Connect with us

World

UK threatens to open trade dispute proceedings in row with France

Published

on

October 29, 2021

By Costas Pitas and Sarah Meysonnier

LONDON/LE HAVRE, France (Reuters) -Britain threatened on Friday to open trade dispute proceedings against France if Paris imposes sanctions on London in a rapidly deteriorating standoff over post-Brexit fishing rights.

The warning, after France seized a British fishing boat this week, raised the stakes in a row that is part of a wider dispute over trading arrangements between Britain and the European Union, and could badly disrupt cross-Channel trade if it is not resolved.

Advertisement

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet French President Emmanuel Macron briefly in Rome this weekend, offering a chance to ease tensions. An EU official said talks between the two and the European Commission would continue over the weekend.

But Brexit minister David Frost warned Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic on Friday that France will be in breach of a post-Brexit free trade deal if Paris carries out its threat to impose sanctions on Britain from Tuesday.

“Lord Frost made clear that, if these actions were implemented as planned on 2 November, they would put the European Union in breach of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA),” a British government spokesperson said.

“The Government is accordingly considering the possibility, in those circumstances, of launching dispute settlement proceedings under the TCA, and of other practical responses.”

Such proceedings would be likely to involve convening an arbitration panel to decide on the dispute, and could result in a demand for compensation or suspension of obligations under the free trade deal.

Advertisement

France says Britain has refused to grant its fishermen the full number of licences to operate in British waters that France says is warranted. Britain says it is issuing licences to vessels that can prove they have previously fished in UK waters.

Losing patience, Paris has said it will ban British fishing boats from unloading in French ports, carry out additional licence checks on British vessels, tighten controls of trucks and reinforce customs and hygiene controls if talks fail.

It has also hinted at the possibility of later raising energy tariffs to Britain.

BOAT DETAINED

Tensions rose sharply when a British scallop dredger, the Cornelis Gert Jan, was escorted to the northern French port of Le Havre overnight on Wednesday after French officials said its crew failed to prove it was allowed to fish in French waters.

Advertisement

British officials said it had the correct documentation.

Angered by the incident, and by the threat of sanctions, British Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Friday: “Two can play at that game”.

He suggested to BBC television that Britain could “increase the enforcement that we do on French vessels, to board more of them if that’s what they’re doing to our vessels”.

France’s ambassador to London was summoned to explain the country’s actions on Friday. The exact timing and outcome of that meeting were unclear.

Johnson’s spokesperson also said the prime minister and Macron were expected to meet on the margins of the G20 summit of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Rome on Saturday and Sunday.

Advertisement

“He will discuss a range of issues,” he added, without giving details, and said France remained a close and strong ally of Britain.

Paris did not immediately comment on his remarks.

Britain’s departure from the EU last year deepened strains in its relations with France, and negotiations on fishing rights proved long and difficult even before it left the bloc.

Some British officials portray France’s defence of its fishermen as an attempt by Macron to show he is looking after their interests before an election in April in which he is expected to seek a new term.

Johnson can also ill afford to look weak on fishing rights after leading the campaign to leave the EU and promising that leaving the bloc was in voters’ interests.

Advertisement

Fishing makes a small contribution to the French and British economies but is a lifeline for some coastal communities.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Paul Sandle and William Schomberg in London; Layli Foroudi, Juliette Jabkhiro and Richard Lough in Paris; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Catherine Evans)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

World

Three missionaries released in Haiti following October kidnapping

Published

on

December 7, 2021

By Katharine Jackson

(Reuters) – Three missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti in October have been released, the U.S. State Department and the Ohio-based missionary group that organized the group’s trip to the Caribbean nation said on Monday.

“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night. Those who were released are safe and seem to be in good spirits,” Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement.

Advertisement

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday confirmed the release, adding that the United States is continuing to work to secure the release of the others.

Haitian National Police spokesman Garry Desrosiers said the three were released on Sunday night. He declined to give additional details, citing the security of the remaining hostages.

Sixteen Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were abducted after visiting an orphanage. The incident has highlighted Haiti’s dire kidnapping problem, which has worsened in recent months amid economic troubles and political upheaval.

Two other ministry group members were released last month.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson in Washington; Additional reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince; Editing by Susan Heavey and Matthew Lewis)

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Dutch court to rule on Palestinian’s case against Israeli defence minister

Published

on

December 7, 2021

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – An appeals court in the Netherlands rules on Tuesday in a case alleging war crimes against Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who is blamed by a Dutch Palestinian for the loss of six relatives in an Israeli air strike on Gaza in 2014.

Ismail Ziada filed the civil case against Gantz and another former senior Israeli military official, seeking unspecified damages under Dutch universal jurisdiction rules. His case was thrown out by a lower Dutch court in January 2020.

Advertisement

Universal jurisdiction allows countries to prosecute serious offences such as war crimes and torture no matter where they were committed.

But the lower court ruled that the principles of universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility, but not in civil cases.

Ziada appealed, arguing that universal jurisdiction should be applied in civil cases if the alleged conduct involved serious violations of international humanitarian law. He asked the appeals judges to reverse the decision, which effectively granted Gantz immunity from prosecution.

Gantz, a career soldier turned politician, was commander-in-chief of the Israeli armed forces during a war against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2014, when the incident took place.

About 2,200 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed, up to 1,500 of them civilians, in the conflict, according to U.N. figures. Ziada said he lost relatives when his family home in Gaza was bombed during a June 2014 Israeli air strike. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed.

Advertisement

Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, regarded by the West as a terrorist organization. Israel says Hamas puts civilians in harm’s way by deploying fighters and weaponry inside densely populated areas of Gaza. 

    Human rights groups have accused both sides of war crimes in the 2014 conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently investigating alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory since June 2014 by both Israeli defence forces and Palestinian armed groups.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg in The Hague with additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Mark Heinrich)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Global finance system partly to blame for inequality – World Bank’s Malpass

Published

on

December 7, 2021

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Bank President David Malpass on Monday said fiscal and monetary policies were operating in “uncharted territory” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be contributing to a sharp rise in global inequality and poverty.

Malpass told a roundtable hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the number of people in extreme poverty had increased by over 100 million since the beginning of the pandemic even as global spending has increased to an all-time record.

Advertisement

Advanced economies have rebounded, while the poorest countries had seen only a weak rebound, or none at all, he said. This was causing “tragic reversals” in median incomes, women’s empowerment and nutrition, he said, and inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and high energy prices were aggravating these trends.

“Part of the inequality problem is global finance itself and the unequal structure of the stimulus,” Malpass said, noting that prevailing sovereign debt, fiscal and monetary policies were adding to inequality.

Malpass said monetary policy in the advanced economies had long focused on reserve requirement ratios and limited growth in bank reserves to achieve stability in currencies and prices, an approach still used by China.

Other major central banks had switched to a “post-monetarism system” of using very large amounts of excess bank reserves to purchase and hold long-duration bonds and other assets, which he said provided price support for a highly select group of assets.

That approach, he said, excluded small businesses and developing countries, while restraining policy through regulation of liquidity and bank capitalization ratios.

Advertisement

Fiscal policy was also channeling resources to narrow groups within major borrowers, while leaving others behind, and sovereign debt policies were contributing to inequality.

Malpass repeated his call for greater transparency in debt contracts and a freeze in debt payments for countries with unsustainable debt. He said creditors should move away from collateral and escrow arrangements.

“As one of the largest creditors of developing countries, China’s active participation and strong voice in debt reduction efforts are very much needed and would benefit all participants by encouraging sustainable investment and debt,” he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by David Gregorio)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending