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Growth in employment has been slow in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated. Business fixed investment has continued to advance. Household spending has been rising at a somewhat slower pace than earlier in the year. Despite some further signs of improvement, the housing sector remains depressed. Inflation has declined since earlier this year, mainly reflecting lower prices of crude oil and gasoline, and longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Executive Order 11110

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects economic growth to remain moderate over coming quarters and then to pick up very gradually. Consequently, the Committee anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only slowly toward levels that it judges to be consistent with its dual mandate. Furthermore, strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook. The Committee anticipates that inflation over the medium term will run at or below the rate that it judges most consistent with its dual mandate.

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee expects to maintain a highly accommodative stance for monetary policy. In particular, the Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through late 2014.

The Committee also decided to continue through the end of the year its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in June, and it is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments and will provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Dennis P. Lockhart; Sandra Pianalto; Jerome H. Powell; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Jeremy C. Stein; Daniel K. Tarullo; John C. Williams; and Janet L. Yellen. Voting against the action was Jeffrey M. Lacker, who preferred to omit the description of the time period over which economic conditions are likely to warrant an exceptionally low level of the federal funds rate.

Source: money.cnn.com

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I ribelli hanno attaccato anche oggi il tribunale militare di Aleppo con granate e razzi.

Siria: combattimenti vicino quartier generale militare ad Aleppo

Colpita anche una stazione di polizia e la sede del partito al potere Baath nel distretto meridionale di Salhin. Mentre nella notte le truppe governative hanno bombardato i quartieri di Firdoss, Al-Mashhad e Ansari.

Secondo l'ong, solo il 30 Luglio 2012 hanno perso la vita 41 civili, 19 ribelli e 33 soldati.

Fonte: asca.it

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Il presidente del consiglio è convinto che l'Italia e l'Unione europea vedano già la luce in fondo al tunnel e che il vertice di Parigi servirà a mettere in sicurezza l'euro e dare impulso alla crescita. Hollande: faremo tutto il possibile per attuare decisioni del vertice Ue.

Hollande e Monti

Italia e Francia riaffermano la loro volontà di impegnarsi e di fare «tutto il possibile» affinché «le decisioni del Consiglio europeo siano applicate» e la zona euro sia «difesa, preservata, consolidata», ha detto Hollande dopo l'incontro. Sul futuro della zona euro, «sono stati fatti progressi molto significativi, e nei giorni scorsi sono state pronunciate parole importanti da parte del presidente della Bce e dei capi di Stato e di Governo», ha aggiunto il presidente francese.

Monti. «Condivido parola per parola quanto dichiarato dal presidente francese Hollande sul graduale schiarirsi delle prospettive dell'Eurozona»: lo ha detto il premier Mario Monti, al termine del suo incontro con il presidente francese all'Eliseo. «La posta in gioco è talmente vitale che non possiamo permetterci neanche un minuto di disattenzione, la posta in palio è talmente vitale per tutti e per ciascuno di noi» e riguarda «la stabilità e la forza dell'eurozona e la sua capacità di contribuire alla crescita economica e sociale dell'Europa», ha detto Monti.

Borse. Piazza Affari inverte rotta in scia all'andamento ribassista di alcuni titoli che stanno appesantendo i mercati europei. Il Ftse Mib scende quindi in campo negativo, perdendo più di un punto percentuale. A pesare sono in particolare i conti sotto le attese di alcuni big. Tra questi, sul listino milanese, si guarda alla Fiat che sta perdendo oltre il 4% dopo aver registrato un utile sotto le attese degli analisti.

Spread. Lo spread Btp-Bund si attesta sopra quota 470, in crescita rispetto alla chiusura di ieri a 466 punti base. Il rendimento sulla scadenza decennale italiana si porta al 6,04%.

Fonte: ilmattino.it - © RIPRODUZIONE RISERVATA 

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R.K. Nayak, chairman of the Power Grid Corporation of India, told reporters at a new conference in the capital that the problem was difficult to pinpoint given the network’s complexity, but that he hoped to see the system up and running by midnight.

“Some sections might have caused tripping but it is difficult to give you anything at this time,” he added.

By early evening, power officials were reporting that around 40% of the system was operating normally again.

The massive outage -- billed as one of the world’s largest, affecting half of India's 1.2 billion people -- occurred soon after the northern grid was powered back up after a 15-hour failure Monday, only to collapse again shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday  That tripped the eastern and northeastern grids in quick succession, leaving much of the country in the dark and the capital with 1% of its usual electricity supply.

Nearly twice as many people were affected by Tuesday’s failure as were without power Monday.

As the outage spread, state officials stepped up their finger-pointing, accusing neighboring states of taking more than their allocated share of power, even as opposition politicians slammed the government for mismanagement and policy paralysis.

“This lowers the esteem of the country in the eyes of the world,” said Prakash Javadekar, a spokesman with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. “The country is suffering.”

As the Delhi Metro ground to a halt, passengers in the capital were forced to clamber down from rail cars and walk or wait until emergency power allowed trains to reach the nearest station. Some 350 trains were affected nationwide.

“This has been a big worry,” said Shobha Agrawal, 49, reached by telephone on a train from Chandigarh to Mathura that usually takes eight hours but had already been delayed for several more. “And my son’s very anxious back at home since I’m traveling alone.”

While major airports and larger hospitals switched to backup generators, smaller hospitals and clinics were forced to postpone medical procedures or make do with ambient light as even bigger ones struggled.

“We are facing a lot of problems,” said Harish Chawla, a manager at Delhi’s Holy Angel Hospital, which does have backup power. “You can’t trust generators to keep running dependably for 10 or 12 hours. We had to reschedule a surgery since it was risky to go ahead. And patients don’t want to risk an operation anyway during a power failure.”

As many as 200 coal miners working at the Eastern Coal Fields mines in West Bengal state were stranded underground when power needed to operate the pulley system went out.

“We are trying to rescue the coal miners,” Mamata Banerjee told reporters in the state capital, Kolkata. “You need power supplies to run the lifts in the underground mines."

Company officials said they had advised miners to move to a location within the mines where there was sufficient ventilation and were trying to get food and water to the men, adding that they were in no immediate danger.

This second disaster in rapid succession -- despite promises by power officials Monday that the problem was fixed -- underscores India’s weak infrastructure and crisis-management systems and the nation’s struggle to satisfy the needs of its increasingly affluent population and growing industry.

Rolling blackouts are common in Indian cities given an aging grid and a 9% electricity shortfall at peak periods, so many houses and companies have backup generators. But the collapse of an entire grid is rare, with the last such failure involving the northern grid occurring in 2001.

Richa Hingorani, who works for a civic group in Delhi, said she figured it was the usual one- or two-hour interruption when electricity first cut out around 2:30 a.m. Monday. But as temperatures rose inside their house, family members became increasingly anxious, fanning themselves for four hours with newspapers until dawn broke.

As Hingorani set off for work, things only got worse.

“With bumper-to-bumper traffic, it took me 40 minutes to travel a distance that should’ve taken 10 minutes,” she said. “Work at the office has suffered. There’s no Internet, and little respite when you leave the office since there are so many crowds.”

The government announced after the first grid failure that it was appointing a three-member panel to study the causes and submit a report within 15 days.

Source: Los Angeles Times - Author: Mark Magnier - Copyright © 2012

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Oficialul crede ca sistemul fiscal din România este conceput astfel încât îi forteaza pe managerii societatilor comerciale sa încalce legea.

Constantin Mugurel Isãrescu (n. 1 august 1949, Drãgãsani, judetul Vâlcea) este un economist român, care îndeplineste în prezent functia de guvernator al Bancii Nationale a României. De asemenea, a îndeplinit functia de prim-ministru al României în perioada 22 decembrie 1999 - 28 decembrie 2000.

Guvernatorul Bãncii Nationale a României, in functie:
1990–1999
2000 – prezent

"Daca vom continua cu un sistem fiscal care te împovareaza si îti scoate ochii din cap, îti da o singura sansa sa supravietuiesti si aceea este sa faci evaziune. N-ai de ce sa speri la o transparenta. Eu o sa fiu cotat de jurnalistii din sala ca Isarescu s-a dat la sistemul fiscal si nu vede ce e la el în ograda", a declarat Isarescu, de la BNR.

Sursa: realitatea.net

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Update 23.10 - Presedintele PC, Daniel Constantin, a sustinut ca, potrivit numaratorii paralele a USL, presedintele suspendat Traian Basescu a fost demis.


   
''Conform numaratorii paralele a USL, la ora 23,00, Traian Basescu este demis'', a spus Constantin, duminica, într-o conferinta de presa.
   
De asemenea, liderii USL Dan Sova si Relu Fenechiu au aratat ca referendumul va fi validat, prezenta la urne fiind, în opinia acestora, de 52%.

   

Update 23.00 - Potrivit celor mai recente rezultate ale CCSB, 86% dintre persoanele care au votat pâna la ora 21.00 s-au exprimat pentru demiterea presedintelui, în timp ce 14% sunt împotriva suspendarii lui Traian Basescu.

Update 20.00 - Rezultatele CCSB arata ca 89% dintre persoanele care au votat pâna la ora 18.30 s-au exprimat pentru demiterea presedintelui, în timp ce 11% sunt împotriva suspendarii lui Traian Basescu.

Potrivit numaratorii paralele facute de partide, prezenta la vot la ora 19.00 era de 35,72%.

Update 18.30 - Rezultatele CCSB arata ca 89% dintre persoanele care au votat pâna la ora 16.30 s-au exprimat pentru demiterea presedintelui, în timp ce 11% sunt împotriva suspendarii lui Traian Basescu.

Pâna la ora 16.30, participarea la vot a fost de 24%.

Vezi aici harta interactiva a sectiilor de votare din strainatate.

Update 15.32 - Datele furnizate de BEC arata ca, participarea la vot pâna la ora 14.00 era de 21,37% din numarul alegatorilor.

Update 14.15 - Rezultatele CCSB arata ca 89% dintre persoanele care au votat pâna la ora 12.30 s-au exprimat pentru demiterea presedintelui, iar 6% sunt împotriva suspendarii sefului statului. De asemenea, 4% dintre cei care si-au exprimat optiunea au raspuns la referendum "nu stiu", "nu raspund".

Potrivit aceleiasi surse, prezenta la vot pâna la ora 12.30 era de 17,3%.
______________________________________________________

Conform Companiei de Cercetare Sociologica si Branding, CCSB, pâna la ora 11, 91% dintre persoanele cu drept de vot care s-au prezentat la referendum au votat pentru suspendarea presedintelui Traian Basescu.

Doar 9% dintre votanti mai vor ca Traian Basescu sa îsi continue mandatul de presedinte.

Datele colectate de CCSB nu cuprind si sectiile de votare din strainatate.

 

Pentru ca dorinta celor 91% dintre români sa fie pusa în aplicare, la vot trebuie sa se prezinte 50% + 1 din totalul alegatorilor.

Pâna la ora 10:00, conform BEC, prezenta la nivel national a fost de 9,05%.

Sursa: antena3.ro

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Potrivit analizelor efectuate de membrii organizatiilor ecologiste Mare Nostrum si Oceanic Club, decesul mamiferelor marine a survenit, în majoritatea cazurilor, din cauza capturarilor accidentale în plasele pescaresti.

Roxana Gemai, purtatorul de cuvânt al organizatiei Mare Nostrum, a declarat marti ca voluntarii organizatiei pe care o reprezinta au fost sesizati în privinta a 57 de delfini esuati din ianuarie si pâna în prezent, alte 83 de cazuri fiind semnalate de catre voluntarii Oceanic Club în aceeasi perioada de timp.

'Cei mai multi delfini esuati faceau parte din specia Phocoena phocoena si au fost descoperiti de-a lungul litoralului, de la Sulina pâna la Vama Veche, cu precadere pe plajele din sud, decesele fiind generate de asfixie si înec pe fondul capturarii accidentale în plasele pescaresti', a precizat Roxana Gemai.

În acelasi timp, un raport de mediu întocmit de organizatia Oceanic Club releva faptul ca din anul 2007, de la lansarea programului de monitorizare 'Delfini în criza', au fost identificate, ridicate de pe plajele litoralului si analizate 350 de cadavre de cetacee.

