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Washington Digests US-China Trade Announcement

Washington is digesting China’s stated intention to purchase more American goods and reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, last week’s talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators did not yield specific commitments from Beijing in dollar figures, sparking criticism from some lawmakers in Washington.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg, EU Lawyers Locked in Negotiations

Facebook and European Union officials were locked in high-stakes negotiations Sunday over whether founder Mark Zuckerberg will appear Tuesday before EU lawmakers to discuss the site’s impact on the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of Europeans, as well as Facebook’s impact on elections on both sides of the Atlantic and the spreading of fake news.

Being debated is whether the meeting would be held after EU Parliament President Antonio Tajanibe agreed to have it live-streamed on the internet and not held behind closed-doors, as previously agreed.

The leaders of all eight political blocs in the parliament have insisted the format be changed.

Lawmakers say it would be deeply damaging for Zuckerberg, if he pulls out simply because they want him to hold what they say is the equivalent of a “Facebook Live.”

Claude Moraes, chairman of the EU parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs panel, warned Zuckerberg will have to go into greater detail than he did in his testimony before U.S. Senate and Congressional panels last month on the “issues of algorithmic targeting, and political manipulation” and on Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook shared with the British firm the data of millions of Americans and Europeans, which was subsequently used for election campaigning purposes. Facebook did not return calls from VOA asking about whether Zuckerberg’s meeting with EU lawmakers would still go ahead.

“EU governments are absolutely aware that every election now is tainted. We want to get to the heart of this,” said Moraes. EU lawmakers say Zuckerberg’s appearance is all the more important as he has declined to appear before national European parliaments, including Britain’s House of Commons.

Terrorist connections

Zuckerberg is likely also to be pressed on why Facebook is still being used by extremists to connect with each other and to recruit. Much of the focus in recent weeks on Facebook has been about general issues over its management of users’ data, but analysts are warning the social-media site is enabling a deadly form of social networking and isn’t doing enough to disrupt it.

“Facebook’s data management practices have potentially served the networking purposes of terrorists,” said the Counter Extremism Project, nonprofit research group, in a statement.

“CEP’s findings regularly debunk Facebook’s claims of content moderation. This week, a video made by the pro-ISIS al-Taqwa media group was found that includes news footage from attacks in the West and calls for further violence, encouraging the viewer to attack civilians and ‘kill them by any means or method,” according to CEP

CEP researchers say Facebook’s “suggested friends” feature helps extremists connect to each other and is “enabling a deadly form of social networking.” “Worldwide, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, there has been a spike of militant activity on social media channels … Encrypted messaging apps like Facebook-owned WhatsApp are well known mechanisms used by terrorists to communicate, plot and plan attacks, a practice that is tragically continuing,” CEP says.

New rules

Aside from the EU parliament, Zuckerberg has agreed to be interviewed onstage Thursday at a major tech conference in Paris, and is scheduled to have lunch with French president Emmanuel Macron during the week.

His visit comes as the British government is threatening social-media companies with a tax to pay for efforts to counter online crime. According to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, British ministers have instructed officials to carry out research into a new “social media levy” on internet companies.

Culture Minister Matt Hancock indicated Sunday the British government is beginning to move away from allowing the internet companies to regulate themselves and is ready to impose requirements on them, which if approved by parliament will make Britain the “safest place in the world” to be online.

A new code of practice aimed at confronting social-media bullying and to clear the internet of intimidating or humiliating online content could be included in the legislation, say officials. Other measures being considered include rules that have to be followed by traditional broadcasters that prevent certain ads being targeted at children. Hancock said work with social-media companies to protect users had made progress, but the performance of the industry overall has been mixed, he added.

Hancock said, “Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better.”

 

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US, China Back Away From Tariff War

The U.S. and China have agreed to back away from imposing tough new tariffs on each other’s exports, a day after reaching a deal for China to buy more American goods to “substantially reduce” the huge trade deficit with the U.S.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News the world’s two biggest economic powers “made very meaningful progress and we agreed on a framework” to resolve trade issues. “So right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework,” he said.

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Vice Premier Liu He, who led Chinese negotiators in trade talks in Washington this past week, as saying, “The two sides reached a consensus, will not fight a trade war, and will stop increasing tariffs on each other.”

Liu said the agreement was a “necessity.” But he added, “At the same time, it must be realized that unfreezing the ice cannot be done in a day, solving the structural problems of the economic and trade relations between the two countries will take time.”

Watch related video by VOA’s Michael Bowman:

U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to impose new tariffs on $150 billion worth of Chinese imports and Beijing had responded that it would do the same on American goods.

Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would soon go to Beijing to negotiate on how China might buy more American goods to reduce the huge U.S. trade deficit with Beijing, which last year totaled $375 billion.

Philip Levy, senior fellow on the global economy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, tells VOA that while the U.S. and China have for now avoided a tariff war, the outcome of the trade talks is mediocre.

“I think the Trump administration will crow about the fact that they arranged for some additional sales. That really wasn’t the issue. It may have been in their minds, but in terms of what is in the national interest, it wasn’t,” he said.

Levy says the result is a managed trade solution that still does not answer the fundamental question of how a state-dominated economy the size of giant China fits into the global radiating system.

But Kudlow said there has been a lot of progress.

