Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

A failure to reach an agreement would see Britain and the EU trading on World Trade Organization terms, with tariffs immediately imposed. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 30 November 2020

Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

  • A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos

LONDON: Last-ditch Brexit trade talks continued in London on Sunday with fishing rights remaining an “outstanding major bone of contention,” according to British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “work continues, even on a Sunday,” as he arrived for the second day of talks.

Barnier had arrived in London on Friday following a spell in self-isolation after a member of his team contracted coronavirus and ahead of the resumption of talks with British counterpart David Frost on Saturday.

Both men warned that a deal could not be reached without major concessions from the other party.

There are only five weeks to go until the end of the current transition period, during which trade relations have remained largely unchanged.

The two key sticking points remain post-Brexit access to British fishing waters for European vessels and the EU’s demand for trade penalties if either side diverges from common standards or state aid regulations rules.

Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that this could be the final week of “substantive” talks, with time running out to agree and ratify a deal.

“There’s a deal to be done,” he said.

“On fishing there’s a point of principle: As we leave the EU we’re going to be an independent coastal state and we’ve got to be able to control our waters,” he added.

Barnier told envoys last week that London was asking that European access to UK waters be cut by 80 percent, while the EU was willing to accept 15 to 18 percent, according to a Brussels source.

A British official called the demands “risible,” according to the domestic Press Association, adding that the “EU side knows full well that we would never accept this.”

“There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalize the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation,” said the source.

However, Raab was cautiously optimistic over the “level playing field” issue, saying “it feels like there is progress toward greater respect” for Britain’s position.

A failure to reach an agreement would see Britain and the EU trading on World Trade Organization terms, with tariffs immediately imposed on goods traveling to and from the continent.

As it stands, Britain will leave Europe’s trade and customs area on Dec. 31, with no prospect of an extension.

A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos, with customs checks required at borders.

Concern is particularly acute on the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, where the sudden imposition of a hard border threatens the delicate peace secured by 1999’s Good Friday Agreement.

The talks have already dragged on much longer than expected and time is running out for ratification of any deal by the European Parliament by the end of the year.


Iran: Oil product exports hit record high despite US sanctions

Updated 22 January 2021

Iran: Oil product exports hit record high despite US sanctions

  • ‘The enemy and Trump wanted us to perish and die, our exports to reach zero’
  • ‘We set the highest record of exports in the history of the oil industry during the embargo period’

DUBAI: Iran has achieved record high exports of petroleum products despite US sanctions, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in televised remarks on Friday.
Zanganeh said former US President Donald Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, had “joined the dustbin of history, but we are alive and working with more hope to build the country.”
“The enemy and Trump wanted us to perish and die, our exports to reach zero,” he said.
“We set the highest record of exports in the history of the oil industry during the embargo period.”
Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed sanctions on the Iranian energy and banking sector.
It is estimated that Iran exports less than 300,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), compared with a peak of 2.8 million bpd in 2018.
US President Joe Biden has said that if Iran resumed strict compliance with the nuclear agreement — under which it restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions — the United States would too.
However, two of Biden’s top national security nominees said on Tuesday that the United States was a long way from making a decision to rejoin the deal.
Iran has significantly increased exports of petroleum products in recent years although oil products, like crude, fall under US sanctions.
Unlike crude oil, where the ultimate buyer is a refinery, other products can find their way to potentially thousands of small-scale industrial or residential buyers, making them difficult to trace.