Potrivit datelor oferite de specialisti, pe parcursul ultimelor expeditii stiintifice, în apele românesti au fost identificate si monitorizate 2.300 de exemplare de delfini din care aproximativ 700 de afalini (specia Turpsiops truncatus ponticus), 1.000 de marsuini (Phocoena phocoena relicta) si alte 600 de exemplare ale delfinului comun (Delphinus delphis ponticus).

Sursa: AGERPRES

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I pm di Palermo hanno firmato la richiesta di rinvio a giudizio dei 12 indagati per la trattativa Stato-mafia tra i quali l'ex presidente del Senato Nicola Mancino, l'ex ministro Calogero Mannino, capi mafia, ufficiali dell'Arma e Ciancimino Jr. Il procuratore avrebbe vistato la richiesta che sarà trasmessa al gip nelle prossime ore.

I destinatari del provvedimento. La richiesta, firmata dal procuratore aggiunto Antonio Ingroia e dai pm Nino Di Matteo, Lia Sava e Francesco Del Bene e vistata ma non firmata dal procuratore, riguarda i capimafia Totò Riina, Giovanni Brusca, Nino Cinà, Leoluca Bagarella e Bernardo Provenzano. Il processo verrà richiesto anche per il figlio dell'ex sindaco Vito Ciancimino, Massimo, per il generale dei carabinieri, Mario Mori, per l'ex capitano dell'Arma, Giuseppe De Donno e per l'ex capo del Ros, Antonio Subranni. L'istanza riguarda, inoltre, l'ex ministro dell'Interno, Nicola Mancino, il senatore del Pdl, Marcello Dell'Utri e l'ex ministro Calogero Mannino.

Le accuse. Gli imputati sono accusati a vario titolo di violenza o minaccia a corpo politico dello Stato e concorso in associazione mafiosa. Mancino risponde di falsa testimonianza e Ciancimino, oltre che di concorso in associazione mafiosa, di calunnia.

Mancino: dimostrerò mia estraneità. «Preferisco farmi giudicare da un giudice terzo. Dimostrerò la mia estraneità ai fatti addebitatimi ritenuti falsa testimonianza, e la mia fedeltà allo Stato», commenta Nicola Mancino. «Dopo la comunicazione della conclusione delle indagini sulla cosiddetta trattativa fra uomini dello Stato ed esponenti della mafia, ho chiesto inutilmente al Pubblico ministero di Palermo di ascoltare i responsabili nazionale dell'ordine e della sicurezza pubblica (capi di gabinetto, direttori della Dia, capi della mia segreteria, prof. Arlacchi, ad esempio), i soli in grado di dichiarare se erano mai stati a conoscenza o se mi avessero parlato di contatti fra gli ufficiali dei carabinieri e Vito Ciancimino e, tramite questi, con esponenti di Cosa Nostra. A questo punto - aggiunge - ho rinunciato al proposito di farmi di nuovo interrogare e di esibire documenti».

Fonte: ilmessaggero.it - © RIPRODUZIONE RISERVATA

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Basescu a fost întrebat, într-o emisiune la Money Channel, cum vede declaratiile recente ale premierului Victor Ponta, potrivit caruia cursul euro-leu va reveni dupa referendumul din 29 iulie.

"Numai un naiv spune «îsi va reveni leul», se va întari peste noapte. Nu, va fi foarte greu sa mai revina la valorile care au fost câd domnul Ponta a primit mandatul pentru ca cursul, stiti si dumneavoastra foarte bine, are o componenta de încredere extrem de ricata. Vreo 60-70% din stabilitatea cursului este data de încrederea în stabilitatea politica. Nu vom reveni, dar macar stopam deprecierea", a afirmat Basescu.

Presedintele suspendat a mentionat ca nici BNR nu poate controla deprecierea leului.

Băsescu dărâmă leul. BNR nu mai primeşte resurse de la Uniunea Europeană

"Nici macar Banca Nationala nu mai are resurse enorme sa intervina pe piata sa tina leul la un curs acceptabil, pentru ca ne apropriem de limita sub care nu putem coborî din punct de vedere al rezervelor BNR.

Banca Nationala trebuie sa astepte un moment de acalmie, cu o perspectiva buna pe stabilitatea politica, sa poata sa faca eficient interventiile, altfel e poveste", a mai afirmat Basescu.

Evolutia monedei nationale în raport cu euro se va "normaliza" de saptamâna viitoare, iar leul chiar se va întari dupa ce criza politica se va încheia prin votul la referendumul pentru demiterea presedintelui si dupa ce rezultatele Guvernului vor fi certificate de misiunea FMI, spune premierul Ponta.

"Sunt absolut convins ca, saptamâna viitoare, lucrurile vor reveni spre normal", a spus Ponta, la postul public de televiziune.

Presedintele interimar Crin Antonescu a declarat, luni, ca s-a întâlnit cu guvernatorul BNR Mugur Isarescu în prima zi de interimat pentru a întelege "foarte bine" raportul dintre criza politica si cursul de schimb si ce trebuie declarat pentru a influenta benefic evolutiile economice.

"Am avut de altfel în prima zi a acestui scurt mandat interimar o întâlnire, printre altii, si cu guvernatorul BNR. Nu am avut-o, asa, ca sa fac pe presedintele. Am avut-o pur si simplu - pentru ca eram în mijlocul unei crize politice - sa înteleg foarte bine, pe de o parte, care e raportul între aceste întâmplari politice din România si cursul valutar. Si doi: ce trebuie sa evitam, chiar si la nivel de declaratii, sau ce trebuie sa declaram noi, cei care avem anumite pozitii în stat, pentru a influenta benefic toate aceste evolutii", a spus Antonescu, la Digi 24.

Întrebat daca dupa 30 iulie se vor calma lucrurile în ceea ce priveste cursul de schimb leu-euro, Antonescu a spus ca este convins ca lucrurile se vor "aseza", însa "doar într-una din variante".

"Cert este ca dupa 30 iulie, în chip absolut firesc, lucrurile se aseaza. Se aseaza, trebuie sa o spun, într-una din variante. În cealalta mai putin", a spus Antonescu.

Reprezentantii Bancii Nationale nu au dorit sa comenteze afirmatiile facute de presedintele suspendat Traian Basescu chiar daca acestea au implicat în mod direct institutia.

Sursa: zf.ro

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Her landmark deal for Vitol to export Libyan crude heralded the return of commodity houses to their swashbuckling roots, trading oil and grain with countries troubled by war and debt.

After years of backroom work focused on the dry business of building out storage, shipping and logistics operations, a small club of trading houses has jumped at the chance to land some old-fashioned big-profit deals.

They have had plenty of choice over the past year: war or unrest in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, sanctions on Iran, Greece on the brink of default.

A Libyan rebel vehicle passes a liquefied petroleum gas tank as it burns outside the town of Brega, 240km (149 miles) southwest of the eastern city of Benghazi, August 28, 2011. REUTERS-Darrin Zammit Lupi

"Trading houses are not shying away from places with high risk profiles if these profiles also lead to higher profit margins. It's about risk versus reward," said Ton Schurink at Geneva-based Commodity Finance Trading Advisory Services.

Vitol, Glencore, Gunvor and Trafigura in oil and Cargill, Louis Dreyfus and Bunge in grains have demonstrated that, for some at least, the security, credit and reputational risks are worth taking if the rewards are big enough.

Traders can operate in risky places because their business model is fundamentally different from the likes of BP or ExxonMobil.

Oil majors tend to be more wary of upsetting their home governments or shareholders and are bound to stricter rules when it comes to daily operations.

A sign is pictured in front of Vitol Group trading commodities company building in Geneva October 4, 2011. REUTERS-Denis Balibouse

And because trading companies are mostly private, there is nobody to second-guess their internal decisions and more room for a star trader to take a bold initiative.

"Can you imagine someone at Exxon saying I'm just going to override that rule and send my tanker into pirate waters because it's a good trade? In a trading house, you don't have to listen to the model as it's privately owned," said an industry source working for a European oil firm.

Estimates from rivals suggest a trader who dares to sell grains to sanctions-straitened Iran could pocket $2 million profit per Panamax-size cargo as opposed to $200,000 if the cargo is sold to a low-risk buyer.

Premiums of at least $1.25 million were charged per diesel fuel cargo heading to unrest-prone Egypt in June this year, just days before the presidential election.

"Everyone has the same commodity to sell so you have to take risks to distinguish yourself and then manage them," said Robert Petritsch, Chief Financial Officer of Swiss-based Quadra Commodities.

SAVING GREECE

Greece's credit rating is now worse than many African nations.

Perhaps not surprising then that many firms are cautious about supplying the partly state-owned Greek refiner Hellenic Petroleum with crude oil.

"If a country defaults, then it's a different ball game entirely. Credit dries up. So costs go up," said a trader with a Swiss-based trading house.

The prospect of default hasn't scared off Glencore and Vitol.

The two traders are estimated to have given Greece at least 300 million euros in open credit financing - meaning it does not need guarantees from banks to buy crude. Both firms declined to comment.

The financial might of big trading houses enables them to act as both bank and supplier to clients who have limited access to credit, at the expense of others who either cannot or will not take that risk.

"No doubt the credit comes at a cost and can possibly provide an interesting margin," said Schurink. A Swiss-based oil trader agreed: "Every company tight on credit is prepared to pay a premium to the market."

Industry sources said that the traders had probably also negotiated refined products or oil assets as collateral.

In a similar scenario, Egypt's military rulers sought record supplies of fuel for the summer months, trying to avoid a repeat of shortages that led to public anger earlier this year.

But difficulty obtaining payments for earlier purchases and other costly delays prompted some suppliers to think again before participating in the record tender.

In the end, Egypt purchased close to $1.2 billion worth of fuel from trading houses including Vitol and Glencore, paying above market prices ahead of the first presidential election and amid fears of renewed instability. Again, both firms declined to comment on the deal.

"The premium is considerable - if the threat is real enough ... maybe 25 percent," said one trader with a firm that supplies fuel to Egypt.

A typical diesel cargo of 30,000 metric tons is worth some $25 million at current prices and so even a 5 percent premium would mean an additional cost of $1.25 million.

PLAYING WITH FIRE IN SYRIA

If in Libya traders bet on the rebels, in Syria the gamble was different.

Firms with investments there were reluctant to move out at first, but most dropped out as the death toll mounted and sanctions made it increasingly difficult to operate.

Around September 2011, Vitol and Trafigura abandoned the multi-million dollar Syrian market, but others like Switzerland's AOT Trading, Galaxy Group, based in Monaco, and Greek-based Naftomar exploited gaps in the sanctions regime.

This small pool kept the Syrian state supplied with diesel and heating gas for cooking throughout the winter, risking western opprobrium at a time when Assad's long-time allies Russia and Venezuela were the only other suppliers.

The deliveries were controversial not least because diesel is mainly used to power heavy vehicles including army tanks.

Naftomar, which supplied Syria with about $55 million a month of cooking gas, defended its position on the grounds its fuel may have prevented a worse humanitarian crisis.

Critics said that Naftomar, by delivering the fuel, might have been helping to extend Assad's rule.

Naftomar denied it was supporting Assad. "We were simply executing a contract that we had to sell LPG to a Syrian government related company. We stopped delivering to Syria when the sanctions were imposed," a Naftomar director said.

AOT and Galaxy Group did not respond to a request for comment.

EU sanctions targeting Syria's state-owned fuel distributor Mahrukat had forced trade to a halt by April this year.

Naftomar said that margins during the winter were "not excessive at all" and that it had since turned down requests to deliver fuel with "excellent" margins because of the embargo.

As in Syria, violence has deterred traditional suppliers from Yemen. Attacks on the energy infrastructure are costing up to $15 million a day in lost oil export revenue. Attacks on pipelines have halted flows to Yemen's, leaving the impoverished country even more dependent on imports.

Over the past year, Saudi Arabia has stepped in with donations worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But when donations from Riyadh dried up Yemen became more reliant on Vitol and Trafigura for refined products supplies under long-term and spot deals.

