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"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London



Diesel farms set to win lucrative contracts to back up National Grid www.theguardian.com

Dozens of diesel farms stand to win millions of pounds in lucrative contracts to keep the UK’s lights on, sparking anger from environmental groups.
National Grid, which operates the UK’s electricity network, said small power generators had bid for 15-year contracts starting in 2020-21, as part of the government’s capacity market reforms.
The contracts, for firms that produce below 100MW, will see them paid to be on standby in case of a shortfall from power sources such as coal, gas or wind.
Of the total 8.7GW of back-up power that firms have offered, 3.9GW – more than the generating capacity of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station – is from generators who say they will burn either gas or diesel.
The companies could make up to £787m between them, depending on how many opt for diesel over gas and how many are successful in the final auction in December.
Diesel power firms submitted bids to provide just 0.87GW in last year’s auction, winning about three-quarters of their bids, worth some £176m.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy said it was unable to provide an exact figure for how much diesel generation had been bid for, although insiders said the true figure could be lower than 3.9GW.
But a spokesman said that even though diesel firms could be paid millions to be on standby, they were unlikely to contribute much to pollution because they would only run when there was a heightened risk of power shortages.
“Diesel generation accounts for less than 0.1% of total energy generation and will only ever be used for very short periods of time to provide instant electricity when it is needed.
“We are taking action on diesel emissions and all new diesel systems will have to comply with new emission controls,” the spokesman said.
A spokesman for climate change campaign group Sandbag said: “We are surprised and disappointed that so much new diesel could be built.
“There’s a risk we’re sleepwalking into a new generation of polluting diesel farms unless the government gets a grip on this. We need the right type of investment to help modernise our electricity system, and that certainly isn’t diesel.
“The government needs to ensure that the capacity auction is incentivising the right investment, rather than building a nationwide fleet of dirty diesel.”
Richard Black, director of thinktank the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the government should be doing more to encourage the use of battery storage and demand-side response, where firms agree to reduce or shift their energy usage.
“The capacity market is a necessary tool but it would be very sensible to design it so that it also fits in with the long-term objective of building a smart low-carbon system and fulfilling its aim of the UK becoming a world leader on battery technology,” Black said.
“They’ve missed a trick. They could have rewritten the rules and redesigned the capacity mechanism, they could have differentiated between clean and dirty energy and they chose not to.
“If they’d rewritten the rules to prioritise batteries and demand-side response then we might have more of those technologies available now.”
A spokesperson for Greenpeace said: “Britain is one of the world’s leading economies and the idea that in the 21st century we may have to rely on highly polluting diesel farms to keep the lights on is quite embarrassing.”


Tesco sees first market share rise since 2011 www.bbc.com

Tesco has increased its share of the UK grocery market for the first time since since 2011, figures show, highlighting the ongoing recovery of Britain's biggest supermarket.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, sales grew 1.3% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to 9 October.
That left Tesco with 28.2% of the UK grocery market, up from 28.1% a year earlier.
In the 12 week period, sales fell 0.4% at Sainsbury's and 5.2% at Asda.
Tesco has been struggling with stiff competition from discount retailers and reputational damage from a 2014 accounting scandal.
It reported a record loss last year, but earlier in October said that sales were continuing to recover as it won back shoppers.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said growth was being driven by "family shoppers [and] improved trading from its larger supermarket and Extra stores".
"Foods including ready meals and produce have been among the fastest growing areas at Tesco, helped by its 'Farm Brands' but also its standard own label lines," he added.
Deflation continues
According to Kantar, sales in the UK grocery market in the 12-week period were 0.8% higher than a year ago.
Iceland, Co-op and Waitrose won an increased share of the market.
The discount chains Aldi and Lidl also did well, with their sales jumping 11.4% and 8.4% respectively.
Despite recent concerns about supermarket inflation, Kantar said grocery price deflation had continued in the period, "albeit at a slower rate".
"The price of everyday groceries fell by 0.8% compared with a year ago and in contrast to the -1.1% reported [for the preceding 12 weeks]," Mr McKevitt said.
The drop in prices had been "particularly noticeable among pork, crisps and poultry products", he said.
Food prices were the backdrop to last week's spat between Tesco and manufacturer Unilever, after the latter tried to raise its wholesale prices by about 10% to compensate for higher costs due to the recent fall in the value of the pound.
In response, Tesco pulled popular brands from its website including Hellmann's Mayonnaise and Marmite, but the pair soon ended the row after reaching a compromise.


