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Your Quick Guide To The IMF-World Bank Meetings Today

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by Simone Foxman

World leaders are meeting in Washington, D.C., to attend a joint IMF-World Bank meeting.

Their focus? The funding available to the IMF, specifically to support the ongoing debt and bank crises in Europe.

Countries in Europe and Asia have expressed interest and even firm commitments in contributing more money to the fund. The U.S. and Canada, however, have said they won’t contribute any more cash to an effort EU leaders should be able to resolve themselves.

While we could hear more pledges over the course of the day, so far Japan, Switzerland, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the euro area have all made dollar commitments totaling $320 billion, according to Bloomberg:

Read more: BI

Swiss come into US sights again over Iran

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Despite sanctions against Iran, there is one clandestine route that remains open for business: a short sea corridor connecting Oman with Iran (Keystone)

by Jean-Michel Berthoud, swissinfo.ch


The United States authorities have long been at odds with some Swiss banks, but could soon be turning their sights on Swiss-based commodity traders.

At issue are new economic sanctions against Iran passed by the US Congress at the end of last year, and which come into force on July 1.

Both the European Union and the US have imposed sanctions because they believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear progamme is for peaceful purposes only.
Switzerland has been unhappy about sanctions against Iran in the past, chiefly because it has represented US interests in Iran for over 30 years. It has also tried to mediate unofficially in the dispute over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

A year ago Switzerland stepped up its economic sanctions against Iran to bring them into line with those of the EU and the US, but only after coming under prolonged international pressure.

Now Switzerland finds itself being pushed into a corner once again. On January 23 the EU announced that it would step up its measures against Iran in the middle of 2012.

And on February 6 Barack Obama ratcheted up US sanctions yet further. He ordered an embargo on property and assets belonging to the Iranian government and to the Iranian central bank in the US. All Iranian financial institutions are also affected.

Switzerland stopped importing oil from Iran in 2006. According to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), in 2010 its imports of other items were worth only €27.4 million (SFr33 million). But its exports – mainly pharmaceuticals and machinery – were worth rather more: €562.6 million in 2010.

Tight-lipped Swiss

According to documents published by WikiLeaks, representatives of the US embassy in Bern have called on Seco to prevent the export of what are described as sensitive goods to Iran several times in the past few years. In most cases it seems that Seco immediately complied.

Seco deputy spokeswoman Marie Avet, could not confirm the truth of these leaks to swissinfo.ch, nor comment on them.
Christa Markwalder, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, reminded swissinfo.ch that the documents released by WikiLeaks were written for internal use by the US administration.

“I would not overrate Wikileaks,” she said. “After all, Switzerland is a sovereign state with its own foreign policy. We are also the protecting power for the US in Iran, which means we are of particular interest to the US as far as Iran is concerned.”

According to the respected German-language Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper, David S. Cohen, the US Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, visited Bern at the beginning of February for talks with various members of the Swiss administration, including Seco. Cohen is responsible for the implementation of sanctions against Iran.

“No comment,” said Avet.

US embassy

However, Alexander N. Daniels, public affairs officer at the US embassy in Bern, was more forthcoming. He confirmed to swissinfo.ch that Cohen had been in Bern to explain the new US measures to the foreign ministry and Seco.

They include a boycott of Iran’s central bank, which has often acted recently as a financial intermediary for oil deals, and which is also thought to finance a large proportion of the imports for the Iranian nuclear programme.

Daniels added that Cohen had had similar talks in Britain and Germany.

Five giants

Although Switzerland no longer imports Iranian oil, about one third of the world’s oil deals are thought to be brokered by five Swiss-based commodity-trading giants – Glencore, Gunvor, Vitol, Trafigura and Mercuria.

Avet assured swissinfo.ch that the commodity traders would follow the sanctions in business involving the US.

She said the same question had arisen over the EU sanctions. But there the problem is that the EU has only issued a decision, and it is not yet clear how the measures are to be implemented in practice.

“So at the moment we cannot give you any more information,” she told swissinfo.ch. “But clearly, in trading and doing business with countries which have introduced these sanctions, we shall keep to them.”

Markwalder pointed out that Switzerland is a major trading centre for raw materials, in particular oil products, and some large companies were deeply involved. But she added that it is not clear to what extent they would be affected as far as oil products from Iran are concerned, if at all.

“It would actually be in the interest of these firms to obey the sanctions. Since these businesses are involved in trade all over the world, they have no interest in losing market access, licences and so on in the US.”

Swiss response

The Swiss government is to consult about how it should react to the strengthened EU and US measures. It will take its decision on the basis of an assessment by Seco.

Markwalder said the foreign affairs committee would also be discussing the matter.

“Switzerland would need some very good arguments if it were to break ranks with the western states – that’s to say, the EU and US,” she said.

“It’s true that we play a rather special role as a protecting power in Iran, but we still cannot afford to stand aside and provide a platform for sanctions busting.”

Jean-Michel Berthoud, swissinfo.ch
(Translated from German by Julia Slater)

Source

Koch Supply & Trading Launches Global LNG Trading Business

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Koch Supply & Trading Sárl said that it has launched a global gas trading business.

Stephen Cornish has joined Koch Supply & Trading Sárl to build the global trading and marketing business for liquefied natural gas, natural gas and related commodities.

Koch companies have a long track record of excellence in the natural gas markets,” Cornish said. “This venture into the international gas markets is a way to link its global portfolio to benefit its suppliers and customers. We believe this step into the international gas markets provides a strong counterparty for producers and customers alike.

We will build out our operations in Asia, Europe and the Americas to the high standard that Koch Supply & Trading has set and look forward to working with our counterparts. This is a very exciting venture for us.”

Koch Supply & Trading also said that  it plans to build a Europe-wide natural gas business from Geneva and an LNG trading business from offices in Houston, London, and Singapore. Origination and marketing support locations are also planned for the near future in East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Articles

Source

Only 6 Countries Have Sound Pension Systems, And America Isn’t On The List

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Andrew Shen and Gus Lubin

Only six national pension systems earned a ‘B’ grade on Mercer’s 2011 global index, which was given to systems with “sound structure” and “room for improvement.”

The best systems are in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Canada and the UK.

Every other pension system was rated as unsound, jeopardizing the future of the elderly population. The U.S. earned a C grade, signifying “some major risks and/or shortcomings.”

Click here to see the best and worst national pension systems >

Source

Deepwater Millenium Drillship Not Moving to Brazil. Stays in Ghana

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An ultra-deepwater rig leased by Anadarko Petroleum Corp is no longer heading to Brazil, according to rig owner Transocean Ltd . A source familiar with the matter said last month that Anadarko was considering the sale of some assets in Brazil, which include some deepwater prospects.

Transocean said on Monday its Deepwater Millennium rig would now remain off Ghana at a rate of $576,000 per day through this month, with the rest of its Anadarko contract through July 2013 now up in the air.

“Subsequent operating location is yet to be determined, and the dayrate under the contract could change depending on the country of future operations,” Transocean said in its latest fleet status report.

The Millennium had been set to move to Brazil in July to work on a daily rate of $561,000, according to Transocean’s July fleet status report.

The Switzerland-based rig contractor also said on Monday its midwater rig, Actinia, would move from Malaysia to India to work for ONGC next May, on a three-year contract with a dayrate of $190,000.

Finally, a previously idle Transocean shallow-water rig, the Harvey H. Ward, will start work next month for Pertamina off Indonesia on a $97,000-per-day deal running to May 2013.

Source: Reuters

Via: OET

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