“You can see where we’re going next. As tariffs come down, the barriers come down, there will be more American exports,” he told ABC television, saying any agreement reached will be “good for American exports and good for Chinese growth.”

One contentious point of conflict between the U.S. and China is the fate of ZTE, the giant technology Chinese company that has bought American-made components to build its consumer electronic devices.

The U.S. fined ZTE $1.2 billion last year for violating American bans on trade with Iran and North Korea. But ZTE said recently it was shutting down its manufacturing operations because it could no longer buy the American parts after the U.S. imposed a seven-year ban on the sale of the components.

Trump, at the behest of Chinese President Xi Jinping, a week ago “instructed” Commerce Secretary Ross to intervene to save the company and prevent the loss of Chinese jobs.

Even so, Kudlow said, “Do not expect ZTE to get off scot free. Ain’t going to happen.”

Ira Mellman and Kenneth Schwartz contributed to this report.

 

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З 2019 року Чернівці й румунську Сучаву з’єднають поїздом – Мініфраструктури

Україна й Румунія домовилися про запровадження залізничного сполучення між Чернівцями й румунською Сучавою, повідомило Міністерство інфраструктури України.

Дві пари поїздів мають почати курсувати з 1 січня 2019 року. На маршруті передбачена пересадка на українській станції Вадул-Сірет неподалік від кордону з Румунією, заявили у відомстві.

Наразі від Вадул-Сірет ідуть поїзди до Сучави й столиці Румунії Бухареста.

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«Укрзалізниця»: швидкісну лінію між Києвом і «Борисполем» збудують до 1 грудня

Швидкісну лінію залізничного сполучення між Києвом та міжнародним аеропортом «Бориспіль» збудують до 1 грудня, заявив в.о. голови правління «Укрзалізниці» Євген Кравцов під час зустрічі з прем’єр-міністром України Володимиром Гройсманом.

«Важкий строк, але до 1 грудня об’єкт буде зданий. Будівництво розпочали. Зараз фінально погоджуємо вигляд станції», – цитує Кравцова прес-служба уряду.

У лютому Кабінет міністрів підтримав будівництво лінії швидкого залізничного сполучення між Києвом та «Борисполем». Прем’єр Володимир Гройсман стверджував, що сполучення дозволить дістатися зі столиці до аеропорту за 35 хвилин. Він зазначив, що загальна вартість проекту оцінюється в 600-800 мільйонів гривень.

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South Korea’s LG Group Chairman Dies at 73

South Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate, LG Group, said its Chairman Koo Bon-moo did Sunday.

Koo, 73, had been struggling with an illness for a year, LG Group said in a statement.

“Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established key three businesses — electronics, chemicals and telecommunications — led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea’s) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,” LG said.

A group official said Koo had been unwell for a year and had undergone surgery. The official declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Before its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession.

Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from the fourth generation of LG Group’s controlling family. He owns 6 percent of LG Corp and works as a senior official at LG Electronics Inc.

The senior Koo’s funeral will be private at the request of the family, the company said.

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US, China Agree to Increased Trade Cooperation

China and the United States said Saturday that they had reached consensus on steps to substantially reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Beijing.

The announcement followed high-level talks in Washington and U.S. allegations that unfair Chinese trade practices meant the United States was buying far more from China than it sold there.

China pledged to make “meaningful” increases in purchases of services and goods, particularly agricultural and energy items. 

A statement from the White House said Washington would send a team of officials to China to work out details. It mentioned the importance of intellectual property protection and said the two sides would work to achieve a “level playing field in trade.”

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, said the statement offered too few details.

He said China often denies access to its huge market unless U.S. companies give Chinese firms access to American technical and business secrets. Schumer said short-term purchases of U.S. goods would not make up for that. 

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India, EU Give WTO Lists of US Goods for Potential Tariff Retaliation

India and the European Union have given the World Trade Organization lists of the U.S. products that could incur high tariffs in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s global tariffs on steel and aluminum, WTO filings showed Friday.

The EU said Trump’s steel tariffs could cost $1.5 billion and aluminum tariffs a further $100 million, and listed rice, cranberries, bourbon, corn, peanut butter, and steel products among the U.S. goods that it might target for retaliation.

India said it was facing additional U.S. tariffs of $31 million on aluminum and $134 million on steel, and listed U.S. exports of soya oil, palmolein and cashew nuts among its potential targets for retaliatory tariffs.

One trade official described the lists of retaliatory tariffs as “loading a gun,” making it plain to U.S. exporters that pain might be on the way.

India said its tariffs would come into effect by June 21, unless and until the United States removed its tariffs.

The EU said some retaliation could be applied from June 20.

Trump’s tariffs, 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, came into force in March to strong opposition as many see the measures as unjustified and populist.

There were also objections that the tariffs would have little impact on China, widely seen to be the cause of oversupply in the market.

Trump justified the tariffs by claiming they were for U.S. national security, in a bid to protect them from any legal challenge at the WTO, causing further controversy.

Rather than challenging the U.S. tariffs directly, the EU and India, like China, South Korea and Russia, told the United States that they regarded Trump’s tariffs as “safeguards” under the WTO rules, which means U.S. trading partners are entitled to compensation for loss of trade.

The United States disagrees.

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