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Posts tagged ‘G8’

China Joins Russia In Support For Ukraine Military Action.

Sky News: Russia has said China is largely “in agreement” over Ukraine, after other world powers condemned Moscow for sending troops into the country. Hundreds of Russian soldiers have surrounded a military base in Crimea, preventing Ukrainian soldiers from going in or out. The convoy blockading the site, near the Crimean capital Simferopol, includes at least 17 military vehicles.


Armed servicemen wait near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava, March 1, 2014

Russian troops are also reported to have taken control of a ferry terminal in the city of Kerch on the eastern tip of Crimea, which has a majority Russian-speaking population.

Ukraine’s defence ministry said two Russian fighter jets violated the country’s air space in the Black Sea on Sunday night and that it had scrambled an interceptor aircraft to prevent the “provocative actions”. And reports claimed pro-Russian protesters had occupied a floor of the regional government building in Donetsk. The 11-storey building has been flying the Russian flag for the last three days.

Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk has insisted his country “will never give up Crimea to anyone” and urged Russian forces to withdraw.

Mr Yatseniuk said: “I was and am a supporter of a diplomatic solution to the crisis, as a conflict would destroy the foundations for stability in the whole region.”  In an interview with Sky News, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the crisis is likely to take some time to resolve.

He said: “I think we probably are looking at a long period of very active diplomacy and looking for solutions to this since there is no sign of a change in the Russian position on this. ”It’s impossible to be optimistic at the moment. We’re not in any position to be optimistic about the security situation and what is happening in the Crimea.”

The crisis has had a huge knock-on effect on global stock markets, with Moscow’s stock exchange plunging as much as 10% on Monday morning.

Russia’s central bank raised its rate to 7% from 5.5% as the ruble hit an historic low against the dollar and the euro.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine by telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Monday, and claimed they had “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation there, according to a ministry statement.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later, Mr Lavrov said Russian troops were necessary in Ukraine “until the normalization of the political situation” and dismissed threats of sanctions and boycotts.source – Sky News.

by NTEB News Desk

Democrats Balk Over Obama Seeking Europe, Asia Trade Pacts.

As President Barack Obama pushes an ambitious agenda to liberalize global trading, political trade wars already are forming, and they’re with fellow Democrats rather than with Republicans, his usual antagonists.

Obama is promoting free-trade proposals with Europe and Asia that could affect up to two-thirds of all global trade.

The ambitious deals would reduce or eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers. But there’s trouble ahead for both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – at the negotiating table and from Congress.

The deal with Europe will be a top item this coming week in Northern Ireland at the Group of Eight summit of major industrial democracies. But French and other objections have recently surfaced which could delay the planned launch of the negotiations.

The Asia pact was brought up pointedly by the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping, in his California meetings with Obama last weekend.

Republicans historically have supported free-trade agreements far more than have Democrats, and a politically weakened Obama may not have enough second-term clout to successfully twist the arms of enough Democratic lawmakers.

Some Republicans who usually vote for easing trade barriers may vote “no” just because the agreements will bear Obama’s signature.

Both deals generally have the support of U.S. businesses. But labor unions and human rights and environmental groups – core Democratic constituencies – have so far viewed them cynically.

These organizations, and Democrats in general, say that free-trade deals can cost American jobs and lead to environmental and workplace abuses that would not be tolerated in the U.S.

“We certainly have concerns,” said Celeste Drake, a trade and policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation. “I think Obama realizes this problem about Republicans always being the big supporters (on trade liberalization) and he would like to have our support. But overall we’re skeptical. We wish we’d see more.”

President Bill Clinton powered the U.S.-Mexico-Canada North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress in 1993 only by heavily courting Republicans and overcoming stiff Democratic opposition, including from House Democratic leaders and unions.

As he campaigned for president in 2008, Obama courted blue-collar votes by criticizing NAFTA. Since then, he’s changed his tune.

Obama worked to overcome Democratic resistance to win passage in 2011 of trade pacts with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, completing negotiations begun by his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.

The talks for a new Asia-Pacific free-trade zone came up in the Obama-Xi meetings last weekend.

At first, the deliberations involved the United States and 10 Pacific Rim nations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. More recently, Japan has sought to join the talks, drawing the keen interest of the Chinese leader. Until now, China hasn’t been included in the process.

