President Donald Trump said Saturday that he had received assurances from King Salman of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom will increase oil production, “maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels” in response to turmoil in Iran and Venezuela. Saudi Arabia acknowledged the call took place, but mentioned no production targets.
Trump wrote on Twitter that he had asked the king in a phone call to boost oil production “to make up the difference…Prices to (sic) high! He has agreed!”
A little over an hour later, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on the call, but offered few details.
“During the call, the two leaders stressed the need to make efforts to maintain the stability of oil markets and the growth of the global economy,” the statement said.
It added that there also was an understanding that oil-producing countries would need “to compensate for any potential shortage of supplies.” It did not elaborate.
Oil prices have edged higher as the Trump administration has pushed allies to end all purchases of oil from Iran following the U.S. pulling out of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. Prices also have risen with ongoing unrest in Venezuela and fighting in Libya over control of that country’s oil infrastructure.
Last week, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel led by Saudi Arabia and non-cartel members agreed to pump 1 million barrels more crude oil per day, a move that should help contain the recent rise in global energy prices. However, summer months in the U.S. usually lead to increased demand for oil, pushing up the price of gasoline in a midterm election year. A gallon of regular gasoline sold on average in the U.S. for $2.85, up from $2.23 a gallon last year, according to AAA.
If Trump’s comments are accurate, oil analyst Phil Flynn said it could immediately knock $2 or $3 off a barrel of oil. But he said it’s unlikely that decrease could sustain itself as demand spikes, leading prices to rise by wintertime.
“We’ll need more oil down the road and there’ll be nowhere to get it,” said Flynn, of the Price Futures Group. “This leaves the world in kind of a vulnerable state.”
Trump is trying to exert maximum pressure on Iran while at the same time not upsetting potential U.S. midterm voters with higher gas prices, said Antoine Halff, a Columbia University researcher and former chief oil analyst for the International Energy Agency.
“The Trump support base is probably the part of the U.S. electorate that will be the most sensitive to an increase in U.S. gasoline prices,” Halff said.
Trump’s comments came Saturday as global financial markets were closed. Brent crude stood at $79.42 a barrel, while U.S. benchmark crude was at $74.15.
Saudi Arabia currently produces some 10 million barrels of crude oil a day. Its record is 10.72 million barrels a day. Trump’s tweet offered no timeframe for the additional 2 million barrels — whether that meant per day or per month.
However, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told journalists in India on Monday that the state oil company has spare capacity of 2 million barrels of oil a day. That was after Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the kingdom would honor the OPEC decision to stick to a 1-million-barrel increase.
“Saudi Arabia obviously can deliver as much as the market would need, but we’re going to be respectful of the 1-million-barrel cap — and at the same time be respectful of allocating some of that to countries that deliver it,” al-Falih said then.
The Trump administration has been counting on Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members to supply enough oil to offset the lost Iranian exports and prevent oil prices from rising sharply. But broadcasting its requests on Twitter with a number that stretches credibility opens a new chapter in U.S.-Saudi relations, Halff said.
“Saudis are used to U.S. requests for oil,” Halff said. “They’re not used to this kind of public messaging. I think the difficulty for them is to distinguish what is a real ask from what is public posturing.”
The administration has threatened close allies such as South Korea with sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian imports by early November. South Korea accounted for 14 percent of Iran’s oil exports last year, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
China is the largest importer of Iranian oil with 24 percent, followed by India with 18 percent. Turkey stood at 9 percent and Italy at 7 percent.
The State Department has said it expects the “vast majority” of countries will comply with the U.S. request.
Editor’s note: A look at the veracity of claims by political figures
President Donald Trump has elevated his tax cuts to an act of biblical proportions, misleadingly claiming at a White House speech Friday that they triggered an “economic miracle.”
Also Friday, the president’s top economics aide, Larry Kudlow, appeared on the Fox Business Network to address one of the major problems with the tax cuts — that they’ll heap more than $1 trillion onto the national debt. Kudlow falsely countered that the budget deficit was falling because of growth generated by the tax cuts. The deficit is actually rising.
A look at the statements and the fact:
TRUMP: “Six months ago, we unleashed an economic miracle by signing the biggest tax cuts and reforms … the biggest tax cuts in American history.”
THE FACTS: The president is exaggerating, if not being outright deceptive.
Rather than achieving a miracle, his tax cuts have helped stoke additional growth in an economic expansion that was already approaching its 10th year. The additional growth is largely fueled by government borrowing, as the federal deficit rises because of the tax cut. The pace of growth is expected to taper off after next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Federal Reserve and outside analysts.
