Parallel Imports – Thunder From Under Mon, 06 Jun 2022 07:53:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Parallel Imports – Thunder From Under 32 32 Biden to waive tariffs for 24 months on solar panels hit by probe – Reuters Mon, 06 Jun 2022 05:02:01 +0000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will on Monday declare a 24-month tariff exemption for solar panels from four Southeast Asian countries after an investigation froze imports and stalled projects in the United States, reports said. sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The move comes amid concerns about the impact of the Commerce Department’s months-long investigation into whether solar panel imports from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are circumventing duties. customs on products made in China.

Biden’s action would ease corporate concerns about needing to hold billions of dollars in reserves to pay potential tariffs, a source familiar with the White House plans said. “There is going to be this waiting period for the collection of rights, and that is at the heart of what is going to save all these solar projects and ensure that they go ahead,” the source said.

Biden will also invoke the Defense Production Act to boost U.S. manufacturing of solar panels and other clean energy technologies in the future, with the support of loans and grants, the sources said. State governors, lawmakers, industry officials and environmentalists have expressed concern over the investigation, which could have led to retroactive tariffs of up to 250%.

The issue has created a unique dilemma for the White House, which is keen to show American leadership on climate change, in part by encouraging the use of renewable energy, while respecting and keeping its distance from investigative procedures. .

Using executive action and invoking the DPA, which gives presidents some authority over national industries, allows Biden to take advantage of the tools at his disposal without intervening in the Commerce Department’s investigation.

A second source said Biden’s proclamation, relying on the authority of a 1930 trade law, would only apply to the four countries and would run parallel to the investigation. Depending on its outcome, customs duties could be levied on panels imported after the 24-month period, but the threat of retroactive payments would be removed, the source added.

“If you bring things in during that 24-month period, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, there will be no such additional rights,” the second source said.

The investigation essentially halted the flow of solar panels which account for more than half of US supplies and 80% of imports. It has had a chilling effect on the industry, according to clean energy groups, some of which have called on Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to reject it.

Raimondo said she had no discretion to influence him.

“The president’s action is a much-needed reprieve from this industry-crushing probe,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.

“During the two-year tariff suspension window, the U.S. solar industry can resume rapid deployment while the Defense Production Act helps expand U.S. solar manufacturing.” Announced at the end of March, the investigation could take 150 days or more.

Biden has previously invoked the DPA to address an infant formula shortage in the United States, increase domestic production of key minerals for electric vehicle batteries, and combat the COVID-19 pandemic through testing and production. of vaccines.

Biden tells critic Musk ‘very lucky’ on Moon

“It’s a tool to do what we desperately need to do, which is to rapidly increase domestic ‘solar panel’ manufacturing capacity,” the second source familiar with the matter said.

The administration was “very focused on ensuring reliable and resilient supply chains at this critical time for our energy sector, for our ability to support our consumers and address the climate crisis,” he said. -he adds. Increasing renewable energy such as solar power is crucial to Biden’s goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030, compared to levels of 2005, as well as decarbonizing the U.S. electric grid by 2035. The Commerce Department investigation prompted 19 state governors, 22 U.S. senators, and dozens of members of the House of Representatives to express concern in letters to Biden .

“The initiation of this investigation is already causing massive disruption to the solar industry, and it will seriously harm American solar companies and workers and increase costs for American families as long as it continues,” a signed letter said. by senators, including Martin Heinrich, a Democrat. from New Mexico and Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina.

The inflation conundrum: the protection provided by the government through tax cuts can be partial, and it can only be done to a certain extent Thu, 02 Jun 2022 22:45:00 +0000

How effective are governments and central banks in controlling the economy? This question has become relevant in the face of high inflation across the world. Everywhere, central banks have started to raise their key rates or plan to do so. Governments are also trying to control inflation, a recent example in India being the Centre’s decision to reduce excise duties on petroleum products. Will this help bring inflation down?

Inflation has become a multi-pronged problem, with various factors contributing to its rise. The global case of crude oil prices reaching the current level of around $110 a barrel is one. Crude oil indirectly enters the prices of agricultural products as it is used for transportation, running generators, supplying inputs, etc. as this has led to shortages and higher prices. This fueled prices for other edible oils; Indonesia spiced things up with its palm oil export ban some time ago (it has since been withdrawn). A third factor is that wheat supply has been affected as exports from Russia and Ukraine have been pulled out of the global pool. This led to shortages and rising prices, leading India to respond by banning its exports. Fourth, all food manufacturers will now face the challenge of higher wheat and edible oil costs, which will lead to higher input costs; the peak must be transmitted to consumers at some point.

Baked goods, restaurants and processed foods will become more expensive in this regard. Fifthly, Russia is also a major supplier of oil, gas, iron ore and coal. With the sanctions announced by the West, the supply of these raw materials in the world basket has decreased, leading, once again, to a rise in inflation. The indirect impact is felt in the price of fertilizers, the production of which uses large quantities of natural gas. Sixth, after the pandemic, Indian manufacturers of goods and services passed on rising input costs to the consumer, hence the CPI of goods and services increased. Therefore, a war endemic to one region had vast ramifications on the supply of raw materials as well as global inflation.

