EU continues to trade with Russia despite sanctions
The European Parliament drew attention to the fact that the trade between EU countries and Russia continues despite the historically harsh sanctions and listed the products imported from Russia.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the European Union (EU) adopted ten sanctions packages in a row against Russia, and began to impose its most stringent sanctions on a foreign country in history.
The EU aimed to restrict Russia’s income and access to technologies used in war equipment with sanctions. However, according to the research note published by the European Parliament, “the impact of the sanctions will not be large enough to limit Russia’s war activities against Ukraine in 2023.”
Most of the trade relations between the 27 EU countries and Russia still continue due to successful lobbying, efforts to reduce the economic impact of the EU as a result of sanctions, and concerns about the impact of sanctions on the global supply chain.
Instead of imposing new sanctions, the EU now aims to intervene harshly against individuals and institutions that violate existing sanctions. Authorities found that Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were used as routes to circumvent sanctions.
The ongoing trade relations between the EU and Russia can be listed as follows:
The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, announced that Russia was the fifth largest trading partner of the union, with 258 billion euros in trade with the EU in 2021. Fuel, wood, iron and steel and fertilizer were the main products the EU imported from Russia.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, EU imports from Russia fell by half to nearly 10 billion euros in December last year.
Between March 2022 and the end of January 2023, the EU imported 171 billion euros of products from Russia, according to data from the EU statistics office Eurostat.
The ongoing EU trade with Russia exceeds the 60 billion euros the EU has sent to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, which it announced last month, but the aid does not include the cost of the deal on the most recent supply of modern tanks and ammunition to Ukraine.
LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG)
Last year, the EU began to impose sanctions on Russian coal and oil exported from Russia by sea. EU sanctions do not cover gas, but Russia has drastically reduced its pipeline gas shipments to Europe since the beginning of the invasion. The EU imported about 40 percent less Russian gas in 2022 than in previous years.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG), on the other hand, was unaffected by the sanctions. Since the beginning of the war, Russian LNG shipments to Europe have increased even more. According to the analysis of the EU, the EU’s Russian LNG imports increased from 16 billion cubic meters in 2021 to 22 billion cubic meters this year.
The EU imports more Russian LNG per year than the roughly 155 billion cubic meters of gas Russia shipped through pipelines to the EU before the war. However, the increase in LNG imports has led some countries to request EU laws to ban LNG imports.
The EU also does not impose sanctions on Russia’s nuclear sector. Hungary and Bulgaria, where the Paks power plant to be expanded by the Russian state nuclear power company Rosatom, is located, oppose the imposition of sanctions on Russia’s nuclear sector.
According to Eurostat data, the EU imported about 750 million euros of Russian nuclear industry products in 2022. The EU nuclear agency Euratom said Russia provided one-fifth of the uranium used at EU facilities in 2021, a quarter of its conversion activities and a third of its enrichment services.
Environmentalist non-governmental organization Greenpeace stated in a report published last month that France has sharply increased the amount of enriched uranium imported from Russia since the beginning of the war, while France rejected some parts of the report and announced that terminating the contracts with Russia would be more costly than maintaining the contracts.
According to Eurostat data, the EU, which does not ban the import of precious stones from Russia and does not blacklist the Russian state mining company Alrosa, bought Russian diamonds worth 1.4 billion euros last year.
Belgium, where Antwerp, the world’s largest diamond trade center, is located, annoyed the tough-minded members of the EU because it did not want the EU to impose sanctions on Russian diamonds and lobbied on this issue.
The EU, US and other G7 countries are working on a tracking mechanism to remove Russian diamonds from the market. The Antwerp World Diamond Center stated that for this mechanism to work, non-G7 India must also be involved.
CHEMICALS AND RAW MATERIALS
The EU imported 2.6 billion euros of Russian fertilizers last year. This figure was 40 percent more than in 2021.