And while the $1.5 trillion worth of tax reductions over the next decade are substantial, they’re far from the largest in U.S. history as a share of the overall economy. The Trump tax cut ranks behind Ronald Reagan’s in the early 1980s, post-World War II tax cuts and at least several more, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates for deficit reduction.
Trump proudly went through a list of economic achievements that build on the progress begun under former President Barack Obama. The 3.8 percent unemployment rate and the historically low level of requests for jobless aid are both the result of a steady and gradual recovery from the worst economic meltdown since 1929.
Several hundred companies responded to the tax cuts by paying workers bonuses or hiking hourly wages, but any significant income growth has yet to surface in the overall economy.
The tax cuts have added on average $17 a month to people’s incomes, according to an analysis by Ernie Tedeschi, head of fiscal policy analysis at the investment firm Evercore ISI and a former Treasury Department economist. The analysis is based off consumer spending, income and inflation data released Friday.
That $17 monthly gain is helpful, but it’s far from miraculous.
KUDLOW: “As the economy gears up, more people working, better jobs and careers, those revenues come rolling in, and the deficit, which is one of the other criticisms, is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly.”
THE FACTS: Nope.
Since the fiscal year started in October, Treasury Department reports show the federal government has recorded a $385.4 billion deficit, a 12 percent jump from the same period in the previous year.
The Congressional Budget Office was even more blunt in a long-term assessment released Tuesday.
It estimates that the national debt — the sum of yearly deficits — will be $2.2 trillion higher in 2027 than it had previously forecast, largely a consequence of Trump’s 10 year, $1.5 trillion tax cut. The size of the debt could be even higher if provisions of the tax cut that are set to expire are, instead, renewed.
General Motors Co warned on Friday that higher tariffs on imported vehicles under consideration by the Trump administration could cost jobs and lead to a “a smaller GM” while isolating U.S. businesses from the global market.
The administration in May launched an investigation into whether imported vehicles pose a national security threat, and U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose a 20 percent vehicle import tariff.
The largest U.S. automaker said in comments filed with the U.S. Commerce Department that overly broad tariffs could “lead to a smaller GM, a reduced presence at home and abroad for this iconic American company, and risk less — not more — U.S. jobs.”
Higher tariffs could also hike vehicle prices and reduce sales, GM said.
Less investment, fewer workers
Its comments echoed those from two major U.S. auto trade groups Wednesday, when they warned that tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported vehicles would cost hundreds of thousands of auto jobs, dramatically raise prices on vehicles and threaten industry spending on self-driving cars.
Even if automakers opted not to pass on higher costs “this could still lead to less investment, fewer jobs, and lower wages for our employees. The carry-on effect of less investment and a smaller workforce could delay breakthrough technologies,” GM said.
GM operates 47 U.S. manufacturing facilities and employs about 110,000 people in the United States. It buys tens of billions of dollars worth of parts from U.S. suppliers every year, and has invested more than $22 billion in U.S. manufacturing operations since 2009.
Still, 30 percent of the vehicles GM sold on the U.S. market in 2017 were manufactured abroad, according to the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research. Eighty-six percent of those vehicles came from Canada and Mexico, while others came from Europe and China.
Detroit automakers Ford Motor Co and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles NV also import many of the vehicles they sell in the United States.
“The overbroad and steep application of import tariffs on our trading partners risks isolating U.S. businesses like GM from the global market that helps to preserve and grow our strength here at home,” GM said.
GM shares closed down about 2.8 percent on Friday at $39.40.
National security probe
Some aides have said that Trump is pursuing the national security probe to put pressure on Canada and Mexico to agree to concessions in talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Toyota Motor Corp filed separate comments opposing the tariffs on Friday saying they would “threaten U.S. manufacturing, jobs, exports, and economic prosperity.”
The company noted that Trump has repeatedly praised the Japanese automaker for investing in the United States, including a new $1.3 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama with Mazda.
“These investments reflect our confidence in the U.S. economy and in the power of the administration’s tax cuts,” Toyota said.
Toyota noted that international automakers assembling vehicles in the United States are based in countries including Japan, German and South Korea “that are America’s closest allies.”
The Commerce Department plans two days of public hearings next month, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week he aimed to wrap up the probe into whether imported vehicles represent a national security threat by late July or August.
“We have received approximately 2,500 comments already,” Ross said in a statement Friday, adding that he expected more before a midnight deadline.
“The purpose of the comment period and of the public hearing scheduled for July 19th and 20th is to make sure that all stakeholders’ views are heard, both pro and con. That will enable us to make our best informed recommendation to the president,” the statement said.
Just days before the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum imports are set to go into effect, trade analysts are watching for ripple effects across the automotive, manufacturing and technology sectors. VOA’s Elizabeth Cherneff has more from Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he expects a second tax overhaul to be unveiled in October or a bit earlier, and he is considering cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 21 percent.
