On Poland, the U.S. puts its money where its mouth is. Polish Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry met in Warsaw to discuss liquefied natural gas supplies, energy infrastructure and the development of nuclear energy. During the visit, Poland’s national gas company, PGNiG, signed a 24-year agreement with a Texas firm for the supply of natural gas that will begin next year, three years before the expiration of a supply contract with Russia’s Gazprom. PGNiG also recently signed a 20-year agreement with a second U.S. company that will provide 2 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually. Poland, which currently relies on Russia for two-thirds of its natural gas, has made diversifying its energy suppliers a priority.
Backlash to foreign labor in Japan. The Japanese Cabinet’s most recent plan to employ more foreigners, especially in blue-collar jobs, is already facing opposition. Critics say the proposal will lower wages and threaten national security. This is expected behavior on an issue that lies at the heart of Japan’s economic future. The good news for the government is that a slim majority of the public (51.3 percent) supports the measure, according to a survey conducted by Kyodo in November. Japan’s economy has been stagnant for years, and there’s little the country’s shrinking, aging population can do to revitalize it. While foreign workers are a practical solution on paper, employing more of them would be a huge departure in Japanese policy.
U.S. and China avoid confrontation where they can. After a two-month delay, defense and foreign ministers from China and the U.S. met to discuss strategic coordination, especially on military matters. Both sides have expressed an interest in decreasing the risk of accidental naval clashes in the South China Sea. After all, neither has an interest in sparking a hot military conflict. President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, met with retired U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger and stressed China’s desire to develop alongside the U.S., free of conflicts and confrontation. For his part, Kissinger emphasized the need for foresight, mutual understanding and stronger strategic communications, given how critical the U.S.-China relationship is to world peace and prosperity. China’s economy depends on social and political stability more heavily than most, and this in turn requires the country to prioritize risk management as it negotiates on trade.
- China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said at least half of new corporate loans over the next three years will go to private firms.
- South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. and North Korea are working to reschedule a meeting between top officials.
- Officials from Russia, Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and the U.S. met in Moscow to discuss an Afghan peace process that engages the Taliban.
- King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, a Saudi government-funded think tank, started a study to assess what would happen if OPEC no longer coordinated oil production.
- Venezuela has been unable to take out $550 million worth of its gold deposits from the Bank of England because doing so would violate anti-money laundering measures.
- Argentina’s central bank is negotiating an $8.7 billion expansion of its current currency swap with China.
- Serbia said that the 10 percent tax Kosovo placed on Serbian goods is tantamount to a trade war. It added that the Brussels dialogue will not resume until the tax is dropped.
- Austria’s foreign minister, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, canceled her visit to Moscow. Vienna is waiting for Moscow to answer allegations that an Austrian official had been working as a Russian spy.