of unequal bilateral trade and guarantee that U.S. intellectual property rights will not be infringed upon or forced to hand over technology, there is a good chance the two can reach a consensus,” he said.

 

One way Beijing could do that is by offering to reach a bilateral free trade deal with Washington that includes all of the concerns Trump has addressed: be it currency manipulation, intellectual property rights, concerns about state-owned enterprises.

 

“That way Trump would have to accept [the offer],” Chiu said.  “And at the same time, it would help get those with vested interests out of the way and remove longstanding obstacles to reform that policymakers in China face.”

 

Chiu admits that such a solution is easier said than done and there are many with less liberal views in China.  Those with vested interests, the heads of state-owned enterprises also keep arguing that they can help China weather the storm.

 

At the very least, what the two could hope for is a sort of lowering of tensions, some analysts note.  China is willing to make some concessions, as long as the demands are not too excessive, said Shi Yinhong, a political scientist at Renmin University.

 

“China has long agreed to make concessions: import as many U.S. goods as possible and greatly relax local market access for U.S. companies.  But these may not please Trump, who wants China to fundamentally restructure its economic model and major industrial policies,” Shi said.

 

The United States could also create a monitoring mechanism to ensure China walks its talk this time, he adds.

 

Shi said that while China wants reform too, in his view, the best that could be hoped for is a trade war ceasefire.

 

What that means is the United States would suspend its tariff hike on $200 billion in Chinese goods in exchange for concrete concessions from China, including those Beijing made during negotiations in July.  At the same time, Washington is unlikely to drop its restrictions or increased scrutiny of Chinese high-tech firms, Shi said.

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Tanzania Loses Denmark Aid Over Rights Concerns After World Bank Scraps Loan

Tanzania’s second-biggest donor Denmark said it would withhold $10 million worth of aid money, citing concerns over human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments” made by a government official.

The decision came on the same day that the World Bank said it had scrapped a plan to loan Tanzania $300 million after the country reaffirmed its policy of banning pregnant girls from school and recently made it a crime to question official statistics.

“I am very worried about the negative development in Tanzania, the latest being the completely unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner,” Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tornaes said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Denmark will now withhold 65 million Danish crowns ($9.88 million) in aid to Tanzania, she added. Denmark provided 349 million crowns in foreign aid last year.

The comments in question were made by administrative chief of the capital Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, who earlier this month announced an anti-gay crackdown in the city, a spokeswoman for the Danish minister told Reuters.

Reuters was not able to reach Tanzanian government officials for immediate comment. The foreign ministry has previously said Makonda’s anti-gay campaign represented his own views and not the official government position.

However, President Magufuli’s government has also been criticized by opposition politicians and international rights groups for what they say is growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissent. The government rejects the criticism.

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Pence Announces US-ASEAN ‘Smart Cities Partnership’

In Singapore, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has offered the Trump administration’s support for Southeast Asia’s digital and urban infrastructure development. In his remarks at the U.S. ASEAN Summit, Pence announced the new “U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership.”

“This effort will spur renewed American investment in the region’s digital infrastructure, advancing prosperity and security in Southeast Asia,” Pence said, adding that it will enhance Washington’s cooperation on cybersecurity with the regional bloc.

Smart Cities is a buzzword among ASEAN member countries as they face two mega trends, urbanization and digitalization. Southeast Asian nations are rapidly increasing in population, and a large portion of their people are gravitating toward cities, creating multiple challenges ranging from traffic congestion, water and air quality, to digital security.

Speaking to reporters, Pence called ASEAN an “extraordinary part of the world filled with remarkable people” and highlighted the administration’s desire for greater economic engagement with the regional bloc. He said the U.S. has only “begun to explore the way that our investments and the economies of this region can contribute to growth and jobs and opportunity in the United States.”

​ASEAN smart cities network

Singapore, as the chair of ASEAN, proposed the creation of a network of 26 Southeast Asian smart cities in April 2018. The country is known for being very innovative in terms of incorporating digital technology in urban planning, and other Southeast Asian nations are eager to emulate that success.

The ASEAN Smart Cities Network is envisioned as a collaborative platform where up to three cities per ASEAN country work toward a common goal of smart and sustainable urban development that maximizes digital technology.

