Brussels, Nov 25 (AP/UNB) —The leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has used her keynote speech at the annual conference to reject the British government's planned Brexit deal.
Arlene Foster said in Belfast on Saturday that the deal agreed by Prime Minister Theresa May is unacceptable and must be improved upon in the weeks ahead.
Foster's view is important because the DUP provides crucial votes that help keep May's Conservative Party in power despite its minority position in Parliament.
She said that the draft agreement raises constitutional questions that can't be ignored.
Foster said the DUP insists on "an outcome that does not leave Northern Ireland open to the perils of increased divergence away from the rest of the United Kingdom."
The DUP has said it may drop its backing of the government because of the Brexit plan.
Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has slammed the proposed Brexit deal and urged the Democratic Unionist Party not to abandon the Conservative Party.
Johnson told the DUP conference in Belfast Saturday that the Northern Ireland party's support is crucial to the government.
He said that "I hope that you agree that it is absolutely vital that we keep this partnership going." Johnson warned of the dangers of weakening the Conservatives so much that the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn comes to power.
The DUP is threatening to break with the government over Brexit.
Johnson said that Prime Minister Theresa May's government is "making a historic mistake" if it goes forward with its Brexit plan. He said it would greatly reduce Britain's influence and ability to make independent trade deals.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says Spain will agree to support the Brexit deal after Britain and the European Union agreed to give it a say in the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
Sanchez says Saturday that the U.K. and the EU have agreed to include language in the Brexit divorce deal that Spain could deal with London directly on the issue of Gibraltar.
Sanchez says "this is going to allow us to have direct negotiations with the U.K. regarding Gibraltar."
The issue had become a late stumbling block in the Brexit talks. Sanchez had said on Friday he wouldn't back the divorce deal U.K. and European Union leaders are supposed to vote on during Sunday's summit in Brussels, saying a draft agreement did not include clear language regarding Gibraltar.
The European Union is close to reaching an agreement to ease Spanish concerns about the future of Gibraltar in Brexit talks.
EU spokesman Preben Aamann said on Twitter Saturday that after a phone conversation between Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez and EU Council President Donald Tusk, "we are closer" to an agreement ahead of Sunday's EU summit in Brussels.
The future of tiny territory of Gibraltar — ceded to Britain in 1713 but which is still claimed by Spain — was the only dispute left hanging ahead of Sunday's summit.
On Friday, Spain pushed for a cast-iron guarantee of its say over the future of Gibraltar as a condition for backing a divorce agreement between Britain and the EU.
The deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland has used a party conference speech to try to persuade Prime Minister Theresa May to change course on Brexit.
Nigel Dodds told the conference in Belfast Saturday that it is not too late for May to alter her Brexit plan.
He says her proposed Brexit agreement reached with the European Union would leave the U.K. in a "pitiful and pathetic place."
The small DUP has an outsize role because its support has been crucial to May's shaky government, which doesn't enjoy a majority in Parliament.
The party is threatening to end its support over the Brexit plan favored by May. That would imperil May's already difficult challenge in winning parliamentary support for her proposal.
Portugal's foreign minister is in support of the Brexit deal including Spain's request to have its say on the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva says that the original Brexit guidelines laid out last year that included assurances to Spain that it could deal with London directly on the issue of Gibraltar were "wise."
Spain said Friday it wouldn't back the divorce deal U.K. and European Union leaders are supposed to vote on during Sunday's summit in Brussels after language regarding Gibraltar didn't appear in a draft agreement.
Santos Silva says the impasse has an "easy resolution because the heads of state of the 27 had already agreed (.) that any agreement between the U.K. and the EU regarding Gibraltar would require previous agreement from Spain, and that appears to be a very wise line."
British Prime Minister Theresa May is kicking off a big Brexit weekend as she travels to the European Union headquarters in Brussels for talks on Saturday with key leaders.
Spanish objections over the status of Gibraltar — the tiny territory ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain — is the only dispute left hanging ahead of Sunday's summit of EU leaders.
May will meet with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk in the evening.
