US House advances Ukraine, Israel aid bills

  • : Crude oil
  • 24/04/17

The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives is preparing to advance a bill to extend military and economic aid to Ukraine, as Kyiv has complained about critical shortages of ammunition on the battlefield and has resorted to aerial attacks against refineries in Russia.

The House is also advancing a separate bill to extend military aid to Israel and to pay for the rising cost of US operations in the Middle East, including the cost of providing maritime protection from the Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Yet another bill would extend military aid to Taiwan and other US partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US Senate in February approved a bill providing around $60bn in military aid for Ukraine, $14bn for Israel, and $9bn in humanitarian aid to Gaza and other global crisis spots. House speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) has, in effect, deconstructed the Senate bill into individual components in an effort to facilitate their passage in a chamber where his party has a two seat majority and the Republican lawmakers allied with former president Donald Trump oppose aid to Ukraine.

In an effort to secure the Republican caucus' assent to the three foreign aid bills, Johnson is also planning to advance a separate bill including a hodgepodge of his party's policy priorities, such as a ban on social media network TikTok and sanctions against Iran. Yet another bill would advance draconian restrictions on immigration and strengthen the security of the US-Mexico border. 
None of the bills released today would require President Joe Biden to reconsider his pause on the issuance of new LNG export licenses.

Johnson's legislative proposal has immediately drawn opposition from some members of his party, two of which said they would move to oust him as speaker. Johnson assumed his position after his predecessor Kevin McCarthy was ousted in October following a compromise government funding deal with House Democrats.

"Every true conservative America First patriot in the House should vote against the rule for this borrowed foreign aid bill with no border security!" congressman Bob Good (R-Virginia) said via X social network.

The foreign aid bills will have to have the backing of the Democratic caucus and a sufficient number of Republicans in order to pass.

Biden said he supports the three foreign aid bills proposed by Johnson. "The House must pass the package this week and the Senate should quickly follow," Biden said.

The majority-Democratic Senate leaders likewise have signaled willingness to consider separate aid bills so long as those do not significantly differ from the version passed by the Senate.

The only major differences in the House version of the Ukraine aid bill is a requirement that the US provide no more than 50pc of the total economic assistance extended to Ukraine by western countries, as well as a requirement for Ukraine to repay the $9.5bn in direct economic support under the bill.

Congress since February 2022 has allocated $114bn in aid to Ukraine, including $66bn for military supplies. The EU in the same period has allocated $150bn to Ukraine, mostly in economic support.


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24/06/17

Iran rebukes G7 after warning over nuclear escalation

Iran rebukes G7 after warning over nuclear escalation

Dubai, 17 June (Argus) — Iran's foreign ministry has called on the G7 to distance itself from "destructive policies of the past" after the group issued a statement condemning Tehran's recent nuclear programme escalation. "Unfortunately, some countries, driven by political motives and by resorting to baseless and unproven claims, attempt to continue their failed and ineffective policy of imposing and maintaining sanctions against the Iranian nation," the foreign ministry's spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on 16 June. Kanaani advised the G7 "to learn from past experiences and distance itself from destructive past policies". His comments were in response to a joint statement from G7 leaders on 14 June warning Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment programme. The leaders said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia. The G7's reference to Iran comes on the heels of a new resolution passed by the board of governors of the UN's nuclear watchdog the IAEA . The resolution calls on Iran to step up co-operation and reverse its decision to restrict the agency access to nuclear facilities by de-designating inspectors. Kanaani said "any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral co-operation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals", adding that some countries are "resorting to false claims to continue sanctions" against Iran. Tehran will continue its "constructive interaction and technical co-operation" with the IAEA, Kanaani said. But the agency's resolution is "politically biased", he said. The IAEA's new resolution and the reference to Iran in the G7 statement could be the start of a more concerted effort to raise pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme. "What is happening right now is the process of accumulation of resolutions, so that when the day comes and the IAEA makes a referral to the UN Security Council, there will be enough resolutions to make a case for action at the security council level," a diplomatic source told Argus . Iran is enriching uranium to as high as 60pc purity. Near 90pc is considered to be weapons grade, according to the IAEA. By Bachar Halabi Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government