“We have a half-a-trillion-dollar-a-year trade relationship with China,” said Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser. “President Xi’s point … was that the Chinese would like to be kept informed and have some transparency into the process.”

But the possible inclusion of Japan, the third-largest economy, after the U.S. and China, generated heat from auto-state lawmakers, who criticized Japan’s efforts to restrict auto imports.

Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan pledged to fight ratification if Japan won’t “stop blocking American companies from its markets.”

Michael Froman, a White House international economics adviser nominated to be the next U.S. trade representative, said the auto industry concerns are “well-founded” and he suggested they would be addressed.

Backers of a sweeping U.S. trade deal with the 27 European Union countries hoped to get an enthusiastic sendoff from the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday and Tuesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, the host, has made trade liberalization a priority, and many European nations are hoping the promise of expanded trade will help reverse Europe’s spreading recessions.

“An EU-US trade deal could add tens of billions to our economies,” Cameron told reporters. “Everything is on the table, with no exception.”

But there already are serious divisions in Europe.

Despite Cameron’s and Obama’s assertions that everything should be on the table, the European Union Parliament bowed to strong French concerns and recently voted to exclude TV, movies and other cultural “audiovisual services” from the trade talks even before formal negotiations begin next month.

France stuck to this “cultural exception” at a meeting of the EU members in Luxembourg on Friday.

Also, some members of the European Parliament are urging that data protection provisions be made a key part of the negotiations – in response to recent disclosures of widespread snooping by the U.S. intelligence community on telephone and Internet communications at home and abroad.

Obama, with the backing of Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is also pushing for renewal of an expired law that allowed the White House to submit trade deals to Congress for a straight yes-or-no vote without amendments.

“This is a Congress that’s pro-trade. But it’s also highly polarized,” said James Thurber, a political science professor at American University. “Business has been pushing these trade deals for a long time. Labor has not. So that splits things in a difficult manner for Obama.”

“He’s got people who don’t want him to win on anything. And then he’s got some people from labor who are skeptical about expansionistic trade policies and their effect on the workforce here,” Thurber said. “So it will be tough.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Trade, tax, transparency on June G8 meet agenda – UK.

LONDON (Reuters) – Trade, tax compliance and promoting greater transparency will be the main focus of the next meeting of leaders of the Group of Eight major economies in June, Britain said on Wednesday as it assumed the group’s rotating presidency.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped the group’s seven other member nations – the United States, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Canada and Germany – would join Britain in trying to “fire up economies and drive prosperity”.

“At the heart of my agenda for the Summit are three issues – advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency,” Cameron said in a letter to other G8 leaders.

The next G8 meeting is expected to be held in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

On trade, Cameron said deals between the European Union and Canada, Japan and the United States was on the table, and efforts are also expected to be made to close international tax loopholes and strengthen global tax standards.

Cameron also hopes to boost transparency and accountability of aid spending.

The British prime minister said the G8 economies together account for around half of the world’s economic output and so should be able to achieve ambitious goals.

However, experts question the group’s continuing relevancy given it does not include rising powers China, Brazil or India.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas)



Obama sees ’emerging consensus’ on economic fix.

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CAMP DAVID, Md. (AP) — Confronting an economic crisis that threatens them all, President Barack Obama and leaders of other world powers on Saturday declared that their governments must both spark growth and cut the debt that has crippled the European continent and put investors worldwide on edge.

“There’s now an emerging consensus that more must be done to promote growth and job creation right now,” Obama proclaimed after hosting unprecedented economic talks at Camp David, his secluded and highly secure mountaintop retreat.  Seeking a second term amid hard economic times, Obama hailed a debate heading in the direction he likes, with nations now talking of ways to spark their economies instead of just slashing spending.

Yet there were no bold prescriptions at hand. Instead, leaders seemed intent on trying to inspire confidence by agreeing on a broad strategy no matter their differences. With all of them facing their own difficult political realities, they built some sovereign wiggle room into their pledge to take all necessary steps, saying “the right measures are not the same for each of us.”

Obama played international host as Europe’s debt crisis threatens to drag down the U.S. recovery and his own political future, underscoring the stakes for him in getting allies abroad to rally around some answers.

Much of the new emphasis on government-led growth seemed aimed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who came to the summit as the European leader who had demanded austerity as the most important step toward easing the eurozone’s debt crisis. But the election of Socialist Francois Hollande as president of France, and Greek elections that created political chaos in the country were clear rejections of the belt-tightening Merkel represented.

