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    January 27, 2023

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    GE, Cisco, Visa Consider South Africa Investment as U.S. Look to Expand Trade Ties

    U.S. Secretary of State Yellen said Washington is looking to expand trade ties with countries that it can “count on”, including South Africa, during her visit to the country. She also praised Ford’s 100-year history of assembling vehicles in the country in her remarks following a tour of the Ford plant in Pretoria. South Africa is the latest stop in Yellen’s Africa trip, which also included Senegal and Zambia. It aims to expand U.S. economic ties with the continent and counter China’s influence in the region. 

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  • Salinas Grandes on Argentina Andes is a salt desert in the Jujuy Province. More significantly, Bolivas Salar de Uyuni is also located in the same region.
    Mexico Seeks Compromise with Lithium Company as Part of Nationalization Efforts

    Mexican President Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday his government was looking to make a compromise with a company in the Northern state of Sonora, as the government tries to nationalize the country’s lithium resources. Lopez Obrador did not name the firm but China’s Ganfeng has been developing a major lithium project in Sonora, where it aims to produce 35,000 tons of the battery metal per year. He reiterated that Mexico’s lithium resources belonged to the nation, and added that he would visit Sonora while underlining that there was a company that had done exploratory work in a “very small area.”

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    Imperial Oil to Spend $720 Million for Canada’s Largest Renewable Diesel Plant

    Calgary-based Imperial Oil announced it will invest $720 million to build Canada’s largest renewable diesel facility at its refinery near Edmonton. The company aims the plant to produce more than one billion liters of fuel per year using vegetable oils from canola and soybean. Preparations and initial construction are under way for the 20,000 barrels per day facility, which will start operations in 2025, the company said. 

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    Glencore Joins Global Battery Alliance’s Battery Passport Proof of Concept

    Swiss-based commodities trading and mining major Glencore said it would join the world’s first battery proof of concept established by the Global Battery Alliance. The alliance launched the proof of concept for its battery passport at the World Economic Forum, as part of its aim to develop a sustainable battery value chain by 2030. The prototype battery passports include example data from Audi and Tesla and their suppliers relating to the battery’s technical specifications, material provenance, and reporting against key sustainability performance indicators.

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Politics

  • GE, Cisco, Visa Consider South Africa Investment as U.S. Look to Expand Trade Ties

    U.S. Secretary of State Yellen said Washington is looking to expand trade ties with countries that it can “count on”, including South Africa, during her visit to the country. She also praised Ford’s 100-year history of assembling vehicles in the country in her remarks following a tour of the Ford plant in Pretoria. South Africa is the latest stop in Yellen’s Africa trip, which also included Senegal and Zambia. It aims to expand U.S. economic ties with the continent and counter China’s influence in the region. 

    January 27, 2023
  • Geopolitical Tensions, Instability Top Challenges of Global Economy in 2023

    The global business expects 2023 to be economically challenging due to geopolitical challenges, high inflation and energy crisis, according to the global economic survey published by Eurochambres on Wednesday. The report is based on the responses of representatives from trade and commerce organizations that account for around 70% of world GDP. It shows that prolonged geopolitical tensions and instability are expected to continue mounting pressure on the global economy in 2023.  

    January 25, 2023
  • Yellen Held Talks on U.S. Investments, China Debt During Visits to Senegal, Zambia

    During the first stop in her Africa trip, U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen on Saturday attended the opening ceremony of a rural electrification project in Senegal that is aimed to deliver reliable power to 350,000 people, while supporting some 500 jobs in 14 U.S. states. After that, she traveled to Zambia to promote U.S. ties and investments in the country, while discussing the country’s heavy debt burden. 

    January 23, 2023
  • France, Spain Joining Forces to Strengthen European Industry

    Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez and French President Macron met in Barcelona on Thursday to sign a “friendship and cooperation” treaty to reinforce ties on issues including energy, defense and immigration. The treaty calls on both countries to support the adoption of measures to protect European companies against economic coercion and unfair practices, as well as an “ambitious European industrial policy aimed at strengthening the EU’s strategic autonomy and recovery capacity”. Paris is looking to build stronger ties with its southern neighbors, at a time when its relations with Berlin, which is the building block of the European Union, are showing signs of deterioration. 

    January 20, 2023

Energy

  • Shell May Exit Retail Businesses in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands

    Shell is considering an exit from its home energy retail businesses in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands citing “tough market conditions”, it announced on Thursday. European energy suppliers have been struggling with soaring wholesale prices last year and government efforts to shield consumers from rising prices. 

