Category Archives: ECONOMY

Spotlight: How an Italian port illustrates the future of China-Europe ties

(Xinhua) — The port in the small Italian city of Vado Ligure is the latest incarnation of strengthened ties between China and Europe.

With stakes co-held by a Netherlands-headquartered company and two Chinese partners, the Vado Gateway terminal upon completion in December will be able to accommodate the world’s largest container ships, while cutting down on costs and time for cargo entering and leaving the port.

Regarded as an example of cooperation between European and Chinese businesses, the port is expected to bolster the local economy, create more jobs and further open the northwestern Italian region to outside markets.

As the first member of the Group of Seven to join the Belt and Road Initiative, Italy has come to benefit from aligning its plan to develop its northern ports and the InvestItalia program with the China-proposed initiative, which seeks to improve interconnectivity between Asia, Europe, Africa and beyond.

Last year, the collapse of the Morandi bridge in the north Italian city of Genoa, not far from Vado Ligure, sent at least 30 cars into the riverbed and train tracks 45 meters (130 feet) below, killing dozens of people.

Such a tragedy underlines the urgency for Italy to upgrade its infrastructure, some of which is in desperate need of repair. In Vado Ligure, locals describe the upgrade as the largest of its kind in years.

Better infrastructure like ports, roads and bridges could help bring countries closer and strengthen ties, undergirding foundations for further cooperation.

“If we are able to update and upgrade our road and rail infrastructure, we can be the Chinese door to Central Europe,” Gian Enzo Duci, professor at the University of Genoa and president of Federagenti, the Italian National Federation of Ship Brokers & Agents, said.

In response to some claims that China’s investment in European infrastructure would somehow pose geopolitical challenges, Duci said such fears are unfounded.

“We still have military presence of the Unites States in our country, why should we be scared of the economic presence of Chinese interest?” one Italian shipping expert said bluntly.

While the resurgence of protectionism and unilateralism has cast a lingering shadow on global commerce, the economic and trade links between China and Europe, two defenders of multilateralism, have continuously expanded over the years.

The European Union (EU) has been China’s largest trading partner for more a decade while the Asian country is the bloc’s second largest trading partner. In 2018, China-EU trade volume hit a record high, exceeding 682 billion U.S. dollars.

With cooperation and exchanges between China and Europe as strong as ever, more European cities – big or small, rich or poor – stand to benefit. Vado Ligure is a case in point.

The fabric of the “Tendenze”

For this Spring/Summer 2019 edition, Milano Unica exhibitors showcase renewed interest in experimentation not only in terms of trim, i.e. embroideries and prints, but also in textile production.

Unique and modern spinning techniques have been used to interpret trends. Businesses focused on color research and provided their original contribution while following the suggested trends. Research in materials, yarns, designs and patterns is at the core of this edition of Milano Unica, where modernity meets tradition in a balanced and organic textile vision. For the Water theme, colors range from blues and greens of the deep sea to flashes of tech yellow reminiscent of diving gear.

Micro, macro and alternated stripes are undisputed protagonists, developed on natural materials with water repellent finishes or supported, recalling the nautical universe, but also on extremely fine and rich shirting-like bases. Films revitalized by sophisticated hues are heat sealed, stitched and used in “in-and-out” garments to meet requirements in terms of water repellency and breathability. Prints feature ironic and pictorial designs, including abstract and descriptive elements.

Embroideries are dynamic and accompanied by transparencies, applications and lurex touches.
Jacquard is reinvented with fancy, lurex hued damask patterns on fabrics of different weight, all extremely rich and sumptuous. Denim comes in deep blue and in green water hues, in different weight and weaves.

The sea world is celebrated by rubber, natural and extra-fine, large knitted meshes and shiny chiffon. Ribbons, used as showy details, finely developed, are presented in shiny yarns and lively color combinations, simultaneously showing lightness and intricate processing. Extra fine and oversize cords feature original color braiding, spanning from the classical to dip-dyed tones. Appliqués are variegated and very elaborate: pearls and crystal sequins are used to evoke the undersea world. Zippers come in bright colors and feature both striking heat sealed tapings with film-like or striped appliqués, and new multicolor metal.

For the Air theme, colors present light blues and iridescent green, while space-suit orange accentuates boreal fuchsia and sophisticated pink hues for a futuristic aesthetic. Satin, muslin and poplin here are surprising for their color in a glam vision reflecting shiny and matt versions. Techniques are sophisticated and characterized by floating yarns and fancy weaves. Shirting offers shiny, dream-like and multicolor graphics. There is an interesting proposal of “all-over” sequins, both micro and macro, lurex appliqués and embroidery. Gatherings renew pleats and the macro floral appliqués reinterpret tulle.