The steps taken by the Indian government are commendable. Despite strong pressure on fiscal balances, a decision was taken to lower excise duties on petroleum products and edible oil imports; this could reduce the rate of inflation. But he won’t be able to bring it down to, say, 4% or even 5%. Taxes are essential in the case of energy products because their share in the total price can reach two thirds. But, for others, the benefit can only be at the margin. Lower taxes on the import of edible oils can lower the price by, say, Rs 5-10 per litre, but cannot bring retail prices back to the levels of Rs 120-140 seen last year. It will still have to shell out, if not Rs 200 more per litre, something in the region of Rs 180-200. Therefore, the protection that can be provided by the government through tax cuts may be partial, and there are limits to what this can be done.

The positions of central banks are also quite unique. We all know that around 85-90% of the components of the CPI are not linked to leverage, which means that interest rates cannot influence the demand for these products. In fact, what may be the deciding factor in reducing demand is ironically inflation, as high edible oil prices will reduce consumption by the average household; that’s something that higher pension rates can’t do.

Therefore, the action of RBI and probably the forward-looking measures on raising interest rates can be scrutinized in two ways. The first is that to the extent that rates are raised, the pace of activity will slow, which is essential for monetary theory to work. This will ensure that in this situation a parallel force on the demand side does not develop. The second is that RBI will have to try to return to the positive real interest rate situation. This is a challenge for all central banks. Even for the Fed, faced with 8% inflation, at a 3% rate, a negative real rate will persist until inflation recedes. The same goes for us. If inflation remains at, say, 6% for this year, can we have a repo rate higher than 6% (or even 6.5%)? This will definitely hurt the investment. Therefore, market expectations should be moderate.

There are limits to which policies can work. All governments would like their citizens to be happy. Even the most selfish regimes would ideally like to have a happy population to stay in power. Yet, as seen during the pandemic, negative growth has occurred everywhere. Likewise, maintaining near-zero interest rates in the West has not quite brought resilience or strength to these economies. This is the conundrum of inflation today.

The author is Chief Economist, Bank of Baroda
Views are personal

Pakistan’s economic dilemma: following in Sri Lanka’s footsteps? Wed, 01 Jun 2022 07:11:47 +0000

US fears of the global economy’s “overreliance” on China have not resulted in a desirable shift from “made in China” to “made around China”, even whether the latest epidemic lockdowns have hit the Chinese economy hard. Ironically, the pandemic has forced some companies planning to leave China to scale back their investment plans and forget to reduce their reliance on China. No wonder what is commonly heard in Shanghai and most global financial centers – the evolution of the global economic landscape is not determined by geopolitical games but by economic rules.

Following aggressive US trade policy since President Trump unilaterally began imposing ever-higher trade tariffs on Chinese imports in 2018, it’s been more than four years, but the world has yet to see any ” encouraging movement” in the evolution of Made in China at Made around China. Prolonged shutdowns in China over the past two years, either due to the coronavirus pandemic or as many argue due to the country’s “zero COVID” policy, including the ongoing “shutdown” in Shanghai, the largest supply chain “hub” in the world, have also failed to drive multinational supply chains away.

While it is true that the coronavirus pandemic has not only acquired a global import, but has also severely affected international supply chains, it is inevitable that global economic activity will come to a screeching halt. As a result, as supply chains have withered, virtually every major economy in the world has suffered and become vulnerable. Moreover, while it is true that the pandemic started in China, it is in Europe, particularly the EU, that the most lasting impact of the pandemic is being felt. No wonder, among foreign companies in Shanghai, European companies doing business in China or having production units there are the most “excited” with the recent announcement by the Chinese authorities that Shanghai will begin to relax its COVID measures on June 1st.

In addition, for a large number of Japanese, European and American companies, what is even more important is that China is not only a critical market, but also serves as an important base for exploring global markets. Two-fifths or over 2,000 European companies in China are based in or near Shanghai, while there are over 5,600 Japanese companies in Shanghai. For these European and Japanese companies, the overall connection between China and the global economy in terms of trade and industry chain is of great significance for global companies. In this context, a good example to cite here is the positive role China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connectivity has played in facilitating business cooperation between Japan and the EU.

Europe’s “twin” nightmares

Already battered, the European economy affected by the coronavirus since the beginning of the summer two years ago, the EU – the world’s second largest trading bloc in nominal terms, was facing two nightmares simultaneously at the time of the 23rd China-EU Economic Summit. One nightmare was the Russian assault on Ukraine in late February, and the other was the total shutdown of factory production and other economic activities in Shanghai a month later. Of the two nightmares, the latter cast its shadow over the April 1 China-EU summit.

European analysts have argued that under the combined weight of the double whammy of the two nightmares, the EU has been forced to abandon its decades-long, multifaceted tripartite approach to China. “This brings us to the conclusion,” says Justyna Szczudlik, Research Manager, Asia-Pacific Program, Polish Institute of International Affairs, “China is neither an economic partner nor competitor.”

On the other hand, in its eighth and last report published a month ago, the largest European research institute based in Berlin focusing only on the analysis of contemporary China and its relations with Europe – Mercator Institute of China Studies (MERICS), asserts there is a growing public perception that “European dependence on China is increasing”.

At the same time, while admitting that Xi Jinping’s uncompromising “zero COVID” policy has hit European business confidence hard in China, a survey conducted by the European Chamber of Commerce in China a few days ago found that only about 23% are thinking (my emphasis) on the transfer of future investments to other markets.