    January 27, 2023
  • EU Considers $100 per Barrel Price Cap on Russian Premium Petroleum Products

    The European Commission proposes that the European Union set a $100 per barrel price cap on premium Russian oil products, such as diesel and a $45 per barrel cap on discounted products like fuel oil. The Commission’s proposal was sent to EU member governments on Thursday. It will be discussed by representatives at a meeting on Friday afternoon, as the bloc wants to reach a deal before the cap on imported Russian oil products takes effect on Feb. 5, in line with an agreement by G7 nations. 

    January 27, 2023
  • Libya to Sign Gas Exploration, Production Deals with Italy’s Eni

    Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) is set to sign offshore gas exploration and production deals with Italian energy major Eni, NOC Chairman Bengdara said. The deal is expected to require $8 billion to produce up to 850 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Mediterranean, as Libya tries to boost gas exports to Europe after Russia cut off most of the pipeline flows to the continent.

    January 26, 2023
  • U.S. Utility Sempra Will Supply LNG to Poland’s PKN Orlen

    San Diego-based utilities company Sempra Energy announced on Wednesday that it would supply 1 million tons per annum of LNG for 20 years to Polish energy company PKN Orlen from its Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project. The deal marks the latest in a series of agreements U.S. LNG producers sign with European companies, after Western sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine squeezed an already tight global supply. 

    January 26, 2023

Cleantech

  • Imperial Oil to Spend $720 Million for Canada’s Largest Renewable Diesel Plant

    Calgary-based Imperial Oil announced it will invest $720 million to build Canada’s largest renewable diesel facility at its refinery near Edmonton. The company aims the plant to produce more than one billion liters of fuel per year using vegetable oils from canola and soybean. Preparations and initial construction are under way for the 20,000 barrels per day facility, which will start operations in 2025, the company said. 

    January 27, 2023
  • European Steel, Wind Industries Want EU to Expand Critical Minerals List

    The European steel and wind industry associations Eurofer and WindEurope issued a joint statement on Thursday urging the European Union to improve access to critical minerals for clean energy in its upcoming Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), including materials that are not already included, like glass fibre. The EU is set to unveil the CRMA on March 8 to secure the bloc’s supply of raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, manganese and rare earths needed for energy transition technologies. 

    January 27, 2023
  • Germany’s HH2E Plans Second Hydrogen Plant Worth More Than €1 Billion

    German energy firm HH2E is planning to build a second hydrogen plant in Germany that could be scaled up to more than 1 GW by 2030 and cost more than €1 billion. The company designated Saxony as the plant’s location, and it will be con-funded by UK-based shareholders Foresight Group and HydrogenOne Capital Growth, as well as HH2E. It added that a final investment decision is expected this year. 

    January 26, 2023
  • Nippon Steel, Mitsubishi, Exxon to Explore CCS Opportunities in the Asia-Pacific

    Japan’s top steelmaker Nippon Steel, largest trading company Mitsubishi and energy major Exxon Mobil signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday to jointly study opportunities to create a carbon capture and storage (CCS) value chains in the Asia-Pacific. The companies, based on the MoU, will conduct research on the capture of CO2 emissions from Nippon Steel’s local plants and evaluate the necessary infrastructure requirements, they announced in a joint statement.  

    January 26, 2023

Agribusiness

  • Brazil Ramps Up Russian Wheat Imports Amid Weak Argentinian Harvest

    Brazil’s wheat imports from Russia is expected to rise this year as competitive prices are set to help the Latin American nation partially replace lost volumes from Argentina, the harvest season of which is forecast to be weak in 2022-23. Brazil has been looking for alternatives to supplies from Argentina, which have plunged to a multi-year low of 122,500 tons in OCtober from 475,000 tons a year earlier. Meanwhile, imports from the United States have soared, totaling 101,200 tons in October up from just 16,500 tons in October last year. Other than the U.S., Russian wheat has also made a return to the Brazilian market after a break of a few years. Russia exported 31,100 tons in October, and two vessels carrying 61,500 tons are also on their way to the South American nation. A further 38,300 tons of Russian wheat is also earmarked for Brazil. 

    November 28, 2022
  • Surging Gas Prices Force Norway’s Yara to Reduce Ammonia Production

    Norway’s Yara, one of the world’s largest fertilizer producers, is set to cut ammonia production due to soaring gas prices. The move could result in a fertilizer shortage for Europe’s crops. Ammonia is a key input in producing fertilizers. Without its usage, crop yields will deteriorate, as nutrients removed from soil during harvesting are not replenished. Yara has been warning the world faces an extreme food shortage due to high gas prices, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions on Russian fertilizer producers.  

