Brazil: Lava Jato spares Odebrecht owners and executives to plead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS AGENCY)

 

Lava Jato spares Odebrecht owners and executives to plead

The new chapter of Vaza Jato reveals that contractor Odebrecht’s owner Emilio was spared tougher measures, such as the obligation to relinquish control, so that prosecutors could strike award-winning deal deals with company executives. At another controversial point, the company was allowed to pay the fines of its award-winning whistle blowers.

Emilio Odebrecht to Leave Odebrecht Board Early
Emilio Odebrecht to Leave Odebrecht Board Early

247 – The new chapter of Vaza Jato, brought by journalists Ricardo Balthazar and Paula Bianchi, in a report published in Folha, reveals behind-the-scenes negotiations about Odebrecht’s award-winning accusation. “Prosecutors of Operation Lava Jato spared Odebrecht and its top executives from drastic measures contemplated during negotiations on the billion-dollar deal that ensured the company’s cooperation with investigations starting in 2016,” the report said.

“Investigators also discussed the possibility of preventing Odebrecht from paying whistle blowers’ lawyers and being liable for fines imposed on executives to prevent them from preserving their accumulated assets when they were involved in corruption at the company,” reporters note. According to them, the prosecutors set aside these measures as the negotiations progressed, so as not to derail the deal with Odebrecht, which was one of the largest business groups in the country and went into crisis when it was hit by the Lava Jato. “

In June 2016, Deltan and two other attorneys suggested to colleagues that the company be prevented from taking the fines. “Executives must afford it, in my opinion,” he said on Telegram. He proposed that the company be punished for terminating the deal if it paid executive penalties. However, the second option prevailed: the company paid the fines of its awarded whistle blowers.

5 largest employers in the world

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 largest employers in the world

Unless you’re a trust fund baby, you probably work for a living. We go to a place of business on specific days and earn a wage so that we can afford to live. In the United States, many people are employed by small businesses, which according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, can range from a staff of one to as many as 1,500 employees. But many firms employ an international workforce or have so many employees that they are considered some of the largest employers in the world. From smallest to largest, these are the five largest employers in the world according to the World Economic Forum.

5. China National Petroleum Corporation – 1.7 million employees

Credit: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com

Regardless of your feelings about oil discovery and production, it’s a major industry with activity around the world. You might think that a multinational company like Royal Dutch Shell or British Petroleum would make this list, but they don’t. China National Petroleum Corporation is a state-run organization that operates rigs and refineries in 30 countries around the world, even north of our border in Canada.

The organization employs roughly 1.7 million employees, making them the fifth largest employer worldwide. Additionally, they’re also the third largest incorporated energy production firm in the world that specializes in oil and gas. Not only do they explore for new deposits, but they also focus on refining and marketing their products beyond their home country.

4. McDonald’s – 1.7 million employees

Credit: Ratana21 / Shutterstock.com

Even if you’re not a big fast food fan, you’re familiar with the Golden Arches, Ronald McDonald and his wacky crew of friends, and iconic sandwiches like the Big Mac and Fillet ‘o Fish. McDonald’s makes the list as the fourth largest employer; they operate in over 100 countries and serve over 69 million customers. Between franchise and corporate employees combined, the eatery employs 1.7 million people. If you narrow the criteria to private companies, the burger chain rises higher as the second largest employer in the world.

3. Walmart – 2.1 million employees

Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Depending on who you talk to, Walmart is either the savior of budget-focused families or the bane of small business owners. Either way, there’s no denying that the big box conglomerate is a major employer in the United States and abroad. Often, they replace positions lost when factories and manufacturers move production elsewhere. Because of this, they are the third largest employer in the world.

Walmart also beats out McDonald’s as the largest private employer in the world. The retailer isn’t limited to the United States: The family-owned firm also has subsidiary locations in the United Kingdom under the supermarket name Asda and South Africa as Massmart. Across all of its verticals, Walmart employs 2.1 million employees worldwide.

2. People’s Liberation Army of China – 2.35 million employees

Credit: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock.com

War is big business, which explains why the second runner-up and leader of this list are two major military operations. China holds the title for the largest population at 1.42 billion people. So, it makes sense that they have a fairly large army. The People’s Liberation Army employs 2.35 million active military personnel or 0.18% of the nation’s population.

Just like in the U.S., China’s army is segmented into branches: Support Force, Navy, Air Force, Ground Force, Rocket Force, and a reservist branch. While the U.S. still has the largest military force in the world, China is quickly ramping up its assets. The nation’s military is currently classified as the fastest growing military outfit in the world thanks to numerous technological advances.

1. United States Department of Defense – 3.2 million employees

Credit: Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock.co

We round out this list with the United States Department of Defense. At 3.2 million employees worldwide, they eclipse China’s army by nearly 1 million. However, the U.S.’s figure doesn’t just refer to active duty military and reservists of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard or National Guard. This also includes members employed by the other 38 critical agencies that fall under the Department of Defense.

So why does the Department of Defense have such a huge workforce? This is because the U.S. has the largest military budget in the world and eclipses any other nation in money allocated toward technological defense advancements.

The above list might be a big surprise if you were expecting only Fortune 500 firms. This top five list reflects the fact that China’s influence as a nation and economic force continues to grow while the U.S. is able to maintain a strong presence since more than half of the countries with the largest work forces are headquartered in the United States.

Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Cameroon on a path to ‘national dialogue’ as Anglophone crisis continues

A man in Cameroon wears a shirt featuring President Paul Biya, taken March 20, 2008, via RNW media/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0.

Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya, in an infrequent outing on Tuesday, September 10, announced talks to put to rest the crisis rocking the country’s English-speaking northwest and southwest regions – an impasse elapsing for the fourth year.

The conflict broke out in late 2016 when English-speaking Cameroonians began to protest the ongoing marginalization from the Francophone majority, who say the French-speaking majority government has consistently oppressed their language, culture and economies.

The protest movement, led mostly by teachers and lawyers, evolved into a militant separatist movement calling for the secession of English-speaking Cameroon. The government clamped down on Anglophone separatists and the conflict led to close to 2,000 people killed and over 500,000 displaced, according to the United Nations.

President Biya, who has been in power for 37 years, said the discussion would pull together people from a vast array of the country and will be chaired by Anglophone Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute.

“The dialogue in question will mainly concern the situation in the northwest and southwest regions. The dialogue will, therefore, rally all the sons and daughters of our beloved and beautiful country, Cameroon, to reflect on values that are dear to us, namely: peace, security, national unity and progress,” President Biya said on public television CRTV.

Gina Sondo 🇨🇲@GinaSondo

In view of the National Dialogue, ’s PM Dion Ngute will meet the following…

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However, there are concerns the dialogue may be limited and remote-controlled by the country’s leadership.

Agbor Nkongho, a human rights lawyer, who was part of the initial protests, wrote on Twitter on September 11, reacting to the President’s speech:

Agbor Nkongho@AgborNkonghoF

The call for an inclusive dialogue is very appreciated. I urge those who will be attending to call for the release of all those detained in connection with the crisis, the need for constitutional amendment and also to ensure that the form of the state is equally discussed.

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The Anglophone crisis in context 

After World War I, Britain and France shared control over Cameroon. France ruled French Cameroon and Britain administered a territory then-called British Southern Cameroons.

French Cameroon gained independence in 1961 as La Republique du Cameroun while British Southern Cameroons voted to join La Republique du Cameroun to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon, made up of two states: West Cameroon (English-speaking) and East Cameroon (French-speaking).

However, the first president of Cameroon, Ahmadou Ahidjo, who held power from 1960-1982, abolished the federal system in 1972. Today, there are 10 regions in the United Republic of Cameroon, made of 8 French regions and 2 English regions.

Anglophone Cameroonians have long lamented suppression from Francophone Cameroonians, who have dominated the country’s leadership since inception.

In 1991, efforts made to incise the abscess of the Anglophone problem with a similar call for dialogue fell flat. The All Anglophone Conference in 1993 and 1994 also made no impact:

Dibussi Tande@dibussi

When Anglophone members of the Committee on Constitutional Reform, set up by @PR_Paul_BIYA in 1993, proposed an alternative Federal Constitution, the President instead convened a “Grand Debat National” to water down & sidestep Anglo demands

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Nonetheless, President Biya recently announced a national dialogue to take place at the end of September, and several groups have already submitted proposals on how to resolve the crisis.

