Monday 30th May 2016
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY MAY 27TH: BGEO Group plc, the London listed holding company of JSC Bank of Georgia, has this morning announced that Bank of Georgia, Georgia’s leading bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed a GEL220m (approximately £70m) loan agreement with a maturity of five years. EBRD obtained the local currency funds through a private placement of GEL-dominated bonds arranged by Galt &Taggart, a wholly owned subsidiary of BGEO. This is the largest and the longest maturity local currency loan granted to a Georgian bank, which will allow Bank of Georgia to issue longer-term local currency loans, providing essential support for micro, small and medium sized enterprises to converge to DCFTA requirements, as well as underserved women entrepreneurs. “We are keen to develop financial products and lending practices, to service specifically women-led SMEs, which will ultimately increase their involvement in developing Georgia’s private sector”, says Irakli Gilauri, CEO of BGEO Group - The UK’s CBI has responded to analysis from the Treasury showing that a vote to leave the European Union could negatively impact UK pensions. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Economics Director, says that: “All pension schemes benefit when funds can be invested across a stable, growing economy, to best support people in their retirement years. Any financial market turmoil caused by a Brexit is likely to have a negative effect on household wealth, the value of funds and damage pensions here at home, especially for those looking to retire within the next few years. The sheer weight of credible evidence points towards a serious economic shock if the UK were to leave the EU, meaning a hit to the value of our private pensions, jobs and prosperity.” - EPFR Global reports that Nine weeks into the second quarter mutual fund investors remain underwhelmed by their choices as they seek to navigate a global economy characterized by political uncertainty in Europe, lacklustre corporate profits and the prospect of another interest rate hike in the US, economic stress in major emerging markets and Japan's experiment with negative interest rates. During the week ending May 25 all nine of the major EPFR Global-tracked Emerging and Developed Markets Equity Fund groups posted outflows, as did Global, High Yield, Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets Bond Funds, seven of the 11 major Sector Fund groups and three out of every five Country Equity Fund groups. Alternative Funds look to have taken in over $1bn for the fifth time in the past 14 weeks. Overall, EPFR Global-tracked Bond Funds added $2.6 billion to their year-to-date tally while another $9.1bn flowed out of Equity Funds. Some $12bn was absorbed by Money Market Funds with US funds attracting the bulk of the fresh money. EPFR Global-tracked Emerging Markets Equity Funds remained under pressure from many directions. China's economic data and policy shifts continue to paint a mixed picture for growth in the world's second largest economy, the US Federal Reserve is talking up the prospects of a second rate hike this summer, Europe's recovery appears to be running out of stream and the recent recovery in commodities prices is being viewed with scepticism in many quarters. All four of the major groups recorded outflows during the week ending May 25, with the diversified Global Emerging Markets (GEM) Equity Funds seeing the biggest outflows in cash terms and EMEA Equity Funds in flows as a percentage of AUM terms. Latin America Equity Funds extended their longest outflow streak since late 3Q15 as investors who bought into the prospect of political and economic change in Brazil confront the messy reality. However, year to date Brazil has been the top emerging market for all EPFR Global-tracked Equity Funds as managers bet that the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff will open the door to more centrist economic policymaking says the funds data maven. Among the EMEA markets, the firm reports that GEM managers are showing more optimism than investors. EMEA Equity Funds have now posted outflows for five straight weeks and investors have pulled over $300m out of Russia and South Africa Equity Funds so far this month, though GEM allocations for both South Africa and Russia climbed coming into this month. The latest allocations data indicates less optimism about China despite is still impressive official numbers - annual GDP was running at 6.7% in 1Q16 - and the edge the recent slide in the renminbi should give Chinese exporters. GDP growth in Emerging Asia's second largest market, India, is even higher. Elsewhere, India Equity Funds have struggled to attract fresh money as investors wait to for domestic business investment and the government's reform agenda to kick into higher gears says EPFR Global – According to New Zealand press reports, stock exchange operator, NZX, will initiate confidential enquiries into listed companies that experience large, unexplained share price movements, to determine whether they may be holding undisclosed "material" information even while remaining in compliance with the market's Listing Rules that require disclosure of material information at certain trigger points. In an announcement this morning, NZX also warned investors not to assume that a listed entity's Listing Rules compliance statements meant they did not have material information in their possession which would potentially require eventual disclosure - Asian stocks were modestly higher today, largely on the back of increasingly softening sentiment from the US Federal Reserve. Most people think there will be one rate hike this year, but likely it will be in July rather than June. Either way, it will be one and not two or three. Fed chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to talk about interest rates at an event at Harvard University today and the expectation is that a softer approach for the rest of this year will be writ large; a good signal of intent will follow today’s quarterly growth stats. The presidential election will encourage caution; continued market volatility will encourage caution and mixed manufacturing data will encourage caution. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4% to touch 16,834.84 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9% to 20,576.52. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 2,829.67. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 6.65 points or 0.24% higher to 2773.31, taking the year-to-date performance to -3.80%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 1.05%, DBS, which gained 0.07%, UOB, which gained0.11%, Keppel Corp, which gained2.47% and Ascendas REIT, which closed unchanged. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.27%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.30% - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says it is taking the first step towards developing a green financial system in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Authority. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov signed an agreement today on the sidelines of the Foreign Investors Council’s plenary session to commission a scoping study for the development of a green financing system in Kazakhstan. The study, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will assess the demand for green investments, identify gaps in current regulations, and make recommendations for the introduction of green financing standards and for the development of the green bonds market and carbon market services. The development of a green financing system would be consistent with the COP21 Paris Agreement, aligning financing flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. The AIFC Authority was put in place earlier this year and is tasked with developing an international financial centre in Astana. In March, the AIFC Authority, TheCityUK and the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the establishment of the financial centre and to encourage and improve opportunities for the financial and related professional services industries – Turkey’s Yuksel has issued notice to holders of $200m senior notes due 2015 (ISIN XS0558618384), and filed with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, that the company has agreed a term sheet with the ad-hoc committee of noteholders and its advisors to implement a restructuring of the notes and is currently finalising the required scheme documentation with the Committee. Once agreed, the Company will apply to the English High Court for leave to convene a meeting of note creditors to vote on the scheme proposals as soon as reasonably practicable when the High Court reconvenes after vacation in June 2016 - Following the agreement in principle of the May 24th Eurogroup for the release of the next loan tranche to Greece, domestic authorities have intensified their efforts for the completion of all pending issues reports EFG Eurobank in Athens. According to Greece’s Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos, on the fulfilment of all pending issues, €7.5bn will be disbursed in mid-June, of which €1.8bn will be channeled to clear state arrears – This weekend is the second UK May Bank Holiday. FTSE Global Markets will reopen on Tuesday, May 31st at 9.00 am. We wish our readers and clients a sunny, restful, safe and exceedingly happy holiday.