    August 26, 2022
  • Protectionism Could Worsen Global Food Crisis

    An increasing global food crisis pushes the countries to follow protectionist policies, which are likely to multiply the problem and could lead to an even worse crisis and a wider trade war, political and business leaders said at the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

    May 25, 2022
  • India’s Wheat Export Ban Will Further Tighten Global Supplies

    India imposed a ban on wheat exports as of May 13, withdrawing a big supply volume from the markets at a time when supplies have already been dropping since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Indian government made the decision to control rising domestic prices of the food grain. The ban excludes shipments with irrevocable letter of credit issued on or before May 13.

    May 16, 2022

Defense

  • U.S. Arms Exports in Fiscal 2022 Increased by Almost 50%

    The U.S. State Department announced that sales of U.S. military equipment to foreign states had gone up by 49% and reached $205.6 billion in fiscal 2022. Sales last year included $13.9 billion worth of F-15ID fighter jets to Indonesia, $6.9 billion Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships to Greece, and $6 billion M1A2 Abrams tanks to Poland.

    January 26, 2023
  • UK, Japan to Sign Military Pact in London

    British Prime Minister Sunak and his Japanese counterpart Kishida will sign a defense pact in London on Wednesday. The pact will allow both country to deploy forces in each other’s territory as a latest move towards increased bilateral security ties. The reciprocal access defense agreement was agreed in principal last May. The two countries have also become partners with Italy in early December to build a new fighter jet.

    January 11, 2023
  • U.S. Approves Sale of $180 Million Anti-Tank System to Taiwan

    The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of Volcano anti-tank mine laying systems to Taiwan for an estimated price of $180 million, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday. Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh are the primary contractors for the potential sale. According to U.S. law, the executive branch has to notify the COngress of potential arms sales that are over a certain amount. But these notifications are usually not made unless lawmakers have given the State Department and Pentagon informal approval to move ahead.

    December 29, 2022
  • Japan Unveils Five-Year, $320 Billion Military Budget

    Japan unveiled its biggest military build-up on Friday since the World War II, a five-year budget worth $320 billion, which includes purchases of missiles capable of striking China and prepare the country for sustained conflict, as regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grow concerns. The new plan will make Japan, which had followed a pacifist strategy since the WWII, the world’s third largest military spender after the United States and China. Prime Minister Kishida said, describing Japan and its citizens as being at a 1turning point in history”, the ramp up in spending was “my answer to the various security challenges that we face”.

    December 19, 2022

Infrastructure

  • Shell USA Set to Acquire EV Charging Operator Volta for $169 Million

    Electric vehicle (EV) charging network operator Volta Inc announced on Wednesday that Shell USA will acquire the company in an all-cash deal for a value of around $169 million. Shell USA will acquire all outstanding Class A common shares of Volta for 86 cents apiece in a deal that is expected to be completed by the first half of 2023, Volta said. 

    January 19, 2023
  • Taiwan’s Gogoro, India’s Belrise to Make $2.5 Billion Battery Swapping Investment in India

    Taiwanese two-wheeler battery swapping company Gogoro and Indian automotive system manufacturer Belrise Industria have signed a deal with India’s Maharashtra state on Tuesday to invest $2.5 billion over eight years to build battery-swapping infrastructure across the state. The partners said the memorandum of understanding is aiming to establish batteries as a leading source for mobility and energy storage in Maharashtra, India’s wealthiest state with 120 million residents which is looking to reduce its use of fossil fuels.

    January 18, 2023
  • EU, NATO Agreed to Establish Task Force to Protect Critical Infrastructure

    The European Union and NATO agreed on Wednesday to form a task force to bolster protection and resilience of energy and other critical infrastructure, European Commission President von der Leyen said. The Western nations, the EU and NATO have ramped up security measures, including surveillance and defense capabilities, following explosions on two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea at the end of September last year, which Swedish and Danish authorities said was sabotage.

    January 12, 2023
  • Mercedes Preparing to Spend Billions on Charging Infrastructure

    German automotive giant Mercedes-Benz is set to spend billions of euros on fast-charging stations across Europe, North America and China by 2030, the company announced on Thursday. The automaker said it was planning to start construction this year in North America, where it is targeting to build 2,500 charging points at 400 locations across the United States and Canada by 2027. It will jointly invest over €1 billion required by 2030 for North America with renewable energy producer and battery storage operator MN8 Energy, and is also partnering with charging network company ChargePoint for technical know-how. 