In one of them, the opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, led by vice-president Joshua Osih called for a neutral personality to chair the talks. Several Anglophone separatists are calling for the release of their leaders from prison after receiving life sentences.

Doubt, hope, fear ahead of talks

Netizens took to Twitter to express hope as well as doubt about the impact of the national dialogue plan. Solomon Amabo called for the need for a third-party presence to ensure transparency and inclusivity:

Solomon Amabo@solomon_amabo

Dialogue:’Who will I dialogue with?asked Mr Biya?He turns around and calls for National Dialogue,to dialogue with who then?Dialogue with ready-made resolutions-One and indivisible Cameroon?Only negotiations with 3rd party presence(UN,USA,etc)can be binding.We are not in 1961!

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Peter Tah also worries about inclusivity and wonders how peace is possible without a clear ceasefire:

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

It’s increasing clear that the national dialogue will focus on issues like bilingualism, social cohesion, cultural diversity, return of refugees, reintegration of ex-combatants & rebuilding of affected areas in the Northwest & Southwest regions of .

Peter Tah@TFomonyuy

Looking at how predialogue talks are unfolding, it’s evident that this will be far from being inclusive. The regime seems to be picking & choosing those who would attend. Plus if this is dialogue on a crisis involving two parties, how come one party gets to draw up the agenda?

See Peter Tah’s other Tweets

However, Biya clarified on Monday, September 16, that the national dialogues will focus on “bilingualism, cultural diversity and social cohesion, the reconstruction and development of conflict-affected areas, the return of refugees and displaced persons, the education and judicial system, but also decentralization and local development,” according to Cameroon Online.

The United Nations says it has taken in the resolve by Cameroon’s leader Paul Biya to settle the armed conflict in the country’s English-speaking regions.

The UN urged inclusive talks to end the conflict that has persisted for nearly four years:

The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement made today by President Paul Biya on the launch of a national dialogue process in Cameroon. He encourages the government of Cameroon to ensure that the process is inclusive and addresses the challenges facing the country. He calls on all Cameroonian stakeholders, including the Diaspora, to participate in this effort.

Still, the September talks are announced amidst ongoing violence and a new surge of refugees fleeing insecure situations — including lockdowns and school closures for the last three years — in the northwest and southwest regions.

Saudi Arabia: Unemployment Declines to 12.3% in Q2

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia: Unemployment Declines to 12.3% in Q2

Friday, 13 September, 2019 – 10:45
Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat
The unemployment rate among Saudi Arabian citizens dropped to 12.3 percent in Q2 2019 compared to 12.5 percent in Q1, according to data from the Saudi General Authority for Statistics (GaStat).

Unemployment in the kingdom (citizens and residents) fell to 5.6 percent in the second quarter, compared to 6 percent in Q1 2019.

The economic reforms implemented within Saudi Vision 2030 have proven efficiency through the continuous drop of the unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia.

There has been an increase of 23.2 percent in the economic participation of Saudi women in the second quarter of 2019 compared to 20.5 percent in the previous quarter. The overall economic participation of Saudis reached 45 percent in the second quarter compared to 42.3 percent in the first quarter.

The decline is attributed to Saudi Vision 2030 programs aiming at boosting the involvement of citizens in the private sector and creating jobs in new fields of entertainment, cinema, and sports for women.

The Saudi government leads several government initiatives such as developing a specialized agency to empower women in the government sector through the Ministry of Civil Service, as well as the support provided by Saudi Vision 2030 programs for women such as eliminating social restrictions that limit them from taking part in the labor market.

The estimated total of Saudi job-seekers during the Q2 is one million. Yet, not all of them meet the unemployment standards known by the International Labor Organization.

The GASTA clarified job seekers as Saudi men and women registered in the government in search of a job through the Jadara and Saaed portals of the Ministry of Civil Service and the Taqat portal of Human Resources Development Fund.

The data was collected from the administrative records of the relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Ministry of Civil Service, the General Organization for Social Insurance, the Human Resources Development Fund, and the National Information Center.

China, Kazakhstan agree to develop permanent comprehensive strategic partnership

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China, Kazakhstan agree to develop permanent comprehensive strategic partnership

Xinhua
China, Kazakhstan agree to develop permanent comprehensive strategic partnership

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds a welcoming ceremony for visiting Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev before their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, September 11, 2019.

China and Kazakhstan decided Wednesday to develop a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership.

The decision came as Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with his Kazakh counterpart, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

When reviewing the achievements the People’s Republic of China has scored in the past 70 years since it was founded, Xi said such a process of moving forward has never been smooth, and stressed that no matter how the external situation changes, China will unswerving take care of its own business regardless of outside factors.

Xi said China will comprehensively deepen reform, expand opening-up and promote higher-quality development.

“We are fully capable of coping with various risks and challenges, and any difficulty or obstacle cannot stop us from moving forward,” Xi said.

“A stable, open and prosperous China will always be an opportunity for the future development of the world,” he said.

On China-Kazakhstan ties, Xi said China is willing to deepen all-round cooperation with Kazakhstan, seek synergy between the Silk Road Economic Belt and Kazakhstan’s Bright Path new economic policy, and strengthen connectivity.

He also called on the two sides to boost cooperation in industrial capacity and science and technology innovation, increase people-to-people and cultural contacts, and facilitate exchanges at sub-national level.

China and Kazakhstan should take a clear-cut stand in upholding multilateral-ism and an open world economy, so as to contribute to promoting a fairer, more just and equitable global governance system, Xi said.

Xi also encouraged the two countries to strengthen security cooperation, and jointly fight against the “three evil forces” of terrorism, extremism and separatism.

It is necessary to promote the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to play a more active role in regional and international affairs, he added.

Tokayev, who is paying a state visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday, expressed congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Tokayev said Kazakhstan is willing to take the decision of developing a permanent comprehensive strategic partnership with China as an opportunity to promote closer bilateral ties.

China’s reform and opening-up has brought opportunities to various countries including Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan firmly supports the Chinese government and people in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, he said.

Tokayev said Kazakhstan is looking forward to cementing high-level exchanges with China, and strengthening pragmatic cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, infrastructure, energy, 5G, science and technology, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative.

Tokayev said the two sides should closely communicate and coordinate within the frameworks of the SCO and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, jointly combat the “three evil forces,” and maintain regional security while opposing external interference.

The two heads of state signed a joint statement between China and Kazakhstan after their talks. They also attended a signing ceremony for a number of bilateral cooperation agreements.

Before their talks, Xi hosted a welcome ceremony for Tokayev outside the Great Hall of the People.

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

Image
Credit Tim Wilson/The New York Times

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, led negotiations to strengthen the legislation. He has said he would sign the bill, approved as part of a flurry of activity in the final week of the legislative session.

The measure, affecting an estimated eight million residents of rental homes and apartments, was heavily pushed by tenants’ groups. In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Round table, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.

That dynamic reflected a momentous political swing. For a quarter-century, California law has sharply curbed the ability of localities to impose rent control. Now, the state itself has taken that step.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who was the bill’s author. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

A greater share of households nationwide are renting than at any point in a half-century. But only four states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — have localities with some type of rent control, along with the District of Columbia. A coalition of tenants’ organizations, propelled by rising housing costs and fears of displacement, is trying to change that.

In February, Oregon lawmakers became the first to pass statewide rent control, limiting increases to 7 percent annually plus inflation. New York, with Democrats newly in control of the State Legislature, strengthened rent regulations governing almost one million apartments in New York City.

Moves to expand rent control through ballot initiatives or legislation have arisen since 2017 in about a dozen states, including Washington, Colorado and Nevada, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, an apartment-industry trade group.

Image
Credit Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Measures were recently introduced in Massachusetts and Florida to allow rent regulation in cities with a housing crunch — like BostonMiami and Orlando.

Nationally, about a quarter of tenants pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. And California’s challenges are particularly acute. After an adjustment for housing costs, it has the highest state poverty rate, 18.2 percent, about five percentage points above the national average, according to a Census Bureau report published Tuesday.

Homelessness has come to dominate the state’s political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multi-billion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.