Potash imported from Russia and its ally Belarus is either heavily restricted or banned altogether by the EU. However, Sean Mackle, a member of the industry lobby, stated that other types of fertilizers, including urea, can be freely traded in the region, adding that the incoherent restrictions hinder the implementation of sanctions.
A disagreement between the EU’s 27 member states on exceptions that would allow fertilizer shipments to continue to Africa is preventing further sanctions against Belarus for its support of the war.
Among the raw materials that are not subject to sanctions is nickel, which is mostly used in the production of stainless steel. According to Eurostat data, while the EU imported 2.1 billion euros worth of nickel in 2021, this figure rose to 3.2 billion euros in 2022.
BIG NAMES AND SECONDARY SANCTIONS
The mining company Alrosa and the energy giant Rosatom have still not been added to the EU blacklist of around 1700 people and organizations. Gazprombank, the financial unit of Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom, and Russia’s second largest oil producer, Lukoil, were not added to the blacklist.
Transparency International, the advocacy organization, has long called for Russia’s access to the EU lobby to be restricted and for secondary sanctions, as in the United States, to be imposed on those who assist individuals and organizations that are already subject to sanctions.
15% increase in basic food products in the last 6 months in the Netherlands
In the last six months in the Netherlands, some of the basic food products have been increased. The most increased staple food product was sugar, with an 80 percent price increase.
According to the figures announced by the Consumers’ Association today, bread, vegetables and butter, which are basic foodstuffs, have increased by 15 percent since December. The highest increase was made to sugar with 80 percent. During this period, supermarkets increased the prices of approximately 150 products every day.
According to the prices compared by the association; In the six-month period, the most expensive grocery store for basic foodstuffs was the Spar supermarket. The prices of products at Spar increased by 20 percent above the average.
The cheapest market for basic food products is Dirk. Prices in this supermarket were 11 percent below average.
According to the Consumers’ Association, prices started to decline in the six-month period. For example, a pack of Albert Heijn grocery store’s own brand of butter went from 2.65 euros to 3.19 euros last year, but has now fallen back to 2.89 euros.
European Central Bank calls for the abolition of energy subsidies
European Central Bank (ECB) Vice President Luis de Guindos said that European Union (EU) member countries should withdraw their energy supports.
European Central Bank (ECB) Vice President Luis de Guindos said that the European Union (EU) member countries should put an end to the various support programs they have put into practice due to the energy crisis.
Guindos made statements at the European Parliament (EP) Economic and Financial Affairs Committee meeting held in Brussels.
Reminding that the peak inflation in the Euro Zone in October was set at 7 percent in April, Guindos said, “Core inflation remains high, partly due to input cost pressures.”
Guindos explained that the upside risks to inflation are higher-than-expected wage and profit margin increases, as well as exceeding the targets of long-term inflation expectations.
Reminding that the inflation outlook has remained high for a long time, Guindos reminded that the ECB decided to increase the main policy rates again by 25 basis points in its last meeting, and said that policy decisions will be made according to the evaluation of economic and financial data and the main dynamics of inflation.
STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF FINANCIAL POLICIES
“An important factor for the future inflation outlook is the fiscal policy stance,” Guindos said.
“As the energy crisis eases, governments should immediately and harmoniously roll back relevant support measures,” Guindos said, emphasizing the importance of fiscal policies aimed at making economies more efficient and gradually reducing high public debt.
EU member states have implemented many measures and support programs against the rising natural gas and electricity prices with the Russia-Ukraine war and energy crisis last year.
The said energy subsidies put a serious burden on the public finances of the member states.
AI impact: Nvidia shares skyrocket
Chip maker Nvidia shares rose 28 percent, thanks to the announced balance sheet well above expectations and the announcement that the supply of chips used in the artificial intelligence industry will be increased.
