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SnapshotsMar 17, 2020 | 18:50 GMT
Europe Tries to Spend Its Way out of the Coronavirus Crisis
In recent days, Europe's five largest economies (Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain) have each unveiled various relief measures intended to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, including cheaper credit lines, tax delays, and additional support for workers whose incomes have been affected. The measures all share the same goal: putting extra money in the pockets of companies and individuals struggling to make ends meet under increasingly strict quarantine measures. But it could take weeks, if not months, for the impact of such efforts to be fully realized. And in the meantime, many businesses across the Continent will go bankrupt, while others may be forced to permanently lay-off some of the workers they've suspended due to the outbreak.
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AssessmentsFeb 26, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows fanned-out 50, 100, 200 and 500 banknotes of the euro, the currency of the eurozone.
The Eurozone Braces for a Rocky Year
Households, companies and investors alike should brace for a year of lackluster economic growth in the eurozone. The European Commission expects the 19-member currency area to grow by only 1.2 percent this year -- the same rate as 2019, but below the 1.9 percent and 2.5 percent growth seen in 2018 and 2017, respectively. While uncertainty about the future of global trade has taken a toll on Europe's economic climate and manufacturing sector, domestic consumption has nonetheless remained strong due to rising employment and modest increases in wages. The next few months, however, will present multiple sources of geopolitical risk that will continue to stall economic expansion across the eurozone, and could potentially lead to temporary recessions in countries such as Italy.
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AssessmentsFeb 20, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows workers at Dongfeng Motor's joint venture with Honda in Wuhan, China.
China's Virus Outbreak Has Dented Its Automakers' Bottom Lines
China’s deadly coronavirus outbreak has left few of its economic sectors unscathed, but the effects of shutdowns on its auto manufacturing operations have been -- and will continue to remain -- especially acute. Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, has asked companies not to restart shuttered operations until at least Feb. 21. Production for a number of auto companies outside of Hubei had already been delayed past the Lunar New Year holiday until Feb. 10, and in some cases, production still remains offline. Nevertheless, even once the outbreak subsides, Chinese consumer demand for automobiles will take a substantial hit this year, with estimates showing that demand could fall by at least 5 percent because of the economic slowdown associated with the coronavirus outbreak.
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AssessmentsNov 9, 2018 | 20:05 GMT
Saudi air force officers and technical staff walk past an advanced F-15SA fighter jet during a ceremony on Jan. 25, 2017 in Riyadh marking the 50th anniversary of the creation of the King Faisal Air Academy.
Saudi Arabia Lays the Foundation for a Defense Industry of Its Own
Saudi Arabia, flush with money, nestled in a hostile environment and saddled with demographic shortcomings, has long spent freely to bring in weapons from abroad. And over the past five years, driven by its intensifying competition with archrival Iran and a heavy military commitment in the Yemen conflict, this trend has accelerated. During the period of 2013-17, the number of arms systems the Saudi government purchased grew by 255 percent compared with its acquisitions from 2008-12, ranking it behind only India among global arms importers, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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AssessmentsSep 28, 2018 | 10:00 GMT
Rows of solar panels are seen at a Tekno Ray Solar farm on Sept. 13, 2018, in Konya, Turkey.
Why More Global Corporations Are Betting on Renewables
Facebook recently heralded that it will source 100 percent of its electricity consumption from renewables by 2020, representing the latest direct renewables purchase by a major global corporation. The social media site joins Apple and Google, which already power all their operations using renewable electricity. But while Silicon Valley's giants are clearly among the leaders in embracing green electricity, other industrial and commercial segments are not far behind. The materials segment, including metals, is the largest consumer of directly sourced renewable electricity. For instance, metals giant Alcoa sources 75 percent of the energy required for its smelters from renewables, while mining giant Rio Tinto acquires just under half of its energy from such sources. In telecommunications, AT&T and T-Mobile are pursuing aggressive renewables plans, and there are others on the cutting edge in retail, including Wal-Mart, Ikea, Nike and Starbucks. Volkswagen, in turn, leads the way for renewables in manufacturing
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AssessmentsSep 18, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Workers assemble cars at the Nissan plant in Resende, Brazil, during February 2015. Most major automakers have factories in Brazil and Argentina.
For Mercosur, High Auto Tariffs Are All Part of the Game
U.S. auto tariffs will have little direct effect on the South American trade bloc Mercosur. The economic alliance, also known as the Common Market of the South, is insulated from the prospective fees because most of its vehicle production stays in the bloc. But the alliance, known for its own high tariffs on vehicles and auto parts, was already taking steps to open its automotive industry before the United States started threatening tariffs. Over the past two years it has been working on free trade agreements with Mexico, Japan, South Korea and the European Union, whose automakers may look to the bloc to make up for lost U.S. sales if the tariffs enter effect.
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AssessmentsSep 11, 2018 | 09:30 GMT
A Fiat Chrysler plant in Michigan displays auto body parts.
