- Boris Johnson Lends Support to Australia-UK Free Trade Deal
Sydney (AP) — British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he supports a proposed free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia, as his country looks to strengthen its relationships with allies ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, announced the two nations would boost their trade, intelligence-sharing and military ties following an annual meeting in Sydney that included the defense ministers of both countries.
“As we go through the process of leaving the arrangements of the European Union, we are going to widen our horizons and work even more closely,” Johnson told reporters. “We have today reaffirmed our shared goal of concluding a free trade agreement as soon as possible after we leave the EU.”
Johnson, who had advocated for Britain’s EU departure, said any deal would include an “open and generous” visa regime for Australians looking to travel to the U.K.
“What we will be able to do once we take back control of our immigration arrangements is to have a system that is fair,” he said. “We want to welcome talented Australians.”
The ministers were short on specifics over what impact a trade deal would have, though Johnson did have an answer for a British journalist who asked whether it would result in cheaper Australian wine for Britons.
“Never mind Australian wine, which is, of course, delicious,” Johnson said. “There are tariffs on Scotch whisky in this country which seem to me to amount to a cruel deprivation of the Australian people of Scotch whisky at the price they could have it. I merely throw it out there. Whereas I don’t think we have any tariffs at all on, for instance, Bundaberg Rum.”
Thursday’s ministerial meeting also focused on counterterrorism efforts and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Both British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Australian Defense Minister Maris Payne urged China to use its influence over North Korea to help de-escalate the crisis.
“China has to engage,” Fallon said. “With international influence comes responsibility. It is now for Beijing to use the influence it has over the North Korean regime to get it to abandon its program.”
In a lighter moment, the famously jovial Johnson made a point to thank Bishop — an avid runner — for giving him a gift intended to help his own jogging regimen.
“Somebody brought you news I had been out jogging over the last couple of mornings in your wonderful Botanic Gardens in Sydney and you were kind enough just now to give me a very beautiful pair of compression tights — as worn by Hugh Jackman, I’m given to understand,” Johnson said. “So thank you, Julie.”
Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday
Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.
Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.
While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.
According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.
“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”
Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.
“The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.
“I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.
OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.
Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”
Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.
Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.
Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.
“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”
Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin
Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges
Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.
The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.
The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.
“We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.
Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.
Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.
In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.
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