Connect with us

Commodities

Storms, Covid Raise Fear of Worst North Korea Famine Since 1990s By Bloomberg

Published

on


© Reuters. Storms, Covid Raise Fear of Worst North Korea Famine Since 1990s

(Bloomberg) — Three destructive typhoons, U.S.-backed sanctions and the global pandemic are fueling concern that North Korea’s 26 million people could slip back into the devastating food shortages the country faced during the rule of Kim Jong Un’s father in the 1990s.

Kim said the country is under “an intensive struggle” to recover from the floods and typhoons, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. Kim has been shown repeatedly exhorting officials to minimize the damage to crops and boost yields.

“How many people have endured and struggled with the difficult environment this year?” Kim said, appearing to cry in his speech during a massive military parade on Oct. 10. “The patriotic devotion of our People’s Army soldiers on the quarantine front and in natural disaster recovery front cannot be treated without tears of gratitude.”

A trio of major storms hit the country in just two weeks in August and September, just before the main annual harvests, disrupting food supplies in a nation where the United Nations World Food Program estimates some 40% of the population is already undernourished. The devestation follows a poor harvest last year and disruption to food imports from China and elsewhere due to the coronavirus.

“People are reportedly selling their assets and furniture, taking loans, and going to the mountains to find medicinal herbs, forage for food and cultivate small patches of land to survive,” the UN’s Special Rapporteur on North Korean human rights wrote in an advance copy of a report to the General Assembly this week.

Border closures due to Covid that reduced imports of agricultural inputs such as fuel and fertilizer during planting earlier this year could lead to this year’s harvest being the smallest since 1994, the report said.

While extreme weather events have disrupted farming around the world, North Korea is especially vulnerable. A mountainous country, only 22% of its land is suitable for crops, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The nation’s isolation from global trade have also left it perennially dependent on food aid, mostly from China. Floods and droughts in the 1990s led to a famine that killed as much as 10% of the population.

“North Korea’s dependence on rain-fed agriculture, limited high-quality arable land, low mechanization of the farming sector and challenges with importing agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, combine to make the country vulnerable to climatic shocks,” Kun Li, UN World Food Program spokeswoman for Asia and the Pacific, said in an interview.

Despite improvements in North Korea’s farm output over the past few decades, the country is still in the bottom quarter of the Global Hunger Index, and in the top quarter of the Index for Risk Management in terms of disaster risk. Floods and drought regularly strike North Korea in the same year, contributing to a perennial annual deficit of about 1 million tons of food, according to FAO estimates.

In the summer of 2018, temperatures rose as much as 11 degrees Celsius above average, followed by a typhoon and floods in August, destroying more than 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of crops, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The same year, the economy shrank by the most since 1997. Fitch Solutions expects the same level of contraction this year as the pandemic led to border closures and flooding destroyed swathes of crops.

State media organization KCNA said average summer precipitation this year was the second highest in the past 25 years. Reports in February and April alluded to “abnormal climatic phenomena” due to global warming. South Korea’s weather office predicted average temperatures in its northern neighbor will be 15% higher over the next 20 years than in the three decades to 2010.

North Korea’s climate risk has been made worse by decades of deforestation. Starting in the 1970s, people cut down trees to clear hillsides for farming, said Myeong Soojeong, a chief research fellow at Korea Envoronment Institute. Almost 900,000 hectares of forest have been lost over the past three decades, according to the FAO.

That makes the nation more vulnerable both to higher temperatures and flooding bacause of the lack of trees to soak up excess rainwater, said Kong Woo-seok, a geography professor at Kyung Hee University in Seoul.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Kong said. “Global warming accelerates the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, for which North Korea is particularly vulnerable due to its isolated economy and lack of social infrastructure.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.





Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Commodities

Oil Demand May See Lasting Impact From Pandemic, World Bank Says By Bloomberg

Published

on

By


© Reuters. Oil Demand May See Lasting Impact From Pandemic, World Bank Says

(Bloomberg) — Oil demand could see “lasting impacts” from the coronavirus while modest gains are projected in metals and agriculture prices as commodity markets recover from the shock of the pandemic, according to the World Bank.

The World Bank boosted its projections from April for the average oil price in 2020 and 2021 to $41 a barrel and $44, respectively, as a slow recovery in demand is matched by an easing in supply restrictions. That still leaves prices well below 2019 levels of $61. Outside of energy, a small decline in metal prices will be offset by an increase in agricultural prices this year.

The swift recovery in oil prices following April’s price rout has stalled as the resurgent coronavirus spurs governments to rethink reopening plans. While stimulus can help buffer the impact, Covid-19 presents a challenge to commodity exporters, with policy makers needing to allow their economies to adjust smoothly to a “new normal” should the pandemic persist.

“In the post-Covid world, these countries need to be more aggressive in implementing policies to reduce their reliance on oil revenues,” said Ayhan Kose, director of the World Bank Group’s Prospects Group.

The pandemic could also have “lasting impacts” on oil demand through changes in consumer and employment behavior, according to the report. Air travel could see a permanent reduction, as business travel is curtailed in favor of remote meetings, reducing demand for jet fuel.