Controversy surrounds South African coal mine www.mining.com

Atha-Africa Ventures’ Yzermyn project, a 2.26Mt/year export underground coal mine in the Mpumalanga province, is creating controversy between the South African government and environmental activists.
The Indian company has secured a mining right, an environmental authorisation, and an integrated water-use licence. The only step missing to kick-start operations is the approval the project needs from the Ministry of Environmental Affairs.
The problem is that the mine sits in the Mabola protected area, declared as such in 2014. Three major rivers, the Vaal, the Tugela and the Pongola, converge there. Thus, the place is one of the top five sources of water for the region.
According to a lengthy report published by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a water use licence for Yzermyn was granted by the Department of Water and Sanitation in July. This means that the mine can use 56,554 cubic metres of water a year from local wells. The permit also allows for dewatering the mining void and pumping some treated effluent directly into wetlands.
The permit was issued in a moment when different cities across the country, but particularly Tshwane‚ Johannesburg, and Ekurhuleni, are enduring a severe drought that has led to water restrictions.
Despite the fact that Mabola is a protected area, the mine could get the go-ahead because the Protected Areas Act allows the development of mining projects that have obtained written permission of the ministers of environment and of mineral resources.
Just eight months after Mabola was declared a protected area, the minister of mineral resources greenlighted Atha-Africa’s project. The mining permit was later amended in April of 2015.
Atha-Africa Ventures’ Yzermyn project (Photo: Atha-Africa).
The PCCR reports that eight concerned NGOs have appealed against such mining right, stating that mining should not be allowed in sensitive wetlands. A supplementary affidavit was filed in early August, and they expect to be back in court in the first quarter of 2017.
The same group has also appealed the granting of the environmental authorisation on the grounds that neither the authorisation, nor the environmental impact assessment on which it was based, accounted for all the potential impacts of the mine.
But the company says its social, labour, and environmental studies have been closely scrutinised, and some of them were actually re-submitted to address certain areas of concern. After committing to 249 mitigation measures, the Indian miner secured mining and environmental permissions.
In spite of Atha-Africa’s assurances, activists remain worried. "The precedent that can be set by the allowance of this kind of activity within a protected environment opens up, I believe, a floodgate of opportunities for any mining company to challenge protected environments," Angus Burns, senior manager for the Land and Biodiversity Stewardship Programme at WWF-SA, told PCCR.


Netflix subscriptions boom around world, shares jump 20 percent www.reuters.com

Netflix Inc added over 50 percent more subscribers than expected in the third quarter as original shows such as "Stranger Things" drew new international viewers and kept U.S. customers despite a price hike, sending its shares soaring 20 percent in late trade.
The company broke a two-quarter trend of disappointing subscription growth. Netflix, which has spent heavily to expand outside its home market, also said that it was on track to start harvesting "material global profits" next year, even as it raised spending on original programming.
Shares of Netflix rose to $119.82 in extended trade from a close of $99.80.
Netflix added about 3.20 million subscribers internationally in the third quarter, higher than the 2.01 million average analyst estimate.
In the United States, Netflix added 370,000 subscriptions, compared with analysts' estimate of 309,000, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
"Investors appear laser focused on subscriber growth, and so long as Netflix delivers on that metric, investors will bid its shares up," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. However, Pachter said he thought the continuing cost of developing new shows would undermine plans to deliver material profits in 2017.
Netflix has expanded into more than 130 markets worldwide, including most major countries, except China. It said on Monday it was dropping plans to launch a service in China in the near term, opting instead to license its shows for "modest" revenue.
The company said it still hopes to launch service in China "eventually."
In the meantime, Netflix plans to keep pouring money into building its stable of original and licensed TV shows and movies. Content spending will rise to $6 billion next year, a $1 billion increase from 2016, the company said."We will keep investing in growing the content spend, even domestically, for quite a long time," Chief Executive Reed Hastings said on webcast.
Netflix has been facing a slowdown in subscription growth in the United States as the market matures and a planned U.S. price hike raised concerns it would not hit its targets. It also faces competition from the likes of Hulu and Amazon.com Inc.
But the company, whose other popular original shows include "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards", said it expects to add 1.45 million subscribers in the United States in the current quarter.
Analysts on average were expecting 1.27 million additions, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
"Netflix has successfully navigated the challenges of a price increase," retail research group Conlumino said in a note, adding that it had been "somewhat less successful" in maintaining subscriber growth.
In its international markets, it expects subscriber additions of 3.75 million, compared with the average analyst estimate of 3.32 million.
Third-quarter revenue rose 31.7 percent to $2.29 billion.
Netflix's shares have surged in the past few years, driven by rapid growth as the company redefined television and fueled "binge watching".
The stock, however, was down 12.7 percent this year as investors fretted about slowing growth in its domestic market and increasing competition.


Deutsche Bank to pay $38 million in U.S. silver price-fixing case www.reuters.com

Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) has agreed to pay $38 million to settle U.S. litigation over allegations it illegally conspired with other banks to fix silver prices at the expense of investors, according to court papers filed on Monday.
The settlement, disclosed in papers filed in Manhattan federal court, came in one of many recent lawsuits in which investors have accused banks of conspiring to rig rates and prices in financial and commodities markets.
The settlement had been expected since April, though terms had yet to be disclosed. In court papers, lawyers for the investors say the deal will likely be an "ice breaker" that will serve as a catalyst for other banks to settle.
Vincent Briganti, a lawyer for the investors, said the deal provides "substantial monetary compensation plus cooperation from Deutsche Bank in the continued prosecution of this important case against the non-settling defendants."
The settlement is subject to court approval. A spokeswoman for the German bank declined to comment.
In the litigation, investors claimed Deutsche Bank, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L) and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) (ScotiaBank) rigged silver prices through a secret daily meeting called the Silver Fix, and accused UBS AG (UBSG.S) of exploiting that fix.
The alleged conspiracy started by 1999, suppressed prices on roughly $30 billion of silver and silver financial instruments traded each year, and enabled the banks to pocket returns that could top 100 percent annualized, the investors said.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni ruled the investors had sufficiently, "albeit barely," alleged that Deutsche Bank, HSBC and ScotiaBank violated U.S. antitrust law by conspiring to depress the Silver Fix from 2007 to 2013.
But the judge dismissed UBS from the case, saying there was nothing showing it manipulated prices, even if it benefited from distortions.
Caproni at that time said the investors could amend their complaint, including against UBS, and a lawyer for the investors has said they planned to do so.
The case is In re: London Silver Fixing Ltd Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-md-02573.


China positive on BRICS despite global uncertainty www.rt.com

Chinese President Xi Jinping remains upbeat about the long-term prospects for the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa despite a precarious global economy.
Speaking at the BRICS summit in India, Xi referred to the slowdown in economic growth among the group, saying its potential and strength was "unchanged" due to resources and workforces.
The five major emerging economies comprise about half of the world’s population and 30 percent of world economic output. Their share of global trade is around 17 percent.
British economist Jim O'Neill who coined the term BRICS, told the BBC he remained confident of the grouping's success. It is "bigger today than even in the most optimistic scenario I thought 15 years ago, and it's primarily because of China," he said.
During the eighth annual BRICS summit held over the weekend in the Indian state of Goa, the leaders of the five countries agreed to strengthen cooperation and expand the role of emerging economies.
They also decided to accelerate the establishment of a BRICS rating agency.
The BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB) will lend $2.5 billion in 2017, said the bank’s president Kundapur Kamath. Earlier this year, the NDB approved loans of $900 million to green projects in each member state.
"We recognize the positive BRICS impact on the overall growth of the global economy after the 2008 financial crisis. The BRICS states are ready to support macroeconomic growth and promote world trade,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
In terms of the summit, Russia and India signed a number of multibillion dollar agreements regarding military and economic cooperation, and have officially started the second phase of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. They also agreed to create an investment fund with a budget of a billion dollars to support 20 selected Russian and Indian projects in infrastructure, construction, and innovation.


