Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Israel signed an agreement to build a pipeline from Levantine Basin to Southern Europe
The EU will manage in the near future to further ease its dependency on Russian gas after Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Israel signed on 8 December an agreement to build a pipeline bringing gas from the Levantine Basin to Europe, news wires reported. Once built, the EastMed pipeline is to ship up to 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from the Leviathan gas field, situated between Israel and Cyprus, to Greece and Italy. The signatories hope the pipeline will become operational by 2025.
WTO summit ends without substantial deals due to Trump turnabout
In a joint statement that did not single out China or any other country, the three economic powers said they would work within the World Trade Organization and other multilateral groups to eliminate unfair competitive conditions caused by subsidies, state-owned enterprises, “forced” technology transfer and local content requirements.
 
The deal worth $72bn will create retail empire spanning from the US to Europe
Shopping centre giant Westfield is to be acquired by French property group Unibail-Rodamco in a deal worth up to $25bn, news wires reported.
 
Blast renews fears for gas shortage
A technical fault caused an explosion last Tuesday in Baumgarten, Austria's main gas pipeline hub, prompting Italy to declare a state of emergency as flows were cut off. One person was killed and at least 18 others were injured.
Qatar, UK ink fighter jets deal
British aerospace company BAE Systems agreed to sell 24 Eurofighter Typhoons (pictured) to Qatar as part of a £6bn (€6,8bn) deal with European defence contractors. Qatar's purchase of jets includes a support and training package from BAE, with deliveries due to start in 2022.
Bitcoin tops $18,000 in debut on major bourse
Bitcoin surged past $18,000 after making its eagerly awaited debut on a major global exchange on 10 December that backers hope will confer greater legitimacy on the volatile cryptocurrency and lead to its wider use.
Apple to acquire British music app Shazam
Apple is acquiring music identification app Shazam, news wires reported last week ahead of the deal to be signed.
France's AXA steps up investments in green projects
French insurer AXA announced last Tuesday several new ambitious decisions to accelerate its commitment to fight climate change.
In Brief
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Netherlands takes Germany to court over road toll bill
 
The Netherlands will join Austria in taking the German government to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its controversial road toll bill, the Dutch transport ministry announced last Wednesday. “The cabinet finds that the German motorway toll plan is discriminatory and violates the principles of free traffic flow,” the ministry said in a statement. Both Austria and The Netherlands as well as other EU Member States claim that German highway toll plans are designed in a way to discriminate foreign drivers.

Google opens an artificial intelligence centre in China
 
Google announced last Wednesday it is opening an artificial intelligence (AI) research centre in China to target the country’s local talent, despite many of its services remaining blocked in the country. Google said in a statement the research centre is the first of its kind in Asia and will comprise a small team operating out of its existing office in Beijing. Chinese policy makers have voiced strong support for AI research and development in the country but have imposed increasingly strict rules on foreign firms in the past year, including new censorship restrictions.

Saudi Aramco raises spending plans to $414bn over 10 years
 
Saudi Aramco unveils plan to lift its spending to $414bn over the next 10 years, including on infrastructure and drilling. The new plan is higher than Aramco's projection last year of around $334bn by 2025, as the oil producer has been expanding its businesses, the company's CEO Amin Nasser said last Tuesday. Aramco will spend $134bn on drilling and well services and $78bn to maintain oil output potential. The company already has a department for renewables and last month signed a preliminary deal to build a $20bn complex for converting crude oil to chemicals.

First nuclear power plant's construction starts in Turkey
 
Construction of the first nuclear power plant in Turkey started last Sunday under the limited license of Rosatom. The Russian company is expected to receive the full license for the Akkuyu NPP in the first quarter of 2018, Rosatom’s head Alexey Likhachev said. According to the Intergovernmental Agreement, signed in Ankara in May, Russia will build in Turkey four power units, supplied with VVER-1200 reactors with total capacity of 4,800 MW at a cost of $20bn. The first reactor would be ready in 2023.

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