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EU hails Japan lifting 15-year ban on Italian beef imports

BRUSSELS: The European Union (EU) hailed “a great success of European trade diplomacy” on Thursday as Japan lifted an embargo on Italian beef which has been in place for 15 years. The move was the latest in a series of Japan openings its market to beef products from EU states such as France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark and Sweden. ... Read More »

Taxman clamps down on tax fraudsters

BRUSSELS: The daily De Tijd and the website Knack.be report figures from Belgian finance minister Johan Van Overtveldt suggesting the special tax inspection service collects ten times more cash in Flanders than in Wallonia. The figures also show that the service is heading for a record amount in extra tax this year. Last year the BBI collected 220.2 million euros ... Read More »

EU wheat prices fall as excess supplies weigh

BRUSSELS: European wheat prices fell on Monday, tracking weakness in Chicago futures, with both markets weighed down by abundant global supplies after a record harvest in the 2015/16 season. Dealers said there is a strong flow of exports from the European Union but concern persists that it may be insufficient to prevent a significant build up in stocks. “The French, ... Read More »

US should be added to tax haven blacklist, says EU report

BRUSSELS: The US should be added to a new European blacklist of tax havens being drawn up by the European Commission, according to a report commissioned by the Green group in the European Parliament. The report, which is being published today ahead of a visit by the European Parliament’s special committee on taxation to Washington next week, is the latest ... Read More »

EU launches new investigation into Chinese steel products

BRUSSELS: The European Union (EU) launched a new investigation on Chinese steel products on Friday, claiming the case was subsidy-related, despite China’s advocation against trade protectionism. The products under investigation are imports of Chinese hot-rolled flat steel, over which a so called “anti-dumping” investigation is already ongoing since February, said the bloc’s executive body the European Commission in a statement. ... Read More »

EU mission ‘failing’ to disrupt Mediterranean people-smugglers

BRUSSELS: The EU naval mission to tackle people smuggling in the central Mediterranean is failing to achieve its aims, a British parliamentary committee says. In a report, the House of Lords EU Committee says Operation Sophia does not “in any meaningful way” disrupt smugglers’ boats. The destruction of wooden boats has forced the smugglers to use rubber dinghies, putting migrants ... Read More »

EBRD, AIIB deepen cooperation with MOU

BRUSSELS: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) agreed on Wednesday to deepen cooperation between their two organizations. The two development banks signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the EBRD’s annual meeting here. Under the MOU, the banks agree to deepen their promotion of economic development and investment in countries where ... Read More »

Qatar-Belgium trade surges to €1.3bn

BRUSSELS: Qatar-Belgium bilateral trade volume has hit nearly €1.3bn in 2015, and both the countries are working very closely to further deepen and strengthen the economic ties by expanding the areas of cooperation, said Christophe Payot (pictured), the Belgian Ambassador to Qatar. “Last year we had over QR1.33bn (€320m) worth of exports to Qatar, witnessing a 56 percent jump compared ... Read More »

EU interested in Ukraine remaining gas transit country – Commissioner

BRUSSELS: The commissioner added that the European Commission was ready to facilitate the conclusion of a new transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine, as the current expires in 2019. “Despite economic and political challenges, Ukraine continues to be a reliable gas partner and transit country. It is in the interest of all parties, including and notably the central and eastern ... Read More »

Belgium offers tax leniency to businesses affected by terror attacks

BRUSSELS: Any company facing financial difficulties as a result of the March 22 terror attacks can receive withholding tax support that includes reduced penalties for late or nonpayment of taxes, tax payment installment plans and the waiving of interest amounts resulting from default, the Belgian Federal Public Service Finance said here the other day. “It concerns every type of company ... Read More »

EU transaction-tax plan on brink as Belgium inches toward exit

BRUSSELS: Belgium’s finance minister signaled his country may pull out of plans by a group of European Union nations to impose a financial-transaction tax, a step that would leave the initiative hanging by a thread. Johan Van Overtveldt said he is opposed to the levy and is winning the argument within the four-party coalition government to withdraw from negotiations over ... Read More »

ECB decides to stop printing, issuing 500 euro banknote

BRUSSELS: The European Central Bank (ECB) announced on Wednesday it would stop printing and distributing the 500 euro banknote. According to a statement made by the ECB, the decision was made due to concerns the banknote could facilitate illicit activities. The issuance of the banknote will be stopped around the end of 2018. The 500 euro banknotes currently in circulation ... Read More »

Economic climate in euro area continues to fall: thinktank

BRUSSELS: The Ifo index for economic climate in the euro area continue to weaken, research institute Ifo said in a report on Tuesday. The quarterly released index declined to 112.7 points from 118.9 points in last quarter, but it remains above its long-term average, the report noted. According to the survey results, the economic climate deteriorated due to both less ... Read More »

Eurozone growth to slow this year, inflation subdued: EU forecasts

BRUSSELS: Eurozone growth will be slower than previously expected with subdued inflation this year, the European Commission said in its economic forecasts on Tuesday, warning of high external and internal risks to the bloc’s economy. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the 19-country currency area is predicted to expand 1.6 percent this year, less than the 1.7 percent growth of ... Read More »

Eurozone unemployment rate hits lowest since August 2011

BRUSSELS: The eurozone seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell to its lowest rate since August 2011 at 10.2 percent in March, Eurostat said here the other day. The rate was down from 10.4 percent in February this year, and from 11.2 percent in March 2015. The EU unemployment rate in March fell to the lowest rate in seven years, standing at 8.8 ... Read More »

New EU rules for a simpler, faster and safer Customs Union come into force

BRUSSELS: New customs rules come into force on Sunday 1 May that will make life simpler for businesses that trade in Europe and better protect consumers against illegal and counterfeit goods. The new Union Customs Code (UCC) represents a major overhaul of existing EU customs legislation, which dates back to 1992. It is a milestone for the European Customs Union, ... Read More »

The European Commission closes one infringment proedure against Hungary

BRUSSELS: The European Commission has closed an infringement procedure against Hungary related to excise tax rules for palinka, the Hungarian eau de vie, but launched another one on exemptions for pálinka and herbal spirits from a product tax, the EC’s press service said on Thursday. The EC closed the former infringement procedure after it found the new excise tax law, ... Read More »

Hidden jewels: Top Belgian diamond companies appear in Panama Papers

BRUSSELS: The Panama Papers scandal continues to reveal more intriguing things from the world’s elite business and political circles. This time, the light fell upon the biggest Belgian diamond companies, which turned out were also involved in the shady business of offshore set ups in small island nations, the Belgian newspaper Le Soir reported. Five out of ten of the ... Read More »

Mercosur, EU to exchange trade deal offers in May

BRUSSELS: Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market, will exchange the first official trade deal offers ahead of formal negotiations for a commercial agreement with the European Union (EU), Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa announced here the other day. “The relaunching of negotiations with the EU, which will take place on May 11 in Brussels, is an important step for ... Read More »

Environmental taxes made up 6.3% of tax revenues in EU

BRUSSELS: In the European Union (EU), environmental taxes amounted to €343.6 bn in 2014, compared with €282.0 bn in 2004. However, the share of environment taxes in total revenues from taxes and social contributions has decreased over this 10-year period, from 6.8% in 2004 to 6.3% in 2014. The share of environmental taxes in total revenues from taxes and social ... Read More »