RT: NatWest to close Russian channel's UK bank accounts www.bbc.com

NatWest bank is to close the accounts of Russia's state-run broadcaster, RT.
Editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan tweeted: "They've closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. 'The decision is not subject to review.' Praise be to freedom of speech!"
The bank said the decision was "not taken lightly" and that the accounts were "still operative" at present.
An MP from Russia's ruling party has said its parliament will demand an explanation from the UK.
RT says the entire Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, of which NatWest is part, is refusing to provide its services.
The broadcaster, previously known as Russia Today, says NatWest wrote to its London office saying: "We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities."
The bank, RT said, had insisted its decision was final and it was "not prepared to enter into any discussion."
A letter posted online by the channel appears to show that the freeze is not in effect yet. It warns that banking facilities will be "cancelled and closed" on 12 December.
RBS said in a statement: "These decisions are not taken lightly. We are reviewing the situation and are contacting the customer to discuss this further. The bank accounts remain open and are still operative."
The UK Treasury said it does not comment on individual cases, but added that no new sanctions or obligations relating to Russia had been imposed on British banks by the government since February 2015.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: "It's a matter for the bank, and it's for them to decide who they offer services to based on their own risk appetite."
Reaction in Russia
MP Sergei Zheleznyak, from the ruling United Russia party, told the privately owned Interfax news agency: "We will be demanding an explanation from Britain's official authorities in connection with this situation."
Mr Zheleznyak, who sits on the international affairs committee of the State Duma (parliament's lower house), called NatWest's refusal to offer its banking services "outrageous" and "an infringement of the rights of journalists".
RT chief Ms Simonyan said the closure included the personal accounts of some senior staff working in the UK.
She told Russian state media: "They haven't explained the reasons and I think they can't explain them because there can't be any reasons. We have an absolutely transparent operation there, absolutely transparent funding. There have never been any complaints in this regard at all.
"They have failed to defeat us by simply vilifying us, by picking on our broadcast, so they decided to try the banking flank: 'Try broadcasting when all your accounts have been closed.' Yet we will try."
RT, which is run by the Kremlin, has previously been accused of biased reporting and found in breach of Ofcom regulations.
The UK broadcasting regulator criticised a programme in which RT claimed the BBC had "staged" a chemical weapons attack for a news report on Syria.
Ofcom ruled that parts of the RT programme were "materially misleading".
Russian media outlets have made inroads into the UK recently.
The state-funded Sputnik news agency set up in Edinburgh in August to broadcast live radio programmes from Scotland. It said its goal was "telling the untold" to Scottish and UK audiences, although critics say it will act as a Kremlin mouthpiece.