In an excerpt of a Fox Business Network interview to be broadcast Sunday, Trump said: “We’re doing a phase two. We’ll be doing it probably in October, maybe a little sooner than that.”
“One of the things we’re thinking about is bringing the 21 percent down to 20, and for the most part the rest of it would go right to the middle class,” he said.
In December, Trump signed the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years, slashing the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent and giving temporary tax relief to middle-class Americans.
The sweeping bill passed the Republican-controlled Congress over the opposition of Democrats, who decried it as a giveaway to the wealthy that would add $1.5 trillion to the $20 trillion national debt.
Republicans, hungry to revisit the tax issue ahead of a November midterm election showdown for control of Congress, are to unveil the outline of new tax legislation over the summer in the House of Representatives.
But more tax cuts are unlikely to succeed in the closely divided Senate, where Democrats and conservative fiscal hawks could block such a measure.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warned this week that more tax cuts would hasten the growth of an already rapidly rising federal debt.
The debt, which equals 78 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, is on track to eclipse the 106 percent record set just after World War II in 2034.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, who presides over the chamber’s tax policy debate, said this week that new legislation would aim to make permanent tax cuts for individuals that are to expire in 2026. He expects a House vote in the autumn.
The Texas Republican made no mention of plans for an additional 1 percentage point cut in the U.S. corporate rate, which analysts say would reduce government revenues by an additional $100 billion over a decade.
U.S. President Donald Trump touted the Republican tax cut plan Friday, six months after he signed it into law, saying it was strengthening the U.S. economy and helping average Americans by increasing investment, jobs and wages.
“It is my great honor to welcome you back to the White House to celebrate six months of new jobs, bigger paychecks and keeping more of your hard-earned money where it belongs: in your pocket or wherever else you want to spend it,” he said.
A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, however, projects a gloomy fiscal outlook in the U.S., which is experiencing rising debt under the Trump administration.
The CBO report predicts the country’s debt burden will double in 30 years, exceeding even the U.S. debt load during World War II.
The tax law, officially titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, was the largest overhaul of the country’s complex tax laws in three decades. It cut the corporate tax rate, which was among the highest in the industrialized world, from 35 to 21 percent. It trimmed rates for millions of individual taxpayers as well, with the biggest cuts mostly benefiting the wealthiest earners, although some taxpayers saw bigger tax bills because of various changes in the tax regulations.
The CBO report, which cautioned the high debt levels also increase chances of a fiscal crisis, projects the tax cuts could spur short-term economic growth, but it quickly would fall back to a long-term average of 1.9 percent.
While most of the rising debt is due to increasing entitlement spending and other problems that existed before Trump’s 2016 election, the report said the new tax law is contributing to the short-term debt by cutting government revenue. Spending increases approved by both Republicans and Democrats are also raising deficits.
The Republicans’ $1.5 trillion in tax cuts and $1.3 trillion in spending enacted earlier this year have already helped push the CBO’s debt projections higher through 2041, the report said.
Some analysts say the country’s fiscal health is quickly deteriorating because of higher spending for entitlement programs such as Social Security, insufficient government revenue and spiraling interest payments on debt.
“The massive deficits caused by policymakers’ recent tax and budget decisions have drastically worsened the country’s long-term finances,” said Bipartisan Policy Center economic policy director Shai Akabas.
The Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center concluded in a June 13 report that “the new tax law will raise deficits and make the distribution of after-tax income more unequal.”
Former Federal Reserve Bank chair Janet Yellen, a Democratic appointee whom Trump replaced with Republican Jerome Powell, said Thursday that the tax cuts would probably provide only a meager boost to the growth of the U.S. economy.
“The calculations that I’ve seen and seem reasonable to me suggest that the payoff is likely to be in tenths of a percent, which in growth is a lot, but may not be what some people are hoping for,” she said.
Any benefits for individuals and corporations from the tax cuts may be undermined by Trump’s imposition of tariffs on foreign countries.
Tariffs have already been announced on Chinese products, foreign aluminum and steel imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, and on solar panels and washing machines and Canadian lumber and paper. Trump has also threatened tariffs on automobile imports and on other foreign products and materials.
“Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are a tax hike on Americans and will have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican, said May 31.
The Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady of Texas, said last month that the tariffs “hurt our efforts to create good-paying jobs by selling more ‘Made in America’ products to customers in these countries.”
Retaliatory tariffs imposed by Canada, China, the EU and Mexico could hinder the ability of U.S. companies to sell products to other countries, which could in turn kill American jobs and suppress wages.
President Donald Trump is denying any immediate plan to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“We have been treated very badly by the WTO,” Trump said to reporters on Air Force One during a short Friday afternoon flight from Maryland to New Jersey.
But asked if he intends to pull the United States from the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations, Trump replied, “Not at this point, but they have to treat us fairly.”
The remarks come as Trump appears increasingly intent on confrontation, rather than cooperation, with the European Union, the Group of Seven (G-7) nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the WTO. He has repeatedly suggested the United States would be better off pursuing trade and strategic deals with nations one on one.
“Rather than playing the U.S. president’s traditional role as leader of the free world, Trump looks like he is declaring war on the international rules-based order: undermining the G-7 and WTO, raising doubts about continued U.S. support for a strong NATO to counter Russia, and falsely declaring that the European Union was invented to take advantage of the United States,” Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a former NATO deputy secretary general, tells VOA News.
Trump, in less than two weeks, heads to Europe for the annual NATO summit before separate meetings in Britain with Prime Minister Theresa May and then, in neutral Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Putin couldn’t have scripted this better himself. And the Helsinki meeting could cement a new partnership between Trump and Putin at our allies’ expense,” adds Vershbow, who also has been a U.S. ambassador to Russia, South Korea and NATO.
Trump, on Friday’s Air Force One flight, said he would raise with Putin the issue of Russian election meddling, as well as differences between Washington and Moscow about Ukraine and Syria.
French President Emmanuel Macron was asked Friday if it was true that Trump had suggested to him that France should leave the EU.
“What was said in the room stays in that room,” replied Macron about his private meeting with the U.S. president at the White House in April.
Trump, at the annual G-7 leaders’ meeting in Canada early this month, clashed with some of Washington’s closest allies and advocated readmitting Russia, which was suspended from the group in 2014 for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
The president, according to the online Axios news site, said to the other G-7 leaders, “NATO is as bad as NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump wants renegotiated). It’s much too costly for the U.S.”
Asked about NATO on Air Force One, Trump on Friday said Germany, Spain and France have to spend more money on the defense alliance.
“It’s not fair what they’ve done to the United States,” the president said.
Trump, last year, told The New York Times that the United States would only come to the aid of its NATO allies if they “fulfill their obligations to us,” a reference to required spending by members of 2 percent of their gross domestic production on defense, a promise not kept by many NATO states.
Article 5 of the NATO treaty declares that an attack on one member is an attack on all. That is a cornerstone of the 1949 pact, the first peacetime military alliance the United States entered outside the Western Hemisphere.
According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking last week to the Wall Street Journal, Trump is attempting to “reset” the liberal world order, not wreck it.
“The president is committed to both American leadership and American sovereignty. The president is willing to question the usefulness of rules that disadvantage American interests and American workers,” a National Security Council spokesman told VOA News on condition of not being named. “When rules have outlived their usefulness and are no longer fair and equitable, the president is willing to stand up for Americans and advocate for reform.”
The official adds “American leadership means we will continue to meet our global commitments, and in return we expect our allies to shoulder their fair share of our common defense burden and to do more in areas that most affect them. American leadership also means the President can no longer tolerate chronic trade abuses, and the United States will promote free, fair and reciprocal economic relationships.”
That does not reassure globalists, such as former White House and State Department official Harry Blaney.
“The harsh truth today is that there is a wide consensus among foreign affairs experts on all sides of the ideological spectrum of fear and skepticism about the outcome of the NATO and Putin meetings,” Blaney told VOA.
“There is a clear sense of foreboding,” Trump is making an effort to undermine both the defense alliance and the EU, said Blaney, who was a key U.S. official for decades dealing with the EU and NATO.
“The sad fact is that these actions together spell for, not just the developed world, but for the entire global community a period of high risk and uncertainty for its economies, security, and brings a high level of risk for everyone,” Blaney predicted.
“What we don’t have, and everyone is asking, is why is he (Trump) doing this?” Blaney said.
After a sharp sell-off, China’s yuan and stock markets attempted a modest recovery Friday, yet investors were grappling with some of their worst losses in years as a bitter Sino-U.S. trade row threatened to ruffle the world’s second-biggest economy.
The yuan was set for its biggest monthly fall on record. Chinese stocks, on a downward spiral since late January, were also poised for their largest monthly slide since January 2016.
The downturn highlighted the anxiety among investors as Washington and Beijing showed no signs of backing down from their tariff dispute.
The worry is that an extended selloff in stocks and the yuan could spark a bout of capital outflows, putting further strain on the economy and complicating policy making as authorities put up defenses against the trade battle with the United States.