The U.S. Would Share in the Pain of Auto Tariffs
The prospect of U.S. tariffs on automotive imports is looming large in the minds of carmakers around the globe, but the United States itself would feel some of their biggest effects. If the U.S. Department of Commerce determines that auto imports harm national security, then the White House can erect additional trade barriers -- tariffs on finished vehicles and perhaps their components -- that would raise prices for U.S. consumers. Depending on their severity, the fees could put hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers out of work, largely in automobile retail. But the fallout could be short-lived. The approach of the 2020 presidential vote would force President Donald Trump's administration to find a balance between its trade goals and the economic pain facing consumers and workers. By then, the administration may have gotten enough concessions from its partners in trade deals to opt for lighter tariffs -- or forgo them
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AssessmentsAug 27, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Cars from German manufacturer Audi await transport in the German port city of Bremerhaven in July 2017.
What Higher U.S. Car Tariffs Could Mean for Europe
Trade friction between the United States and the European Union has de-escalated since late July, when they agreed to study ways to eliminate non-auto industrial tariffs and reduce non-tariff barriers. While the agreement defused the immediate danger of higher American tariffs on European cars, it did not eliminate the threat, and business and political leaders in the bloc remain nervous. The precedents don't allow for a lot of optimism either, because most of the trade negotiations that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has undertaken have either stalled or failed to produce a deal.
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SnapshotsAug 24, 2018 | 20:09 GMT
U.S., Mexico: NAFTA Negotiators Agree to New Vehicle Tariff Rules
Negotiators from the United States and Mexico have reached a breakthrough on a key NAFTA sticking point. For months, Mexican and U.S. trade teams have been locked in talks in attempt to resolve demands from the United States that new automobiles contain a greater percentage of parts produced within the North American trade bloc and meet higher wage requirements in order to be traded without import tariffs under a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On Aug. 23, Mexican negotiators agreed that vehicles assembled at existing plants that do not meet new rule-of-origin percentages and wage requirements will be subject to a 2.5 percent tariff. Vehicles produced at yet-to-be-built factories will be subject to higher tariffs that will be determined by the White House upon recommendations by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
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AssessmentsAug 13, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
Cars sit on an assembly line.
Why Hitting the Gas on Car Tariffs Could Stall Everyone
Today, much of the Western world is holding its collective breath, wondering what comes next as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to pummel the global auto industry with tariffs on imports. In 2017, the United States imported $350 billion worth of vehicles and parts, most of which came from Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Japan and South Korea – all U.S. allies. But just as he did with steel and aluminum, Trump is threatening to levy tariffs totaling as much as 25 percent on the vehicles and parts of his country's closest allies as part of a Section 232 national security investigation. In doing so, Trump is threatening to upend seven decades of consistent integration in the global automotive industry – something that could have grave ramifications for all.
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AssessmentsJul 5, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
As it makes changes to its economy, China is intent on ensuring greater control over the entire supply chain for lithium-ion batteries for years to come.
How China Is Muscling In on Lithium-Ion Batteries
From the salt flats of the Atacama Desert in Chile to the savannas of the Congo, the makers and users of the world's batteries are scrambling to secure the vital raw materials needed to produce the lithium-ion cells that will power electric vehicles around the globe. But no battery-makers are more aggressive than those from China, which is working to lock down the entire supply chain for its companies. Meanwhile, the United States will rely on economies of scale to compete in storage-cell manufacturing, turning toward North American raw material producers to ensure supplies whenever possible. Even then, the country will face stiff competition from Chinese investors -- to say nothing of European automobile companies, who will be compelled to increase their reliance on China. Buoyed by support from the highest levels of government, Chinese companies are likely to find few challengers over the next decade and a half as
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AssessmentsJan 31, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Paraguay's lower cost of production has attracted manufacturers from Brazil and Argentina.
Paraguay Exploits Its Industrial Advantages
Paraguay's position as a buffer state between Argentina and Brazil means that it remains largely at the mercy of the governments in Brasilia and Buenos Aires on matters of trade. Now, however, it appears as if the government in Asuncion has found a way to make itself an industrial hub of Latin America's southern cone by encouraging companies from its large neighbors to ditch the comforts of home and set up shop in Paraguay.
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AssessmentsJan 8, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
As a key component in lithium-ion batteries, cobalt has become an important commodity in the growing electronics and electric vehicle markets.
Cobalt: A Metal Poised to Peak
As the demand for electric vehicles increases over the coming decades, so, too, will the demand -- and the price -- for the raw materials required to produce them. Increased demand for elements such as lithium and cobalt will lead to potential supply bottlenecks over the course of the next several years. And while the media has touted the potential of lithium -- as the eponymous component of lithium-ion batteries -- to be the raw material that powers the gradual transition away from fossil fuel-reliant transportation, it has understated the significance of one element in the equation: cobalt. Lithium-ion batteries require lithium, yes, but they also require something else. Under the constraints of present technology, that something is more often than not cobalt.
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