Russia-India oil deal challenges Saudi supremacy in Asia www.rt.com

The $13 billion sale of India's Essar Oil to Russia's Rosneft and other investors, gives Russia access to the most promising and fastest growing market. The deal also challenges Middle East producers who provide nearly two-thirds of India’s imported energy.
The agreement, signed on Saturday, is the biggest foreign acquisition in India. Rosneft is purchasing a 49 percent stake in Essar, with another 49 percent sold to a consortium of the Netherlands-based commodity trading house Trafigura and a Moscow-based private investment company United Capital Partners.
India is expected to become the fastest growing oil consumer through 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.
The deal includes the sale of nearly 2,700 Essar Oil filling stations and allows Rosneft access to a market of 1.3 billion people which imports 80 percent of its crude requirements.
“India will be the most important product-growth market over the next 25 years, making it important to Russia,” said Neil Beveridge, a Hong Kong-based analyst at investment advisory Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
Another critical aspect for Russia was beating out rival suitors from Iran and Saudi Arabia to buy Essar.
“This would be in response to Saudi Arabia’s attempts to penetrate the European market, which is dominated by Russian oil,” said Abhishek Kumar, an analyst at InterfaxEnergy’s Global Gas Analytics in London, stressing that the acquisition would bring Russia greater influence in the Asian market.
The transaction opens up a “unique synergetic possibilities” for active assets owned by Rosneft, as well as for projected enterprises, said Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. The takeover offers the potential to expand in the Asia-Pacific region by supplying fuel to Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia, according to Sechin.
The Russian oil firm plans to supply ten million tons of Venezuelan crude to Essar’s Vadinar refinery over the next decade. Rosneft and Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela signed a strategic partnership pact earlier this year.


Tesla, Panasonic to collaborate on solar cells production www.reuters.com

Elon Musk's Tesla Motors said it would collaborate with Japan's Panasonic Corp to manufacture solar cells and modules in New York.
Under the agreement, which is a non-binding letter of intent, Tesla said it will use the cells and modules in a solar energy system that will work seamlessly with its energy storage products Powerwall and Powerpack.
The Japanese company is already working with the U.S. automaker to supply batteries for the Model 3, its first mass-market car.
Panasonic is expected to begin production at the Buffalo facility in 2017 and Tesla intends to provide a long-term purchase commitment for those cells, Tesla said in a statement, adding the agreement is contingent on shareholders' approval of its acquisition of SolarCity.
Last week Tesla and SolarCity Corp shareholders agreed to vote on the proposed merger on Nov. 17, and the automaker said it would provide plans for the combined company ahead of the vote.


Cyclones off Western Australia could hike iron ore price www.mining.com

Cyclones slamming into Western Australia are nothing new for Australia's iron ore producers, but this summer could be especially stormy in the Southern Hemisphere, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The bureau forecasts that inclement weather due to "neutral to weak La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean and warmer than average ocean temperatures to the north and east of Australia," will mean a higher-than-average number of cyclones for the region. A greater frequency of cyclones generally corresponds to the La Niña weather phenomenon.
"Ocean temperatures are currently 1–2 °C warmer than average to the north and east of Australia which is favourable for tropical cyclone development. The Southern Oscillation Index, a measure of the atmospheric component of [the El Niño-Southern Oscillation] (ENSO), has been positive through this period and exceeded La Niña thresholds in the last two weeks of September," the bureau stated in its Australian Tropical Cyclone Outlook for 2016 to 2017, published last week.
It predicts Western Australia, which hosts the Pilbara iron ore belt, has a 67% chance of getting more than the average 11 tropical cyclones from November to April. At least two of those cyclones are expected to make landfall, compared to last season, which was the least active on record. A cyclone in January shut down Port Hedland, the world's largest iron ore port. Queensland, a major coal-producing region, will be hit worse. The bureau says the Queensland coast will see up to eight cyclones, though only one or two should reach land.
The expected bad weather has Macquarie, an Australian bank, saying that the supply or iron ore and metallurgical coal could be affected.
“The first quarter of each year is typically weakest for seaborne supply for both commodities due to wetter weather, and with conditions expected to be more adverse than usual, these markets could stay tighter for longer,” says the bank in a research note quoted by The Australian.
In the most recent trading session iron ore was up 20 cents to US$56.80 per tonne, extending gains to five straight sessions.
The price of iron ore is up 32% this year and like coking coal the resurgence comes against expectations of further declines as Chinese steelmaking peak after three decades of growth.
In 2011 floods in key export region in Queensland saw the coking coal price touch $335 a tonne. The iron ore price peaked in February that same year at $191.50 a tonne.