The European Union (EU) lacks strategic and unified approach to Chinese investment among members, to effectively mitigate risks, such as becoming overly indebted to a strategic competitor, an EU watchdog said.
The European Court of Auditors – a body that checks how EU money is spent – identified 18 risks associate with Chinese state investment in the EU.
China is one of the 27-member EU’s biggest trading partners, but concerns have been raised about unchecked investment in the bloc.
These risks include, for example, over-indebtedness that could lead to the loss of strategic collateral and lower environmental standards, as well as competitiveness challenges.
At the end of 2018, Chinese direct investments billed at 202 billion euros (234 billion dollars).
Of this, the lion’s share went to Luxembourg at 82.5 billion euros.
According to a non-public European Commission database, total assets by Chinese investors, including foreign direct investment, amounted to 2.1 trillion euros at the end of 2017.
But data on Chinese investment was not comprehensive, the ECA said.
With too little data available, Chinese investment posed a “black hole for data,” ECA member Annemie Turtelboom said.
Official Eurostat data were fragmented, not timely, and incomplete, the report found.
“Is the EU driving blind toward China?” she asked, adding: “It certainly appears that we are sailing with no compass.”
According to the report, the EU also lacks a formalised comprehensive analysis of the risks involved.
With no overarching EU approach, multiple member states had signed agreements with China without notifying the European Commission.
This lack of coordination had led to a piecemeal approach that lacked unity, she said.
“We need 27 players on one team,” she said – not 27 individual teams.
According to European companies, China must make big improvements if it is to finalize an investment deal with the EU.
“The European side has made it very clear that it cannot meet China in the middle,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday.
According to Wuttke, fair competitive conditions already apply in Europe – both for domestic and Chinese companies.
In China, however, this is still not the case. Therefore it is up to Beijing to “close the gap,” he said.
Wuttke’s comments come ahead of summit talks between the EU and Beijing planned for next week.
The chamber president said he was not very confident that a comprehensive deal satisfying EU companies could be made.
According to Wuttke, the window of opportunity for an agreement with China is also closing and the deal must come this year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen intend to join forces with China’s President Xi Jinping for the talks next Monday via videoconference.
One of the topics will be the planned investment deal, which has been under negotiation for six years.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
S/Africa seeks continent’s permanent representation at UN Security Council – Ramaphosa
South Africa advocates for the continent to have permanent representation on the UN Security Council, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
Ramaphosa said this ahead of his address for the high-level week of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
The 75th session of the General Assembly opened on Sept. 15. The high-level week will run from Monday until Sept. 29.
“We … need to strengthen bodies like the UN, ensure they are properly resourced and that they are representative.
“We must use this 75th anniversary to push ahead with the reform of the UN and particularly its Security Council, which does not give equal voice to the different regions of the world.
As South Africa, we will use our virtual presence in New York to continue to advocate for Africa – a continent of more than a billion people – to have permanent representation on the UN Security Council,” the statement read.
Earlier this year, a similar idea was voiced by Cairo.
In particular, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry proposed that two permanent seats be allocated to the African continent in the UN Security Council with full powers, including veto, following its reformation.
So far, there are five permanent members at the UN Security Council that have the right to veto — China, Russia, the United States, France and the UK.
The other 10 members of the UN body are non-permanent and elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
South Africa was elected as a non-permanent member for 2019 to 2020.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza
Russia conducts its largest 2020 military exercise in Caucasus
Russia began its largest military exercise of this year on Monday in the southern part of the country’s Caucasus region, with about 80,000 troops to participate.
Forces from Russian allies Belarus, China, Armenia, Myanmar and Pakistan are taking part to strengthen coordination in joint military efforts, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.
The Caucasus-2020 exercise is to take place for five days at military bases in southern Russia and in the Black and Caspian seas, the statement said.
Russian media reported that Iranian forces would participate in naval drills in the Caspian Sea.
The exercise is to focus on combating cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as electronic warfare activities, the Russian Defence Ministry said.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Maharazu Ahmed
EU Diplomats to discuss ways to support Libyan ceasefire on Monday – Borrell
The EU’s foreign ministers will discuss efforts to shore up Libyan ceasefire later on Monday, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, cautiously expressing optimism over the developments in the conflict-hit country.
In August, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) declared an immediate ceasefire in a move that was backed by the rival eastern-based parliament.
Last week, GNA Head Fayez Sarraj announced his intention to resign and transfer powers to a new executive authority by the end of October.
“After many months I see a reason for cautious optimism. There is a positive momentum, there is a ceasefire and we need to use it,” Borrell said upon the arrival at the Foreign Affairs Council.
The top diplomat would also brief the council on his visits to Libya and Egypt.
According to Borrell, the bloc has “concrete decisions” on a Libyan sanctions list, which will be announced at a press conference later in the day.
Along with Libya, the council will focus on Belarus and relations with Africa.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Ali Baba-Inuwa
BHP in talks with three firms for LNG bunker supply contract – Executive
A contract is expected to be awarded next month after an initial eight to 10 firms vied for delivery of the super-chilled fuel to the miner over 2022 to 2027, Rashpal Bhatti, BHP’s Vice-President for maritime and supply chain excellence told Reuters.
BHP earlier this month awarded a tender to charter five LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers to Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions on voyages to biggest customer China by more than 30 per cent.
The five vessels will be able to carry about 10 million tonnes per year (tpy) of iron ore or about 3.6 per cent of BHP’s 280 million tpy in exports.
“Our five vessels will make up 10 per cent of all Asian (LNG) bunkering volumes.
Miners are under pressure to reduce pollution to meet concerns about the environment, while investors increasingly demand that companies offer a compelling sustainability strategy.
“When it comes to cost, the build of the vessel is more expensive than a conventional vessel … but the gas supply is the one that really allows us to take a like for like view.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde