Monthly Archives: December 2018

Sequa Petroleum N.V. Annual Report 2017 and Notice of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders

The Sequa Petroleum N.V. (the Company) Annual Report 2017 is now available to download.

Sequa Petroleum has also published the agenda of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (AGM) to be held on 8 February 2019, at 11:00 a.m. hours CET.

A copy of all documentation is available on the Company’s website at www.sequa-petroleum.com

SINGAPORE RAISES MINIMUM SMOKING AGE TO 19

SINGAPORE, The minimum legal age for smoking in the Republic will be raised to 19 years old from Jan 1.

Issuing a reminder a few days before the new rule kicks in, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the ruling is part of a planned move to progressively raise the minimum legal age for smoking to 21 years old by 2021.

The minimum age will go up to 20 years old on Jan 1, 2020 and then 21 years old on Jan 1, 2021.

The new law was debated and passed in Parliament in Nov 2017.

MOH said: It aims to prevent youth from picking up smoking by limiting access to tobacco products, and to further de-normalise smoking particularly for those below 21.

Under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, individuals under the minimum legal age are not allowed to buy, use, possess, sell or supply tobacco products.

Retailers who violate the law may be fined up to S$5,000 for the first offence and S$10,000 for subsequent offences, if found guilty.

Their tobacco retail licences will also be suspended for the first offence and revoked for subsequent offences.

Besides retailers, individuals who supply tobacco products to people under the minimum legal age will not be spared as well.

If a person is caught buying tobacco on behalf of another who is below the minimum legal age, he or she may be fined up to S$2,500 for the first offence and S$5,000 for subsequent offences.

Those caught giving tobacco to someone under the minimum legal age may also be liable for a fine of up to S$500 for the first offence and S$1,000 for subsequent offences.

Underage smokers caught using, buying or possessing tobacco products could be fined up to S$300.

MOH said that the tobacco industry was informed of the changes from January this year.

Offices from the Health Sciences Authority have been reminding retailers of the change in minimum legal age since October.

Source: NAM News Network

N. Korea’s Kim Says Ready for More Talks With Trump

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Tuesday he hopes to extend his high-stakes nuclear summitry with President Donald Trump into 2019, but also warns Washington not to test North Koreans’ patience with sanctions and pressure.

During his televised New Year’s speech, Kim said he’s ready to meet with Trump at any time to produce an outcome “welcomed by the international community.” However, he said the North will be forced to take a different path if the United States “continues to break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure.”

Kim also said the United States should continue to halt its joint military exercises with ally South Korea and not deploy strategic military assets to the South. He also made a nationalistic call urging stronger inter-Korean cooperation and said the North is ready to resume operations at a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and restart South Korean tours to the North’s Diamond Mountain resort. Neither of those is possible for South Korea unless sanctions are removed.

Some analysts say North Korea has been trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul while putting the larger burden of action on the United States. Pyongyang over the past months has accused Washington of failing to take corresponding measures following the North’s unilateral dismantlement of a nuclear testing ground and suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Kim used his New Year’s speech a year ago to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a historic June summit with Trump in Singapore. Kim also met three times with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which boosted his leverage by reintroducing Beijing � Pyongyang’s main ally � as a major player in the diplomatic process to resolve the nuclear standoff.

Stalled talks

But nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled in recent months as they struggle with the sequencing of North Korea’s disarmament and the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.

The North has also bristled at U.S. demands to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal.

The hardening stalemate has fueled doubts on whether Kim will ever voluntarily relinquish the nuclear weapons and missiles he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival. In his meetings with Trump and Moon, Kim signed vague statements calling for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan. The North in a blunt statement last month reiterated its traditional stance on denuclearization, saying it will never unilaterally give up its weapons unless Washington removes what Pyongyang describes as a nuclear threat.

Washington and Pyongyang have yet to reschedule a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean officials after the North canceled it at the last minute in November. There are views that North Korea wants a quick second summit because it thinks it can win major concessions from Trump that they probably couldn’t from lower-level U.S. officials, who are more adamant about the North committing to inspections and verification.