The institution expects metals and agriculture will continue to see modest price gains in the coming year, at 2% and 1% respectively, with metals buoyed by China’s rapid economic recovery and agricultural prices boosted by global food-supply disruptions.

The main risk to the price forecasts is the duration of the pandemic, including the risk of an intensifying second wave in the Northern Hemisphere and the speed at which a vaccine is developed and distributed, the World Bank said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





Source link

Continue Reading

Commodities

Putin Says Russia Open to Delaying Planned OPEC+ Output Hike By Bloomberg

Published

on

By


© Reuters. Putin Says Russia Open to Delaying Planned OPEC+ Output Hike

(Bloomberg) — Russia doesn’t rule out delaying scheduled production hikes by the OPEC+ alliance, President Vladimir Putin said, the latest sign the cartel could restrain crude output for longer as the pandemic crimps demand again.

Production cuts are due to be eased — as part of a gradual tapering — from January but the cartel has hinted it may change tack as demand falters. While Putin said his preference was to adhere to the current plan, his comments are a show of unity between Russia and Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have been engaged in intense telephone diplomacy this month.

“We think there is no need to change anything now,” Putin said Thursday in his address to the Kremlin-backed Valdai Club. Yet “we don’t rule out that we may keep the current restrictions on output, that we don’t lift them as soon as we had planned earlier.”

rose after Putin’s remarks. On Friday, prices again retreated on concern that a second wave of the coronavirus may throw the energy demand recovery in Europe and the U.S. into reverse.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, due to add almost 2 million barrels a day starting January, have warned of a precarious outlook, and increasingly traders have signaled the market can’t absorb the extra barrels.

“If necessary, we can take a decision on further cuts,” Putin said. “But so far we simply see no such need.”

United Front

After two phone calls in a week between Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Putin, the countries’ oil ministers displayed a united front at the last OPEC+ meeting. Their top oil officials, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Alexander Novak, offered similarly bearish views and the prince called on the cartel to be “proactive” and ready to “head off negative trends and developments — to nip them in the bud.”

OPEC+ ministers will debate whether to stick to their tapering plan — which was decided during the depths of the oil crisis in April — at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1. In July, the group delayed by one month a similar production increase amid doubts about the strength of oil demand.

OPEC+ is a complex yet effective mechanism for stabilizing the global oil market, Putin said. “In this fragmented world, such an approach is really way more fruitful,” he said. Cooperation within the alliance “not only allows to solve specific problems but also is able to breathe new life into multilateral diplomacy.”

Putin spoke hours after Rosneft PJSC Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin — a longtime OPEC+ skeptic — acknowledged that interactions between energy-producing nations are necessary, and called for action to stabilize the market.

Close Ally

While he didn’t mention OPEC+ by name, Sechin said that the world economy — and oil consumption — may start to recover next year, but that “humankind needs to take coordinated actions to achieve such a result.”

Sechin, a close ally of Putin, said in March — during a price war with Saudi Arabia — that Russia’s cooperation with OPEC could be over.

Despite Sechin’s opposition to OPEC+, Rosneft has been cutting its crude production in line with the group’s agreement. Russia’s overall compliance with the OPEC+ deal has been at 96% to 97% in the past two months.

 

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





Source link

Continue Reading

Commodities

Oil Set for Weekly Drop as Virus Flare-Ups Cloud Demand Outlook By Bloomberg

Published

on

By


© Reuters. Oil Set for Weekly Drop as Virus Flare-Ups Cloud Demand Outlook

(Bloomberg) — Oil held above $40 a barrel on fresh optimism that a U.S. stimulus deal is imminent, although the market is set for a weekly decline amid ongoing pandemic-driven demand concerns.

Futures in New York were little changed, after gaining 1.5% on Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are “just about there” on a deal for a coronavirus relief package, even though Republican opposition in the Senate still poses a hurdle. Prices were also bolstered after President Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s ready to cut oil output further if needed.

Any rally in oil prices still faces resistance from the threat of virus flareups worldwide. In a troubling sign for consumption, Neste Oyj Chief Executive Officer Peter Vanacker said that oil refiners need to cut more capacity, especially in Europe, as demand drops and capacity is added elsewhere. Meanwhile, toll road use in France posted the biggest year-over-year drop last week since July, according to data from Atlantia, which operates such roads.

Putin’s comments on the planned output hikes from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies come as traders are increasingly signaling the market can’t absorb the extra barrels. The group faces a decision on whether to change its output policy at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Physical markets are pointing to some signs of weakness. This week, Mars Blend, a high-sulfur crude, traded at a discount to Nymex oil futures this week for the first time since May, before flipping back to a premium in recent sessions. The price differential decline comes as narrow WTI-Brent and WTI-Dubai spreads discourage interest from overseas.

Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:). plans to lay off an unspecified number of employees as low oil prices force the company to delay major projects, Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said in an email to staff, in the latest sign of struggle among U.S. energy producers navigating the industry’s worst downturn in recent memory.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Zox News Theme.