In previous periods, Nvidia had difficulties in supplying the chips used in the artificial intelligence industry. “Demand was incredibly high in January,” said Jensen Huang, CEO of the company, speaking to Reuters yesterday. We had to place additional orders and provided significantly more supplies for the second half of 2023,” he said, pointing out that his work for the artificial intelligence sector will be increased.
Nvidia also announced its second-quarter earnings yesterday. Revenues came in 50% above Wall Street estimates, Reuters reported.
These two developments caused Nvidia shares to skyrocket.
Nvidia’s shares were trading at $391.50, up 28 percent. The rise in question increased Nvidia’s stock market value by nearly $300 billion, pushing it above $950 billion. Thus, Nvidia became the world’s most valuable chip maker and the fifth most valuable company on Wall Street.
Layoffs spread across all sectors in Europe
In Europe, unusually sticky high inflation, rising interest rates and uncertainty about the economic outlook have forced more and more companies to reduce the number of their employees, while layoffs have accelerated in the continent with the latest decisions announced by telecommunications companies.
The prices of goods and services rose due to disruptions in supply chains in the Kovid-19 outbreak and increased demand after the epidemic.
Increasing interest rates to combat inflation, which became stubborn with the effect of the Russia-Ukraine War, hit the highest level in recent years in Europe. The uncertainty created by the high inflation and high interest rates and the worsening macroeconomic outlook has led more and more companies to accelerate the layoffs to reduce their costs and to reduce their costs. The layoffs, which have spread to almost all sectors since the beginning of this year, especially the technology, manufacturing and automotive sectors, have recently accelerated with the dismissal decisions announced by the UK-based telecommunication companies BT and Vodafone.
Telecom companies reduce employment to reduce expenses Vodafone-based telecommunications company announced last week that it will lay off 11,000 jobs in the next three years to reduce costs and accelerate growth. Vodafone has approximately 104 thousand employees worldwide. It is predicted that Germany, England and Italy, the largest and at the same time the “worst” performance market of the company, will be the countries most affected by the dismissal decision. Vodafone announced in March that it plans to lay off 1,000 people in Italy and approximately 1,300 people in Germany. Vodafone’s decision was again followed by the UK-based telecommunications company BT.
BT, with the increase in digitalization, required less workforce in its operations and reduced costs. It announced that it will part ways with 40,000 to 55,000 employees by 2030. The British telecommunications giant’s total employment will fall from 75,000 to 90,000 by 2030, from its current level of 130,000.
This reduction means the company has cut more than 40 percent of its total workforce.Telekom Italia is reported to be planning to cut 2,000 jobs in Italy through a voluntary early retirement program.Swedish telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson is working as part of a plan to cut costs. Swiss computer accessories manufacturer Logitech decided to lay off 300 people in March. Finnish telecom equipment manufacturer Nokia announced on May 3 that it will lay off 208 people. Irish-US joint information technology firm Accenture , decided to lay off 19,000 people at the end of March due to concerns about the global economy.
German software company SAP announced that it plans to lay off 3,000 people, who make up 2.5 percent of its global workforce, in order to reduce costs and focus on the cloud business at the end of January. Automotive manufacturer Stellantis, which includes the brands Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, DS, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Abarth and Fiat Professional, agreed with the unions in February to lay off 2,000 workers through voluntary layoffs in its Italian operations. group Volvo announced in March that it will restructure its bus manufacturing operation in Europe and cut 1,600 jobs. Earlier this month, Volvo Cars announced its decision to lay off an additional 1,300 people in Sweden. This figure constitutes 6 percent of the workforce in the company’s home country.
Italian automotive parts manufacturer Marelli announced that it agreed with the unions to lay off 400 people at the end of March. British electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival decided to lay off 800 people, which make up half of its employment, in order to reduce its costs. German automotive and industry supplier Schaeffler has announced that it will lay off 1,300 more people by 2026 during the restructuring process.
