Las Vegas, Oct. 20 (Xinhua/UNB) -- As over 17,000 attendees gathered here on Friday at an annual global exhibition on health ingredients, they were faced with the burning question of how the U.S.-initiated trade frictions with China is affecting their business.
Speaking at the SupplySide West 2019 Trade Show, participants acknowledged that the industry relies heavily on its ability to source ingredients at competitive prices across the world, with China being one of the most important suppliers and the United States the largest market.
More than 350 Chinese companies joined this year's fair, and China's pharmaceutical ingredient industry is witnessing expansion, according to Chris Cai, deputy secretary general of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicines & Health Products.
Danica Cullins, brand director and vice president of sales for events company Informa's SupplySide portfolio, said that the Chinese suppliers "represent the largest number of exhibitors at the show outside of the U.S. group."
"They (the Chinese suppliers) bring a great deal of business and value to the show," Cullins added.
While the future of the trade war remains uncertain, U.S. buyers and consumers are grappling with tariffs.
Pacific Rainbow (PR), a U.S.-based nutritional supplement company which imports raw materials and ingredients from China and Southeast Asia and sells to U.S. manufacturers, was definitely affected.
"We felt the pressure from both sides -- suppliers and customers. Our customers were concerned about a shortage of suppliers from China and over the higher prices because of tariffs. So it's been very disruptive for our business," said Forrest Zhang from PR.
"It's the small businesses that suffer because the big companies can absorb a cut in 25 percent of their profits. Small companies can't. That puts a lot of good, innovative companies out of business," said Robert, who declined to reveal his last name.
Robert lost his job last year when his former employer, a U.S. food supplement manufacturing company, went belly up. Now he owns a start-up company and took part in the trade show to look for suppliers.
Among the participants there was a consensus that thanks to high demand, good ingredients with real science behind them will continue to do well no matter where they come from, regardless of the trade scuffle.
Take U.S. functional ingredient companies AIDP in Southern California. The company supplies more than 200 commodity ingredients for diverse health and anti-aging formulations, many of which are sourced from China as the company relies heavily on the Asian country's safety standards in the food supplement sector.
"We source from many countries, but mostly from China," said Xiao Wong, a product scientist at AIDP.
He added that it would be bad for business if they move raw material sourcing to some other countries which do not have the rigorous testing capabilities and quality control documentation they get from the Chinese sources.
"The connections to manufacturers of ingredients in China are very deep in this business, so you can feel the trade war is impacting the energy here," said Cullins.
Cairo, Oct. 20 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Egypt hosted on Saturday a meeting of members of the Libyan parliament to unite their visions and efforts for the settlement of war-torn Libya's crisis, official MENA news agency reported.
Held at the headquarters of Egypt's House of Representatives in Cairo, the meeting of Libyan lawmakers is the second such hosted by Egypt after a previous one in July.
First deputy speaker of Egypt's parliament, Al-Sayed Mahmoud al-Sherif, stressed in his opening remarks of the session that "Egypt's parliament, people and president support Libya's campaign to eradicate terrorism and maintain the unity and integrity of its territories."
He added that Egypt rejects all forms of foreign intervention in Libya's domestic affairs.
For his part, deputy speaker of Libya's parliament, Fawzi al-Nuwairi, described Libya's relations with Egypt as "historical."
"Libya is going through a crisis," said the Libyan senior lawmaker, expressing hope in Egypt's position that supports Libya's stability and anti-terror war and tries to bring Libyan visions closer via national dialogue for a settlement.
Since the ouster and killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libyan factions have been engaged in a civil war that escalated in 2014, resulting in splitting power between two rival governments: a UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli, and another in the northeastern city of Tobruk.
The Libyan MPs who met in Cairo are from the Tobruk-based parliament that was elected in 2014 but denied by Tripoli. The parliament that had to move to Tobruk supports self-proclaimed Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar.
In April, Haftar's eastern-based forces started a military campaign towards Tripoli in northwestern Libya, but troops loyal to the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord managed so far to keep them at a distance.
The Egyptian leadership has repeatedly voiced support for Haftar
Beirut, Oct. 20 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Nationwide demonstrations continued in Lebanon for the third consecutive day calling for major changes in the country's political system, Al Jadeed local TV channel reported.
Over a million protesters took to the streets on Saturday, vowing to keep their demonstrations until the political system is changed, and calling for early parliamentary elections.
Demonstrators blocked roads and burned tires, chanting slogans.
"This time, it is going to be different. We are optimistic that we will be able to reach our goals," one protester said.
Protesters said that the government had adopted policies that led to the deteriorating situation in the country.
Nationwide protests started on Thursday in Lebanon fueled by the government's suggested plans to impose new taxes on citizens.
The government is trying to pass the 2020 state budget by adopting austerity measures in a bid to reduce the budget deficit which has reached 11.4 percent of the GDP.
Endorsing the 2020 state budget is one of the conditions imposed by CEDRE conference to unlock the fund of 11 billion U.S. dollars for Lebanon.
However, Lebanese authorities have shown incapacity to adopt serious measures while resorting to new taxes on citizens.
Also, in the last 30 years, successive governments did not opt for serious plans and strategies that would increase the treasury's revenues while reducing its expenses which led to a hike in public debt to an alarming level.
Citizens insisted that they should not be the one to pay for the government's failing policies.