Hollande, a new voice at the table in just his first week on the job, offered Obama a reminder of his own responsibilities to work to expand the economy, “even if he’s in an electoral period and who has a Congress that’s not necessarily easy to deal with.”

Coping with shaky oil markets, the leaders set the stage for a united release of world oil reserves to balance any disruption in world markets when tough new sanctions are imposed on Iran’s exports because of its disputed nuclear program. The leaders said they were ready to take “appropriate action” to meet any shortages.

The mere preparation to release oil reserves could help calm markets and ensure that oil prices, which have been dropping, don’t climb again and anger consumers as U.S. elections approach.

The Group of Eight summit includes leaders of the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia.

A joint summit statement reflected how urgently the countries must contain a financial crisis that could spread from the eurozone to the United States and infect the rest of the global economy. They declared unanimity in ensuring that Greece, which is crippled in debt and politically gridlocked, remains as part of the 17-member euro currency union.

“The leaders here understand the stakes,” Obama said in summing up a packed, unusually intimate day of world talks. “They know the magnitude of the choices they have to make and the enormous political and economic and social costs if they don’t.”

Merkel said growth and deficit-cutting reinforced each other and that everyone around the table agreed. “That is great progress,” she said. As for promoting growth, she said investments under consideration include research and development, Internet networks and infrastructure. But she said “this doesn’t mean stimulus in the usual sense.”

U.S. officials agreed, saying growth measures that the Europeans might pursue don’t all require outright public spending, and could be in the form of public-private partnerships or in initiatives designed to loosen credit. And the leaders stayed away entirely from the world “stimulus,” which has taken on an unpopular political connotation, including in the United States.

“The global economic recovery shows signs of promise, but significant headwinds persist,” said G-8 leaders said.

The tension between austerity and growth — whether to slash debt by cutting budgets or use public money and other means to help spur economic growth — was the backdrop as Obama welcomed an emerging push for a balance between the two.

He seized the opportunity to cast the debate in terms favorable to his own re-election, closing the summit with the steps he took to right the U.S. economy and his economic vision for a second term. He said he was confident Europe could get on a path to recovery as has the United States.

“We know it is possible in part based on our own experience here,” he said. “In my earliest days in office, we took decisive steps to confront our own financial crisis.”

Obama chose Camp David in part to encourage a freewheeling discussion out of sight of most media and potential protests, allowing the leaders to sit around a cabin table to negotiate terms, or stroll through the leafy paths for chats that seemed a world away from the typical summit convention-hall setting.

It all came before Obama was to lead a much larger NATO summit in Chicago on Sunday and Monday that will be heavily focused on the Afghanistan war.

The drag of a eurozone crisis comes as joblessness and doubts about a life of better opportunities are already the chief concerns for American voters.

In their united view, the leaders conceded some points about Merkel’s push for austerity, saying budget deficits must close.

But their joint statement added that budget cutting should “take into account countries’ evolving economic conditions and underpin confidence and economic recovery.” That suggested a willingness to let indebted countries take more time to reduce their deficits in line with eurozone rules in order to lessen the deadening impact of cuts on the economy.

It also called for “investments in education and in modern infrastructure,” which would involve more government spending. That approach also meshes exactly with Obama’s campaign-year strategy for accelerated economic growth, which is to keep spending money on core priorities while taking on the debt through cuts and higher taxes.

The statement of support for Greece remaining in the euro underlines the unpredictable damage to the global financial system that could come from a Greece departure. It follows a week of increasing speculation that Greece might not be able to stay the course, and in which a top European Union official said officials were working on emergency plans in case of a Greek exit. That country is facing the most acute financial crisis of the eurozone and is set to hold elections June 17 to end political deadlock.

At issue is whether Greece abandons the euro to escape austerity measures. Meanwhile, Europe’s woes have given shudders to Wall Street.

The Fitch ratings agency dropped Greece to the lowest possible grade for a country not in default Thursday. Fitch said Greece’s departure from the euro “would be probable” if elections next month do not reverse political trends there, which have brought in politicians opposed to the terms of Europe’s bailout.


Associated Press writers David McHugh, Jamey Keaten, Nancy Benac and Anne Gearan contributed to this report.


Associated PressBy BEN FELLER and JIM KUHNHENN | Associated Press 

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