Retail and consumer products companies are also making waves group Sainsbury’s has announced it will cut 300 jobs immediately following a restructuring plan that will affect nearly 2,000 jobs announced at the end of February. Just Eat, an online food and delivery company headquartered in the UK, announced at the end of March, 1,700 couriers and 170 office workers. German online fashion retailer Zalando said in February that it will cut hundreds of jobs across the company, citing “difficult economic conditions”.
German eyewear retailer Fielmann announced in March that it plans to cut hundreds of jobs by 2025. reported.
British cybersecurity firm Sophos announced in January that it will cut 450 jobs globally. German consumer products company Henkel also cut 2,000 jobs to combat rising costs and low demand. British retail chain Wilko is reportedly planning to lay off 400 jobs. Finnish elevator manufacturer Kone also announced in January that it would cut staff by 1,000, including 150 in its country. Netherlands-based Philips announced plans to lay off 6,000 jobs to offset falling sales after the massive recall of ventilators at the end of January. British Steel, which was sold to China, announced that it would lay off 260 people after announcing the planned closure of coke ovens in the north of England at the end of February. German chemical company BASF, warning that its earnings will decrease further due to rising costs, laid off 2,600 people. German specialty chemicals manufacturer Evonik announced a 200-person layoff plan in April.
Germany’s largest bank Deutsche Bank also announced on April 27 that it will cut 800 jobs in an effort to cut costs by 500m euros over the next few years.Wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Gamesa reported last year that it plans to cut 2,900 jobs by 2025 as part of its plan to return to profitability. 1,900 of this employment reduction is planned to be made in Europe. Spanish pharmaceutical company Grifols has decided to lay off 2,300 employees as part of its strategy revision, which aims to save approximately 400 million euros annually.
British contracting firm Taylor Wimpey was laid off in January to limit costs. Swedish engineering group Alfa Laval has announced a restructuring program that will lay off about 500 employees after rising costs took its toll on its shipping business last year. Swedish garden equipment and tools manufacturer Husqvarna, on the other hand, announced that it will go through a restructuring and cut 1,000 jobs. British homebuilding company Vistry Group is also reported to be laying off 200 employees.
Inflation exceeded 100 percent in Argentina: ‘Now we can only eat meat once a month’
Annual inflation in Argentina rose to 109 percent in April. Millions of people in South America cannot meet their basic needs.
Argentines spoken to by the BBC wonder how bad the situation in the country could get.
For an Argentine named Yanina, living in a place where the cost of living is increasing exponentially is nothing new. He opened his small grocery store in a working-class neighborhood in the capital city of Buenos Aires 10 years ago, when annual inflation was 25 percent.
The inflation rate has increased since then, but Yanina told the BBC people were still able to make a living back then, and even reward those around them. “Only four out of every 10 products people buy could be called a basic need,” she says.
But annual inflation in Argentina has increased exponentially since 2018, and in April it exceeded 100 percent for the first time in 30 years.
Following the currency crisis, a record drought also deeply affected the agricultural sector in Argentina.
Housing prices in the Netherlands continue to fall
Central Bureau of Statistics data showed that housing prices in the Netherlands continued to fall. On an annual basis, there was a decrease of 4.4 percent in April.
According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), housing prices fell by 4.4 percent in April compared to the same period last year. The decline rate in March was 2.3 percent. CBS announced that since August 2022, housing prices have been on a downward trend and the decline in April became more pronounced than in March.
According to CBS data, the average house price in April was 401,000 euros. Compared to prices in June 2013, average house prices are 87 percent higher.
20 percent less homes sold
Considering the number of houses sold, 20 percent less houses were sold in April this year compared to last year. Nearly 13,000 homes changed hands in April.
The number of housing transactions in the first four months of this year decreased by 11 percent compared to the same period last year. More than 53,000 homes changed hands between January and April.
Housing shortage affects the situation
The Dutch Central Bank, in a statement made last month, stated that especially those who will take a new step into the housing market (starter) and those who live alone have difficulty in acquiring a house, and this is due to the problem of housing shortage.