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ACTA: MEPs seek clarity on enforcement

Thursday, 01 March 2012
ACTA: MEPs seek clarity on enforcement International Trade Committee MEPs from all political groups want to know more about how the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be enforced before advising the European Parliament as a whole on whether or not to approve it, it emerged from the committee's first debate on it on Thursday. David Martin (UK), who will draft the committee's recommendation, asked it to back his plan to refer ACTA to the European Court of Justice, for a ruling on questions to be prepared by the Parliament. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

International Trade Committee MEPs from all political groups want to know more about how the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be enforced before advising the European Parliament as a whole on whether or not to approve it, it emerged from the committee's first debate on it on Thursday. David Martin (UK), who will draft the committee's recommendation, asked it to back his plan to refer ACTA to the European Court of Justice, for a ruling on questions to be prepared by the Parliament.

Martin has suggested that while the Court of Justice referral is being prepared, the time set aside for Parliament's assent to ACTA should instead be used to prepare an interim report setting out questions to the European Commission and EU Member States on how it is to be enforced. He stresses that Parliament should prepare its own questions, rather than simply associating itself with the European Commission's parallel referral of ACTA to the court.

Examples could include questions about how border control agencies would be expected to deal with counterfeit imports, or whether internet service providers would have to enforce ACTA against users, and if so what legislation would require them to do so.



Protecting intellectual property rights

"We have critical interest in defending EU intellectual property and we need to act in this regard", said Mr Martin, stressing that "it is not the intentions of ACTA that raise concerns but its possible unintentional consequences. ACTA lacks detail. The main concern is how the text might be read".