    January 6, 2023

Mining

  • Mexico Seeks Compromise with Lithium Company as Part of Nationalization Efforts

    Mexican President Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday his government was looking to make a compromise with a company in the Northern state of Sonora, as the government tries to nationalize the country’s lithium resources. Lopez Obrador did not name the firm but China’s Ganfeng has been developing a major lithium project in Sonora, where it aims to produce 35,000 tons of the battery metal per year. He reiterated that Mexico’s lithium resources belonged to the nation, and added that he would visit Sonora while underlining that there was a company that had done exploratory work in a “very small area.”

    January 26, 2023
  • BHP Signs Agreement to Explore Copper in Serbia

    Australian miner BHP, the world’s largest mining company, struck a deal with Canadian mining investment group Mundoro to explore copper in Serbia. BHP has been looking to expand copper operations and find new deposits to boost supply of the metal essential for energy transition technologies. World’s top miners have been bullish on the outlook for copper, which is key in many clean energy technologies, including electric vehicles, wind turbines and grids. As the demand for copper expected to surpass supply, concerns over future shortages have been increasing. 

    January 24, 2023
  • Bolivia Chooses China’s CATL to Help Kickstart Lithium Production

    Bolivia has given authorization to a consortium led by Chinese battery major CATL to help develop its large but largely untapped lithium resources after a lengthy bidding process that involved companies from the United States and Russia. The deal, announced in La Paz, will see the consortium, called CBC, partner on direct lithium extraction from Bolivia’s Uyuni and Oruro salt flats. CBC, which also includes Chinese mining giant CMOC, will additionally develop two lithium plants in the country, with an aim of producing up. to 25,000 tonnes annually of battery grade lithium carbonate. 

    January 23, 2023
  • Peru Protests Could Disrupt $4 Billion Worth Copper Production

    Protests and social unrest in Peru jeopardizes the country’s almost $4 billion worth of copper production, as China’s emergence from Covid lockdowns is poised to ramp up demand. Peru’s third largest copper mine, Las Bambas, has not produced any copper concentrate since Jan. 3 due to security concerns. Glencore’s Antapaccay mine has also been facing disruptions. The two mines, which share the same access to ports, together account for almost 2% of global output. 

    January 20, 2023

Internet Technology

  • Beijing Takes “Golden Shares” in Alibaba, Tencent, Extending Online Rein

    China has acquired minority stakes with special rights in units of Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, suggesting the government extending control over the country’s internet sphere. It’s been five years since Beijing has started to take 1golden shares” in private online media and content companies, and in recent years has ramped up such activities in companies which have massive amount of user data. The stakes taken over the last four months in the Alibaba units are the first ones to come to light for the e-commerce firm. Alibaba has been one of the most prominent targets of China’s two-year-long regulatory crackdown on tech giants.

    January 13, 2023
  • Ma to Relinquish Control of Chinese Fintech Company Ant Group

    Chinese fintech giant Ant Group’s founder Ma is set to cede his control of the company as it prepares for a regulatory driven restructuring. Beijing’s regulatory crackdown was triggered soon after its $37 billion initial public offering (IPO) was scratched two years ago. Ant’s IPO, which would have been the world’s largest, was cancelled at the last minute in November 2020, leading to a forced restructuring of the financial technology firm and speculation the Chinese billionaire would have to relinquish control.

    January 9, 2023
  • U.S. to Investigate Huawei Equipment Close to Military Bases, Missile Silos

    The Biden administration is investigating Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei over concerns that U.S. cell towers using its equipment could capture sensitive information from military bases and missile silos that the company could then transmit to China. The administration is concerned that the company could obtain data on military drills and the readiness of bases and personnel via the equipment.

    July 22, 2022
  • U.S. Authorizes Starlink to Expand Offerings to Moving Vehicles

    The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday authorized SpaceX to use its Starlink satellite internet network with moving vehicles. The company has been looking to expand its offerings to commercial airlines, shipping vessels and trucks.

    July 1, 2022

Manufacturing

  • Glencore Joins Global Battery Alliance’s Battery Passport Proof of Concept

    Swiss-based commodities trading and mining major Glencore said it would join the world’s first battery proof of concept established by the Global Battery Alliance. The alliance launched the proof of concept for its battery passport at the World Economic Forum, as part of its aim to develop a sustainable battery value chain by 2030. The prototype battery passports include example data from Audi and Tesla and their suppliers relating to the battery’s technical specifications, material provenance, and reporting against key sustainability performance indicators.