Down 3 percent in month
The yuan has shed more than 3 percent of its value against the dollar in June, its biggest fall since the market exchange rate was unified in 1994. On Friday, it fell to its lowest since mid-November 2017, but pulled up to 6.6139 per dollar by 0600 GMT for a modest bounce of about 0.16 percent on the day.
Offshore, where the yuan trades more freely, the unit was up by about a quarter of a percent, at 6.6224 per dollar.
In equities, the benchmark CSI300 Index rebounded more than 2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained around 2 percent, though they were both down around 9 percent for the month. In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index was also up more than 1 percent.
Trump and trade
U.S. President Donald Trump has shaken the world trade order by seeking to renegotiate the terms of some of the United States’ trading relationships, in particular with China.
The U.S. is targeting $34 billion of Chinese goods for tariffs to take effect July 6, and has threatened tens of billions of dollars more for similar duties.
Chinese 10-year treasury futures for September delivery, the most traded contract, leapt 0.34 percent. A fixed income portfolio manager said the sharp rise was a result of central bank promises of “ample” liquidity.
“The central bank is expected to step up efforts to calm investors and slow the pace of the yuan depreciation that has sparked risk aversion across regional markets, including a possible reintroduction of the counter-cyclical factor,” Gao Qi, FX strategist at Scotiabank in Singapore, wrote in a note Friday.
He expected “strong resistance” at 6.70 yuan per dollar.
Sectors and stocks that were exposed to the depreciating yuan have been hit hard this month.
Real estate was down 5.7 percent and poised for its fifth straight month of losses. The transport sector index, whose components include many leading airlines, tumbled 9.4 percent this month and was set for its steepest monthly drop since January 2016.
A trader at a regional bank in Shanghai who declined to be named said there had been some “filtering” of the midpoint fixing, which is set by the central bank each morning, in an apparent bid to keep the yuan from falling too sharply.
“It is too early to say whether the counter-cyclical factor has been revived. If market sentiment could recover by itself, there is no need to use the factor. Market still needs some time to digest,” the trader said.
«У першому кварталі було недовиконання бюджету майже на 6 мільярдів. У травні практично вийшли «в нуль»
Minnesota regulators on Thursday approved Enbridge Energy’s proposal to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline across the northern part of the state.
All five members of the Public Utilities Commission backed the project, though some cited heavy trepidation, and a narrow majority later approved the company’s preferred route despite opposition from American Indian tribes and climate change activists.
In discussion before the vote, several commissioners cited the deteriorating condition of the existing line , which was built in the 1960s, as a major factor in their decision.
“It’s irrefutable that that pipeline is an accident waiting to happen,” Commissioner Dan Lipschultz said ahead of the vote. “It feels like a gun to our head … All I can say is the gun is real and it’s loaded.”
Some pipeline opponents reacted angrily when it became clear commissioners would approve the project. Tania Aubid, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, stood and shouted, “You have just declared war on the Ojibwe!” Brent Murcia, of the group Youth Climate Intervenors, added: “We will not let this stand.”
Opponents argue that the pipeline risks spills in pristine areas in northern Minnesota, including where American Indians harvest wild rice. Ojibwe Indians, or Anishinaabe, consider wild rice sacred and central to their culture.
Winona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth, said opponents would use every regulatory means possible to stop the project — and threatened mass protests if necessary.
“They have gotten their Standing Rock,” she said, referring to protests that drew thousands of people to neighboring North Dakota to rally against the Dakota Access pipeline.
Others welcomed Thursday’s vote, including Bob Schoneberger, founder of Minnesotans for Line 3. He said Minnesota needs the line now “and will need it even more into the future.”
After commissioners agreed the pipeline upgrade was needed, the commission voted 3-2 in favor of Enbridge’s preferred route, which departs from the existing pipeline to largely avoid two American Indian reservations currently crossed.
The approved route does clip a portion of the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa’s land, and commissioners said they would adjust the route if the Fond du Lac don’t agree. Tribal leaders had reluctantly backed a route that went much farther south as the least objectionable option.
After the commission’s work is formalized in the next few weeks, opponents may file motions asking it to reconsider. After that, they can appeal the decision to the state Court of Appeals.
Several commissioners said the overall issue posed a difficult decision. Chairwoman Nancy Lange choked up and took off her glasses to wipe her eyes as she described her reasoning for approving the project. Another commissioner, Katie Sieben, said it was “so tough because there is no good outcome.”
The pipeline currently runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge has said it needs to replace the pipeline because it’s increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking, and that it would continue to run Line 3 if regulators rejected its proposal.
Much of the debate has focused on whether Minnesota and Midwest refineries need the extra oil. Enbridge currently runs Line 3 at about half its original capacity of 760,000 barrels per day for safety reasons, and currently uses it only to carry light crude.
The project’s opponents, including the Minnesota Department of Commerce, have argued that the refineries don’t need it because demand for oil and petroleum products will fall in the coming years as people switch to electric cars and renewable energy sources. Opposition groups also argue that much of the additional oil would eventually flow to overseas buyers.
Enbridge and its customers strongly dispute the lack of need in the region. They said Line 3’s reduced capacity is already forcing the company to severely ration space on its pipeline network, and that failure to restore its capacity would force oil shippers to rely more on trains and trucks, which are more expensive and less safe. Business and labor groups support the proposal for the jobs and economic stimulus.
The Public Utilities Commission’s decision likely won’t be the final word in a long, contentious process that has included numerous public hearings and the filings of thousands of pages of documents since 2015. Lange said earlier this year that the dispute was likely to end up in court, regardless of what the commission decides.
Opponents have threatened a repeat of the protests on the Standing Rock Reservation against the Dakota Access pipeline, in which Enbridge owns a stake. Those protests in 2016 and 2017 resulted in sometimes violent skirmishes with law enforcement and more than 700 arrests.
Similar concerns over the role of tar sands oil in climate change, indigenous rights and the risk of spills has fueled opposition to other pipelines out of Alberta’s oil sands region. Opponents of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to Nebraska are still fighting that project in court. The Canadian government agreed last month to buy Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline across Canadian soil to the Pacific Coast for $4.5 billion Canadian (US$3.4 billion) to ensure completion of the company’s plan to triple the line’s capacity.
Enbridge has already replaced the short segment of Line 3 in Wisconsin and put it into service. Construction is underway on the short segment that crosses northeastern North Dakota and on the longer section from Alberta to the U.S. border, and Enbridge plans to continue that work. Enbridge has estimated the overall cost of the project at $7.5 billion, including $2.6 billion for the U.S. segment.
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A U.S. delegation traveled to Kenya on Thursday to attend the inaugural economic summit of the American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya.
About 500 delegates, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Gilbert Kaplan, U.S. undersecretary of commerce for international trade, other high-ranking government officials from both nations and representatives from nearly 30 major U.S. corporations, gathered at the summit, which was aimed at creating partnerships between the two nations’ public and private sectors in order to foster economic growth.
The Kenyan agenda was centered on advancing Kenyatta’s “Big Four” priorities — universal health care, manufacturing, food security and affordable housing — that he set out after his re-election to a second term last year.
American companies in attendance were looking for opportunities to expand and to increase trade and investment in Africa.
Kaplan told VOA that increasing business and economic development in Africa would benefit many Americans, which aligns with the promises of President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda.
“If we can export more and do more transactions here, do more investment here, that’s going to be incredibly helpful for the United States, for the people back home, because we’ll be making profitable ventures, and that will naturally help,” he said.
But the U.S. delegation also had a strong message for Kenya: Real, meaningful economic growth can’t happen unless Kenya commits to fighting corruption.
’It’s got to stop’
“Corruption is undermining Kenya’s future,” said Robert Godec, U.S. ambassador to Kenya. “It’s clearly a major problem for the country. We welcome President Kenyatta’s commitment and the push recently to address this problem. Corruption is theft from the people, and it’s got to stop.”
In his speech to the delegation, Kenyatta pledged to “fight this animal called corruption and ensure that it is a beast that shall never infect or inflict future generations” of Kenyans.
Kaplan told VOA that the U.S. government was providing support and training to the Kenyan government to help tackle corruption.
“We’ve dealt with that — the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, rule of law and international standards,” he said. “I think we can convince Kenya that following those rules is ultimately to their benefit because it brings more businessmen and women into the system and being able to be successful.”
Part of the objective of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is to make it illegal for companies and their supervisors to influence foreign officials with personal payments or rewards.
C.D. Glin, president and chief executive of the U.S. African Development Foundation, told VOA that the U.S. government’s and private sector’s support of businesses in Africa that had ramped up under the previous administration was being continued by Trump.
For instance, the President’s Advisory Council for Doing Business in Africa, begun under the Barack Obama administration and still in force, “really is looking at Africa from a business standpoint and from an opportunity standpoint so that Africans can benefit from U.S. support, but also can support the U.S.,” Glin said.
Nicholas Nesbitt, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, said the increased U.S. private sector investment had been hugely beneficial for the Kenyan economy.
“We see a lot more tourism coming to Kenya, a lot more trade and a lot more business,” he said. “We’re very excited to see the numbers of American companies — small, midsize and even large corporations — looking at Kenya as a destination. It’s also a gateway to east Africa, where there are 200 million potential consumers. So, the investments, the energy, the excitement is absolutely tremendous today at this summit between American and Kenyan business.”