Source: Voice of America

N. Korea’s Kim Says Ready for More Talks With Trump

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Tuesday he hopes to extend his high-stakes nuclear summitry with President Donald Trump into 2019, but also warns Washington not to test North Koreans’ patience with sanctions and pressure.

During his televised New Year’s speech, Kim said he’s ready to meet with Trump at any time to produce an outcome “welcomed by the international community.” However, he said the North will be forced to take a different path if the United States “continues to break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure.”

Kim also said the United States should continue to halt its joint military exercises with ally South Korea and not deploy strategic military assets to the South. He also made a nationalistic call urging stronger inter-Korean cooperation and said the North is ready to resume operations at a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and restart South Korean tours to the North’s Diamond Mountain resort. Neither of those is possible for South Korea unless sanctions are removed.

Some analysts say North Korea has been trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul while putting the larger burden of action on the United States. Pyongyang over the past months has accused Washington of failing to take corresponding measures following the North’s unilateral dismantlement of a nuclear testing ground and suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Kim used his New Year’s speech a year ago to start a newfound diplomatic approach with Seoul and Washington, which led to three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a historic June summit with Trump in Singapore. Kim also met three times with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which boosted his leverage by reintroducing Beijing � Pyongyang’s main ally � as a major player in the diplomatic process to resolve the nuclear standoff.

Stalled talks

But nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled in recent months as they struggle with the sequencing of North Korea’s disarmament and the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.

The North has also bristled at U.S. demands to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal.

The hardening stalemate has fueled doubts on whether Kim will ever voluntarily relinquish the nuclear weapons and missiles he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival. In his meetings with Trump and Moon, Kim signed vague statements calling for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan. The North in a blunt statement last month reiterated its traditional stance on denuclearization, saying it will never unilaterally give up its weapons unless Washington removes what Pyongyang describes as a nuclear threat.

Washington and Pyongyang have yet to reschedule a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean officials after the North canceled it at the last minute in November. There are views that North Korea wants a quick second summit because it thinks it can win major concessions from Trump that they probably couldn’t from lower-level U.S. officials, who are more adamant about the North committing to inspections and verification.

Source: Voice of America

Philippines Aims to Attract Investors Hit by Tariffs in Sino-US Trade War

TAIPEI Vietnam has earned a name as the chief haven for multinationals hoping to avoid the Sino-U.S. trade dispute of 2018. The Philippines, another Southeast Asian country that has pushed to pick up foreign investment, aims to follow suit.

The Philippines boasts young workers skilled in English, quick infrastructure upgrades and a tax system overhaul � though fuel prices and periodic political unrest may check progress, people familiar with the country say.

The government approved $17.2 billion in investments, up 47 percent over 2017, the Board of Investments announced on December 24. Those figures blew past expectations, the board said.

We do have a market, a growing middle class and qualified workers, but there are economic and political factors that affect the level of confidence among investors, particularly foreign investors, said Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at University of the Philippines Diliman.

Perks in the Philippines

The Philippines would attract foreign investment in part because of its $169 billion infrastructure renewal, Atienza said. The rebuilding is set to run through 2022 and get funding partly by money from China and Japan.

I’m sure the additional financing they’ve been offered is very helpful for them to develop their economy, and the Philippines knows it very much needs infrastructure development to become more competitive, said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit.

Though too early to say, new infrastructure might help develop energy sources and lower electricity prices that otherwise deter investors, the professor said.

Multinationals also consider the English language ability and other skills among workers, she said. Another sought-after skill: training in healthcare. Minimum wages for most manufacturers as well as in the service sectors will rise to $9.50 per day, on par with some of China’s lower pay.

The workforce is still young, so whatever the needs of the new economy will be, the Philippines can provide, given its young workforce, said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in Metro.

A tax reform bill, if implemented in Manila, will lead to an influx of investment in manufacturing, he said. He was referring to part two of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, which would cut corporate income tax.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority further helps secure investment by offering facilitation, said Carl Baker, director of programs with Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu.