24/06/14
24/06/14

S Africa's ANC, DA agree to form government

Cape Town, 14 June (Argus) — South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) political parties today agreed to form a government while the first sitting of the new parliament was underway. The agreement, which includes the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), paves the way for ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa to be re-elected president. The parties will assume various positions in government broadly in proportion to their share of seats. The government of national unity (GNU) agreement is the result of two weeks of intense negotiations after the ANC lost its long-held majority in the national election on 29 May. It secured 40.2pc of the vote, and the centre-right, pro-market DA retained its position as the official opposition with 21.8pc. The deal scuppers the possibility of an alliance between the ANC and the two largest left-wing parties, MK (uMkhonto weSizwe) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which credit ratings agency Fitch warned could pose risks to macroeconomic stability . MK party unseated the EFF in the election to come third, winning 14.6pc of the vote. The EFF secured 9.5pc, and the IFP came a distant fifth with 3.85pc. The MK and EFF are populist parties that campaigned on agendas including wide-scale land expropriation without compensation, nationalisation of economic assets — including mines, the central bank and large banks and insurers — halting fiscal consolidation and aggressively increasing social grants. The GNU parties agreed the new administration should focus on rapid economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development and fiscal sustainability. Other priorities include building a professional, merit-based and non-partisan public service, as well as strengthening law enforcement agencies to address crime and corruption. Through a national dialogue that will include civil society, labour and business, parties will seek to develop a national social compact to enable South Africa to meet its developmental goals, they said. The GNU will take decisions in accordance with the established practice of consensus, but where no consensus is possible a principle of sufficient consensus will apply. By Elaine Mills Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy


24/06/13
24/06/13

UK political parties repeat existing stances on energy

London, 13 June (Argus) — The two main UK political parties have set out their plans, including on energy and climate change, with just three weeks until the general election. Energy security and the cost to consumers is a recurring theme for both, but the manifestos present some marked differences in approach to the energy transition. Both the incumbent Conservative and opposition Labour parties doubled down on existing positions in their respective manifestos. The Conservative party said that it remains committed to the UK's 2050 net zero emissions target, but promises a "pragmatic and proportionate" route. The party's manifesto guarantees "no new green levies or charges while accelerating the rollout of renewables". The UK's net zero goal is legally-binding, and was passed with significant cross-party support under a Conservative government in 2019. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, and fielded five prime ministers in that time. Recent polling data show a substantial lead for Labour, which performed well at local elections in May. Labour placed strong focus on the opportunity the transition offers, saying that it would place the UK at the "forefront of climate action by creating the green jobs of the future at home and driving forward the energy transition on the global stage". The party has committed to zero-carbon power by 2030, although it would "maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply", it said. The Conservative manifesto reiterates the party's plans to build new gas-fired power plants. The party had previously committed to a decarbonised power grid by 2035, in line with a G7 pledge, although that is not mentioned in its manifesto. The two main parties clearly diverge on their approaches to North Sea oil and gas production. The Conservatives aim to keep the windfall tax — which effectively results in a 75pc rate — on oil and gas producers in place "until 2028-29, unless prices fall back to normal sooner". Labour confirmed plans to lift the rate to 78pc and run the tax until the end of the next parliament, which is likely to be mid-2029. Labour is also clear that it "will not revoke existing licences" in the North Sea, but it will not issue any new licences — for oil, gas or coal. The Conservatives restated the party's aim to legislate for annual North Sea licensing rounds . Both parties back nuclear energy, including small modular reactors — though those are unlikely to be operational until after 2030. And both pledge to cut planning bureaucracy and tackle grid connections. Labour's plans to "double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030" would result in installed capacity of 31GW, 48GW and 59GW, respectively, from a baseline of end-2023. The Conservatives' target to triple offshore wind by the end of the next parliament would put installed capacity at 44GW in 2029 — below the 50GW target for 2030 set in 2022 — while it said it supports solar and onshore wind in some circumstances. Finance in focus Both parties are keen to pull in private-sector investment, while Labour took up an original Conservative pledge to "make the UK the green finance capital of the world". And both pledge to address the cost of energy for consumers — Labour through local power generation projects and home insulation upgrades, and the Conservatives by ruling out any further "green levies". The latter plans to reverse London's expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone — originally planned by Conservative then-mayor and later prime minister Boris Johnson. Labour said that it would restore a phase-out date of 2030 for new internal combustion engine cars — which prime minister Rishi Sunak in September pushed back to 2035 . On an international level, both parties mention climate leadership at summits such as UN Cops. The Conservatives pledged to "ring-fence" the UK's climate finance commitments, while Labour committed to restore development spending to 0.7pc of gross national income "as soon as fiscal circumstances allow". By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Opec reopens rift with IEA on peak demand