Tan Chee Haw, Singapore’s chief Smart City officer explains the three pillars with which digital technology will improve the lives of citizens. One is the digital economy, which is about “creating a vibrant and innovative digital economy that can create new jobs, opportunities to help people and businesses.” Second is the digital government concept, to transform the way that governments deliver services that is “citizen-centric.” The third is “digital society” which focuses on ensuring all segments of the population to be digital ready and can benefit from these initiatives.

US technology and innovation

The United States is still seen by the region as a leader in innovation and a natural partner in the smart cities initiative.

“The most advanced technologies do come from the U.S.,” said Lim Tai Wei, senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore. ASEAN countries would like to know how “they can work with American companies and partners in order to strengthen ASEAN’s position as a network of smart cities,” he said.

The partnership will offer opportunities for American companies to develop urban digital infrastructure ranging from payment mechanisms to smart transit systems.

The head of Southeast Asia for the consultancy group Control Risks, Angela Mancini is skeptical on how much the United States can actually offer, considering “it has its own challenges with infrastructure and technology.”

Free and open Indo-Pacific

The Smart Cities Partnership is part of what Pence said is proof of the U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, which he calls “steadfast and enduring.” He stressed that Washington “seeks collaboration, not control, and we are proud to call ASEAN our strategic partner.”

On the security front, Pence stressed Washington’s commitment to “uphold the freedom of the seas and skies, where we stand shoulder to shoulder with you for freedom of navigation and our determination to ensure that your nations are securing your sovereign borders.”

Pence said the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision “excludes no nation.” However, a big part of the strategy is aimed to protect freedom of navigation, particularly in light of China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. “We all agree that empire and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Pence said the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision “excludes no nation.” However, a big part of the strategy is aimed to protect freedom of navigation, particularly in light of China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

Stephen Nagy, professor of politics and international studies at International Christian University in Tokyo, believes the Trump administration has stepped up its military commitment to the region. Nagy said, “I do think there’s a lot of evidence that the United States will make a bigger commitment.”

The U.S. government will want “partnerships,” he said, and Australia and Japan are “increasing their burden” to ensure the United States is not only the one helping ASEAN’s security.

An urban region

The United Nations reported that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Already home to 53 percent of the world’s urban population, Asia will see this proportion expand to 64 percent by 2050.

The 26 Southeast Asian pilot smart cities are Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangkok, Banyuwangi, Battambang, Cebu City, Chonburi, Da Nang, Davao City, DKI Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Luang Prabang, Makassar, Mandalay, Manila, Naypyidaw, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Siem Reap, Singapore, Vientiane, and Yangon.

VOA’s Nike Ching, Ahadian Utama and Ralph Jennings contributed to this report.

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Ocean Shock: Portugal Mourns Sardines’ Escape to Cooler Waters 

This is part of “Ocean Shock,” a Reuters series exploring climate change’s impact on sea creatures and the people who depend on them. 

A priest in a white robe swung an incense burner, leading the way for thousands of marchers as they crammed into a winding cobblestone alley decorated with candy-colored streamers in Lisbon’s ancient Alfama neighborhood. 

Behind the priest, six men carried a life-sized statue of St. Anthony, Lisbon’s patron saint, born more than 800 years ago. The musky incense swirled together with the smoke from orange-hot charcoals grilling whole sardines a few streets away. 

The procession moved along, leaving behind just the smell of the sardines. 

In this city, June is the month to celebrate the saints. Almost every neighborhood throws a party, known as an arraial. 

Some are just a scattering of makeshift tables in alleyways. Others cover several blocks and are jammed with tourists and locals alike. The saints are quickly forgotten in the din of pumping pop music, brass bands, chattering families, indiscreet lovers and flirty teens. The sardines are not. They’re the star of every party. 

The fish are so popular here, fisheries managers estimate that the Portuguese collectively eat 13 sardines every second during a typical June — about 34 million fish for the month. 

But as climate change warms the seas and inland estuaries, sardines are getting harder to catch. Just a week before the festival, authorities postponed sardine fishing in some ports out of a fear that the diminishing population, vulnerable to changes in the Atlantic’s water temperatures, was being overfished. 

In the last few decades, the world’s oceans have undergone the most rapid warming on record. Currents have shifted. These changes are for the most part invisible. But this hidden climate change has had a disturbing impact on marine life — in effect, creating an epic underwater refugee crisis. 

Effect on communities

Drawing on decades of maritime temperature readings, fisheries records and other little-used data, Reuters has undertaken an extensive exploration of the disrupted deep. A team of reporters has discovered that from the waters off the East Coast of the United States to the shores of West Africa, marine creatures are fleeing for their lives, and the communities that depend on them are facing turbulence as a result. 

Here in Lisbon, the decline of the country’s most beloved fish tugs at the Portuguese soul. A nation on Europe’s western edge, Portugal has always turned toward the sea. For centuries, it has sent its people onto the sometimes treacherous oceans, from famous explorers like Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco da Gama to little-known fishermen who left weeping wives on the shore. 

The St. Anthony’s festival commemorates a 13th-century priest who, church doctrine says, once drew a bay full of fish to hear his sermon. It is the capital’s biggest, most joyous celebration of the year. 

At the bottom of the track where two bright yellow funicular trains begin and end an 800-foot vertiginous trip through the Bica neighborhood, a social club and a local cafe set up for the festival. Mostly locals were present, though a few German and French tourists have found their way to the party. 

Four friends sat around a wobbly plastic table perched outside the G.D. Zip Zip social club. There was just enough room for others to walk past and get to the homemade grill where the sardines were being cooked. Three of the friends had sardine skeletons and heads heaped on their plates. They talked about the fish that’s as iconic in Portugal in the summer as a hamburger on the grill in America. 

This year, however, because of limits on fishing, the available fish were mostly frozen. 

“We listen to it all year round that maybe this year, we will not have sardines,” Helena Melo said. 

Fifteen feet up the hill, Jorge Rito, who has been cooking for the club every June for five years, wiped his watering eyes with the back of his hand. He’d just gotten another order and tossed a dozen whole sardines onto the grill in neat rows. 

As he flipped the silvery fish, each seven or eight inches long, a burst of smoke rose from the charcoal, and he wiped his eyes again. 

“Worried? Yes, of course,” he said, removing the fish from the grill and placing them onto a platter. “It is important for our finances, our economies, for us.” 

 

Youngest sardines vulnerable 

 

Just as the next generation of humans may pay the highest price for climate change, the youngest generation of sardines is at risk. 

Susana Garrido, a sardine researcher with the Portuguese Oceanic and Atmospheric Institute in Lisbon, said larval sardines are especially vulnerable to climate change when compared with other similar pelagic species, such as larval anchovies, which are capable of living in a wider range of temperatures. 

Deep seawater upwelling dominates the waters off the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula and keeps the coastal waters cool. But small differences in temperature, especially when sardines are young, can have a significant impact on whether the fish larva dies or grows to maturity, Garrido said. 

Other researchers had tested how well adult sardines survived in a variety of conditions, and there was little evidence that environmental variables such as food abundance and water temperature affected the full-grown fish, she said. So she focused on the larval stage of the species. 

“We did a bunch of experiments varying salinity and all of these other variables, and they survived quite well,” she said. “It was when you change temperature that everything, yes, fell apart. So they have a very narrow range of temperatures where survival is good.” 

Garrido said a recently completed stock assessment showed that the larval sardine population was extremely low. 

“This is getting very serious,” she said. 

The Portuguese sardine population started to fall about a decade ago, even though there were plenty of adults at the time to sustain large catches. And around the same time, southerly species, such as chub and horse mackerel, slowly moved in. 

Chub mackerel, a subtropical species that was once found only in southern Portugal, is now caught all the way up the coast. 

“Probably as a consequence of warming, it is now invading the main spawning area of sardines,” Garrido said. 

Larger forces at work

Alexandra Silva, who works down the hall from Garrido, has been managing the Portuguese sardine stock assessment since the late 1990s — pivotal work that the organization uses to decide the size of the sardine catch. 

When she started, the northern population of the species was in trouble following a period of strong upwelling that brought unusually cold water to the surface. The southern stock, however, was relatively healthy. And in the early years of the century, the species recovered. 

It was not to last. These days, without large numbers of larvae growing to maturity, the population is near collapse all along the coast from Galicia in Spain to the southern end of the Portuguese coast. 

All officials can do is cut down on the fishing. But larger forces, especially climate change, are now affecting the stock in ways that fisheries managers cannot control, the two said. 

Regulators have tried. 

Starting in 2004, they blocked fishing during the spring, when sardines spawn. And for a while, that seemed to work. 

Between 2004 and 2011, the stock remained relatively healthy, with landings ranging from about 55,000 to 70,000 tons, even if the population seemed to be dipping. (From the 1930s to the 1960s, and as recently as the 1980s, fishermen landed more than 110,000 tons in a year.) 

In 2009, the Portuguese proudly announced that the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent monitoring body, had designated the species healthy and sustainable. That year, Portuguese fishermen landed 64,000 tons of the fish. By 2012, however, that number had dropped to 35,000 tons, and the country lost its sustainable certification.  

Since then, fisheries managers have restricted the number of days a week that fishermen can catch sardines, as well as the size of the catch. They’ve also restricted fishing to six months during a year. 

Last year, the catch was limited to about 14,000 tons. 

Further cuts ahead

Earlier this year, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, a forum of scientists that advises governments about fisheries management, warned that it would take at least 15 years to restore the stock at current fishing levels.  

After the report, European Union regulators permitted fishermen along the Iberian coast to continue at the current 16,100-ton level. But it also required Portugal, which gets the bulk of the quota, and Spain to submit a plan to restore the stock in October, which may well lead to further quota cuts. 

Fisheries manager Jorge Abrantes handles landings for Peniche, a sleepy fishing town about 60 miles north of Lisbon. He doesn’t think the fishing industry is the culprit. 

For example, Portuguese government stock assessments indicated that the sardine population had decreased by 10 percent to 25 percent in just a few months. Abrantes argued that the dip clearly wasn’t caused by fishermen pulling sardines from the sea, because no sardine nets were in the water during that period. Instead, he said, there are just not enough juvenile sardines to replenish the population. 

In Peniche, fishermen Erbes Martins and Joao Dias sat among piles of nets on a bright but chilly February morning. The two 75-year-old men would have preferred to be fishing for sardines. But the fish were spawning, so they were not allowed to catch them. 

Sure, there were other fish they could catch, but it wasn’t worth it, they say. 

 

Horse mackerel, or carapau in Portuguese, one of the southerly species that now thrive all along the coast, is abundant but doesn’t sell for much at market, Dias said. 

 

“We can’t fish for sardines in October, November, December, January, February, March — six months,” Dias said. “And carapau just doesn’t pay the bills.” 

He said the restrictions on fishing sardines were keeping a new generation from going to sea, because they can’t make enough money. 

 

“When we die,” he said, “no one is going to do the work.” 

‘I would miss this’ 

Lisbon’s Graca neighborhood sits at the highest point in the capital, its pastel homes looking down over the city’s six other hills. For the St. Anthony festival, two stages were set up for music, along with about 20 temporary food and drink stalls. 

 

Luis Diogo Sr., his wife, Rita, and their two children, Luis Jr. and Vera, came out to join the party. Luis Sr. looked across a picnic table at his son, who was well into his third plate of sardines. 

“This is a country between Spain and the sea, so we went to the sea very soon in our history,” he said. The talk turned to the present, and the dwindling catch of the city’s favorite seafood. 

Luis Jr. didn’t pay much attention to his father. He was too focused on his sardines. 

 

“I would miss this very much,” the 17-year-old said, wiping his lips clean after polishing off the last sardine on his plate. 

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US Adds New Sanctions on Cuba Tourist Attractions

The Trump administration is adding new names to a list of Cuban tourist attractions that Americans are barred from visiting.

 

The 26 names range from the new five-star Iberostar Grand Packard and Paseo del Prado hotels in Old Havana to modest shopping centers in beachside resorts far from the capital. All are barred because they are owned by Cuba’s military business conglomerate, GAESA.

