ASEAN Trade Barriers Curb E.U. Interest

By Wendy Laursen 2015-07-22 21:56:31

European investors are looking to ASEAN countries after the Greek crisis and slowed growth in China have reduced market stability.

“There’s now a moment where companies realize there’s Asia beyond China,” said Michael Pulch, the European Union’s ambassador to Singapore in a recent interview.

The E.U., the world’s largest economy, is already ASEAN’s second most important trading partner after China, accounting for 13 percent of ASEAN’s trade in goods with the world.

Singapore is the E.U.’s most important trading partner in ASEAN, accounting for 25.1 percent of ASEAN-E.U. trade in goods. Malaysia is second, with 18.8 percent of trade, followed by Thailand and Vietnam with 17.3 percent and 15.8 percent respectively.

Pulch says that the E.U. is seeking to boost cooperation with ASEAN countries, and he believes that maritime transport and aviation are areas of potential expansion.

However, there are challenges to further trade developments, according to a position paper launched this month by the E.U.-ASEAN Business Council. The paper recommends ways to increase trade and investment between Europe and ASEAN countries. Top of the list is the elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade. The paper highlights a number of market access issues across ASEAN, including:

1. Cumbersome customs procedures with little harmonization across ASEAN;

2. Unpredictable application of regulations and procedures, impacting the ability of businesses to make informed long term investment decisions;

3. Restrictions on foreign ownership and foreign competition;

4. Lack of harmonized standards or the lack of mutual recognition of such standards across the region.

These four broad themes limit the ability of businesses, from ASEAN or elsewhere, to trade effectively with partners across South East Asia. They also limit the ability of businesses to make long term investment decisions, states the report.


Iran Rejects Sanctions Extension Beyond 10 Years

By MarEx 2015-07-22 18:49:47

Iran will not accept any extension of sanctions beyond 10 years, an official said on Wednesday, in the latest attempt by its pragmatist government to sell a nuclear deal with world powers to skeptical hardliners.

Abbas Araqchi, one of several deputy foreign ministers, also told a news conference Iran would do anything to help allies in the Middle East, underlining Tehran’s message that despite the deal Iran will not change its anti-Western foreign policy.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, told supporters on Saturday that U.S. policies in the region were “180 degrees” opposed to Iran’s, in a Tehran speech punctuated by chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

Under the accord, Iran will be subjected to long-term curbs on its nuclear work in return for the lifting of U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions. The deal was signed by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the E.U.

The world powers suspected Iran was trying to create a nuclear bomb; Tehran said its program was peaceful.

The accord was a major success for both U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran’s pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani. But both leaders have to promote it at home to influential hardliners in countries that have been enemies for decades.

Araqchi, Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, told the televised conference that any attempt to re-impose sanctions after they expired in 10 years would breach the deal.

He was referring to a resolution endorsing the deal passed by the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

The resolution allows all U.N. sanctions to be re-imposed if Iran violates the agreement in the next 10 years. If Iran adheres to the terms of the agreement, all the provisions and measures of the U.N. resolution would end in 10 years.


However, the six world powers, known as the P5+1, and the European Union told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this month that after 10 years they planned to seek a five-year extension of the mechanism allowing sanctions to be re-imposed.

Araqchi challenged this move, saying: “Our priority is our national interests, not UN Security Council’s resolutions.”

“The U.N. Security Council’s resolution says clearly that the timeframe of agreement is 10 years, and Iran’s case will be closed in the Security Council after that,” Araqchi said.

“If the U.S. and any other member of P5+1 say they want to adopt a new resolution after 10 years allowing sanctions to be re-imposed, it is the breach of Vienna agreement and has no credibility.”

Iran’s foreign ministry said shortly after the passage of the resolution on Monday that the nuclear deal did not mean Tehran accepted “sanctions and restrictions imposed by the UNSC, the U.S., the E.U. or member countries.”

On Monday, Araqchi told national television: “Whenever it’s needed to send arms to our allies in the region, we will do so. We are not ashamed of it.”

U.S. allies in the Gulf have cautiously welcomed the July 14 deal, but they accuse Tehran of interfering in Arab conflicts, such as Syria, and pushing hard for heightened regional influence.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in remarks published on Wednesday he will seek to reassure Gulf Arab officials at a meeting in Qatar in the next two weeks that Washington will work with them to push back against Iranian influence in the region.

“We have negotiated a nuclear deal for the simple reason that we believe if you are going to push back against Iran, it’s better to push back against an Iran without a nuclear weapon than with one,” the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted Kerry as saying.


Iran is the fifth largest owner of laden VLCCs in the world by value. Currently the country has 25 vessels with a total value of $1,449 million, amounting to 7.7 million dwt. This is equivalent to 56.7 million barrels of crude oil.

An Iranian supertanker with two million barrels of oil is heading to Asia after sitting in Iranian waters for months, the first vessel storing crude offshore to sail after the nuclear deal. The fully laden Starla, operated by Iran’s top tanker group NITC, had been used for floating storage since December 12.

While oil analysts do not expect Iran to make a major return to the market until next year, it has been parking millions of barrels of oil on tankers for months.


Owner and Master Fined for Discharge in Great Barrier Reef

By MarEx 2015-07-22 18:27:08

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has successfully prosecuted the master and owners of the Hong Kong registered bulk carrier ANL Kardinia for illegally dumping garbage in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

One Armania Shipping and the master of ANL Kardinia were found guilty on July 20 in the Townsville Magistrates Court on one charge each of illegally disposing of garbage under the Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983.

The illegal discharge took place on February 13, 2015 and was detected by an AMSA inspector during a routine port state control inspection in Brisbane on 16 February 2015.

The AMSA Inspector examined ANL Kardinia’s Garbage Record Book and discovered an entry for a discharge of food waste within the prohibited discharge area of the Great Barrier Reef.

One Armania Shipping was fined A$4,000 ($3,000) and the master was fined A$300 ($220) for the illegal discharge.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said masters and owners of vessels should be warned that the illegal discharge of ships’ waste would not be tolerated in Australian waters.


Shell Gets Final Approval for Arctic Drilling

By MarEx 2015-07-22 17:41:55

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved Shell’s final drilling permits, which was the last hurdle before the company can begin drilling exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea. The company can begin to drill immediately on the top sections of two wells, but cannot drill down to where the oil and gas is located until the M/V Fennica, the ice breaker carrying the required capping stack for the wells, returns from receiving repairs to its damaged hull in Portland, Oregon.

The permits also restrict Shell to drilling only one well at a time, due to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulation. The federal government found that there is a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill should drilling occur in the Arctic Ocean, yet the Bureau concluded that Shell is able to adequately respond should a spill occur, despite the treacherous and unpredictable conditions in the Arctic Ocean.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a statement that Shell could submit an amended application for deeper drilling when the capping stack can be deployed within 24 hours.

Some environmental groups worry the Arctic’s remoteness and rugged conditions will hamper cleanup efforts in the event of a spill, risking devastation of a fragile ecosystem.

Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner, Marissa Knodel, said: “Today’s approval ignores Shell’s dismal record of safety violations and undermines President Obama’s pledge to combat climate change. With this decision, President Obama has given Shell an open invitation to turn the Chukchi Sea into an energy sacrifice zone, threatening both the resilience of the American Arctic Ocean and his climate legacy.”

Shell and other companies hope to tap into one of the country’s last great petroleum reserves. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic offshore reserves in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas at 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil.