Daily Archives: April 13, 2011

US-hemispheric-Caribbean trade developments

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

By Stabroek staff

In recent weeks developments have taken place that show a new United States interest in furthering liberalization of trade relations with hemispheric countries. Specifically, the United States has come to the point of finally resolving difficulties which it had with Colombia, and  after much hesitation, the US Congress will have been persuaded by the Obama administration to sign an amended US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement originally negotiated in 2006. There are signs too, that the President has succeeded in removing opposition to an FTA with Panama. And that he now seems close to having persuaded various opposition entitites, including members of his Democratic Party and the leadership of the state of Arizona, that an agreement to permit Mexican truckers to transmit goods across the US-Mexican border, in accordance with the NAFTA, should be implemented.

In some measure this reflects a resumption of a pattern of negotiating free trade systems on a bilateral rather than on the wider regional basis, first promised by President George HW Bush in his Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, and then consolidated by President Bill Clinton when he announced the Free Trade Area of the Americas at the Summit of the Americas held in Mexico in December 1994. With the persistent postponement of the conclusion of FTAA negotiations, the US pursued the bilateral path, of particular interest to us when the Central American States and the Dominican Republic, signatories with Caricom to the Caribbean Basin Initiative, signed a separate Free Trade Area agreement with the United States during President George W Bush’s tenure of office.

That US-DR-CAFTA agreement of 2004 itself signalled a recognition by some of the smaller countries of the hemisphere that the FTAA was now definitively out the question, this having been finalised following an American initiative to further temporarily consolidate the CBI as far as Caricom was concerned, through the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (May 2000). The United States saw this CBPTA as a kind of stage on the road to a full free trade agreement, for which we have now ourselves been in the process of preparing.

The speed with which that US-DR-CAFTA agreement was formalised by the Central American states – not without domestic difficulty on the part of some of them including the most democratic, Costa Rica – has given something of a jolt to us in Caricom, particularly after our Cariforum partner, the Dominican Republic was enjoined to it.  Very visibly, the DR, demonstrating much the same diplomatic agility that it had shown in ensuring membership of the EU-CARIFORUM system, hastened to induce the United States to accept itself as part of the CAFTA initiative. This showed a capacity to influence the United States in a positive direction, and with a speed which we had not been able to demonstrate in pursuing a separate FTA with the United States.

Various reasons are being given for this new movement in hemispheric trade relations. It is suggested that the United States has been becoming more concerned with the increasing openness of Latin American states to initiatives from outside the area, with Brazil in particular moving to pursue what it considers to be a balanced global liberalization process at the level of the WTO, rather than specifically with the United States. This reflects a wider administration concern that Congressional resistance is damaging US trade and investment interests worldwide, as indicated now in the possibility that Congress will also have been persuaded to approve an FTA with South Korea signed some time ago.  Brazil’s success, along with some African countries, in arriving at decisions in their favour at the WTO level on sugar and cotton, and the more recent interest of countries like China in doing bilateral commodity deals with Brazil, have certainly indicated to the US that a confident Brazilian government is no long willing to wait on the deliberations of a tortuous US government-Congress-trade lobby system to deliver acceptable results.

Some indications of a US concern with the possible wider negative effects for its trade and investment position of the intervention of China in the hemisphere have also been in evidence. It is suggested that not only the initiatives of China towards Brazil, but recent suggestions of a Chinese proposal to construct what is referred to as an “alternative dry canal” in Colombia across the Panama isthmus, have jolted recalcitrant Republicans in the Congress towards approving the trade agreement with Colombia. As a Texas Republican Congressman Kevin Brady recently  remarked,  “China is taking smart advantage of America’s inexcusable delay of nearly five years in approving its free trade agreement with Colombia.”