Despite those efforts, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown by 17 percent since 2017, while the count in Los Angeles has increased by 16 percent since 2018. Over all, the state accounts for about half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population of roughly 200,000.

That bleak picture — combined with three-hour commutes, cries for teacher housing and the sight of police officers sleeping in cars— is prompting legislators and organizers to propose ever more far-reaching steps.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, offered a bill that would essentially override local zoning to allow multiple-unit housing around transit stops and in suburbs where single-family homes are considered sacrosanct. The bill was shelved in its final committee hearing this year, but Mr. Wiener has vowed to keep pushing the idea.

Economists from both the left and the right have a well-established aversion to rent control, arguing that such policies ignore the message of rising prices, which is to build more housing. Studies in San Francisco and elsewhere show that price caps often prompt landlords to abandon the rental business by converting their units to owner-occupied homes. And since rent controls typically have no income threshold, they have been faulted for benefiting high-income tenants.

“Rent control is definitely having a moment across the country,” said Jim Lapides, a vice president at the National Multifamily Housing Council, which opposes such restrictions. “But we’re seeing folks turn to really shortsighted policy that will end up making the very problem worse.”

But many of the same studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless. Also, many of the newer policies — which supporters prefer to call rent caps — are considerably less stringent than those in effect in places like New York and San Francisco for decades.

“Caps on rent increases, like the one proposed in California or the one recently passed in Oregon, are part of a new generation of rent-regulation policies that are trying to thread the needle by offering some form of protection against egregious rent hikes for vulnerable renters without stymieing much-needed new housing construction,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, research director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California.

Image

Credit Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Mr. Chiu’s bill is technically an anti-gouging provision, with a 10-year limit, modeled on the typically short-term price caps instituted after disasters like floods and fires. It exempts dwellings less than 15 years old, to avoid discouraging construction, as well as most single-family homes. But it covers tenants of corporations like Invitation Homes, which built nationwide rental portfolios encompassing tens of thousands of properties that had been lost to foreclosure after the housing bust a decade ago.

According to the online real-estate marketplace Zillow, only about 7 percent of the California properties listed last year saw rent increases larger than allowed under the bill. But there could be a big effect in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where typical rents on apartments not covered by the city’s rent regulations have jumped more than 40 percent since 2016.

By limiting the steepest and most abrupt rent increases, the bill is also likely to reduce the incentive for hedge funds and other investors to buy buildings where they see a prospective payoff in replacing working-class occupants with tenants paying higher rents.

Sandra Zamora, a 27-year-old preschool teacher, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Menlo Park, Calif., a short drive from Facebook’s expanding headquarters. A year ago, Ms. Zamora’s building got a new owner, and the rent jumped to $1,900 from $1,100, a rise of over 70 percent. Most of her neighbors left. Ms. Zamora stayed, adding a roommate to the 600-square-foot space and taking a weekend job as a barista.

“Having an $800 increase at once was really shocking,” she said. “It just keeps me thinking every month: ‘O.K., when is it going to happen? How much am I going to get increased the next month?’ It’s just a constant worry.”

Even as more states begin to experiment with rent control, it has long existed in places like New York City, which intervened to address a housing shortage post-World War II, and San Francisco, where it was adopted in 1979.

Today it is common in many towns across New Jersey and in several cities in California, including Berkeley and Oakland, although the form differs by jurisdiction. Regulated apartments in New York City are mostly subject to rent caps even after a change in tenants, for example, while rent control in the Bay Area has no such provision.

In New York City, where almost half of the rental stock is regulated, a board determines the maximum rent increases each year; this year it approved a 1.5 percent cap on one-year leases, considerably lower than the limits passed in Oregon and California.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York tenants that pushed for new rent laws, welcomed the outcome in California.

“Any victory helps to build a groundswell,” she said. “There is a younger generation of people who see themselves as permanent renters, and they’re demanding that our public policy catches up to that economic reality.”

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 15 of the New York edition with the headline: California Passes Statewide Rent Control in Effort to Ease Housing Crisis. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

China delivers greater reform, opening up with six new FTZs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China delivers greater reform, opening up with six new FTZs

Xinhua

China on Monday announced a master plan for six new pilot free trade zones in a strategic move to press ahead with reform and opening up in the new era.

