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World Trade News
Over the past week, the world has witnessed a series of events that have affected various sectors of the growing global economy. On the one hand, some events promised further development and expansion not only in international trade, but also in specific countries. On the other hand, some events can negatively affect or change certain aspects of world trade, including the economy of a given country.
The price of oil is coming back on the world market
The whole week is full of good news for oil importers around the world. Since Monday, the price of oil on the world market has decreased by 2 dollars per barrel. Before that, oil prices were still rising due to supply disruptions in Iraq and Nigeria. According to a report by Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iraq plans to boost nuclear fuel production. The news raised tensions and raised concerns about nuclear weapons. The issue is currently under discussion. The IAEA will discuss the topic at its scheduled meeting on March 6. The report will then be forwarded to UN Security for final assessment.
The drop in the price of oil on the world market by almost 2 dollars was caused by the failed terrorist attack that took place in the largest oil factory in Saudi Arabia. However, the situation was immediately controlled by the Saudi forces, who were put on full alert due to the tension. However, oil supplies were not interrupted in the country despite the attack. Light crude fell by $1.91, while Brent fell to $1.61.
However, the opposite situation occurs in Nigeria. Just recently, the price of oil rose to more than $2 per barrel. The sudden increase was influenced by the news of a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia. Another reason was that oil supplies in the Nigerian region were reduced by 13,000 barrels per day due to the discovery of the leak. A series of militant threats and attacks in the region also sent oil prices soaring.
According to energy analysts, an improvement in the price of oil on the world market would be even better. However, there are several factors (such as the oil market’s focus on short-term inventory data) that prevent a more positive outcome. Currently, the price of oil remains close to $61 per barrel due to Algeria’s plea to OPEC for market stability.
Meanwhile, Shell, which is the third leading oil company, earned a total profit of $23 billion last year. That should be reason enough to celebrate, but the huge oil company is currently facing the need to improve and expand its oil resources. Otherwise, he will run out of stock in the future. According to reports, Shell was only able to replace 60 to 70% of the gas it used for production last year. In 2004, the percentage was even lower, only 19% or replacement.
However, Shell uses its large assets to stand up to the fierce competition in the market. It currently has oil reserve projects in Nigeria, Sakhalin Island and the Gulf of Mexico. The success of these projects would definitely strengthen the company’s future capabilities.
Areas in the US, particularly the East Coast and Nigeria, are also facing oil supply problems. This issue may eventually result in fuel price changes. This situation is mainly caused by a change in the chemicals used in the fuel refining process. Previously, MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) was used in the process. However, the use of MTBE has led to problems and protests regarding water pollution and contamination of the water supply. Alternatively, fuel companies in the US, particularly on the East Coast and Texas, use ethanol. However, the problem is that ethanol is not produced on a large scale in the country. Moreover, the need for fuel refining is greater than the amount of available reserve. The solution is that the US government is currently importing ethanol from Brazil while continuing to build more ethanol plants in the country.
The campaign for energy independence in the US is also receiving negative reviews. Critics such as Tom Friedman of The New York Times noted that the government should be focusing on other more relevant issues besides it. Arguing that energy independence may be motivated by noble causes, but it may not be the wisest move now. The government should look for other more practical alternatives. In addition, the large budgetary requirements of energy independence could be allocated to other sectors of the economy and government.
Various car companies continue to grow and expand in the world market.
The discussion about the issue of oils brings us to another important area, which is the automotive industry. Car companies in general have announced notable developments and expansions this week. Last Wednesday, Nanjing Automobile acquired the MG Rover plant in Longbridge, England for 33 years from St. Modwen Properties Plc. A leading Chinese carmaker has reportedly paid £1.8m for the 105-acre factory. Nanjing surprised the global car industry last July 2005 when it bought MG Rover for around £53 million, outbidding its Chinese rival, Shanghai Automotive Corp. This major step is part of the company’s vision to become one of the leading automotive brands in the world. .
Honda Motor Co. is also gaining more attention in the international car market after announcing plans to produce a hybrid but low-cost version of its Fit subcompact. The automaker intends to release a hybrid version next year. However, Honda representatives specified that the hybrid technology will only be distributed on a lower scale. This is due to the very expensive production costs of the design. However, Honda is also developing smaller batteries and motors that would help reduce hybrid drive costs in the future. The venture is part of Honda’s aim to overcome the problem of high petrol consumption through specially designed cars. In addition to Honda, other companies Ford and Toyota have joined the hybrid car market.