"If you get it wrong, Yemen can lose you a lot more money," said a trader with experience of doing business with its government.

Both Vitol and Trafigura declined to comment.

FEEDING IRAN

Gripped by U.S. and European oil and banking sanctions, Iran has become a profitable trade for grains suppliers including U.S.-based Cargill and Bunge, France's Louis Dreyfus and Glencore.

The measures against Iran's disputed nuclear program have led to a complex array of global restrictions on doing business there, stifling Iran's oil sales and forcing Tehran to pay more for food imports.

While grain and sugar trade are not under embargo, a freeze on financial dollar transactions has caused some former suppliers to Iran either to drop out or cut volumes.

But big trading firms with multi-billion dollar credit lines and a team of lawyers are able to find ways of navigating through the restrictions legally, industry sources said.

Margins for grain deliveries can be between $15-$30 a metric ton, industry sources familiar with the deals said, indicating a gross margin of up to $2 million for a typical shipment.

The Swiss-based trading arms of Cargill and Bunge are able to continue food deliveries to Iran using non-dollar payments.

"Dealing with countries under sanctions of the U.S., EU, Switzerland is always more difficult," said Henri Rieux, vice president of corporate affairs at Bunge.

"Nonetheless, such sanctions do always provide the potential trading companies with some, while admittedly limited, latitude to grant the countries under sanctions with the required food for their population," he added.

Glencore confirmed that it was able to continue deliveries of corn and soymeal to Iran in compliance with sanctions without giving details. Louis Dreyfus did not respond to a request for comment. Cargill declined to comment.

"I think with grains that you will never get into moral arguments. Even if you are providing one side of a conflict that is starving the other - is it better to let them starve as well?," a Swiss-based industry source said.

SWISS HAVEN

The majority of the big players are Swiss-based. Traders say Geneva makes a good hub for pulling the strings on deals such as food trade with Iran as traders need no special permission from Swiss authorities.

In theory, Swiss-based firms can still trade Iranian oil as Switzerland is outside the European Union's oil embargo, although most big traders say they have stopped dealing with Tehran.

Marie Avet, spokeswoman for the Swiss federal department responsible for sanctions, said that food payments to Iran needed to be declared to the government and confirmed that these transactions were continuing.

Rules for U.S. companies are more onerous since they require a special license from the Office of Foreign Asset Controls. EU firms have to get clearance from national authorities.

But even this perfectly legal trade comes with some occupational hazards as traders can get hit by fines for delays while waiting for Iranian counterparties to transfer payment.

"You can't get trade finance for deals involving Iran, so transactions have to be "cash against documents", which is risky if anything goes wrong," said lawyer Matthew Parish at Geneva law firm Holman Fenwick Willan.

When payment falls through, it can be hard to negotiate a resale of a distressed cargo to a third party near Iranian waters.

BACKFIRING

Sometimes the big bets backfire in unexpected ways.

In February, Swiss-based Trafigura bought a cargo of discounted oil the South Sudanese government said was seized by Sudan, its northern neighbor.

Trafigura says it made significant efforts to establish ownership but proceeds from the deal were seized by a British court and the matter is legally unresolved.

The row between the two countries led to border fighting and prompted South Sudan to shut oil production despite sourcing 98 percent of its revenue from the commodity.

Also in South Sudan, the government scrapped a contract with Glencore for crude marketing and other services citing unfavorable terms.

But in some places, like Libya, the pay-off can be huge.

In October 2011, Libya's interim council said it owed $1 billion in payments for fuel - a large portion of which was supplied by traders.

Vitol was the first trader to supply Muammar Gaddafi's opponents with a fuel lifeline and was subsequently granted access to half of the crude production from Libya's eastern oil firm Agoco as repayment.

In November, Vitol, Glencore, Gunvor and Trafigura were among those awarded term contracts, in a break with former Libyan policy of restricting sales only to refiners.

"We can't just eliminate the traders. They are a necessary evil," Ahmed Shawki, general manager for oil marketing at Libya's National Oil Corporation, said at the time.

Source: Reuters.com - additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London, Michael Hogan in Hamburg. Editing by Richard Mably and William Hardy

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