Six commercial deals between Kenyan and American companies were signed at the summit. Maxwell Okello, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya, called that a sign that significant economic change would be driven by private sector innovation.
“I think at the end of the day, with what we’re hearing today here, it’s really down to what the private sector wants to do from a commercial engagement,” he said. “And I believe conversations such as this is really where you spark that interest, where you create those linkages and the sort of engagement that you need. And the opportunities are there for anyone. They’re obvious.
“So, I think that various policies aside, from a commercial business engagement perspective, the sky is wide open.”
Importers of Iranian oil are facing pressure from the United States to find another energy source or be hit with sanctions.
The Trump administration is threatening other countries, including close allies such as South Korea, with the sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian imports by early November, essentially erecting a global blockade around the world’s sixth-biggest petroleum producer.
South Korea accounted for 14 percent of Iran’s oil exports last year, according to the U.S. Energy Department. China is the largest importer of Iranian oil with 24 percent, followed by India with 18 percent. Turkey stood at 9 percent, and Italy at 7 percent.
A State Department official told reporters this week that the “vast majority” of countries will comply with the U.S. request. A group from the State Department and the National Security Council is delivering the president’s message in Europe. The official added that the group had not yet visited China or India.
President Donald Trump announced in May that he would pull the United States out of a 2015 agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, and would re-impose sanctions on Tehran. Previously, the administration said only that other countries should make a “significant reduction” in imports of Iranian crude to avoid U.S. sanctions.
European allies will reluctantly go along to avoid sanctions on their companies that do business in the U.S., said Jim Krane, an energy and geopolitics expert at Rice University. However, China, India and Turkey might be less likely to fully cut off Iranian imports, he said.
Antoine Halff, a researcher at Columbia University and former chief oil analyst for the International Energy Agency, said it’s not unusual for the U.S. government to seek cooperation from other importers of Iranian oil — President Barack Obama’s administration did it during a previous round of sanctions.
“The difference is that there was broad international support for the sanctions then,” while the move to restore sanctions now over Iran’s nuclear program “is a unilateral decision from the United States alone,” Halff said.
The Trump administration is counting on Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members to supply enough oil to offset the lost Iranian exports and prevent oil prices from rising sharply.
The State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. will be talking in a week or so “with our Middle Eastern partners to ensure that the global supply of oil is not adversely affected by these sanctions.”
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed over the weekend to boost oil production by about 600,000 barrels a day. Iran exported about 1.9 million barrels a day during the first quarter of this year, according to OPEC figures. It is the world’s seventh largest oil exporter.
“It would not be a heavy lift for OPEC to replace Iran’s contribution to world oil markets — Saudi Arabia could probably do it on its own,” Krane said. “Saudi spare capacity protects the U.S. motorist from U.S. foreign policy.”
President Donald Trump was highlighting his economic policies Thursday by taking part in the ceremonial ground-breaking for a $10 billion Foxconn factory complex that may bring thousands of jobs to a state he barely carried in the 2016 presidential election.
But Trump’s celebration comes amid less-rosy economic news, with Harley-Davidson’s announcement it’s moving some motorcycle production overseas to avoid European Union tariffs that are a product of Trump’s escalating trade dispute with long-standing U.S. allies.
The president was irked by the Milwaukee-based company’s announcement this week and tweeted about it for three straight days, writing that any shift in production “will be the beginning of the end” for the iconic American manufacturer and even threatening retaliatory taxes.
Trump’s presence in Wisconsin was the subject of protests both in Milwaukee, where he spent a rare weeknight away from the White House, and in Mount Pleasant, where final preparations were under way for the ground-breaking.
Chants of “Hey, hey, Ho, ho. Donald Trump has got to go” were heard near the Pfister Hotel, where Trump overnighted and attended a pair of closed-door campaign events before heading to the groundbreaking and tour of an existing Foxconn facility. Gov. Scott Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., were among those joining the president at the fundraisers.
About 50 people walked from a downtown park to as close as they could get to the roped-off hotel, hoping Trump hears their calls to reunite migrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border after the president decide to prosecute everyone trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
As the president hobnobbed with supporters, his wife, Melania, was making her second trip in a week to the southern border to visit detention centers housing migrant children. She toured a Texas center last Thursday.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights organization, said the family separation issue is not unique to border communities. She said it’s also happening in the U.S. interior where deportations have increased.
“The scale of human rights violations that are being inflicted on children and families by the current administration should shake us to our core,” she said.
Protesters were also gathering near the Foxconn Technology Group campus in Mount Pleasant, about 30 miles south of Milwaukee.