Based on its recent report, Ford Motor Co. saw a 4% drop in sales last month. Another company that followed the same trend is General Motors. According to GM, its sales also decreased by 2.5%. Meanwhile, both Toyota and DaimlerChrysler’s overall sales have continued to improve this year. Specifically, the Chrysler Group increased its sales by 3% from approximately 190,367 vehicles. Some of the most popular cars sold by the company are: Dodge cars, Chrysler and Jeep. Chrysler’s Mercedes-Benz also improved by 28%. Toyota reported that its sales in the US alone rose 2.4% last February to around 166,940 vehicles.
Although Ford Jaguar sales fell last year, the automaker has said it has no plans to sell Jaguar. Ford bought the famous car brand back in 1989 for around 1.6 billion pounds. The automaker is positive that Jaguar sales will recover and improve this year. Ford is also set to launch a new car model that should appear in Europe soon. This is part of its strategy to keep up with strong competition against other auto giants, especially those from Asia.
General Motors has officially appointed Jerry York as its newest board member as part of its efforts to recover from its losses. York is known for his notable achievements at Chrysler and IBM. Although GM has been receiving negative reviews recently, York is positive that the company will recover. During his January speech, he suggested five things to GM management: first, make revenue and cost expectations more realistic; second, a reduction in product supply; third, to evaluate the whole society with an unbiased view; fourth, focus on core businesses; fifth, establish a clear vision for the company.
Several computer companies are looking to expand
When it comes to technology, Intel Corp. recently received official permission from Vietnam to build a microchip factory on its territory. Earlier, a leading microchip company proposed a $605 million project to be built in Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam would certainly benefit from the budget as the project is expected to attract more foreign investors to the country.
Meanwhile, computer company Lenovo has announced plans to launch computers that will carry the company’s name. Lenovo computers used to carry the IBM logo. The company said the move is part of its plans to gain a foothold in the global computing market.
Just recently, Apple computers invited several analysts and new reporters to its base in Cupertino to check out its so-called “new and fun products.” So what about the big bang? Rumor has it that Apple intends to expand its tech products to Hollywood. His iTunes apparently contributes to the promotion of many television programs. Again, there is a possibility that the latest rumors may once again prove to be false. Still, an invitation from Apple is surely a good sign that the company has a big bang of surprises for everyone.
As part of China’s vision to improve the local technology industry, Vice Premier Wu Yi pledged last Thursday to strengthen the fight against illegal copying of software, music and videos. Piracy has been a growing problem in the country for years. Despite several attempts to combat it, the problem continues to spread. In fact, piracy in China has drawn international complaints, including a report from Washington. Now the vice premier has pledged to strengthen the fight against piracy not only in response to these foreign complaints, but also as part of China’s aim to improve local technology.
Further developments in various sectors to strengthen global trade
Just recently, Morgan Stanley decided to invest around $68 million in Mantri Developers Private Ltd., a development company based in Bangalore, India. The decision is part of Morgan Stanley’s plan to tap into global real estate. The investment would also help Mantri in its national expansion plans. Real estate in India is currently booming due to the increasing demand for residential projects and office buildings. This economic upswing is now also attracting many foreign investors.
On the health front, Roche has finally won approval from the US Drug Regulatory Board to release Rituxan as its latest drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The approval of the new drug not only promises more profit for Roche, but also gives hope to patients who have not responded to other standard treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.
The US faces several economic concerns
Based on the latest report, the trade gap between US exports and imports increased from 18% to 75% of a trillion dollars during the past year. This is due to the fact that American consumers continue to demand more imported products such as oil, vehicles and other goods. According to analysts, only a 57% increase in exports can bridge this gap. It should be noted that the US is a leading exporter of certain goods such as aircraft. Although sales of durable goods fell during the past year, manufacturing companies such as Boeing are hopeful that their sales will improve in the coming years.
Meanwhile, the massive damage left by Hurricane Katrina also caused insurance companies in the US to adjust their premiums. The adjustment is considered necessary to cover the potential loss that would be caused by future disasters.
There is also good news regarding IT job opportunities based in the US. Although many US companies are now turning to offshore services, IT job opportunities in the US continue to grow. This is due to the fact that there are still certain IT tasks that need to be based on its territory.
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