Dependence of Japan, South Korea and ASEAN on China

Buoyed by the success of RCEP, of which China is perhaps the biggest beneficiary, Beijing does not appear to have been deterred by a recent surge of economic and political activity in East and Southeast Asia. In fact, despite the unprecedented shutdown of economic activity for weeks in Shanghai and neighboring centers, Beijing has shown extraordinary confidence in averting any threat or danger to China’s continued “overreliance.” world economy vis-à-vis China as unachievable. Reacting strongly to the recent holding of the 28e Japan-EU economic summit in Tokyo, the election victory of conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and the first-ever US-ASEAN leaders’ summit in Washington, a world times The editor wrote that China has no problem with other countries in the region seeking cooperation inside or outside the region, but making issues about China as part of these programs is “a misguided choice”.

Remember that Japan has more intertwined economic ties in Asia, with China and the ASEAN economic bloc being its two main trading partners respectively. The United States and the EU rank third and fourth on the list of Japan’s major trading partners. Last year, Japan recorded its highest trade deficit in seven years at $42.7 billion, but its exports to China rose 14.9% to $140.8 billion, a record . Beijing experts are aware of the choppy tide Tokyo has encountered in its exports to Europe. The Japanese media is full of stories about how Brexit has had a profound and negative impact on businesses in Europe’s third largest economy.

Additionally, the fact that the UK has been a vital base for Japanese business operations in Europe, and due to both the collapse of the European economy and the UK’s exit from the EU , has forced several Japanese companies to close production units in Britain. Japan’s Nikkei Asia reported in August 2020 how automaker Honda first reduced and moved production capacity to Japan and eventually closed the UK plant in 2021.

As mentioned, in addition to China’s colossal consumer market and China playing the role of an important base for exploring global markets – the two vital factors that make the global economy increase its “dependence on China” – a third vital factor that the global economy can ill afford to reduce dependence on China, China’s BRI transport connectivity paves the way for an alternative path for multinational industrial supply chains to ship goods from China to overseas markets. The Japan time reported how, in recent years, Japan had exploited BRI transport projects to coordinate its trade with Europe.

Sino-American interdependence: “decoupling” or “diversionary trade policy”

According to the annual white paper released a week ago by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, 83% of American companies in China “do not plan to relocate manufacturing or sourcing outside of China. The AmCham China (2022) white paper also found that nearly 50% of U.S. businesses believe China’s growing domestic consumption and rising affluent and growing middle class is viewed by them as a business opportunity for growth. first order. Moreover, despite the challenges posed by resurgences of COVID-19, the return of long lockdowns and global uncertainties, China’s actual use of foreign capital year-on-year jumped 26.1% to 74.47. billion in the first four months of this year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. In Beijing, MOFCOM also claimed that US investment jumped 53.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year.

Trade experts in the United States and China have warned against attempts to exclude China from supply chains, as this would not only result in the loss of China’s huge market, but also drive up costs. Earlier, explaining some of the US-bound production leaving China to Southeast and South Asia as “trade diversion” and not “decoupling”, the managing director of IMA Asia, Richard Martin, said new sites outside of China invariably continue to import components and materials. from mainland China. Similarly, earlier this year, Indian media reported that China’s loosening grip on global textile trade was opening a door for Indian manufacturers. After receiving an export order for 400,000 T-shirts from a major German brand, the managing director of a clothing export business in India’s textile manufacturing hub, Tirupur, Tamil state Nadu in South India said: “Over the past few months, many Tirupur-based suppliers have seen an increase in orders from international brands and we believe this is at least partly due to their less reliance vis-à-vis China.

Finally, American companies operating in China – just like Japanese companies and European companies – understand better than the political elite that changing production means enormous financial costs. According to Aiden Yao, Hong Kong-based senior economist and author of the article Preserving Made in China in the Age of Globalization, “most companies have developed such strong supply networks in China that it will be difficult for them to move around”. But above all, companies are driven by economic advantages and not decided by geopolitics. Today, manufacturing in China is no longer about low labor costs, but about the sophistication and scale of the country’s supply chains. Ultimately, as Yao puts it, foreign companies continue to flock to China not because they are in love with China, but for sound business and economic rationalities.

Kipco acquires Qurain Petrochemical Industries to strengthen its financial position Mon, 30 May 2022 14:48:23 +0000

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corp. will open six desalination plants by 2024 in a phased manner, starting with the launch of two plants by the end of 2022.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the innovation-driven desalination conference, SWCC Governor Abdullah Al-Abdul-Karim revealed that these plants would be established in various cities across the Kingdom, including Al-Shuqaiq, Al-Shoaiba, Jubail and Alkhobar. .

Each plant will have an electricity consumption of less than 1.7 kilowatts per cubic meter, which will reduce the cost of water production by SR 1.54 ($0.42) per cubic meter.

“With production at such a minimum cost, it will increase the sector’s contribution to the national gross domestic product,” he said.


The Kingdom’s desalinated water production amounts to more than 7.9 million cubic meters per day, which represents 55% of the Gulf region and 22.2% of global desalination.

The water desalination industry in the Kingdom plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 65% ​​by 2024, which is equivalent to 35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The Kingdom’s desalinated water production amounts to more than 7.9 million cubic meters per day, which accounts for 55% of the Gulf region and 22.2% of global desalination, according to a report published by SWCC.

Highlighting the importance of becoming sustainable, Al-Abdul-Karim revealed that the water desalination industry in the Kingdom plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 65% ​​by 2024, which is equivalent to 35 million tons of carbon dioxide.

“It’s a big number. It’s a big move. And it’s because the country has a plan for the future that is both environmental and economic,” Al-Abdul-Karim said.