 

Travel to Cuba remains legal. Hundreds of U.S. commercial flights and cruise ships deliver hundreds of thousands of Americans to the island each year. And nothing prevents the government from funding its security apparatus with money spent at facilities that aren’t owned by GAESA and banned by the U.S. But the sanctions appear to have dampened interest in travel to Cuba, which has dropped dramatically this year.

 

 

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Uber’s Losses Continue Ahead of IPO

The ride-sharing and delivery company Uber continues to lose money, with growth slowing as it prepares to go public some time next year.

The San Francisco-based company announced it lost just over $1 billion from July through September, a 20 percent increase from the previous quarter.

Uber’s revenue rose 38 percent in the third quarter from a year ago to $2.95 billion, down from a gain of 51 percent in the second quarter.

Uber is seeking to expand in freight hauling, food delivery and electric bikes and scooters, as growth in its now-decade-old ride-hailing business dwindles.

Uber is intent on showing it can still grow enough to become profitable and satisfy investors in an initial public offering.

“We had another strong quarter for a business of our size and global scope,” said Nelson Chai, Uber’s chief financial officer, who joined the company in September after the job had been vacant for three years. He emphasized the “high-potential markets in India and the Middle East, where we continue to solidify our leadership position.”

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FCC Launches First US High-Band 5G Spectrum Auction 

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday launched the agency’s first high-band 5G spectrum auction as it works to clear space for next-generation faster networks. 

Bidding began Wednesday on spectrum in the 28 GHz band and will be followed by bidding for spectrum in the 24 GHz band. The FCC is making 1.55 gigahertz of spectrum available and the auctions will be followed by a 2019 auction of three more millimeter-wave spectrum bands — 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz. 

“These airwaves will be critical in deploying 5G services and applications,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Wednesday. 

5G networks are expected to be at least 100 times faster than current 4G networks and cut latency, or delays, to less than one-thousandth of a second from one-hundredth of a second in 4G. They also will allow for innovations in a number of different fields. While millimeter-wave spectrum offers faster speeds, it cannot cover big geographic areas and will require significant new small cell infrastructure deployments. 

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the spectrum being auctioned would allow for “faster broadband to autonomous cars, from smart [agriculture] to telehealth.” 

The spectrum being auctioned over the next 15 months “is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers combined,” the FCC said. 

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the United States was following “the lead of South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Australia. But we put ourselves back in the running for next-generation wireless leadership,” and she called on the FCC to clearly state the timing for future spectrum auctions. 

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the Commerce Department to develop a long-term comprehensive national spectrum strategy to prepare for the introduction of 5G. 

Trump is also creating a White House Spectrum Strategy Task Force and wants federal agencies to report on government spectrum needs and review how spectrum can be shared with private sector users. 

AT&T, Verizon Communications, Sprint and T-Mobile U.S. are working to acquire spectrum and are developing and testing 5G networks. The first 5G-compatible commercial cellphones are expected to go on sale 

next year. 

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EU Trade Chief Ready to Retaliate If US Imposes Auto Tariffs

European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Wednesday that the EU has a list of potential retaliation targets ready in case U.S. President Donald Trump imposes auto tariffs on EU member states.

Malmstrom told reporters after a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that the two did not speak specifically about auto tariffs but focused instead on regulatory cooperation issues and ways to enable EU countries to import more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas.

Malmstrom did not specify the U.S. products on which the EU would levy retaliatory tariffs, as consultations would need to take place with member states. But she said the list could include “all kinds” of products.

“It could be cars, it could be agriculture, it could be industrial products, it could be everything. And we will do that, but hope we don’t have to get to that situation.”

Trump administration officials on Tuesday said the president’s trade team made no decisions on how to proceed with new recommendations from the Commerce Department on whether to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts to protect the U.S. industry on national security grounds. The contents of the recommendations have not been disclosed.

Malmstrom said that the EU is willing to negotiate a limited trade deal on industrial goods, including autos, that seeks to bring tariff rates to zero for both the United States and Europe, but the scope of these talks cannot be defined until early next year, when the USTR completes its consultation process with Congress and the EU receives a negotiating mandate from member states.

 

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