What seemed like a deadlock on the level of principles, regarding U.S. beef imports to the EU, turned out to be soluble in a commercial trade-off. A festering dispute about a European ban against hormone-fed beef from the United States was solved this week when the EU agreed to a big expansion of its import quota for non-hormone fed U.S. beef.
Russia is at the heart of the difficulties of energy security in Europe. One of the problems, of course, is that Russia just isn’t investing enough in their own gas development. (It’s even more acute on oil: within five years, they won’t have enough to play games with, whether they want to or not.) It’s a key problem: they need to attract outside capital. Gazprom desperately needs it because it has huge debts and a very low stock price. So there is trouble ahead if we don’t collectively figure out a way to get that attended to, whatever their internal or external intentions are. Now on natural gas, Europe reportedly faces a shortfall of somewhere between 120-150 billion cubic meters annually by 2030. How can it be covered? This issue has a climate change component because if Europe doesn’t get the gas (from Russia or elsewhere), they are going to use other fuel for their power plants, including the coal-fired power plants they’re building now. How are they going to deal with the carbon emissions that result? As I read it in the papers, the EU plans to make it up by allowing member states to use “offsets” that will come – up to 50 percent of them – from outside the EU. In a sense, Europe would only do 50 percent of these nations’ purported clean-up and instead get cheaper offsets from operations in China or India or elsewhere.
Yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. has reached an agreement with Abu Dhabi and Singapore on a set of principles for investment by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) is being hailed as an important first by Treasury officials in Washington.
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