The company is also switching from conventional energy sources to advanced and efficient systems to power these desalination plants.

SWCC Governor Abdullah Al-Abdul-Karim

“We will replace all of our thermal technology with the latest reverse osmosis technology, which will fuel our plan to become carbon neutral by 2060,” he added.

During the interview, Al-Abdul-Karim added that innovation is needed to make water “affordable, plentiful and accessible”.

“For seawater desalination, we need to let innovation impact this industry. We should come up with the most innovative idea to reduce costs, increase efficiency, improve financial viability and impact the economy and living standards,” he said.

He added that innovative companies from all over the world could come to partner with Saudi Arabia in the desalination industry.

“There are many innovative houses in the world. So we are here to tell you that we are a good partner in this journey. And we are ready to shake hands with all companies that believe innovation is their business,” Al-Abdul-Karim said.

Soybeans hold near three-month high Fri, 27 May 2022 11:43:22 +0000

PARIS/MUMBAI, May 27 (Reuters) – Chicago soybean futures paused near a three-month high on Friday as traders assessed the risk of rain for U.S. plantings ahead of a three-day closure.

Wheat rose slightly, led by Minneapolis spring wheat futures, as rainy forecasts for northern areas of the United States also threatened to hamper spring wheat planting.

Maize strengthened after falling on Thursday under pressure from lower-than-expected weekly export sales and expectations that the coming rains could help maize, most of which has been planted.

Grain markets also continued to weigh the chances of a diplomatic deal to allow shipments from Ukrainian ports, which have been closed since the Russian invasion.

The most active Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean was down 0.1% at $17.24-3/4 a bushel at 11:23 GMT.

“Soybeans are supported by the planting delay in the United States and the sharp rise in vegetable oil prices,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading company.

Soybean planting, which has a later window than corn, was 50% complete on Sunday, according to U.S. government data.

Soybean prices were also supported by a rally in vegetable oils and mineral oil.

Oilseeds like soybeans are partly used to produce vegetable oil which is in turn an input for biodiesel fuel.

CBOT wheat edged up 0.1% to $11.44-3/4 a bushel and corn fell 0.1% to $7.64 a bushel.

Wheat and maize prices have been under pressure after Russian officials said this week that Moscow was willing to allow a sea corridor for Ukrainian food shipments, raising hopes for improved supplies.

But traders have been cautious about any immediate breakthrough as Russia has also called for the lifting of sanctions in parallel, which Ukraine and its Western allies reject.

“Volatility remains high in a market currently dominated by geopolitics,” consultancy Agritel said in a note.

Market participants were adjusting their positions ahead of Monday, when US markets will be closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

Corn prices in Chicago were held back after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a sharp drop in weekly U.S. corn exports on Thursday and after an announcement this week that China would allow corn imports from Brazil.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Inter-row hoes in action at the Normac demo day Thu, 26 May 2022 13:40:24 +0000

The dwindling arsenal of active ingredients and increasing pressure from resistant grasses are forcing growers and contractors to reconsider mechanical methods of control.

Once the preserve of the organic and specialty crop sectors, camera-guided weeders are becoming an increasingly attractive option for those looking to reduce their reliance on chemicals.

See also: How remote sensing technology can help refine grass management

These versatile tools are available in modular formats, which means they can be adapted to almost any crop planted in rows. For example, a machine may be suitable for hoeing maize at 75cm, sugar beet at 50cm and cereals at 25cm, some up to 12.5cm.

Highly accurate camera guidance systems work in tandem with a sideshift mechanism to keep the weeders in line, allowing them to work within those tolerances without risking crop damage. If the conditions are right, they can drive at speeds of 12 km/h or more.

To show off their capabilities, the Norfolk Agricultural Machinery Club (Normac) held a demonstration event on a maize crop supplied by Raynham Farm Company, near Fakenham. This was drilled at a conventional 75cm spacing, and most makers came armed with an 8 eight-row/6m machine.

Monosem Multiculture

Monosem’s Multicrop hoe uses a single or dual camera guidance configuration from Tillet and Hague, and is available in several configurations up to 18 rows by 9m, or 12 rows at 75cm spacings.

Monosem says he gave the Multicrop a sturdy construction to withstand heavy arable use, and it rolls on large diameter 350x120mm depth control wheels.

© James Andrews

Each grow unit is supported by a long parallel linkage and has a simple T-bar depth adjuster that can be moved in 5mm increments.

The Multicrop comes with an integrated sideshift frame with four ground engaging discs on the side of the tractor to help keep it stable. There is also an option to have a separate side-shift frame that can be used with other implements, which is the stock configuration for larger machines.

For the maize demonstration, UK importer Toucan Farm Machinery purchased a 6m eight-row machine with integrated side-shift frame and row units configured with five spring tines and rotating crop guards. These prevent soil from being thrown over young crops, but can be removed from the crop when the plants are more mature.

The machine also featured spring-loaded down pressure adjustment and Isobus hydraulic section control that lifts each unit independently on inclined headlands. It also had a distributor head for applying fertilizer.

Prices vary widely depending on spec, with the fully loaded model pictured being around £80,000.

Inter-row cultivator Edwards Farm Machinery

Originating in Worcestershire, Edwards Farm Machinery builds and imports machinery suitable for agricultural and horticultural use.

The inter-row cultivator is one of its in-house products, available in working widths of up to 12m and with the option of multiple row spacings, up to 12.5cm.