3D is key in this theme both featured with tapings lined in transparent plastic materials and with detailing in relief.
Lace is enriched by feathers, lurex touches or new iridescent crochet stitching.  Ribbons present impalpable lightness, luminescence, color-changing sequins decorations and multicolor frayed jacquard. Dip-dyed chiffon whirls create patterns on detailing. Zippers recall the cybernetic world with mirror and sidereal effects.

The Earth theme has been interpreted with neutral colors, volcano-like flashes and tone-over-tone overlays.The patterns of the Masai culture, like the check and the geometric patterns, have been desaturated and proposed for shirting fabrics in mild and sandy hues. Jacquard presents various tribal designs and embroidery enriches apparently raw processing like fraying, fil coupé and streaks. Prints come in multi-level dyes, recalling stone layering with marbling, whitening and plastering effects. Large weaves and macro crochet add to the offering. Yarns look raw but with a very soft hand. There is an interesting proposal of linen and cotton with super soft finishing. Ribbons, featuring clinical colors, present sophisticated techniques with embroidery, frayed details, streaks and interlacing. Appliqués include rhinestones and matt crystals, but also metallic tech-tattoos on tulle bases. The feathers in this theme represent an important element as they describe the archaic decorations and surprise with “tie dye” marbling effects. Zippers include oversize pullers in matt metal and taping in neutral colors and natural materials.

Giuliano Canovese

EU screening foreign direct investment

French EPP member Franck Proust said, “Our interdependence requires us to see the bigger picture. The acquisition of a company may have security repercussions on the other side of Europe. We should at least exchange information.

Foreign direct investment was especially important for countries struggling during the latest financial crisis. Yet recent takeovers by foreign, state-owned companies of critical energy and transport infrastructure and hi-tech companies have been a cause for concern, and EU governments are especially worried about having critical infrastructure in the hands of emerging powers such as China and Russia.

MEPs are currently assessing a proposal to establish a legal framework for screening foreign direct investment in the EU.

The author of the international trade committee’s report on the matter added that we must “use previous experiences to create a mechanism that is balanced, proportional and effective”.

Responsible for 36% of the wealth generated in the EU and for 7.6 million jobs, international investment is an important source of growth for the EU economy. In 2016, the EU received €280 billion in foreign direct investment with Switzerland (€55 billion) and the United States (€54 billion) the leading investors.

There are currently 12 EU countries with mechanisms in place to evaluate the potential risks of foreign direct investment (these are Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Finland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom). Trade partners such as Australia, China, Japan, Russia and the United States also perform similar assessments.

Following calls from both the Parliament and national governments to investigate the issue, the European Commission presented a proposal last September on establishing a legal framework for screening foreign direct investment in the EU and preventing the Union’s technological edge and security from being put at risk.

The Commission proposal includes a cooperation mechanism between the Commission and EU governments on how to deal with cases where a specific foreign investment in one member state may affect the security or public order of another. The proposal aims to ensure more transparency in the takeover process, and the Commission would also be able to screen investments that could impact EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Galileo.

MEPs are currently evaluating the Commission proposals.

Most MEPs at the meeting on 23 January welcomed the proposal and the exchange of information on foreign investments, but there were some concerns about the scope and criteria of the mechanism, including the definition of what can be deemed a risk for security. Some MEPs also voiced concerns over Chinese and Russian takeovers and, in order to ensure reciprocity, they called for the removal of barriers to EU investment in both countries.

Ban on electric pulse fishing

The current state of standards is impractical, complex and rigid, so there is a need to revise the technical measures. Everyone agreed we needed simplification. We shouldn’t reinvent the rules, but rather make them clearer and more practical to implement for fishermen and others, with regionalisation and results-based programming which is helpful for the fishermen, and national and local authorities being able to take decisions in line with the broad framework.” Said rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES).

New EU rules on how, where and when fish can be caught, were voted on Tuesday. MEPs inserted an amendment to ban the use of pulsed electric current for fishing.

The new law – updating and combining more than 30 regulations – would provide for common measures on fishing gear and methods, the minimum size of fish that may be caught and stopping or restricting fishing in certain areas or during certain periods. It also allows for tailor-made measures to be adapted to the regional needs of each sea basin.

An amendment calling for a total ban on the use of electric current for fishing .

EU-wide prohibitions

The EU rules, designed progressively to reduce juvenile catches, would, inter alia:

  • prohibit some fishing gear and methods,
  • impose general restrictions on the use of towed gear and static nets (list fish and shellfish species for which fishing is banned
  • restrict catches of marine mammals, seabirds and marine reptiles, including special provisions to protect sensitive habitats, and
  • ban practices such as “high-grading” (discarding low-priced fish even though they should legally be landed) in order to reduce discarding.


Regional measures would cover inter alia minimum conservation reference sizes, and closed or restricted areas. Member states and the Commission would have 18 months after the entry into force of the regulation to adopt regional rules on mesh sizes.

However, it would be possible to deviate from these regional rules, via a regional fisheries multiannual plan or, in the absence of such a plan, via a decision by the EU Commission.  Member states could submit joint recommendations to this end, and MEPs ask them to “base their recommendations on the best available scientific advice”.

Parliament authorised Fisheries Committee MEPs to start talks with the Council on the final wording of the legislation.

The current technical measures regime includes more than 30 regulations. According to the Commission these are “numerous and overly complex, making compliance and control more difficult” whilst it is “impossible to measure their impact on the achievement of the conservation objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy”.

Economic Growth Rates Closely Aligned in Many Euro Area Member States

Economic growth in many euro area countries is fairly closely aligned, while unemployment figures tend to vary more, according to the latest calculations by the EconPol Europe research network. Based on closely aligned developments across EU states between 1999 and 2014, the authors from the Munich-based ifo Institute and Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies conclude that state transfers aimed at stabilising Europe’s economy across national borders would only have a very limited impact. For shocks impacting the Eurozone as a whole, such a system could even trigger effects that exacerbate the crisis. “The deeper integration of capital markets would be a more effective way of helping the system to cope with economic shocks,” said ifo President Clemens Fuest, one of the co-authors of the paper.

The co-authored paper was published to mark the founding conference of the EconPol research network in Brussels. Since the launch of the euro, the paper reveals that economic developments have been closely aligned in Germany, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, France and Italy. These countries are followed by Slovenia, Spain, Estonia and Portugal. Economic developments show greater divergence in Ireland, Latvia and Lithuania. Greece was the only country with a completely different economic cycle to that of the other euro area countries between 1990 and 2014.

EconPol Europe’s members are the ifo Institute, the Centre for European Policy Studies (ZEW) in Mannheim, the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) in Vienna , the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels, the Centre d’Études Prospectives et d’Informations Internationales (CEPII) in Paris, the Toulouse School of Economics, the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, the Department for Economics and Management at the University of Trento and the VATT Institute for Economic Research in Helsinki.

EconPol Europe is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Finance.

Enquiries: Daniela Abentung, 0049 89 9224 1216;

Milano Unica presents the S/S Trends

We all have a big responsibility: to design excellent fashion and contribute to saving our Earth. The dialogue that springs from events like the presentation of the Trends is an important tool for the entire fashion industry.

The three themes that inspire the international global trends focus on three elements that are essential to our life on the planet – Water, Air and Earth – and its payoff is projected towards the future: «Milano Unica: Save the Planet». 

Myths, heroes, legends, novels, comics, movies, songs, opera, ballets, scientific studies, theories and calculations act as “testimonials”. Identified by Stefano Fadda and a panel of Italian national and international industry specialists, they send out an important and incisive message, which Milano Unica, along with many other fashion players, embraces and intends to promote: love for life, nature and ourselves.

With a view to fulfilling this social need and in addition to the analysis of new technology and research, the dialogue among all the players of the supply chain will play a key role in the identification of new solutions to protect our unique, amazing but also fragile planet.

The presentation, which has now become a ‘must’ event, will stimulate discussion about an increasingly sensitive and transparent fashion system, thanks to reduced consumption of water and energy and fashion items increasingly devoid of harmful substances.

“The dialogue must extend more and more, and also include end users, as was the case with the recent “Apriti Moda” initiative (in which Milano Unica participated as the partner depositary of the upstream art), an event that opened the doors of the fashion houses that, until yesterday, had always remained concealed inside their creative cocoons. All fashion players today agree on the fact that fashion must remain “exclusive” but not be “excluding”, becoming a platform to share confrontation strategies. A shared industry vision is critical to boosting creativity based on exchange and unity of intents,” said Ercole Botto Poala, President of Milano Unica.

Where will the S/S 2019 trends identified in our contemporary society bring us? Exhibitors, fashion houses, designers, style offices and for the first time also fashion students will have a preview in the exhibition dedicated to the suggestions for materials and the inspiration behind the creative and productive path.

“Milano Unica interprets international society so that fashion can identify the ideas for tomorrow’s collections. Milano Unica does it by transmitting our planet’s need for a rebirth, and the mounting threat it faces from unheeded or disdained transnational agreements. Milano Unica is where ideas and stimuli spark off for the textile collections that fashion entrepreneurs will offer to end users: their needs represent the beginning and the end of a cycle that we all must interpret. It follows, then, that we all have a big responsibility: we need to design excellent fashion and, simultaneously, contribute to saving our Planet,” said Antonella Martinetto, President of Moda In, in charge of the Trends for MU.

Massimo Mosiello, General Director of Milano Unica, added: “We should not neglect the dialogue with fashion students, they are the craftspeople of the future. Talking with them, involving them in the creative process will give strength to the message that Milano Unica also intends to promote to start the engine at the system’s core. Textiles and fashion together represent a sounding board with immense potential for reaching out to everyone, even those holding the reins of international politics”.