Nearly 40 groups representing students, environmentalists, civil rights advocates, teachers, union workers and others have organized an event featuring dozens of speakers, a marching band, singers and musicians who plan to play ominous “Star Wars” music.
Foxconn is the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer and assembles Apple iPhones and other products for tech companies. Based in Taiwan, it chose Wisconsin after being prodded by Trump and others, including Ryan, whose district will include the plant.
The project could employ up to 13,000 people, though opponents say it is costing Wisconsin taxpayers too much.
The ceremonial groundbreaking was supposed to be evidence that the manufacturing revival fueled by Trump’s “America First” policy is well underway. But Harley-Davidson’s announcement, spurred by the trans-Atlantic tariff fight, appears to have turned that on its head.
Walker is counting on a strong economy as part of his case for re-election in November. Wisconsin’s unemployment is at record-low levels and Walker argues that the Foxconn project, the largest economic development deal in state history, shows the state is on the right track.
When the deal, reached with assistance from the White House, was signed last year, Walker said critics could “suck lemons” and “all of us in the state should be smiling, Republican and Democrat, doesn’t matter.”
A year later, opinion polls show Wisconsin voters are split on the project and the state of the economy.
Trump carried Wisconsin by less than 1 point — just under 23,000 votes. He’s underwater in popularity, with only 44 percent of respondents in last week’s Marquette University Law School poll approving of the job he’s doing, while 50 percent disapproved.
Republicans were mostly unified in support of Foxconn, saying it is a once-a-generation opportunity to transform the state’s economy. But most Democrats — including all eight of those running against Walker — are against it, arguing the potential $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies was too rich. If paid out — they’re tied to jobs and investment benchmarks — the incentives would be the most paid to a foreign company in U.S. history.
Should Foxconn employ 13,000 workers as envisioned, it would be the largest private-sector employer in Wisconsin.
“Foxconn’s state-of-the-art products will be made in the U.S.A. — proudly in the state of Wisconsin!” Walker tweeted Tuesday, as he tried to shift the focus away from Harley-Davidson.your ad here
China defended its trade practices Thursday as being beneficial to the world as it tries to ease pressure from the United States and Europe to abandon what they consider to be Beijing’s protectionist policies.
China’s rapid economic growth “has brought great opportunities to trading partners all over the world,” Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said at a Beijing news conference.
Wang unveiled a report highlighting reforms China has taken since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.He said Beijing has “carried out every promise” since joining the WTO.
Wang’s defense of China’s business practices come amid threats of a trade war with the United States and arguments by Europe and Washington that China limits access to emerging industries and steals or forces other countries to hand over technology.
Trump’s threat of tariff increases on Chinese goods worth up to $450 billion reflects fears that China’s actions are a threat to America’s technological leadership.Germany and other countries have complained that Beijing prohibits purchases of Chinese assets while Chinese companies engage in a worldwide spending spree.
The dispute with Trump has allowed China, which has the world’s second largest economy, to position itself as a defender of free trade.When asked about possible U.S. plans to limit Chinese investment in its technology sectors, Wang said, “We hope countries concerned can do the right thing and adopt policies that support free trade and investment.”
The U.S. and other trading partners maintain China’s emergence in the smartphone, solar and other technology sectors means it should no longer be afforded protections it was granted as a developing country when it joined the WTO.
China has offered to cut its multi-billion trade surplus with the United States, but has refused to abolish a strategy that its Communist leaders believe is a path to increased global influence and prosperity.
China and the European Union announced this week they will form a group to update WTO rules to keep pace with global economic developments.
Jared Kushner’s family company is suing a New Jersey city, alleging it forced the delay of a major twin-tower project due to “political animus” toward President Donald Trump.
The federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Kushner Cos. claims Jersey City and the city’s redevelopment agency “put politics over principle” when they broke a contract with developers over the planned One Journal Square project, according to a report in the Jersey Journal.
Trump is a Republican. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a defendant in the suit, is a Democrat.
The Kushner Cos. previously threatened a lawsuit in April after the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency said developers were in default because they missed a deadline to begin construction on the project.
Fulop dismissed the lawsuit, saying it amounts to “hearsay nonsense.” He said “it’s not like the Kushners have a great deal of credibility in anything they say” and that “they will do anything to manipulate a situation.”
The lawsuit is seeking to stop the city from ending the project’s contract and declare the notice of default null and void. It calls the default threat a “transparent pretext to enhance Fulop’s status among the electorate of the city.”
Joseph Fiorenzo, the company’s lawyer, said the “outrageous conduct” of city officials “strikes at the very heart of our economic system which has, as its foundation, the freedom of people to organize their affairs by entering into contracts. This is the glue that holds our economic system together.”
The suit also names the city and the redevelopment agency as defendants.your ad here