In its standard form, it has a side-shift frame built into the headstock, with a pair of discs used to arrest movement on the tractor side of the frame. However, it can also be used as a stand-alone hoe, paired with one of its side-shifting frames.

Edwards agricultural machinery

© James Andrews

Each hoe unit mounts to the frame via parallel linkage and comes in a myriad of configurations to suit different crops.

Multiple tine, paw, and crop guard options are available, and the design allows for easy interchange and spacing changes. Buyers can also add finger weeders to eliminate weeds along the crop row.

Guidance is provided by a dual Tillet and Hague camera system to ensure accuracy when working on sloping headlands. A 6m eight-row machine with hydraulically folding frame costs around £33,000, including twin guide cameras.

For more aggressive weeding, Edwards Farm Machinery offers an inter-row rototiller built by Comeb. It is available in working widths of up to 6m and the option of different milling heads from 14cm to 76cm wide.

Square Econet

British importer Keith Rennie Machinery was demonstrating French company Carre’s Econet hoe, which is available on different frames and can be configured with 6 to 18 rows.

The spacing can be adjusted by loosening a clamp and sliding the hoe units along the main beam, to a minimum of 18cm.


© James Andrews

Pictured is the 6m mounted option with eight hoe units set at 75cm, each mounted on a parallel linkage with a manual reel to adjust the working depth.

This machine has been configured with five spring tines and rotating crop guards that can be removed from the job as the crop matures. However, Carré offers several configurations to adapt to different row widths and floor types.

Guidance is provided by a single or dual version of Claas’ Culti Cam system, which uses a touch screen. This triggers the built-in sideshift mechanism to bring the tool online.

Optional extras include Isobus section control, star finger weeders and fertilizer kits. Retail price of the 8 row machine shown is around £45,500 with optional section control adding around £10,500.

Transformer Horsch VF

Horsch is a recent entrant to the mechanical weeding game, launching his Transformer VF camera-guided hoe in 2019.


© James Andrews

Four frame sizes are available – 6m, 9m, 12m and 18m – with all but the 6m folding into five sections.

Each has an integrated sideshift mechanism controlled by a single or twin Claas Culti Cam system, with discs on the tractor side to hold the chassis in place. Different combinations of hoeing units can be added to these, allowing a range of row spacings from 25 to 80 cm.

The individual hoe units are mounted on a parallel linkage, with a tool-less adjustable front depth wheel.

Additional options include spring or hydraulic downforce to help keep units on the ground and section control so units raise and lower independently on headlands.

The implement shown sits on a 6m folding frame and is set up for hoeing between established grain crops with a Horsch Avatar set to 25cm rows.

It is also fitted with an optional rear following harrow which can be adjusted to give a more even finish between rows, or placed on the row to work between plants.

Illustrated indicative price is approximately £62,000.

Steketee EC weeder

Steketee has been owned by Lemken since 2018 and its range of weed control equipment is now available for purchase through the company’s established dealer network.

The EC-Weeder is its camera-guided hoe, available in working widths of up to 17m and multiple row spacings down to a minimum of 15cm.


© James Andrews

Unlike most other side-shift hoes, Steketee uses a horizontal linkage to move the tool from side to side, rather than dragging it along a bar. The company says this means less force is needed to move it into position, which means the front part of the frame can run on wheels, rather than discs in contact with the ground.

This steering mechanism is also available as a separate unit, called EC-Steer, which has a three-point hitch to which conventional hoes can be attached.

Guidance is provided by Steketee’s own IC-Light camera system, which recognizes the crop from its color and guides the hoe within 2cm of it, even when working at speeds of up to 15 km/h.

Several combinations of hoeing tools are available to suit different crop types, including the three tine per row configuration shown, with rotating crop guards and additional finger weeders. It is also available with Isobus section control.

Guide price for the 6m eight row machine pictured is around £75,000.

Garford’s Robocrop

Garford has been building camera-guided hoes equipped with Tillet and Hague camera guidance for over 20 years.

It has options for weeding between crop rows and between plants along the row, although the latter can only really be justified for high value crops.

Garford weeder

© James Andrews

Robocrop is the company’s cross-row offering, which is configured with a separate steering head, to which the stationary hoe attaches. This gives it the flexibility to be used with other tools.

The guidance system analyzes the crop images at a rate of 30 frames/sec, which allows it to work at speeds of 12 km/h.

Models are available from 1m to 18m in a mounted folding frame and there is even a trailed 24m option. A wide range of tines, coulters, blades and crop guards can be attached to these to suit the job at hand.

Each hoe unit is mounted on a parallel linkage and has an adjustable frame on which the cultivation elements can be arranged in different formations. These run on a front depth wheel, with a removable handle to adjust the height.

Additional options include a vacuum system to keep the implement on the ground and Isobus section control. Unlike competing machines, this only raises the tines, leaving the depth wheels in place.

The eight row 6m machine on offer costs around £52,000 with section control tine lifters.

Robust Smart Cultivator

A new smart cultivator from US company Stout Industrial Technology aims to solve the problem of labor shortages in the fresh produce sector by offering precision weeding of high-value crops such as lettuce.

The trailed implement is equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) system that identifies the precise locations of crops and weeds, before using ultra-precise weeding arms to dislodge any weeds.


© James Andrews

It can do this through a series of high-definition cameras that scan the terrain and send images to the AI’s brain (or neural network, to use the appropriate term), where they’re analyzed.