For example, "There is no 'three strikes' rule in ACTA, but we do not know how internet service providers will interpret the tasks given to them and if they will feel that they have the duty to cut people off the internet," he says.

"What I plan to do is bring about clarity on ACTA in the next year, to provide the facts for this Parliament to vote", Martin says, adding that in the coming weeks he planned to meet as many civil society representatives as possible to discuss citizens' concerns while drafting his interim report.

Not just a trade deal

The EPP group's shadow rapporteur on ACTA, Christofer Fjellner (SE) agreed that Parliament must now scrutinize the ACTA text in detail. "It's not the trade deal that changes citizens' everyday lives but the legislation that enforces it", he told Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, adding "I've heard from the Commission and Member States that there will not be a big change in legislation. I will not take your word for it. We need to scrutinize it".

Martin's position was also welcomed also by Parliament's former rapporteur on ACTA, Kader Arif, who had resigned while accusing Parliament of orchestrating a "masquerade" on the ACTA case. "Today I am very happy to see my colleagues thinking differently, Parliament's transparency, openness to public and the direction the ACTA case is taking in Parliament", he said."

Robert Sturdy (ECR, UK) backed the European Commission's decision to refer ACTA to the European Court of Justice.

ACTA lacks transparency

Mr Martin and other speakers objected to the "lack of transparency" in the ACTA negotiations to date and reiterated Parliament's many requests to be more closely involved, and not merely left with the option of accepting or rejecting the existing text.

French Green Yannick Jadot complained that "procedural excuses" had been used to avoid involving Parliament, and noted that MEPs had learned of the Commission decision to refer ACTA to the Court of Justice from the press. "I'm not sure that this is in line with our inter-institutional agreement with the Commission", he said.

Swedish Green Carl Schlyter complained that emerging economies were not involved in ACTA negotiations, noting that 95% of all counterfeiting takes place in countries that will not be affected by ACTA. He also observed that if the aim now was to spread ACTA via bilateral agreements with countries not yet party to it, this would not be a democratic way to influence other countries.

Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, DE), also noted that the countries where most piracy takes place are outside ACTA and insisted that it should be tackled through existing international structures instead. "Gobalization raises different challenges and ACTA is the wrong way to handle things", he said.

Civil society protests

Several MEPs said the Commission must accept its share of responsibility for civil society protests against ACT, since it had not kept people properly informed of the progress of negotiations. "The lack of transparency has created a lot of mistrust. This might be a lesson to the future. We need to change things", said Mr Fjellner.

Metin Kazak (ALDE, BG), said that in many Member States, these protests had prompted governments to "give up". "Both in the ACTA text and also in communication about it there are many cumbersome words and phrases - that something will perhaps happen or may happen. In such circumstances you have to expect citizens to be afraid from the possible consequences", he said.

Inese Vaidere (EPP, LV), said the Commission had done too little to explain ACTA's benefits, even though there was much to be explained, such as the definitions of terms "counterfeiting" or "commercial scale". "Now it may already be too late. I fear that we don't have much chance of reviving ACTA. The Commission has not done its job", she said.

Committee chair Vital Moreira (S&D, PT), defended ACT on the grounds that intellectual property rights are vital to Europe's ability to innovate and compete. He was sure that properly interpreted, ACTA would not threaten fundamental freedoms.

No ACTA enforcement without Parliament's consent

Commissioner De Gucht replied that any substantive laws passed to enforce ACTA would be the responsibility of Parliament and Member States.

"ACTA cannot be changed into substantive law without Parliament's consent. You are also responsible for that" he said, suggesting that Parliament should pay more attention to Member States' laws that threaten fundamental freedoms.

"The so called 'three strikes' rule is effective in French law and that is a law that was passed to implement EU directives. On the contrary, ACTA explicitly states that you can not impose anything similar to three-strikes rule on the international level", he said.

Commissioner De Gucht reiterated his view that referring ACTA to the European Court of Justice would be the right decision, as "our responsibility as politicians is to establish the facts and not follow the crowd" and the "Court will provide much needed clarity on our concerns".

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