Giuliano Canovese

EU: new rules for insurance products

The Commission has laid down rules for an Insurance Product Information Document (IPID), which will have to accompany all non-life insurance policies from 2018. These new rules will allow consumers to have all information necessary to make an informed decision when buying insurance products, such as car, travel or house insurance.

This type of key information document already exists for life insurance policy and other investment products under the Regulation on Key Information Documents for Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (PRIIPs). The implementing rules adopted today, in the form of an implementing technical standard (ITS), stem from the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) which must be applied in the EU Member States in February 2018.The IDD aims to create a level playing field between insurance distributors across the European Union. It will guarantee that customers get the same standards of choice and service when buying insurance, regardless of the Member State in which the insurance was bought. The Directive will ensure appropriate standards of transparency by setting out the necessary information to be provided to consumers before they sign up to an insurance contract. Further implementing rules for the IDD will be adopted in the coming weeks. These will coverproduct oversight and governance (for all insurance products) and various conduct of business rules(for life insurance products).

G20 Summit: the Paris Agreement is irreversible

On 7-8 July, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met with other Group of Twenty (G20) leaders for a summit in Hamburg, Germany. This was the first such global meeting following the announcement by the US Administration of its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Globalisation and technological change have contributed significantly to driving economic growth and raising living standards across the globe. However, globalisation has created challenges and its benefits have not been shared widely enough. By bringing together developed and emerging market economies, the G20 is determined to shape globalisation to benefit all people. Most importantly, we need to better enable our people to seize its opportunities.

EU is resolved to tackle common challenges to the global community, including terrorism, displacement, poverty, hunger and health threats, job creation, climate change, energy security, and inequality including gender inequality, as a basis for sustainable development and stability. We will continue to work

together with others, including developing countries, to address these challenges, building on the rules- based international order.

Expanding on the results of previous presidencies, in particular the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, EU decided to take concrete actions to advance the three aims of building resilience, improving sustainability and assuming responsibility.

Greece awaiting debt relif

Debt relief for Greece will be looked into at the next Eurogroup meeting on 22 May, according to Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The president of the informal body of the eurozone’s finance ministers made the announcement during a plenary debate in Parliament on 27 April. He also apologised to MEPs about recent remarks that proved controversial.

Dijsselbloem attended a plenary debate on the second review of the economic adjustment programme for the country. The Eurogroup president said debt relief was a possibility: “Last year we gave that commitment to come back to this issue of [debt] sustainability for Greece because that’s the only way they will come back on a sustainable path and a sustainable economic future.”

Economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who also took part in the debate, added:  “The Commission will continue to support efforts to make Greek debt more sustainable. We believe it’s necessary and possible.”

Greece is currently in the middle of its third bailout programme since the financial crisis. On 2 May, Greece reached a preliminary technical agreement with its creditors, which means the country is set to have the next tranche of funding approved in time for its next debt repayments of €6 billion in July.

Greece’s primary budget surplus, an important indicator of the country’s public finances, increased to 3.9% last year, beating all the creditors’ targets, according to data from Eltat , the national statistics service.

During the debate in plenary Roberto Gualtieri, an Italian member of the S&D group, said the news about the primary surplus for 2016 showed that the Greek economy was at a turning point and urged the next Eurogroup meeting to formally conclude the current review and address debt relief.

Ska Keller, the German chairs of the Greens/EFA group,  said that now that Athens had delivered, it was time for the Eurogroup to do its part and give Greece its debt relief.

Two Greek MEPs – ECR member Notis Marias GUE/NGL member Dimitrios Papadimoulis – both highlighted the current devastating state of the Greek economy with Marias calling it a “social cemetery”.

Apart from the economic situation in Greece, MEPs addressed recent controversial statements by Dijsselbloem  in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he was quoted as saying about southern European countries: “You cannot spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.”

“I really regret the comments you made recently on southern countries because the social distress that many of our citizens are suffering deserves more than that,” – Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the EPP group, said.

“Many members of the Parliament have been very critical about my remarks, and of course I fully accept that. The choice of words has been unfortunate and people have been offended and I regret that,” – Dijsselbloem replied.

Schaeuble: EU needs flexible speeds

It is not realistic to take further steps towards European Union integration at this point and after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc its remaining members must be ready to form ‘coalitions of the willing’, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

“Given the current situation, it is not realistic to think that we can take further steps towards deepening European integration at the moment,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington.

“We need to respond to urgent questions in a way that is visibly European, and we need to find European solutions to acute problems,” he added, “We need flexible speeds, variable groupings of countries, ‘coalitions of the willing’, whatever you want to call it in a particular situation.”

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