The company says setup is simple, with a touchscreen on the machine where users enter crop type, plant spacing, row spacing and machine size. Once these simple settings are added, it can be moved up a row and left to fend for itself.

It is designed to work in beds from 1.8 to 2 m and can cover up to eight rows in one pass, at speeds of up to 2.5 km/h.

Stout machines are imported by UK Planter Solutions and so far there is only one demonstration machine in the UK. Prices are yet to be announced.

The Link Between DX and GX: How Technology Can Accelerate the Green Energy Transition | White & Case srl Tue, 24 May 2022 20:36:19 +0000

White & Case’s Tokyo office webinar series brings together the company’s partners and industry experts to explore how digital transformation (or DX) and green energy transformation (or GX) are likely to affect strategic business decisions in Japan, Asia and globally.

This article highlights the key points covered in the first session of the DX and GX series: How technology can accelerate the green energy transition.

Arthur Mitchell, Senior Advisor, was joined by Paul Harrison, Partner, Project Development and Finance and Dr. David Albagli, Local Partner, Intellectual Property, to explore the state of the energy transition as well as real-world applications of technologies supporting the green transition.

Overview: Will recent events cause GX to slow down or speed up in Japan?

The ambitious climate goals set at the recent COP26 summit reflect the significant push towards accelerating the energy transition in recent years. However, five months after COP26, the global energy landscape has changed dramatically due to major supply chain disruptions caused by recent global events.

As a nation that relies primarily on imports for its energy supply, Japan is reassessing its energy security plans.

“In 2015, METI announced that as part of its energy policy, Japan should adhere to the principle of 3E+S: andenergy security, andeconomic efficiency, andenvironment and ssecurity. While consideration of each of these elements has always been part of a “balancing act”, largely due to the war in Ukraine, increased weight is now given to energy security. …. While the reality is that the world is still 80% fueled by hydrocarbons, the falling costs of producing green energy (such as solar and wind) means that there is an alignment between economic efficiency and the environment,” noted Paul Harrison.

Paul went on to observe that while companies and nations will still be committed to GX in the long term, particularly to meet the 2030 and 2050 carbon neutral targets, in the short term there will likely be greater reliance on hydrocarbons. to meet energy security needs.

This view is consistent with emerging trends in other developed countries such as the US, UK and Germany, where looming demands for energy security are being met through a continued reliance on hydrocarbons, at least in the immediate future.

Green energy developments in Japan

Arthur Mitchell discussed with Paul the evolution of Japan’s core energy policy and legal regulatory framework for green energy, with a particular focus on recent key developments.

Paul noted that, “As a highly industrialized nation with a lack of hydrocarbon resources, Japan has always been dependent on imported oil and gas. After Fukushima, there was also a significant decrease in the country’s nuclear fleet. from around 30% to around 10% of the energy mix.While there was previously a strong focus on terrestrial solar, with the feed-in tariff scheme (FIT) being particularly effective in mobilizing the solar market, the focus has shifted to offshore wind with a number of the auction processes going on lately.”

Paul added that, “In terms of legal and regulatory developments, these can be viewed in light of the two parallel processes in the market. First, there are the different inputs into the energy mix, and second, there are considerations on how the generated electricity is sold to the grid.

Some notable recent developments discussed also included the following:

  • The transition from the FIT scheme to the feed-in premium scheme (FIP) from 1 April 2022 aims to promote the use of green energy. The FIP is a payment received by the renewable energy supplier in addition to the price it receives in the wholesale market.
  • There is more emphasis on the operation of the wholesale market, as around 30% of the country’s electricity is now sold on the JEPX wholesale market.
  • The regulatory regime is being liberalized, making it easier to enter into corporate PPAs (long-term contracts where a company agrees to buy electricity from a power producer rather than from from a retailer).
  • Significant research and development (R&D) efforts continue to be made by Japanese entities in the hydrogen industry (both upstream and downstream), supported by the Japanese government.

Considering these developments together, the market is seeing greater flexibility and creativity in terms of generating and purchasing green energy and a clearer path is emerging to achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets.

Blockchain and the energy industry

Although blockchain technology is most commonly associated with cryptocurrency, it will likely have a range of applications in the energy industry in the years to come. “There really is a lot more to block on the channel…than a lot of people in the market recognize,” David Albagli noted.

David highlighted the use of blockchain in a range of new platforms, including White & Case’s client MineHub, and SAP’s GreenToken, which help track and trace minerals and commodities. , including, for example, hydrogen molecules.

Additionally, there are an ever-growing number of applications for blockchain technology and smart contracts, which have the potential to revolutionize the way electricity is distributed and traded, from generation to consumption.

Some of the more notable uses of blockchain in the energy sector include:

  • Validate the carbon credits or certificates generated by the exploitation of renewable assets, while improving the viability of the trade of these raw materials.
  • Smart contract platforms, which enable the kinds of direct peer-to-peer and peer-to-peer trading activity that will underpin “smart grids.”
  • Improve metering and billing, providing more accurate and transparent usage information to providers and consumers.
  • Support for energy distribution and distributed control of networks. Blockchain and smart contracts, when used in tandem with software, can be used to manage grid distribution and storage systems, such as batteries, as well as support other services auxiliaries.
  • Build greater trust with customers through verified and transparent supply chains, which will allow consumers to track energy from generation to consumption.