The new pilot FTZs will be located in the six provincial-level regions of Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Hebei, Yunnan and Heilongjiang, according to the plan released by the State Council.

Setting up new pilot FTZs is “a major decision by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council and a strategic move to advance reform and opening up in the new era,” the plan said.

This will bring the total number of the country’s pilot FTZs to 18, which serve as pioneers of the country’s reform and opening up as they test new styles of foreign investment management, trade facilitation and transformation of government functions to better integrate the economy with international practices.

Differentiated tasks

The six new pilot FTZs will be tasked with differentiated reform tryouts, according to the plan.

Eyeing a shift to new growth drivers, the pilot FTZ of Shandong will feature new measures to nurture new businesses, develop the marine economy and explore China-Japan-Republic of Korea economic cooperation at the sub-national level.

Supporting innovation and development of the manufacturing industry is one of the goals for the pilot FTZ in Jiangsu, a vibrant manufacturing hub in the country’s east. Meanwhile, Guangxi in the south will step up cooperation with the ASEAN region in its pilot FTZ.

Hebei will step up support in its pilot FTZ for international commodity trade and the opening up of bio-medicine and healthcare-related industries.

Linking China with South Asia and Southeast Asia, the pilot FTZ of Yunnan will innovate modes of cross-border economic cooperation.

Heilongjiang will build a transportation and logistics hub in its pilot FTZ to facilitate cooperation with Russia and Northeast Asia.

Local companies have a lot to expect from the new FTZs. Wu Jian, general manager of Sinotrans Changjiang Co Ltd, said that the establishment of the pilot FTZ in Jiangsu is expected to help the firm provide logistics services to more export-oriented businesses.

Coordinated development

After China started piloting FTZs in Shanghai in 2013, the country had established 11 more in its coastal regions including Guangdong and Fujian and inland provinces such as Shaanxi and Sichuan. Earlier this month, the Shanghai pilot free trade zone was expanded, with the addition of a new section.

With the new zones, China’s pilot FTZs now cover all the country’s coastal provincial-level regions, said Wang Shouwen, vice minister of commerce.

In this way, the FTZs can develop in a less fragmented approach and better connect with each other, which will help advance coordinated and integrated development, according to Han Jian, a professor at Nanjing University Business School.

It is also the first time that the country has set up pilot FTZs in the country’s border areas, a move that will facilitate the country’s economic and trade cooperation with neighboring countries, Wang said.

The new FTZs will have more autonomy in making policies in trade and investment facilitation, financial services for the real economy, talented people management and institutional innovation, he said.

Authorities should draw lessons from the pilot programs and accumulate experience for reform practices that could be replicated and promoted, according to the plan.

Greater opening up

China’s FTZs have a proven track record in attracting foreign investment. In the first half of this year, China’s 12 current FTZs have attracted foreign investment of nearly 70 billion yuan (about US$10 billion), accounting for 14 percent of the country’s total, Wang said.

“With institutional advantages and better business environments, the FTZs are at the forefront in attracting foreign investment,” Wang said.

“We believe the new FTZs will also become investment hot spots,” he said.

The setting up of new FTZs is part of the country’s ongoing efforts to open up the economy amid rising protectionism.

The latest opening-up progress included shortened negative lists, which outline sectors off-limit to foreign investment, greater foreign access to the financial sector, as well as the newly adopted Foreign Investment Law.

“China is accelerating its opening up, which is a big cake that has great appeal for foreign firms,” said Han.

In addition, faster development of pilot FTZs will better serve the country’s real economy, attracting high-quality personnel and high-tech companies from overseas with a better business environment and intellectual property protection, Han said.

Egypt to Invest $315 M in Sinai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt to Invest $315 M in Sinai

Thursday, 22 August, 2019 – 11:45
A general view of Egypt. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
Asharq Al-Awsat
Egypt said on Thursday it would invest 5.23 billion Egyptian pounds ($315 million) in the Sinai Peninsula in fiscal 2019-20, a 75% rise on the year, in a venture officials say is intended to stabilize a region hit by violence from armed groups.

The Planning Ministry, which directed 2.986 billion pounds in investments to Sinai in the 2018-19 fiscal year, said in response to a Reuters question that the 2019-20 investments would be “general investments directed to all sectors”.

Egypt has been fighting against an ISIS insurgency concentrated in the peninsula’s north since the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi in mid-2013 after mass protests against his rule.

The government hopes investing in the region will help curb extremism and bring stability by reducing higher-than-average unemployment.

North Sinai will receive 2.85 billion pounds of the investments, while South Sinai will take 2.38 billion pounds, Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed said in a statement.

“The investments in North Sinai are in education, water, agriculture, irrigation, transport, storage, real estate activities and construction projects,” Saeed said.

According to Reuters, South Sinai investments will be “in the agriculture, irrigation, transport, education and other services sectors,” she said.

72% Trade Volume Hike between Saudi, Russia in Q1 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

72% Trade Volume Hike between Saudi, Russia in Q1 2019

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019 – 08:30
Riyadh- Fatehelrahman Yousif
Moscow affirmed holding strategic relations with Riyadh in all fields, revealing that the trade volume between Russia and Saudi Arabia during the Q1 2019 increased by 72%.

The office of Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Asharq Al-Awsat that there was trade growth between the two countries from January to April 2019.

The volume of trade rose by 72%, reaching $ 505.2 million, compared to the same period last year.

“We have many points of intersection and mutual interests, as there is a certain mutual desire to boost cooperation in such fields as industry, peaceful use of atomic energy, innovation, the space sector, and agriculture,” Novak’s office stated.

Energy Ministers noted the importance of increasing cooperation especially in promising sectors and pointed to the inking of agreements in previous meetings. Both sides also voiced their support for the currently shared technical cooperation in the fuel and energy sectors.

Novak’s office also confirmed Moscow and Riyadh’s commitment to efforts spent by OPEC and non-OPEC oil-producing countries to stabilize global oil market and reduce volatility.

It also noted the importance of joint efforts to stabilize the market, stressing the determination of producers to ensure stability, predictability, and gradual development of the market.

China to build Shenzhen into socialist demonstration area

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to build Shenzhen into socialist demonstration area

CGTN
China to build Shenzhen into socialist demonstration area

Imagine china

An aerial view of Shenzhen.

China is aiming to build its southern metropolis of Shenzhen into a “global model city with distinguished competitiveness, innovation capability and influence” by mid-century, according to a guideline supporting Shenzhen. The document supports the city in the construction of a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The guideline, released by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council on Sunday, says that by 2025 Shenzhen should become a “modern international city of innovation” with its economic power and quality of development at the forefront of cities worldwide. By 2035, it should become a “hub for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship” as well as a sample for China to build a “great modern socialist country” at the city level.

The coastal city in Guangdong Province should play a leading role in high-quality development and position itself as a demonstration city of the rule of law, the guideline stressed, calling for the creation of a “stable, fair, transparent and predictable” business environment.

It added that Shenzhen should become a model for a civilized society and decent livelihoods for its residents and a pioneer in pursuing sustainable development.

The guideline was made public more than three weeks after it was reviewed at the ninth meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform.

Key role in Greater Bay Area

Hailing Shenzhen an “important window” of China’s reform and opening-up, the guideline said supporting the city in building a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics will be conducive for better implementing the strategy of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and enriching the practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

It underscored support for Shenzhen to play a key role in developing the Greater Bay Area into an international innovation and technology hub.

Shenzhen will also be supported in building innovation-oriented bodies in fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence, cyberspace science and technology and laboratories on life information and bio-medicine, according to the guideline.

It seeks to encourage overseas personnel who have permanent resident status in Shenzhen to set up scientific and technological enterprises.

The plan vowed to deepen reform and opening-up in the Shenzhen-Hong Kong modern service industry cooperation zone in Qianhai of Shenzhen and upgrade the city’s level of opening-up to Hong Kong and Macao.

Meanwhile, people from Hong Kong and Macao working and living in Shenzhen will be treated the same as residents of the city in terms of their livelihoods, it said.

In February, the central government unveiled a blueprint for the development of the Greater Bay Area, which covers nine cities in Guangdong Province – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing – as well as Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.

Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao are positioned as core cities in the Greater Bay Area.