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New Economic Sanctions Against Venezuela; Hostilities between China and US Ease

Published May 22, 2018
  • Chinese authorities have announced that they shall seek a reduction on import duties for passenger cars from 25% to 15%, to be enacted effectively July 1. This is a welcome move as hostilities between China and the US gradually ease following relatively successful meetings in Washington. However, this has created a significant divergence between the Trump administration hard-liners and free-trade supporters.
  • Canada and Mexico are still signalling that a NAFTA deal may be achieved before the final deadline in a couple weeks. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has stated that “we’ll see where we get over the next few weeks” citing that “significant issues” remain. Mnuchin has said that Trump is not focused on a specific deadline, but there are mounting pressures to expedite the process.
  • President Trump has signed new economic sanctions against Venezuela a day after the country’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, won elections that have been widely condemned as fraudulent. Fourteen countries including Argentina, Brazil and Canada have recalled their ambassadors from Caracas in protest. Venezuela is currently suffering from food shortages stemming from its economic crisis. The new sanctions on Venezuela are aimed at preventing its officials from selling off state oil assets and US companies are being banned from buying any more debt from Caracas or the state oil company. West Texas Intermediate was trading slightly above $72.44 at the time of writing.
  • Brexit negotiations are back in Brussels with both sides meeting for the first time since Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a compromise on customs to solve the problem with the Northern Ireland border. Speculation is growing that there could be another UK general election held before the end of the year.
  • Italy’s two populist parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, and the anti-migrant League – announced a joint agreement naming Giuseppe Conte as the next leader of the euro zone’s third largest economy. Conte requires the approval of the country’s president, Sergio Mattarella, who met with Salvini and Di Maio on Monday evening and will hold further meetings on Tuesday.