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Iranian Economy Gets A Harder Hit by U.S., Trade Figures Shrink With Europe’s Biggest Economy

In other setbacks to Iran, its trade with Germany, Europe’s largest economy, slumped in the first two months of this year, according to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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oil tank
An employee walks past oil tanks at a Sinopec refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province April 25, 2012. China’s top state-owned refiners have decided not to order any oil for loading at Iranian ports this month, according to Reuters. Pixabay

U.S. sanctions are biting harder into the Iranian economy, with new signs that Iran’s key oil exports are faltering, while its trade figures with Europe’s biggest economy and with the United States are shrinking.

U.S. news service Bloomberg said it has compiled tanker tracking data showing that no oil tankers had been seen leaving Iran’s oil terminals for foreign ports in the first nine days of May. Crude oil is Iran’s main revenue source.

Washington tightened its unilateral sanctions on Iranian oil exports May 2, ending waivers that it granted to several countries to keep importing crude from Iran and requiring them to reduce imports to zero. The U.S. sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to change its perceived malign behaviors.

Bloomberg said the tracking data also revealed that four Iranian tankers were anchored off the coast of China as of May 9, with a fifth tanker on its way to the Chinese coast. It said most of the rest of Iran’s tanker fleet either was returning to the Persian Gulf after discharging cargoes or had been observed in or near the region in the previous two days. It said 10 Iranian tankers had not sent tracking signals for at least 16 days, keeping their transponders turned off in an apparent effort to hide their movements.

In a report published Friday, Reuters said the four Iranian tankers off the Chinese coast and the fifth on its way to China had loaded Iranian crude in April, before China’s U.S. waiver to import the oil expired. It said two of the tankers have discharged their oil to Chinese clients, while two others were waiting to do so at the Chinese ports of Ningbo and Zhoushan.

But in a further blow to Iran’s oil industry, Reuters quoted “three people with knowledge of the matter” as saying China’s top state-owned refiners China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec) and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) have decided not to order any oil for loading at Iranian ports this month. Reuters cited the sources as saying the Chinese refiners were worried that making such orders would expose them to U.S. sanctions that could block their access to the U.S. financial system.

Iran has vowed to keep exporting oil in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

Syria
There was no immediate reaction by the Trump administration to the undeclared Iranian oil delivery to Syria. Pixabay

In recent days, Western media said it appears that Tehran did find one oil customer this month, with an Iranian tanker delivering crude to Syria for the first time this year. Iran had stopped oil shipments to Syria, a key regional ally, late last year after suspending a credit line to Damascus because of impending U.S. sanctions against Tehran. The halt in Iranian oil deliveries to Syria, which also is under U.S. sanctions, led to fuel shortages during the Syrian winter.

Reuters cited a source familiar with Iranian oil shipments as saying the Iranian tanker arrived in Syria last week. U.S. network CNBC quoted firms that track maritime shipments as saying Iran made the delivery in the first week of May.

In a tweet posted Friday, TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani said the Iranian oil arrived May 5 aboard a Suezmax tanker previously known as True Ocean. Suezmax is a naval term for the largest ship capable of transiting the Suez Canal.

There was no immediate reaction by the Trump administration to the undeclared Iranian oil delivery to Syria.

In other setbacks to Iran, its trade with Germany, Europe’s largest economy, slumped in the first two months of this year, according to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

In Friday reports, newspapers belonging to Germany’s Funke Media Group cited the association as saying German exports to Iran fell 52.6% year-on-year to $261 million in January and February, while German imports from Iran dropped 42.2% to $46 million in the same period.

The Funke newspapers quoted the head of the German-Iranian chamber of commerce, Dagmar von Bohnstein, as saying: “The market in Iran is extremely difficult because of the U.S. sanctions and the country’s economic conditions.” Iran has seen more than a year of small-scale nationwide protests by workers angry at what they see as corruption and mismanagement by its ruling Islamist clerics.

The U.S. Census Bureau also posted trade data Thursday, showing U.S. exports to Iran fell 54.7% in the first quarter of 2019 versus the same period last year, to $14.6 million. It said U.S. first-quarter imports from Iran dropped to just half-a-million dollars, compared to $13.3 million in the year-earlier period.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook speaks to VOA Persian at the State Department in Washington, May 9, 2019.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook speaks to VOA Persian at the State Department in Washington, May 9, 2019. VOA

In a Thursday interview with VOA Persian at the State Department, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said Iran’s economic troubles will get worse.