    January 27, 2023
  • LGES in Discussions with Tesla to Supply EV Batteries from Arizona Plant

    LG Energy Solution said on Friday it is in active discussions with Tesla and electric vehicle (EV) startups to supply batteries from its proposed Arizona plant in the United States. The company is currently supplying batteries to Tesla from its China factory. The South Korean battery maker said it is reviewing investments in building the new Arizona plant. 

    January 27, 2023
  • Nissan, Renault Nearing Revamp of Global Alliance

    Nissan and Renault are close to make a sweeping overhaul of their global alliance as top executives from two automakers meet on Thursday for talks to reset the 23-year partnership and draw a roadmap for an electric future. The executives are meeting via video conference for an alliance board meeting. Previously, it was said that Renault CEO de Meo and Chairman Senard would travel to Japan but the two sides not deemed that necessary as talks have been progressing well. 

    January 26, 2023
  • China’s BYD Interested in Acquiring Ford Plant in Germany

    Ford is in discussions with Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker BYD over the sale of its Saarlouis manufacturing plant in Germany. The talks are still in preliminary stages. The production in the factory is already planned to end in 2025. The future of the Saarlouis site has been unclear since last June when Ford designated a site in Spain to manufacture its next-generation EVs over the German plant. EV battery material costs and projected slowdown in the United States and European economies are forcing automakers to cut expenses. The automaker is also gauging interest from around 15 potential investors, but terms of the deal are not revealed so far.

    January 25, 2023

Online Retail

  • U.S. Includes 42 Chinese E-Commerce Sites to Blacklist

    E-commerce sites operated by China’s Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group have been added to the U.S. government’s “Notorious markets” list. The list has identified a total of 42 online and 35 physical markets, which were accused of contributing to trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy. 

    February 18, 2022
  • Alibaba Reorganizes Units and Management in the Face of Mounting Pressure

    Alibaba Group announced reorganization of its Chinese and international e-commerce business and appointed a new CFO. The company has been dealing with China’s regulatory crackdown as well as increasing competition and a slowing economy. The Chinese tech giant will form two new units: international digital commerce and China digital commerce in order to become more agile and accelerate growth. 

    December 6, 2021
  • China Bans VIEs in Another Drawback for Tech Companies

    China plans to ban companies from going public in foreign stock exchanges through variable interest entities (VIEs). The loophole was long used by Chinese tech companies to attract foreign investors. 

    December 2, 2021
  • UK Competition Watchdog to Block Meta’s Giphy Acquisition

    The UK competition regulator, Competition and Markets Authority, is expected to cancel Meta Platforms’ acquisition of online GIF platform Giphy in the next few days.

    November 29, 2021

Legistation

  • Netherlands, Japan Nearing Agreement with U.S. on China Chip Restrictions

    Japan and the Netherlands are expected to join the United States in restricting exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China. Talks between the countries could come to a conclusion as early as Friday. The Netherlands is set to restrict ASML Holding, which will prevent it from selling at least some of its so-called deep ultraviolet lithography machines, crucial to making some types of advanced chips and without which attempts to set up production lines may be impossible. Japan is expected to impose similar restrictions on Nikon. 

    January 27, 2023
  • U.S. Lawmakers Looking to Reverse Solar Panel Tariff Waiver

    A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives are planning to introduce a resolution to reverse Biden’s suspension of U.S. solar panel import tariffs from four Southeast Asian nations. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, which allows Congress to repeal federal rules with a simple majority, is targeted at helping domestic solar panel manufacturers, which have struggled to compete with cheap Chinese products. 

    January 26, 2023
  • European Metal Producers Urge EU Commitment Similar to U.S. IRA

    Eurometaux, the European non-ferrous metals association, has called on the European Union to follow the Biden administration’s example in rolling out financial support to help the bloc control its supply of raw materials critical for energy transition. The association, which represents European majors including Glencore, Boliden and Aurubis, said the EU should implement a similar legislation to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes billions of dollars of subsidies to ramp up domestic investment in electric vehicles and renewable energy. 

    January 25, 2023
  • Businesses Want EU to Set Forth Competitive Green Industry Act

    European Commission president con der Leyen last week said the EU would mobilize more state aid and create a sovereign fund for renewable energy companies in its “Net-Zero Industry Act”, in order to compete with the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Von der Leyen’s remarks came as Europe has been dealing with high energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which have caused investment in Europe fall behind the United States. Russia’s invasion skyrocketed energy prices in Europe, pushing up manufacturing costs. To protect energy consumers, the EU has imposed revenue caps on renewable generators, denting investor confidence in new projects. Both the U.S. and Europe have been trying to accelerate renewable development but financial support differs significantly and European renewable developers have also been facing permitting delays. 

    January 24, 2023
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