US sanctions on Venezuela
The Venezuelan president has called for a complete lifting of US sanctions against his country, following Washington’s easing of oil embargo on Caracas. Maduro said the easing of oil sanctions by the US was a step in the right direction, but not enough. On Saturday, Washington granted energy giant Chevron a license to resume some oil operations in Venezuela. That after the government in Caracas signed a broad social accord with the opposition. The agreement paves the way for the UN to oversee a trust fund of some three-billion-dollars in frozen Venezuelan assets. The funds will be used for a variety of social projects in the South American country. The easing of oil sanctions on Venezuela is seen as an extension of Western efforts to tap into the country’s vast oil reserves since the war in Ukraine has placed pressure on global energy supplies.
US economic woes
A new report by the US central bank says uncertainty and increased pessimism cloud the country's outlook amid high prices and rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve’s report came as the bank pushes on with its all-out effort to cool surging inflation in the US. It added that the US economic activity has been about flat or up slightly since the last report in mid-October. The Fed said while five of its 12 districts reported small gains in activity, the rest experienced either no change or slight-to-modest declines. It noted that US Interest rates and inflation continue to weigh on economic activity, and there is a general sense of greater uncertainty or increased pessimism concerning the outlook.
US-EU trade tensions
The French president has taken a jab at the US industrial subsidies in his first day in Washington, describing them as super aggressive against French competitors. Emmanuel Macron made the remark in a meeting with members of Congress and business leaders. He warned that the new subsidies for US firms could kill a lot of jobs in Europe. Macron was referring to US’ Inflation Reduction Act, which allocates billions of dollars to environmentally friendly industries, with strong backing for American-made products. Macron suggested that exceptions for European firms could be worked into the law, urging the US to coordinate more directly with Europe on trade issues. European Union governments are crying foul, threatening to launch a trade war against the US by subsidizing their own green economy sector. They fear an unfair US advantage in sectors where they are already reeling due in part to the war in Ukraine.