For us in the Caribbean, these developments suggest the urgency of taking advantage of this new atmosphere, and of finalizing without too much further delay FTAs with both the United States and Canada. We can hardly be satisfied to find ourselves circumscribed by a set of arrangements between the North American giants and the neigbouring countries and sub-regions surrounding us. As a recent editorial in the London Financial Times has observed, in response to both hemispheric and global trading rearrangements, the United States is beginning to “shake off its torpor on trade” negotiations, recognizing that “though partial deals remain a poor substitute for multilateral processes, they are the  only game in town.” As the American elections approach, both the President and Congressmen will be anxious to show themselves as positioning the United States favourably in the emerging global economic patterns, and this preoccupation will obviously take precedence over minor sub-regions such as our own.

Caricom will be aware too that immediately around us, geopolitical, and consequently economic relations, are being steadily reorganized. Too much hesitation on our part will certainly be felt by the US and Canada to be a function of our dilatoriness, rather than their own resistance, as they will certainly take the US-DR-CAFTA as their point of reference. They will incline to a Dominican Republic view of the reasons for long delays on our part in finalizing various kinds of negotiations and decisions.  In addition, it would appear to be the case that, in spite of the sometimes confusing behaviour in regional relations of President Chávez, there is an improvement in relations between Venezuela and Colombia with the emergence of President Santos in the latter country. It is argued that Colombia is concerned to negotiate a new trade agreement with Venezuela, complicated as this will undoubtedly be, following a decline in trade since 2007 from US$7 billion to US$1.2 billion presently, much of the decline to the disadvantage of Colombia.  Colombia is also anxious to conclude an agreement before Venezuela is scheduled to withdraw from the Andean Pact towards the end of this month, to join Mercosur.

All these are signs to us that the old Latin phrase, festina lente – hasten slowly – may not be good advice to us in this present era, as far as joining in emerging hemispheric trade relationships is concerned.

Original Article

Petrobras’ CEO Speaks at Event in China


PetrobrasCEO, José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, spoke this Tuesday (04/12) about the Brazilian energy scenario and future prospects at the seminar themed ‘Brazil-China, beyond complementarity,’ which was held in Beijing and brought together leaders and executives from both countries.

Gabrielli highlighted the opportunities for partnership with China.

“Petrobras is undertaking the largest investment program in the world, and is interested in establishing new relationships with Chinese, such as new partnerships, not only in technological development, but also in building new segments,” he said.

During his address, the CEO emphasized both the success the company has achieved oil exploration and the new frontiers that may unfold as a result of the new discoveries that have been made.

“Yesterday, Monday, we announced the results of the tests carried out in the Guará region, located to the south of the Lula Field, which confirmed the potential for high output rates there, topping-out at up to 50,000 barrels per day. Therefore, we are not only confirming huge volumes of recoverable oil in these areas, but also high rates of productivity in the tests. Because of this, the costs involved in implementing these projects will tend to fall, making them even more attractive in financial terms,” said the CEO.

Drawing a map of these new discoveries, Gabrielli showcased positive data on the Brazilian oil industry and on the pre-salt. He stressed that in terms of oil and gas output, there has been average growth of 4.5% over the past nine years. He also talked about Petrobras’ deepwater operations, telling seminar participants that the company’s current demand in deepwater drilling areas is equivalent to 47% of the global drilling rig production.

Gabrielli also described the demand Petrobras and its suppliers will have for services and equipment in the upcoming years. The prospect of sustained procurement is an incentive for Chinese companies to settle in Brazil.


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Source:Petrobras , April 13, 2011

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Fleming Exposes Obama Admin’s False Claims on Gulf Oil Production


Uploaded by larep04 on Apr 12, 2011 .

Congressman Fleming extracts the truth on Gulf Oil Production by exposing false claims made by administration officials and even President Obama.

Letter: Obama’s payback to Soros?

Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration now is financing oil exploration off the coast of Brazil. Of course we can’t drill off our coasts, but it’s OK to drill off South America.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has issued a “preliminary commitment” letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion. Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in all of South America. This money is to be used to develop off-shore drilling in Brazil’s Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin off of Rio de Janeiro.

Any oil produced by this off-shore drilling is to be sold to China.

The largest holder of Petrbras stock is none other than George Soros. He was Obama’s largest financial supporter during the election campaign. Can all you pro-Obama voters say “payback”?

