President Raeisi: Current state of price regulation not acceptable
Despite promising achievements in various fields including the significant growth in oil sales, increasing trade with Eurasian states, the current situation in regulating markets and prices is not acceptable, Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi said.
Speaking at the meeting of the Market Regulation Headquarters, Raeisi said launching and developing smart distribution systems, especially for essentials, can play an important role in controlling the market and prices, according to president.ir.
Emphasizing the importance of fair pricing of goods, especially basic items needed by the people, he noted, “People’s dignity is the government’s red line and should not be harmed; goods should reach the people in the easiest way and at the most appropriate prices.”
“The groups that have the authority to increase prices according to the regulations do not have the right to act arbitrarily in this regard and must submit their proposal to the market regulation headquarters so that after reviewing and considering the market conditions, their proposal can be decided upon,” Raeisi said.
He stressed the importance of market monitoring and the use of trade unions in this regard and said, “To monitor the market, if people and those in the market and trade unions and companies producing goods and services are involved in market control, then production and distribution will be very effective”.
Raeisi stated, “Market monitoring is very important and it is necessary to follow and control the prices of goods and services on a daily basis. It should not be neglected for even one day.”
“As far as possible, nationwide pricing of basic goods and people’s essentials should be avoided because sometimes the price of a commodity in a province is lower than its price in the capital,”
Shourijeh gas storage capacity to double in three years
The volume of gas storage at Shourijeh facility will rise by 100 percent in the next three years, announced the managing director of Iran Gas Engineering and Development Company.
Reza Noshadi said that the daily storage capacity of Shourijeh will rise to 40 million cubic meters (mcm) from the current 20 mcm, IRNA reported.
As one of the world’s top gas producers, Iran has been following a plan to expand its underground natural gas storage capacity to ensure that enough natural gas is available during peak demand periods to avoid electricity supply shortfalls in the future.
According to the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC)’s plans, the capacity of the two storage facilities, Sarajeh and Shourijeh, is planned to increase to over seven billion cubic meters in the near future.
The Shourijeh gas storage facility, the largest in the Middle East region, was inaugurated in northeastern Iran in 2010.
Shourijeh facility has the capacity to store 4.8 bcm of gas to be used during the winter when gas consumption jumps sharply. It can also supply 20 mcm/d of gas in winter.
New Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia corridor to facilitate transit to Europe
A new Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia corridor will facilitate transit of commodities to Europe, an Iranian official said.
Orujali Alizadeh, the head of East Azarbaijan’s Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization, told IRNA on Wednesday that the new corridor has been constructed following a memorandum of understanding inked by the three countries.
Three vehicles carrying flags of Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia departed Tabriz in the northwestern Iranian province of East Azarbaijan for the Batumi port city in Georgia’s Autonomous Republic of Adjara symbolically on Wednesday, Alizadeh added.
According to the official, the transit corridor not only facilitates the export of cargos from Iran to Batumi on the coast of the Black Sea, but also provides the Islamic Republic with the opportunity to export to other regional states.
It will also increase the transit of goods from former republics of the former Soviet Union to Europe, he continued.
Pointing to the fact that Batumi is the biggest port to reach Europe via the Black Sea, he said the corridor will also help Iran, in particular Tabriz, develop trade ties with European countries.
Moreover, the European nations can also export their goods to Iran through Batumi, he said.
The Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia transit corridor is considered one of the shortest routes and the most cost-effective corridors between Europe and Iran, he said, noting that the corridor is a proper alternate for other routes.
The distance between Tabriz to Batumi on the map is 557 kilometers.
The Islamic Republic of Iran also conducts trade exchanges with European states via Turkey.
UK economy grew more slowly than thought before Omicron hit
Britain’s economy grew more slowly than previously thought in the July-September period, before the Omicron variant of the coronavirus posed a further threat to the recovery later in the year, official data showed on Wednesday.
Gross domestic product in the world’s fifth-biggest economy increased by 1.1% in the third quarter, weaker than a preliminary estimate of growth of 1.3% as global supply chain problems weighed on manufacturers and building firms, Reuters reported.
That was slower than the economy’s 5.4% bounce-back in the second quarter when many coronavirus restrictions were lifted, the Office for National Statistics said.
Investors are braced for a further slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2021 and a weak start to 2022 due to a rise in COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron which has hurt Britain’s hospitality and leisure sector and hit retailers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled out new COVID restrictions in England before Christmas but said he might have to act afterwards. Scotland and Wales have tightened controls.
“Although the economy has got better at coping with restrictions with each new wave, the possibility of tighter restrictions in January is further darkening the outlook for GDP,” Bethany Beckett, an economist with consultancy Capital Economics, said.