Local people said serious reform measures by the government must include fighting against tax and customs evasion, protecting borders against the smuggling of products, improving fees collection, and fully implementing anti-smoking and road safety laws which incur heavy penalties on violators.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri gave a speech on Friday following protesters' insistence on his resignation, saying that he has been trying to make the necessary reforms to save the country but other political parties have not been helpful in this regard.
Hariri gave political parties 72 hours to find a solution for the country's crisis, and said that he will choose "a different approach" if he does not get a clear answer from the cabinet.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced on Saturday that his party does not support the resignation of the current government.
"We do not support the resignation of the current government and new elections will lead to the same current parliament, so we should not waste time on these proposals," Nasrallah said.
He also called upon the government to adopt a new agenda noting that the Lebanese people can no longer bear new taxes.
On the other hand, Hariri met with representatives of different political parties on Saturday, trying to find a solution to the current crisis.
Following his meeting with Hariri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil announced that there will be no new taxes on Lebanese citizens in the 2020 state budget, and banks will help with solving the current crisis.
Moreover, President Michel Aoun promised that the government will find a reassuring solution to the crisis.
However, officials' various announcements did not succeed in defusing people's anger who pledged to stay in the streets until they see a complete change in the country.
The three days of protests ruined the capital's downtown streets after a night of clashes between riot police and demonstrators.
In Downtown Beirut, many stores' windows were smashed.
Foreign embassies in Lebanon have, as a result, called upon their citizens to remain safe while some countries issued travel warnings against Lebanon.
For its part, Saudi Arabia has evacuated 260 Saudi citizens from Lebanon.
Brussels, Oct. 20 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The European Union (EU) has received the letter of Brexit extension from London, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said Saturday.
"The extension request has just arrived. I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react. #Brexit", said Tusk on his twitter account.
According to some British media, Prime Minister Boris Johnson requested a further extension to the Article 50 negotiating period to Jan. 31, 2020 in the letter, but refused to sign it.
"The request will be accompanied by a second letter, signed by Mr Johnson, which will say he believes that a delay would be a mistake," BBC reported.
Hours before the letter, British lawmakers voted for a key amendment to force Johnson to seek another Brexit extension from the EU.
By 322 to 306, MPs supported an amendment put forward by former Conservative MP Oliver Letwin that will withhold parliamentary approval for Johnson's deal until parliament passes the EU withdrawal bill legislation.
Johnson said after the result was announced that he will present legislation next week in the House of Commons, with the intention of Britain leaving the EU at the end of the month.
He told MPs he will not negotiate a delay with the EU, adding that the law does not compel him to do so.
London, Oct 20 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing ahead to try to win parliamentary backing for his new Brexit deal even as the European Union considers his grudging request to extend the looming Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.
Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the EU late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain's impending departure from the bloc, as required by law. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another Brexit extension.
"While it is open to the European Council to accede to the request mandated by Parliament or to offer an alternative extension period, I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister, and made clear to Parliament again today, my view, and the government's position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the U.K. and our EU partners, and the relationship between us," Johnson wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk.
EU officials have not responded to the request and say consultations are underway. The formal granting or denial of an extension by the bloc may not be made until the Brexit deadline is just a few days away, but most signs indicate the EU would prefer an extension to an abrupt U.K. departure from the bloc without a deal in place.
Johnson's letters came after another tumultuous day in the House of Commons, which worked in a Saturday session for only the first time since the Falklands War in 1982. For hours, British lawmakers issued both ringing endorsements and scathing condemnations of Johnson's Brexit deal, only to kick any decision on it down the road by passing an amendment withholding approval for the deal until laws enabling it are passed. That could take days, or even weeks.
Johnson has been determined to take the country out of the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31, but lawmakers are trying to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which economists say would wreak damage on the U.K. economy.
Johnson now could face legal challenges from opponents who feel that sending the second letter was done specifically to frustrate the will of Parliament, which has not approved his Brexit plan but does want a Brexit deal.
The Court of Session in Scotland is already considering the matter, and it may end up being decided in the British Supreme Court, which in September ruled that Johnson had acted unlawfully when he suspended Parliament for five weeks as the Brexit deadline crept closer.
Scottish National Party legislator Joanna Cherry, part of a group that brought the earlier successful case against Johnson, said the legal battle over Brexit resumes Monday.
"We're back in court on Monday morning and it will be possible then to secure the court's assistance if the prime minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court," she said.
Despite the stinging rebuke in Parliament on Saturday, the prime minister returns there Monday to keep seeking support for his Brexit proposal, which was approved Thursday by EU leaders. He is still trying to meet the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline but the timing is extremely tight.
Johnson's Conservative party has only 233 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, so he needs the support of at least some opposition lawmakers. He has already lost the 10 votes of his allies in Northern Ireland with his plan to create a customs border in the Irish Sea.
In London on Saturday, hundreds of thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators marched to Parliament Square, demanding a new referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU or remain. Many wore blue berets emblazoned with yellow stars symbolizing the EU flag.
"Another chance for sanity and perhaps rationality to take over, rather than emotion," filmmaker Jove Lorenty said as he stood outside Parliament. "Never give up until the fat lady sings. No one knows what will happen, but we have hope."
Despite the political setbacks and the prospect of court action, the historic vote on Johnson's Brexit plan is expected to be extremely close when it finally does takes place.