24/06/13
24/06/13

Opec reopens rift with IEA on peak demand

London, 13 June (Argus) — Opec today reopened a rift with the IEA about the future need for oil, calling the Paris-based agency's forecast for peak demand this decade a "continuation of [its] anti-oil narrative." Opec secretary-general Haitham Al Ghais said the IEA's projection , made earlier this week, is a "dangerous narrative" that "will only lead to energy volatility on a potentially unprecedented scale." He made his case in a commentary for consultancy Energy Aspects that Opec made publicly available. This is not the first time the two organisations have clashed over the future trajectory for oil demand growth. When IEA executive director Fatih Birol first floated the idea of a peak demand this decade in 2023, Al Ghais said this was "extremely risky and impractical". Birol and the IEA have been keen to stress that there will be no sharp demand fall beyond its predicted peak year of 2029, and have repeatedly said there will be a gradual decline perhaps over as long as 20 years. Al Ghais said Opec does not see peak oil demand by the end of the decade — he said in January that the scenario "is not showing up in any reliable and robust short- and medium-term forecasts" — and took issue with the IEA's forecasts for demand growth to 2030. The watchdog projects a sharp drop off in growth in 2026 to almost nothing in 2029 and a small contraction in 2030. Al Ghais called this unrealistic. The two bodies' demand estimates have been moving further apart in recent months, with Opec's forecast for growth this year now 1.3mn b/d more than that of the IEA. Birol this week acknowledged this is a "big gap", but was diplomatic when pressed for reasons. "We respect all institutions' forecasts," he said. "We will see at the end of the year what the numbers will be." Criticism of the IEA from the upstream industry has magnified since 2021, when the agency said that 2050 climate goals exclude the need for any new oil and gas fields. Saudi oil minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman described this as "la la land" analysis. This year the IEA has come under fire from Republicans in the US Congress who have said the agency is veering into climate advocacy. US industry body API chief executive Mike Sommers said earlier this year the IEA "has become, unfortunately, so politicized that it's just not a reliable source of data any more." By Ben Winkley Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US Fed signals one rate cut this year


24/06/12
24/06/12

US Fed signals one rate cut this year

Houston, 12 June (Argus) — The US Federal Reserve kept its target interest rate unchanged at a 23-year high today while officials signaled they expect to make only one quarter-point rate cut later this year. The Fed board and policymakers, in their latest economic projections, expect the target rate range will end 2024 near a midpoint of 5.1pc, compared with the 4.6pc midpoint projected in March. That implies one quarter-point cut, down from three possible cuts penciled-in previously. "We do not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until we have gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably" towards the Fed goal of 2pc, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said after the meeting. "As the economy evolves, appropriate assessments of the policy path will adjust in order to best promote our maximum employment and price stability goals." The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) held the federal funds target rate unchanged at 5.25-5.5pc. It was the sixth consecutive meeting in which the Fed held rates steady following 11 increases from March 2022 through July last year in the most aggressive hiking campaign in four decades. The decision to keep rates steady was widely expected. CME's FedWatch tool, which tracks fed funds futures trading, had assigned a 99pc probability to the Fed holding rates steady today. The FedWatch tool had earlier signaled two rate cuts later this year, but following a better-than-expected inflation report this morning, FedWatch is now indicating three possible rate cuts, beginning in September. The Fed's economic projections see core Personal Consumption Expenditures inflation, the Fed's favorite measure of inflation, ending 2024 at a median forecast of 2.8pc from a prior forecast for 2.6pc. Policymakers see inflation falling to a median 2.3pc next year. The outlook for the unemployment rate for the end of 2024 remained unchanged at 4pc. Policymakers expect gross domestic product (GDP) growth to end the year at 2.1pc, unchanged from prior projections. The latest policy meeting comes as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) eased to an annual 3.3pc in May , down from 3.4pc in April, the Labor Department reported earlier today. Inflation had ticked up to 3.5pc in March from 3.1pc in January, prompting the Fed to turn more cautious about beginning its rate cuts. US job growth has surprised to the upside and continues to top pre-Covid levels. GDP growth slowed to a 1.3pc annual rate in the first quarter, from 3.4pc in the fourth quarter of 2023. By Bob Willis Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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