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“That is the price this regime is going to pay for behaving like an outlaw regime,” Hook said. “We are denying Iran the ability to fund its proxies. So we are very happy with this steady state of pressure that we hope to keep in place for as long as is necessary.” (VOA)

Next Story

How you’re Just a Commodity in High-Stake Data Trade

Wylie, 24, served as research director at Cambridge Analytica for a year and a half and saw closely how the firm combined psychological research

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Commodities, Data, Trade
Billed as "a pink-haired, nose-ringed oracle sent from the future," Wylie first began working for an obscure British military contractor SCL Group. Pixabay

If you have seen the latest Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” on Cambridge Analytica (CA), a military contractor and psychological warfare firm involving a complex web of Facebook, Russian intrusion, the Trump campaign and Brexit referendum, it is time to meet Christopher Wylie — one of the two whistleblowers who blew the lid off the dark secrets of the “full service propaganda machine” and complete the dirty picture. Commodity.

The biggest data scandal of the decade that shook the ground beneath Facebook and its senior leadership, “Cambridge Analytica is Steve Bannon’s (former Trump adviser) psychological mindf**k tool,” writes Wylie in his just released book, titled “Mindf**k: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World”.

Billed as “a pink-haired, nose-ringed oracle sent from the future,” Wylie first began working for an obscure British military contractor SCL Group.

Conservative strategist Bannon became involved with the SCL Group and brought on board billionaire Robert Mercer, who was on a crusade to start his own far-right insurgency and launch an ideological assault on America with SCL subsidiary Cambridge Analytica.

Commodities, Data, Trade
The biggest data scandal of the decade that shook the ground beneath Facebook and its senior leadership, “Cambridge Analytica is Steve Bannon’s (former Trump adviser) psychological mindf**k tool,” writes Wylie. Pixabay

Wylie, 24, served as research director at Cambridge Analytica for a year and a half and saw closely how the firm combined psychological research with private Facebook data of 87 million users to make an invisible weapon with the power to change what the US voters perceived as real in the 2016 presidential elections with Russian intrusion.

And when Britain shocked the world by voting the leave the European Union (EU), Wylie realised it was time to expose the associates.

“The story of Cambridge Analytica shows how our identities and behaviour have become commodities in the high-stake data trade, the companies that control the flow of information are among the most powerful in the world, the algorithms they have designed in secret are shaping minds in ways previously unimaginable,” says Wylie.

You cannot escape Silicon Valley, the new epicentre of our crisis of perception.

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“My work with Cambridge Analytica exposed the dark side of tech innovation. We innovated, Russia innovated and Facebook — the same site where you share your party invites and baby pictures — allowed these innovations to be unleashed,” he writes.

His continuous tirade against data hunters bore fruits when in a historic judgment on July 24 this year, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) slapped a massive $5 billion fine on Facebook over users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, along with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) directing the social networking platform to pay $100 million penalty for making misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of user data.

Wylie, who risked his life to share the deep secrets running into thousands of pages with US officials saw greed, power, racism and colonialism up close at Cambridge Analytica.

“I saw how billionaires behave when they want to shape the world in their image. I saw the most bizarre dark niches of our society as a whistleblower what big companies will do to protect their profiles. I saw flag-waving patriots turn a blind eye to the defacement of the rule of law on the most important constitutional question of a generation,” he laments.

Commodities, Data, Trade
Conservative strategist Bannon became involved with the SCL Group and brought on board billionaire Robert Mercer, who was on a crusade to start his own far-right insurgency and launch an ideological assault on America with SCL subsidiary Cambridge Analytica. Pixabay

Cambridge Analytica had 5,000 data points on every American — invisible information that was not visible to anyone except the data scientists at the firm.

According to Wylie, we have seen the value of personal data create entirely new business models and huge profits for social media platforms such as Facebook who have vigorously argued that they are a “free” service.

Hundreds of millions of Americans entered into Facebook’s invisible architecture, thinking it was an innocuous place to share pictures and follow their favourite celebrities.

They were drawn into the convenience of connecting with friends and the ability to fend off boredom with games and apps. In reality, they were guinea pigs for millions of advertisers.

Also Read- Under Time Pressure to Answer, People may Lie to you by Responding with Socially Desirable Answer

Wylie argues that if we are to prevent another Cambridge Analytica from attacking our civil institutions, we have to shun the mistaken view “that somehow, the law cannot keep up with technology”.

“The technology sector loves to parrot this idea, as it tends to make legislators feel too stupid or out of touch to challenge their power, but the law can keep up with technology, just as with medicines, civil engineering food standards, energy and countless other highly technical fields.

“We need new rules to help create a healthy friction on the Internet, like speed bumps, to ensure safety new technologies and ecosystems,” he writes. (IANS)