According to the data released by CBS last week; The number of permits issued for new housing construction in the first quarter of this year decreased by more than 25 percent compared to a year ago. In total, construction permits were granted for 12,000 residences. This number was the lowest since the second quarter of 2016.
The Essential Guide to VAT Refund in the Netherlands
Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax imposed on goods and services in many countries around the world. As an international traveler or business, understanding the process of VAT refund can help you save money on your purchases. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to VAT refund in the Netherlands, providing valuable information and tips to make the most of your shopping experience.
Understanding VAT: VAT, also known as BTW (Belasting over de Toegevoegde Waarde) in Dutch, is applied to most goods and services in the Netherlands. The standard VAT rate is currently 21%, with reduced rates of 9% and 0% for certain goods and services. VAT is usually included in the listed prices of products and services.
Who is eligible for VAT refund? Non-EU residents visiting the Netherlands are generally eligible for a VAT refund on goods they purchase and take out of the country. To qualify for a VAT refund, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a non-EU resident.
- Purchase goods for personal use.
- Take the goods out of the European Union within three months from the date of purchase.
- Meet the minimum purchase requirement specified by the retailer.
How to claim a VAT refund: To claim a VAT refund, follow these steps:
- Shop at VAT refund-eligible retailers: Look for shops displaying the “Tax-Free Shopping” or “Global Blue” logo. These retailers are authorized to provide VAT refund services. Remember to ask for a VAT refund form (also known as a tax-free form) at the time of purchase.
- Fill out the VAT refund form: Provide your personal details, including name, address, and passport number, on the VAT refund form. Make sure to accurately fill in all the required information to avoid any delays or rejections.
- Get the form validated: Before leaving the Netherlands, you must get the VAT refund form validated by customs. Present your purchases, receipts, and the VAT refund form at the customs desk at the airport, seaport, or designated customs office. The customs officer will examine the goods and provide an official stamp on the form, confirming the export of the goods.
- Collect your refund: After receiving the customs stamp, you can proceed to the VAT refund counter at the airport or use the electronic VAT refund kiosks if available. Present the validated form, along with your passport, to the refund counter. You can choose to receive your refund in cash or have it credited to your credit card.
Important tips and considerations:
- Keep all original receipts: Make sure to retain all your original receipts as they are essential for the VAT refund process. Retailers may refuse to issue a refund without a valid receipt.
- Plan your shopping: Check the minimum purchase requirement for each retailer, as it varies. Consolidate your purchases from the same retailer to meet the threshold and maximize your VAT refund.
- Allow sufficient time at the airport: Arrive at the airport with ample time before your departure to complete the VAT refund process, as it can be time-consuming, especially during peak travel seasons.
- Know the service fees: Some VAT refund service providers charge an administrative fee for processing the refund. Familiarize yourself with these fees to avoid surprises.
Understanding the VAT refund process in the Netherlands can be financially beneficial for international visitors. By following the necessary steps and fulfilling the eligibility criteria, you
Around 11 million people in the UK struggle to pay their bills
In the UK, the number of people who could not make their loan and bill payments on time at least three times in 6 months increased by 1.4 million in January of this year compared to May of the previous year and rose to 5.6 million, while the number of people who had difficulty in paying their bills was 11 million.
It has been reported that around 11 million people in the UK are struggling to pay their bills.
In the statement made by the British supervisory agency, the Financial Management Authority (FCA), it was stated that the number of people struggling to pay their bills in the country reached 10.9 million in January this year, according to the agency’s research.
According to the FCA statement, the number of people who have difficulty paying bills in the country was 7.8 million in May last year.
It is stated in the statement that approximately 28 million of the population in the country lives under intense stress due to their debts, and the number of people who cannot make their loan and bill payments on time at least three times in 6 months increased by 1.4 million in January this year compared to May of last year and reached 5.6 million. was recorded.
