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Venezuelan army soldiers carrying RPG anti-tank rockets participate in a military parade to celebrate Venezuela’s 206th anniversary of its Independence in Caracas on July 5, 2017.

AFP Contributor | AFP | Getty Images

Daily pressure should be exerted on Venezuela’s military to defect from the President Nicolas Maduro regime rather than international military intervention, Colombia’s president told CNBC Tuesday.

“For the weeks to come, and for the months to come, I actually believe that the best thing we can do in the international community is to put enough pressure, and make the big call to the Venezuelan military, that they should step on the right side of history and that means stepping side-to-side with President (Juan) Guaido and the (National) Assembly,” President Ivan Duque told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche in London on Tuesday.

“I think that’s far more important than any military action that can come from abroad,” Duque said.

A “daily call’ had to be made to the Venezuela military to persuade them to defect from supporting Maduro, Duque suggested. Maduro is still in power despite an attempt to oust the controversial leader by opposition lawmaker Guaido earlier this year.

Political turmoil in neighboring Venezuela has dominated Colombia’s foreign policy concerns this year. Duque was one of the first leaders in the international community to recognize Guaido as acting president after the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared himself interim leader in January.

Political stalemate appears to have set in for Venezuela, however, with Maduro hanging onto power and still backed by the military and allies including Russia. The U.S. said it has not ruled out military action in Venezuela but there appears to be little appetite to initiate a potentially protracted intervention there.

“What we have said is that we have to combine all instruments to achieve the most important objective which is Maduro stepping out of power, so that’s why I have been a promoter of the diplomatic blockade,” Duque said.

Migration crisis

In the meantime, Colombia is under pressure from the sheer amount of Venezuelans fleeing the country. According to the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency) and IOM (the International Organization for Migration), the number of refugees and migrants fleeing Venezuela has rocketed to 4 million people by mid-2019 with many seeking asylum in neighboring countries.

Colombia is now hosting 1.3 million Venezuelans, the UNHCR said in a report earlier in June, and almost the same amount of people are being hosted by Peru, Chile and Ecuador put together. Colombia’s president said his country and its economy can cope with the arrivals.

“When we look at the way we have treated the worst migration crisis we have seen in Latin America’s recent history, our policy is based on fraternity, and what we’ve done is to have an orderly management of that migration flow,” he said.

“Because people that are coming from Venezuela are coming with diseases, they’re coming with broken bones, they’re dying of hunger and we have tried to accommodate our policies to attend those people. We have also tried to allow them to participate in the labor force in Colombia in an orderly way.”

“The reason we have done this is that we know that those people are searching for opportunities and in Colombia, the policies we have adopted is to prevent that they can crowd out Colombian jobs,” he said. “The way we have done this is that nobody can hire a Venezuelan worker below the standards we have in Colombia.”

People queue to cross the Simon Bolivar international bridge from San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela to Cucuta, in Colombia, to buy goods due to supplies shortage in their country, on June 8, 2019.


Fitch ratings agency has warned that migratory flows from Venezuela could pressure public finances in Colombia and attempts to reduce the country’s budget deficit, but Duque denied that, saying that during his 10 months in office, his administration has “begun a sound fiscal policy that is aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit.”

“Actually, by the end of this year, we are going to achieve a primary surplus for the first time in eight years. We’re going to be something close to 2.4% of GDP in (terms of the budget) deficit which is one of the lowest (levels) in the last five years so I think it’s important to put it in context,” he said.

Duque became president of Colombia in August 2018 after standing as a candidate for the Democratic Center, a right-leaning conservative party. Elected at the age of 42, he is one of the country’s youngest presidents in modern history.

Duque has been accused of having little political experience as he studied law and spent 12 years of his career working at the Inter-America Development Bank among other advisory roles. He became a senator in 2014, however, and was in that role before running for president. He is widely seen as the protege of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe who founded the Democratic Center party.

On his election, Duque called for unity and promised to fight corruption and cocaine production. He also pledged to modify and toughen up the terms of a fragile and controversial 2016 peace deal overseen by former president Juan Manuel Santos with the left-wing guerrilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

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Europe is at odds over who will replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF



International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018.

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

European officials are still scratching their heads over Christine Lagarde’s successor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to several people with knowledge of the discussions, with no standout candidate for the role.

Lagarde is due to start her new job as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November, leaving the IMF’s chair empty. In Europe, EU member states agree that the next IMF managing director needs to be from the continent — but they’re struggling to rally behind one particular name.

“The truth is that there is no readily available tried and tested European all-rounder,” a European minister, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC.

There is no official shortlist of candidates, but many governments of EU nations have put forward a name to take the top job. Some of the non-official candidates are:

  • Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former Dutch finance minister and president of the Eurogroup (which brings together the 19-euro zone finance ministers).
  • Mario Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and currently Eurogroup chief.
  • Nadia Calvino, the Spanish finance minister.
  • Olli Rehn, central bank governor of Finland and former European commissioner for the euro.
  • Mark Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England — a Canadian citizen who also has Irish and English passports.
  • Kristalina Georgieva, from Bulgaria, who is currently serving as chief executive of the World Bank.
  • Mario Draghi, the outgoing ECB president.

According to two other European officials, who also preferred to remain anonymous, none of the candidates have the right profile at this stage. Some names also don’t have enough experience or they are not liked by certain governments due to their political affiliation, their past comments or their background, the officials told CNBC. Since the IMF’s formation back in 1945, the managing director has always been from Europe.

There is also an age restriction to deal with. The IMF’s rules state that managing directors must be under 65 years of age when appointed and cannot serve beyond their 70th birthday. As such, the chances of certain candidates, such as Kristalina Georgieva, become much smaller.

“If (the) age limit is adapted to today’s realities, there is Georgieva and Draghi,” the European minister told CNBC.

France, who’s chairing the discussions across the different EU capitals, is reportedly looking at ways to change the laws. However, it is unclear whether that idea would be approved inside the IMF.

A source within the French government told CNBC that Paris “does not have a preferred candidate and will play its coordination role impartially.” Meanwhile, a separate EU official confirmed to CNBC that the aim is to have an agreement by the end of the month.

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EU has 35 billion euro list ready if US hits EU cars: EU trade chief



European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium March 7, 2018.

Eric Vidal | Reuters

The European Union would retaliate with extra duties on 35 billion euros ($39.1 billion) worth of U.S. goods if Washington went ahead with tariffs on EU cars, the bloc’s trade chief said on Tuesday.

“We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a committee of the European Parliament.

“It is already basically prepared, worth 35 billion euros. I do hope we do not have to use that one,” she continued.

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GE reveals new parts for the ‘world’s largest offshore wind turbine’



GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric based in Paris, revealed “the first manufactured components” for its gigantic Haliade-X 12 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine.

On Monday, the firm displayed the first nacelle for the turbine, which will now be shipped from Saint-Nazaire in France to Rotterdam-Maasvlakte in the Netherlands. A nacelle sits directly behind a turbine’s blades and is a shell-like structure that contains crucial pieces of kit. These include the turbine’s gearbox, controller, generator and brake.

GE Renewable Energy said that a prototype of the Haliade-X 12 MW would be installed onshore in the Netherlands in order to “simplify access for testing.” Another nacelle is being assembled with a view to testing it in “actual operational conditions” at a site in the U.K.

John Lavelle, the CEO of GE Renewable Energy Offshore Wind, said the firm was “on track to start commercializing this new product very shortly.”

As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing. In September 2018, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a major player in the sector, launched the first commercially available double digit turbine, the V164-10.0 MW. The turbine has 80-meter long blades which weigh 35 tons each, and a tip height of around 187 meters.

The scale of GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW turbine is also considerable. It will have a capacity of 12 megawatts, a height of 260 meters and a blade length of 107 meters. The turbine will generate 67 gigawatt hours of gross annual energy. The company has repeatedly described it as “the world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”

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