The ONS said households dipped into their lockdown savings to finance their spending. The savings ratio fell to 8.6% of disposable income, down from almost 11% in the second quarter.
Weakness in the health sector, where test and trace work and vaccinations tailed off, and among hairdressers were partly behind the cut to the third-quarter growth estimate.
A fall in energy output, after a surge in demand during a cold spring in the second quarter, also weighed.
“However, stronger data for 2020 means the economy was closer to pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter,” ONS Director of Economic Statistics Darren Morgan said.
The slump in Britain’s economy last year was now estimated at 9.4%, revised from a 9.7% crash, and the ONS believed GDP in September was 1.5% below where it was at the end of 2019, revised up from the previous estimate of 2.1%.
However, Britain’s progress towards regaining its pre-pandemic economic size, in inflation-adjusted terms, remained behind that of most other big rich economies such as France, Germany and the United States, the ONS said.
Business investment fell by 2.5% in the third quarter from the previous three months and was nearly 12% below its pre-pandemic level.
The Bank of England is hoping for a revival of business investment to help improve Britain’s longer-term growth prospects.
Britain’s balance of payments deficit widened to 24.4 billion pounds ($32.35 billion) as goods exports fell, goods imports grew and foreign companies received more income from their investments in the United Kingdom.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a smaller deficit of 15.6 billion pounds.
As a share of GDP, the shortfall almost doubled to 4.2% from 2.3% in the second quarter.
Iran, India agree to increase freight traffic through Chabahar: Minister
India agreed to increase its freight transit through Iran to help more traffic pass through the strategic port of Chabahar, according to the Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qassemi.
“We have had some good discussions on the issue and we agreed that freight transit through this path should increase,” Qassemi said, Press TV reported.
The comments come more than a week after Iran, India and Uzbekistan held a virtual meeting to discuss the situation on Chabahar, Iran’s only Ocean port located on the Sea of Oman, where trade has plummeted after the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Chabahar had been viewed as a major trade gateway between the Indian Ocean and Afghanistan and other landlocked countries in the Central Asia region.
Iran has invested heavily on the construction of a railroad connecting Chabahar to the Afghan border while India has contributed financially to provision of port operation equipment in one of the terminals in Chabahar.
Qassemi said that Chabahar has a capacity for processing 30 million tons of cargo per year, adding that Iran expects other parties involved in the project to increase their financial contribution to development work.
He said Iran will need to invest more on the transportation network supporting Chabahar, adding that the railway connected to the port should reach northern Iranian areas bordering Central Asian countries.
The minister said that size of investment requires assurances from countries like India that freight traffic through Chabahar will increase.
He described previous agreements with India on Chabahar as imperfect, adding that Tehran and New Delhi should work to improve the deal.
Oil prices steady as Omicron caution lingers
Oil prices were steady on Wednesday as fears of tight supply were offset by COVID-19 concerns after Singapore suspended quarantine-free travel and Australia renewed its vaccination push due to a surge in Omicron variant cases.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were unchanged at $71.12 a barrel at 1250 GMT after jumping 3.7% on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Brent crude futures fell 15 cents, or 0.20%, to $73.83 a barrel after gaining 3.4% in the last session.
“The bias is positive over optimistic updates from vaccine maker Moderna ... however the upside looks limited as investors seem to be exercising caution over Omicron-related restrictions,” said Ajay Kedia, director at Kedia Commodities in Mumbai.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said on Tuesday that the vaccine manufacturer does not expect any problems in developing a booster shot to protect against the Omicron variant and could begin work in a few weeks.
In another bullish indicator, industry data showed that U.S. crude inventories last week registered a larger-than-expected decline.
American Petroleum Institute data showed U.S. crude stocks fell 3.7 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 17, according to market sources, versus a 2.8 million barrel drop that eight analysts polled by Reuters had expected.
However, mobility curbs across the globe once again stoked fears of a drop in fuel demand.
Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea are among countries that have reimposed partial or full lockdowns or other social distancing measures in recent days.
The Singapore government said it will freeze all new ticket sales for flights and buses from Dec. 23 to Jan. 20 into the city-state, citing Omicron risks.
On the supply side, investors are looking ahead to a meeting of the OPEC+ producers group on Jan. 4.
With the growing production issues in Russia and various others in the Atlantic Basin, it is likely that Middle Eastern producers could push for a continuation of monthly quota increases, consultancy JBC Energy said in a note.
Iran and Sri Lanka signed a deal based on which Sri Lanka will settle $251 million in oil import dues owed to Iran by bartering tea, IRNA reported.