In the statement, it was also stated that approximately 6.2 million people in the country had to cancel their insurance policies as of January last year due to the rising cost of living.
THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO REDUCE THEIR EXPENSES
“Our research shows the real impact of rising cost of living on the public’s ability to pay their bills,” said Sheldon Mills, FCA Director of Consumer and Competition.
“We will continue to act swiftly to enable financial institutions to assist clients who are facing financial difficulties or are concerned that they may imminent,” Mills said.
In another study conducted by HSBC, one of the leading banks in the country, it was stated that approximately 78 percent of the population was looking for a way to reduce their expenses in some way.
According to the research, approximately 45 percent of the citizens in the country prefer to shop at discount markets and try to reduce their compulsory expenses.
Jose Carvalho, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC, said: “The rising cost of living continues to have an impact on many people.”
NUMBER OF RECEIVES FOOD AID REACHED 3 MILLION
Noting that he visited a food bank in the city of Exeter yesterday, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said, “It is clear that many people are faced with difficult decisions and have to cut back on their essential needs.”
According to the annual report of the Trussell Foundation, which operates more than 1,600 food banks and food distribution points across the UK, food parcels have been provided to approximately 3 million people, 760,000 of them for the first time, in the last year.
A RECORD IN HOUSING RENTALS IN LONDON
British online real estate company Rightmove reported last month that the average rent for a home in the capital, London, rose 14 percent in the first quarter of this year to an all-time high of £2,501 a month.
Inflation in the UK was 10.1 percent in March. Food inflation, on the other hand, hit 19.1 percent, the highest level in 46 years.
Last week, the Bank of England (BoE) increased the policy rate for the 12th time in a row from 4.25 percent to 4.50 percent in order to reduce inflation to the 2 percent target level.
Vodafone to lay off 11,000 jobs
Vodafone’s new CEO, Margherita Della Valle, said that Vodafone, which employs approximately 100 thousand people, ‘needs to change’ and made statements regarding the layoffs.
Vodafone’s new CEO, Margherita Della Valle, announced that it will lay off 11,000 jobs in three years.
Valle stated that Vodafone, which employs approximately 100 thousand people, needs to “change”.
‘CASH FLOW WILL DECREASE 1.5 BILLION EURO’
The company predicted that free cash flow will decrease by 1.5 billion euros this year, and that there will be very limited growth in profits in the new financial year.
The amount of assets of the Central Bank of Russia held in Switzerland announced
The Swiss State Secretariat of Economy (SECO) announced that the assets of the Central Bank of Russia held in Switzerland, within the scope of the 10th sanctions package of the European Union (EU) against Russia, amounted to $8.3 billion.
Swiss State Economy Secretariat (SECO) reported that a total of 7.4 billion Swiss francs ($8.3 billion) reserves and assets of the Russian Central Bank are held in Switzerland.
SECO has published data on Russian Central Bank assets in the country, as part of the new reporting obligations of the 10th sanctions package of the European Union (EU) against Russia.
Accordingly, the Bank of Russia assets worth 7.4 billion Swiss francs ($8.3 billion) are held throughout Switzerland.
NUMBERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED EVERY 3 MONTHS
It was stated that the transactions related to the management of the said assets were prohibited after the Russia-Ukraine war, and the Swiss government was informed today about the amount of the Russian Central Bank assets and reserves.
In the statement, it was stated that the assets of the Central Bank of Russia in Switzerland should not be confused with assets worth 7.5 billion francs frozen because they belong to sanctioned Russian business people or Russian companies. will be announced on a regular basis.
Reminding that there are discussions across the EU about the permanent seizure of Russian Central Bank assets held abroad and their use for the reconstruction of Ukraine, the statement noted that the Swiss government “closely” followed these discussions.
Switzerland ended its “historical neutrality” by joining the 10th package of sanctions against Russia by the EU in February 2023, a year after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.