Your Tuesday Briefing

Estonia has become the first former Soviet republic to legalize gay marriage, due to an amendment to its Family Law which passed 55 to 34.

The United States and Europe are unable to compete with China in the solar panel industry according to a report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie. The cost of producing solar modules dropped by 42% in 2023 to $0.15 per watt; in Europe the cost is $0.30 and in the US, $0.40. China also has 80% of the world’s solar panel manufacturing capacity.

Uganda is beginning construction on the $5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline as the first shipment of pipes have arrived from China, as Uganda seeks to deliver its first oil to international markets by 2025 by shipping it to Tanzania’s ports. Pressure from environmental campaigners under the StopEACOP slogan has since several US, European, and Japanese companies withdrawing from the project, leaving China to fill the gap. France’s TotalEnergies has a 62% interest in the pipeline, and European politicians have warned against TotalEnergies from continuing to back the project.

Iran and Russia have officially abandoned the dollar for mutual settlements, finalizing an agreement to trade in the ruble and rial. New financial and banking institutions have been established to allow non-SWIFT messaging systems, and establishing bilateral brokerage relations in national currencies. This comes as Iran signs a free trade agreement with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, in which tariffs are being cut down for 87% of products.

Russian manufacturing is at its highest level of growth in seven years, as the PMI rose from 53.8 to 54.6 in December. Unemployment has also hit a record low of 2.9%. The service sector also expanded.