(May 2013) Li Keqiang wrapped up his first official visit abroad as Chinese premier on Monday with a clear and strong message to Europe: more cooperation, less protectionism. In Germany, the last stop of his four-nation tour, Li reiterated China's firm opposition to the European Union's plan to launch a trade probe into Chinese mobile telecommunications products and slap punitive duties on Chinese solar panels. However, The European Union's trade chief bluntly told China on Tuesday it was wasting its time trying to put pressure on him to drop plans to impose punitive import duties on Chinese solar panels. A majority of European countries, led by Germany and the UK, oppose the moves by Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, to levy tariffs of 47% on solar panel imports from China next month, according to a survey by Reuters.
(May 2013) The solar photovoltaic (PV) market is poised to rise from the ashes of its 2011 crisis and grow to $155bn in 2018, as market forces engineer a turnaround to a healthy 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The sun set on Suntech, the aggressive Chinese market leader in March when it filed for bankruptcy, amidst fraud allegations. Meanwhile, a study commissioned by the Alliance for Affordable Solar Energy estimated that up to 242,000 EU jobs could be sacrificed by punitive duties imposed by the EU on China, over three years. Karel De Gucht, EU trade commissioner, is targeting trade that was valued at €21bn in Chinese solar products exported to Europe in 2011. De Gucht has recommended that such products face duties averaging 47% after deciding that Chinese manufacturers illegally dumped their products, or sold them below cost, in Europe.
(May 2013) Siemens, Europe's biggest industrial group, says it would make sense to build solar power plants in sunny countries in Europe rather than in cloudy ones. And wind turbines should be built in windy places.
(May 2013) Reuters reported last month that a few hours after midnight one Sunday in March, as negotiations over a rescue for Cyprus dragged into a second day, Pierre Moscovici, French finance minister, fell asleep. Most Eurozone ministers in Brussels that night failed to notice, continuing to pore over the details of the multi-billion-euro deal. It fell to Christine Lagarde, former French finance minister and currently head of the International Monetary Fund, to approach Moscovici and nudge him awake, according to witnesses at the March 24 talks. It was an apt symbol of the impact in Europe of President François Hollande's government, as it enters its second year of office.
(April 2013) Bayern Munich, the German football club, stunned Spain's Barcelona on Tuesday night with a 4-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. However, Uli Hoeness, Bayern Munich's president, has been getting public attention for issues other than sport. He has admitted that he hid money in a Swiss bank account for years without paying taxes on it. It's still not clear exactly how much he was hiding, nor how much he owes in back taxes. But media reports suggest that amount could be several million euros. By turning himself in to tax authorities, Hoeness might get around a sentence which could have included a hefty fine or even a prison sentence. The issue of personal tax havens, tax evasion and massive corporate tax avoidance have been receiving serious attention in recent months from politicians and in France, Jérôme Cahuzac, the budget minister, resigned over allegations of tax fraud, holding a Swiss bank account and money laundering with funds later sent to Singapore to avoid disclosure. Germany, the UK and France are pushing the Group of Eight and the Group of Twenty countries to agree measures that would reduce corporate tax avoidance and earlier this month, Herman Van Rompuy, European Council president, said tax evasion and fraud had been put on the agenda of next month's summit of European Union leaders, saying the region could no longer afford to be complacent when about €1tn is lost in EU member states to tax evasion every year.
(March 2013) About 69% of exports of goods "made in Germany" were shipped to European countries. 57% of all goods were delivered to the member states of the European Union. The second important sales market for German goods in 2012 was Asia with a share of about 16%, followed by America, with a share of approximately 12%. Africa and Australia / Oceania only accounted for small percentages of German exports (2% and 1%, respectively).
(March 2013) US companies such as Ford, IBM and McDonalds have invested some €130bn in Germany. Most would expect an attractive business location behind that drive, but can Germany really deliver? US investors are reported to be wary of what they think is a widespread self-complacency of Europe's largest economy, some energy-intensive companies are reconsidering Germany as a business location.
(February 2013) The French government announced on Tuesday that it will not achieve its 2013 budget target of 3% of GDP (gross domestic product) - - a key economic goal of President François Hollande. France has not had an annual budget surplus since 1974. It has not achieved a trade surplus any year since 2002 but the 2012 performance improved and ex-EU 27 exports grew strongly.
(February 2013) The global manufacturing sector made an encouraging start to 2013, showing further signs of recovery following the soft patch seen through the middle of last year.
(January 2013) Klaus Wowereit, Berlin mayor, on Monday stepped down as chairman of the supervisory board for the German capital's new airport, after it became known that the new hub's opening date was to be delayed for a fourth time. Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport was initially due to open in October 2011. It is now expected to open at some point in 2014 and construction is forecast to run around €1.5bn over its initial budget of €2.8bn. Germany has to contend with a problem found in many countries -- the poor management of public construction projects.