China, Japan try it out

China topped the list of foreign investors in the Philippines in 2018 with $927 million worth of commitments, up from just $10 million a year ago, the government board said. Like multinationals, companies in China are looking to other countries as an export base that will not trip U.S. tariffs.

Japanese companies also expressed particular interest in the past year, Ravelas said.

In 2017, Seiko Epson opened a $143 million plant south of Manila. The plant will make projectors and inkjet printers. Around the same time, Shin-Etsu Magnetic Philippines, which produces magnets for electronic devices, opened its eighth plant in the country.

Foreign investors that produce exports in China face U.S. import tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods, one result of a trade dispute that consumed the past year. U.S. President Donald Trump regards China as an unfair trading partner.

Philippine officials have been drumming up support for foreign investment over the past half-decade as manufacturing costs rise in China.

Deterrents to investment

Investors have kept away from the Philippines because of its archipelagic location � hard for transport � limits on foreign ownership, and utility rates.

Electricity prices, a reflection of underlying energy costs, deter some investors as they top the rest of Southeast Asia except Singapore at $0.11 per kilowatt hour. Government officials are trying to develop new energy sources, including renewables, Ravelas noted. Foreign investors can own no more than 40% cap of land parcels, Philippine-based corporations or public utilities.

Philippine workers are more likely to be unionized than in other Asian countries, Atienza said. They tend to be more vocal in demands for higher pay compared to other Southeast Asian countries, she added.

Localized violence that may erupt ahead of midterm elections in May as well as the government’s struggle against Communist rebels in the countryside could put off hopeful investors, she said.

Among south and Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines will gain the least from the Sino-U.S. trade dispute, investment bank Natixis said in a research report December 4. It cites expensive electricity and weak business infrastructure.

Vietnam has earned a name through cheap land and labor, government openness to foreign investment and a growing list of free trade agreements. There is significant competition from other ASEAN countries for attracting investors looking for an alternative to China-based manufacturing, Baker said.

Source: Voice of America

Canadian Convicted of Drug Smuggling in China Faces New Trial

A Chinese appeals court on Saturday agreed with prosecutors that a 15-year sentence was too lenient for a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. The court ordered that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg be retried in the city of Dalian, where he was originally tried and sentenced.

The decision will likely aggravate already strained relations between Canada and China over what appear to be retaliatory steps taken by China after Canadian authorities arrested a Chinese tech company executive.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 on behalf of the United States, which is seeking her extradition over alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. Following the arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens in China on national security charges.

A third Canadian citizen, a teacher, was also taken into custody this month over issues with her visa but was released and allowed to return to Canada, Global Affairs Canada announced Saturday.

Schellenberg could face a much more severe penalty, including death, when he is retried. The appellate court ruled that the jail sentence handed down by the lower court was “obviously inappropriate” because Schellenberg is accused of “playing an important role” in what may be an international drug smuggling ring, the court’s announcement said.

In recent years China has executed citizens from several foreign countries, including Britain, Japan and the Philippines, following convictions on drug charges.

Source: Voice of America

Canadian Convicted of Drug Smuggling in China Faces New Trial

A Chinese appeals court on Saturday agreed with prosecutors that a 15-year sentence was too lenient for a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. The court ordered that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg be retried in the city of Dalian, where he was originally tried and sentenced.

The decision will likely aggravate already strained relations between Canada and China over what appear to be retaliatory steps taken by China after Canadian authorities arrested a Chinese tech company executive.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 on behalf of the United States, which is seeking her extradition over alleged violations of U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. Following the arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens in China on national security charges.

A third Canadian citizen, a teacher, was also taken into custody this month over issues with her visa but was released and allowed to return to Canada, Global Affairs Canada announced Saturday.

Schellenberg could face a much more severe penalty, including death, when he is retried. The appellate court ruled that the jail sentence handed down by the lower court was “obviously inappropriate” because Schellenberg is accused of “playing an important role” in what may be an international drug smuggling ring, the court’s announcement said.

In recent years China has executed citizens from several foreign countries, including Britain, Japan and the Philippines, following convictions on drug charges.

Source: Voice of America