Supply chain and technology in Japan

Japan recently passed a new economic security bill that emphasizes supply chain resilience, security and reliability of critical infrastructure, public-private technology cooperation, and a system of non- disclosure for certain patent applications that may pose a risk to national security. This will cover critical emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing, as well as access to some raw materials that underpin the modern economy.

David offered his perspective on the challenges for Japan on the cutting-edge technology front: “When looking at cutting-edge technology, the first two areas that come to mind would be AI and the Internet of Things. objects (IoT)… They provide an interface from software to hardware, which brings its own unique problems But, nevertheless, we see these technologies advancing with many applications in robotics, autonomous vehicles and medical devices that are really advancing the frontier of technology.

The other side of cutting-edge technology is intellectual property, David noted. Fundamentally, AI is software and the question is whether typical forms of software protection – such as copyright, patents, trade secrets – are adequate for the software itself as well as for the new challenges that AI brings. For example, who has access to and who owns the training data and whether the output material may be copyrighted or patented, and if so, who is the author or inventor? These issues will be discussed in more detail in future sessions of the DX/GX series.

Focus on AI

In terms of AI, David noted that AI and the power of software is going to come into play in the energy industry to help with the integration of supply, demand and energy sources. renewables in the electricity grid. While new uses are constantly emerging, examples of AI applications in the energy sector currently include:

  • Energy planning, control and demand management: To balance network stations, manage load demand requirements, enable network self-healing, negotiate actions, and facilitate new services and products.
  • Load demand forecasting and supply management: David pointed out that AI has potential applications for “predicting or at least anticipating where things are moving in real time, to enable load shifting, load reduction or otherwise control. [a network] effectively in real time”.
  • Predictive maintenance: Have AI-enabled predictive maintenance algorithms to analyze, collect and use data from different manufacturing sources such as sensors, machines and switches to better control how equipment is used and anticipate any failure.

Perspectives on GX and DX

In terms of integrating new technologies into the green energy transition, the Japanese government is taking the initiative to support various R&D efforts of Japanese companies. Taking the example of the hydrogen economy, Paul noted that governments and lenders need to make up their minds on which technologies to “back” as it is still unclear which technologies will succeed in upstream supply chains. and downstream.

Despite the short-term setbacks resulting from the recent energy crisis and resulting supply chain issues, the green energy transition is unlikely to lose its long-term appeal. Given this, multiple areas of new technologies continue to be integrated and utilized in the energy industry. Although GX, aided by DX technologies, is a gradual process, DX and GX are certainly moving in the right direction to have an impact, especially if coupled with the right legal and regulatory reforms and frameworks.

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Corn farmers plead for 50% payment in USD Sun, 22 May 2022 22:00:20 +0000



FARMERS are pleading with the Grain Marketing Board to increase US dollar (USD) supply to corn growers to 50%.

Abdul Nyathi, president of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU): “We welcome the 30% offered although we would have liked it to be 50% to start with. We hope that in the next season or with regard to the sales season, it may be revised to 50%”.

“We welcome the government’s decision to at least understand that the procurement of all supplies, in fact, all inputs is done in US dollars,” Nyathi said.

Nyathi added that it was difficult for farmers to access foreign currency in the parallel market to buy inputs.

“It was very difficult for farmers to use the parallel exchange rate, even the discount rate was too low to do anything for the cost of inputs, so with this decision that gave us 30%, we we welcome it and we also hope that they will also see that it needs to be improved over time,” Nyathi added.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Shadreck Makombe said the government’s move was welcome as farmers sought to protect themselves from the current economic difficulties.

“The 30% grant goes in the right direction for a start by the government, however, as farmers we would like to recover our costs if we look at what is prevailing in the economy, fluctuations and inflation indicate that we may not return to the field.

“Yes, we are happy with the 30%, but we hope it is 50%, 70% and eventually 100%, because it saves on import expenses,” Makombe said.

GMB last week informed farmers that it was paying them 30% for their maize and traditional grain in US dollars and 70% in local currency.

“The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is advising the nation that it is paying farmers 30% of the amount due on maize and traditional grains delivered in USD and 70% in Zimbabwe dollars,” said GMB Managing Director Roki Mutenha.

“Farmers are therefore urged to open nostro accounts in USD with their respective banks as a matter of urgency. The GMB encourages farmers to update their nostro bank details with supply chain managers at all depots nationwide for prompt payment,” he added.

A farmer and agronomist from Marondera, Kennedy Mapawona, said the supply was too low given the high input prices.

“I think the 30% is a bit low considering the high input prices. What I would have preferred for GMB is that they would have offered me partial payment as inputs instead. I cover myself in terms of entries then whatever comes is another story. 30% will not cover the purchase of inputs that we purchase using forex,” Mapawona said.

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]]> Russia symbolically cuts gas exports to Finland Sat, 21 May 2022 13:24:24 +0000

Russia has suspended natural gas exports to neighboring Finland

HELSINKI — Russia halted gas exports to neighboring Finland on Saturday, a highly symbolic move that came just days after the Nordic country announced it wanted to join NATO and marked the likely end of nearly 50 years of Finland’s natural gas import from Russia.

Finland’s state-owned gas company Gasum said that “the supply of natural gas to Finland under the Gasum supply contract was interrupted” by Russia on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. local time (0400 GMT).

The announcement follows Moscow’s decision to suspend electricity exports to Finland earlier this month and an earlier decision by Finnish state-controlled oil company Neste to replace imports of Russian crude oil with oil. raw by the way.

After decades of energy cooperation deemed beneficial to both Helsinki – especially in the case of cheap Russian crude oil – and Moscow, Finland’s energy ties with Russia have now all but disappeared.

Such a break was easier for Finland than it will be for the other countries of the European Union. Natural gas accounts for only around 5% of total energy consumption in Finland, a country of 5.5 million people. Almost all of this gas comes from Russia and is mainly used by industrial and other businesses, with only about 4,000 homes relying on gas heating.

Gasum said it will now supply natural gas to its customers from other sources via the Balticconnector undersea gas pipeline linking Finland to Estonia and linking the Finnish and Baltic gas networks.

Matti Vanhanen, Finland’s former prime minister and current parliament speaker, said the effect of Moscow’s decision to cut off gas after nearly 50 years since the start of the first deliveries from the Soviet Union is primarily symbolic .

In an interview on Saturday with Finnish public broadcaster YLE, Vanhanen said the decision marks the end of an “extremely important period between Finland, the Soviet Union and Russia, not only in energy terms but symbolically.”

“It’s unlikely that this pipeline will ever reopen,” Vanhanen told YLE, referring to the two parallel Russia-Finland pipelines that were launched in 1974.

The first connections from the Finnish power grid to the Soviet transmission system were also built in the 1970s, allowing electricity imports to Finland in case additional capacity was needed.

Vanhanen did not see the gas shutdown in Moscow as a retaliatory measure by Russia for Finland’s application for NATO membership, but rather as a countermeasure to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia did the same thing with Finland that it did earlier with other countries to maintain its own credibility,” Vanhanen said, referring to the Kremlin’s demands to buy its gas in rubles.

Finland shares a distance of 1,340 kilometers (830 miles) with Russia, the longest of the EU’s 27 members, and has a history of conflict with its huge eastern neighbour.

After losing two wars against the Soviet Union, during World War II Finland opted for neutrality with stable and pragmatic political and economic ties with Moscow. Large-scale energy cooperation, including nuclear energy, between the two countries has been one of the most visible signs of friendly bilateral relations between former enemies.


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The EU cannot be a green island in a dirty world Tue, 17 May 2022 15:34:05 +0000

The author is director of the Open Society European Policy Institute and one of the authors of the International system change compasswritten with Systemiq and the Club of Rome

The EU has a laudable history of climate leadership, having made legally binding commitments to climate neutrality and creating an ambitious policy framework to deliver on them. Unlike the United States and other global players, Europe has put its money – and its policies – where its mouth is.

But that story will start to look less laudable if the EU doesn’t address the global implications of its transition, as outlined in the recently released International System Change Compass. To put it bluntly, the EU cannot be a green island in a dirty world. Unless its trade, aid and other external policies help other regions achieve their own green transitions, the EU’s ambitions will be doomed.

There is only one climate, so emission reductions on one continent do not help if it continues to import products made with dirty energy from elsewhere in the world. By 2030, the EU will probably be responsible for less than 5% of global emissions, thanks to its “Fit for 55” package. But European demand generates much of the remaining 95% of emissions due to CO₂ embedded in imports from other regions.

Carbon emissions are not the only problem. The EU is a massive importer of virgin resources which are extracted in other parts of the world. Global extraction of natural resources has tripled in the past 50 years, according to the UN’s International Resource Panel, while global material productivity has declined and material consumption is expected to double by now. 2060. To avoid externalizing the emissions and ecological damage of this consumption, low-income countries must use resources much more efficiently by moving to a circular economy.

Resource efficiency has become more urgent now that Europe’s decarbonisation drive is increasing demand for critical raw materials, such as lithium for batteries. If the United States and Europe were to maintain the same consumption levels, currently known resources or planned mines could only provide about 50% of the lithium and 80% of the copper needed for humans to transition to electric mobility. and renewable energy generation, according to the International Energy Agency.

The development of renewable energies is Europe’s solution: it is the best way to decarbonise the economy and ensure long-term energy security, much better than finding new sources of oil and gas. Renewables are fuels of freedom because the sun and wind are abundant and well distributed around the world. But the raw materials essential to making solar panels and other clean technologies are concentrated in specific places, and most of the supply is controlled by one country: China. Shortly after Europe’s huge effort to escape dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, it will find itself more dependent on China. In addition, the mining boom of renewable technologies could trigger new resource conflicts. An important challenge for the next phase of the European Green Deal is to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure good governance of natural resources.

The EU needs to step up its investments on both the demand side and the supply side. Like the US and China, the EU must view the shift to more efficient use of materials as a security imperative, both for energy security but also as a conflict avoidance strategy. . A circular economy would be more resilient because greater reuse and recycling of materials means less vulnerability to external supply chains. It would also mean less competition for virgin resources between these three major economies.

However, the EU must cushion the impact on its low-income trading partners of import cuts and the introduction of climate-motivated trade barriers. Before introducing the carbon border adjustment mechanism planned for 2026, the EU must make parallel commitments on financing and technology transfer to help its low-income trading partners develop their own sustainable industries and recover the value chain.

Europe’s global reputation is at stake. To be a climate leader, the EU must avoid starting a new era of extractivism reminiscent of its colonial past, and instead make its own economy more resource efficient. and in energy. It must help other regions change their economic systems, not just threaten them with measures they see as protectionism in green wrappers. The European Green Deal will only succeed if it drives a global green deal that takes Europe’s trading partners on their own path to sustainability.