Canada, Mercosur in talks
Latin America’s Mercosur trade bloc countries on Friday formally launched negotiations on a free-trade deal with Canada. Paraguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Eladio Loizaga said the first meeting would take place in Ottawa from March 20 to March 23. Ministers said in a joint statement that they aimed to conclude a “Canada-Mercosur Global Trade Agreement” with a “shared commitment to trade liberalization and opening markets.” Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Faurie said the two sides hoped to sign a free-trade agreement before the end of the year.
EU to update haven blacklist
The EU is next week to add Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands to its new tax haven blacklist, European sources said. However, the blacklist will still number nine countries after finance ministers withdraw Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia, according to an EU document. A European source said the new list would be approved by the 28-nation bloc’s finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday next week. Activists had sharply criticized the EU’s commitment to fighting tax avoidance after it withdrew Panama, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Mongolia, Macau, Grenada and Barbados from the list on Jan. 23.
Deal reached on wage hikes
Unions have reached a deal with the government to raise the salary of civil servants for the first time since 2009 after an economic crisis sparked drastic austerity measures, they said on Friday. The agreement allows for a 6.1 percent to 8.8 percent increase over three years, depending on the growth of the nation’s economy over the period, the Workers’ Commissions union said in a statement. Last year, the government had proposed a 1 percent increase, which was rejected by unions as inadequate.
Facebook to stream baseball
Facebook Inc has reached a deal with Major League Baseball for exclusive rights to stream 25 afternoon games on the social network in the US. It is the first time a major US sports league has agreed to show regular-season games exclusively on Facebook, which has been building a portfolio of live sports. MLB owners unanimously approved the move, the league said. Neither MLB nor Facebook disclosed the financial terms, although people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified, because the terms are private, put the price at US$30 million to US$35 million.
AT&T slams anti-trust suit
AT&T Inc has lashed out at a US anti-trust lawsuit against its proposed takeover of Time Warner Inc, saying that the government’s own economic expert determined the deal would raise prices for pay-TV subscribers by just US$0.45 per month. The telecommunications giant derided the US Department of Justice’s case, saying that the government’s own analysis shows the deal would cause minimal consumer harm, according to a filing in federal court in Washington on Friday. AT&T said that the merger with the owner of CNN and HBO would allow it to more effectively compete against rivals such as Comcast Corp and Netflix Inc to the benefit of consumers.
Softbank Group Corp plans to keep a stake in the chip designer Arm Ltd, even if it sells a partial interest to Nvidia Corp, the Nikkei reported. The companies are negotiating terms, the newspaper reported, citing sources. Softbank might take a stake in Nvidia after it buys Arm, the report said. Nvidia and Arm might also merge through a share swap, and Softbank would become a major shareholder in the combined company, it said. The two parties aim to reach a deal in the next few weeks, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Nvidia is the
Gold surged to a fresh record on Friday, fueled by US dollar weakness and low interest rates, while silver headed for its best month since 1979. Spot bullion is up more than 10 percent this month, as US real yields lingered near record lows. While the ferocity of rallies in gold and silver cooled in the middle of the week, most market watchers predict there might be more gains ahead. Both metals have added about 30 percent this year, with gold and silver exchange-traded funds boosting holdings to a record, as concern about the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic fuels demand for
END TO SPECULATION: The hotel’s management contract has been extended, despite reports that it wanted to end its alliance with Hyatt Hotels over a deal with Riant Capital Singapore-based Hong Leong Hotel Development Ltd (豐隆大飯店股份) yesterday said it has extended a management contract to ensure the continued presence of the Grand Hyatt brand in Taipei, ending rumors that the two sides were parting ways. “We are pleased Hyatt is able to come to terms on the extension of the management contract of Grand Hyatt Taipei,” said Kwek Leng Beng (郭令明), executive chairman of City Developments Ltd (城市發展) and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Ltd (千禧國敦酒店). Hong Leong Hotel Development is a subsidiary of Millennium, and both fall under the Hong Leong Group (豐隆集團). The Grand Hyatt Taipei (台北君悅大飯店), owned and built by
MOVING FROM CHINA? The article did not name the company, but Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron were among firms chosen for a production-linked incentive plan in India An Apple Inc vendor is looking at shifting six production lines to India from China, which could result in US$5 billion of iPhone exports from the South Asian nation, the Times of India reported, citing people familiar with the matter who it did not identify. The establishment of the facility would create about 55,000 jobs over about a year, the newspaper reported, not naming the Apple vendor. It would also cater to the domestic market and expand operations to include tablets and laptops, the newspaper reported. Samsung Electronics Co and Apple’s assembly partners are among 22 companies that have pledged 110 billion