Wonder how they spell impeachment in Kenya or wherever Obama was actually born?

Larry McClintick, Collinsville

( Original Article )


Do we really want drilling in the Gulf?

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins
Bloomberg News


An Apache rig drills for natural gas at Matagorda Island in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Apache Corp. via Bloomberg News)

That’s the question that I found myself pondering after an hour-long discussion with Karen Alderman Harbert, the chief executive of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, which is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. One of Harbert’s favorite themes is that we need a clear path to viable alternative energy sources.

In other words, “clean” energy is fine, but the goals ought to be achievable.

“We can’t decide an energy policy for 30 years from now,” she said. “We can’t wait that long. You have to deal with today’s energy reality.”

For all the goals and mandates thrown out by Congress and the administration, there’s no roadmap of how to get there. We can push solar and wind programs, for example, but in many parts of the country, local opposition has blocked the building of transmission lines, so there’s no way to get the power to users.

Public opposition to things like power lines, generation plants and hydraulic fracturing is often called NIMBY – “not in my backyard” – but Harbert has a better acronym: BANANA – “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone.”

That attitude has been expanded since last year’s Macondo well disaster to include things like offshore drilling. Last fall’s moratorium, and this spring’s ongoing slowdown in new drilling permits – as well as a halt on new projects in areas such as offshore Alaska – raises the question of how we’re going to meet our energy needs if we shun fossil fuels yet remain unprepared for the fact that alternatives simply can’t fill the gap.

Oil is still going to be a big part of the U.S. energy picture, the question is whether we’re going to import more or develop more sources domestically, Harbert said.

On renewables, she’s calling for more predictability in government support for new technology. Developing industries can’t tap capital markets if subsidies are voted on annually. Just look at what happened with biodiesel.

That doesn’t mean she favors unlimited subsidies. Instead, she prefers an eight-year funding cycle, with a four-year phase out. That would mean anyone investing in new energy technology knows they have 12 years to make it economically viable. She also favors a “green energy bank” that would award grants independently, so the government didn’t wind up in the position of trying to pick winners. (It can’t, and too often subsidies are awarded to companies with the best lobbyists.)

Our discussion covered a lot of other interesting ideas. I didn’t agree with everything, of course, but Harbert’s overall theme made a lot of sense. We need to figure out where we want our energy coming from, and what we’re willing to do to get it. Most of all, we need a better understanding of the tradeoffs.

“We should recognize the abundant resources that we have here and become more self-reliant,” Harbert said.

( Original Article )


Australia: Modec Lands TLP FEED Contract from Woodside for Browse LNG Project

Woodside has selected MODEC as one of two companies to perform the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) for two (2) Dry Tree Units (DTUs) for the Browse LNG Development (Browse).

Woodside is Australia’s largest publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production company and one of the world’s leading producers of liquefied natural gas. As the Browse Operator, Woodside leads a group of veteran oil and gas organizations (BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, and Shell).

MODEC will utilize its proprietary Ring Pontoon (RP) Tension Leg Platform (TLP) design for the Browse DTUs, which will be deployed to the Calliance and Brecknock fields. The FEED is scheduled for completion by the end of August 2011.

MODEC Director and Executive Officer Shashank Karve said, “This is an extremely important project for MODEC and further solidifies MODEC as the premier TLP designer and global supplier. MODEC continues to endeavor to bring innovation to the oil and gas marketplace and has staffed this challenging project with a strong focus on safety, cost, and operational efficiency. Should MODEC be selected for the supply of the Calliance and Brecknock TLPs, they will be MODEC’s sixth and seventh TLPs and the first to be designed and installed in Australia. MODEC has a strong history of industry first innovation and looks forward to providing Woodside and its partners with the very best TLP technology. We will execute the FEED with proven and experienced TLP personnel, with the target to be the company selected to provide Woodside and its partners with the very best in TLP technology.”

The Browse FEED is being executed from MODEC’s project office located in the Energy Corridor of Houston, Texas.


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Source:Modec , April 13, 2011

( Original Article )


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