May hopes to leave Brussels on Sunday with a firm agreement on the withdrawal terms for Britain's departure from the EU on March 29, as well as a comprehensive negotiating text on how future relations should look like once both sides agree on a trade agreement.
Dhaka, Nov 24 (UNB) - A daylong summit on digital marketing was held at a city hotel on Saturday.
The event was organized with a goal to bring transformational change in the digital marketing space by Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF), with this year's theme being "Delving Deep into Digital".
Some 400 professionals of different sectors attended the event comprising several keynotes and panel discussions.
The programme was enriched by the contributions of five prominent global speakers- Oobah Bulter, Director and Founder of the Number 1 Agency in United Kingdom, Dr Donald Patrick Lim, country CO of Dentsu Aegis Network in Philippines, Yogesh Shroff, Commercial Director, Export and Ecommerce of Nivea India Pvt Ltd, Rajan Srinivasan, Founder and CEP of Spiral Content Solutions (Scatter) and Dolly Jha, Executive Director of Nielsen India, who were the stars of the event.
They along with 22 local experts acted as the resource persons in discussions that covered multiple topics including how to use data to craft an effective digital marketing strategy, preparing a digital ad budget, communicating responsibly and more.
Bangladesh Brand Forum founder and Managing Director Shariful Islam, in his opening speech, said ‘digital’ - using the term as a cover-all for everything associated with a product in the digital space- is going to make or break any brand and “we are just scratching the surface.”
Meghna Group of Industries (MGI), Content Matters, Bangladesh Creative Forum and Association for Information Systems were the main partners to BBF in organising
MGI General Manager Md Mohiuddin also spoke.
Officials of many noted enterprises especially from the private sector were seen thronging the venue, relishing the opportunity to rub shoulders and exchange views with some of the leading names in their respective fields.
The summit was followed by an awards show, where brands adjudged to have the best digital engagements with were awarded in 16 categories.
Having completed its 5th annual iteration, the digital marketing summit is emerging as BBF’s most enduring and valued contribution to the marketing space in Bangladesh, ever since Shariful Islam and Toffael Rashid first decided to apply their knowledge and experience from successful careers abroad to use in Bangladesh, setting up shop as BBF.
London, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — British Prime Minister Theresa May faced wide-ranging criticism from skeptical lawmakers Thursday as she sought to portray a draft agreement on a post-Brexit relationship with the European Union as a "good deal for our country."
Addressing the House of Commons after the publication of a 26-page draft political declaration with the EU on post-Brexit relations, May said the agreement will ensure a "smooth and orderly" British departure from the European Union. Britain officially leaves the 28-nation EU — the first country to ever do so — on March 29.
"The draft text that we have agreed with the (European) Commission is a good deal for our country and for our partners in the EU," May said.
May is due to travel to Brussels on Saturday for further Brexit meetings, including with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a day before a summit of the EU's 27 other leaders at which both the political declaration on post-Brexit relations as well as the divorce agreement, which alone has legal status, are expected to be formally signed off.
The withdrawal agreement needs to be sealed soon to leave enough time for the European Parliament and the U.K. Parliament to endorse it.
May told lawmakers that the outlines for the future help protect jobs, end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the U.K., give British fishermen more control and avoid the return of a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
She also said the agreement paves the way for a free trade agreement with the bloc as well as allowing Britain to forge new trade deals around the world.
But her rosy predictions met with resistance on many fronts in Parliament, which is expected to vote on the Brexit plan next month.
At the moment, it looks precarious for the prime minister given the number of lawmakers who have expressed discontent with the proposals, notably the 585-page legal treaty that deals with the terms of Britain's departure, including what the country owes the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party, poured scorn on the agreement on future relations, describing it a "26 pages of waffle" that represented a failure of the Conservative Party and May during two years of negotiations.
Corbyn said the agreement "represents the worst of all worlds" and that Britain will have "no say" over EU rules that will continue to apply in Britain.
"This is the blindfold Brexit we all feared," he said. "A leap into the dark."
May is likely to need some Labour lawmakers to back her plan if she has realistic hopes of winning approval, given that her Conservative Party does not enjoy a majority in the House of Commons.
May also faced criticism from hard-line Conservative Party Brexiteers, notably Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and from others who pressed May to back a second referendum on the whole Brexit proposition.
If May fails to get a majority in Parliament, it's unclear what would then happen. Some lawmakers argue that the country would end up crashing out of the EU on Brexit day with no deal, a scenario that could see tariffs slapped on exports and restrictions imposed on workers. Others hope Parliament could back a second referendum in the hope the public would call the whole thing off.
The political declaration was agreed upon at a technical level by negotiators and endorsed Thursday by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, which is overseeing Brexit negotiations.
"This declaration establishes the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defense and wider areas of cooperation," according to the document.
It also talks about the close ties that have been cemented after 45 years of Britain's membership of the EU and notes that the "parties envisage having a trading relationship on goods that is as close as possible, with a view to facilitating the ease of legitimate trade."
In a speech in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined that "Britain should remain a partner, remain a friend" but she underscored the difficulties that may arise in any attempt to keep services seamless.
"We have to say honestly that, in the services sector, we don't have a great deal of experience with international free trade agreements," she said.
"But we want to see that as a future relationship."
One stumbling block relates to Gibraltar, the tiny territory at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula that was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said earlier this week that his government "cannot accept" Gibraltar's future being determined by negotiations at the EU level.
May said Thursday that she has spoken with Sanchez and that she is "confident" there will be a resolution on Sunday "that delivers for the whole U.K. family, including Gibraltar."
Tokyo, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — Nissan Motor Co. fired Carlos Ghosn as chairman Thursday, curtailing the powerful executive's nearly two-decade reign at the Japanese automaker after his arrest for alleged financial improprieties.
In an hourslong meeting, the company's board of directors voted unanimously to dismiss Ghosn as chairman and as a representative director, Nissan said in a statement. It said its own internal investigation, prompted by a whistleblower, found serious misconduct including under-reporting of his income and misuse of company assets.
It was a stunning downfall for one of the biggest figures in the auto industry. Ghosn had helped drive turnarounds at both France's Renault SA and at Nissan and then managed an alliance between them that sold 10.6 million cars last year, besting its rivals.
Renault is still reeling from Ghosn's Monday arrest, and its share price has yet to recover. Its acting chief, Deputy CEO Thierry Bollore, spoke publicly Thursday night for the first time since Ghosn was sidelined, and sought to soothe markets, car buyers and his employees by promising continuity.
In a video released by Renault, Bollore said the carmaker still plans to release several new models next year. Acknowledging the "particular situation" the company is in, he pledged his "full commitment" to Renault's 180,000 workers and its partners and customers. Renault's board decided not to fire Ghosn, instead installing temporary leadership.
The French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, is also worried. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday that France has yet to receive information from Japan about what Ghosn is accused of and insisted on "respect for the presumption of innocence."
Speaking to The Associated Press, Le Maire said "this turbulence shouldn't weaken" the Renault-Nissan alliance or its hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Nissan said in a statement filed to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that its investigation uncovered misuse of company investment funds and expense money for personal gain.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an anonymous source close to Nissan's investigation, reported that Ghosn used company funds to buy personal residences and enrich his sister.
Another Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, was arrested in Japan on suspicion of collaborating in the wrongdoing and also will be dismissed as a representative director, Nissan said. Their replacements will be decided later, it said.
Ghosn, 64, is suspected of under-reporting $44.6 million in income from 2011 to 2015, according to Tokyo prosecutors.
Nissan's board consists of nine members, including Ghosn and Greg Kelly. The seven other board members voted at the meeting, including two members from Nissan and two from Renault.
Ghosn and Kelly will remain on Nissan's board for now as that decision will be up to shareholders. No date has been set yet for a shareholders meeting.
Ghosn is also chairman at Mitsubishi Motors Corp., a smaller Japanese automaker that's partnering with the Renault-Nissan alliance and plans to hold a board meeting next week.
He has been held since his arrest Monday at a Tokyo detention center, under the same Spartan conditions as other detainees, Tokyo deputy prosecutor Shin Kukimoto told reporters Thursday. He gave few details about the case.
Under Japanese law, suspects can be held for 20 days per possible charge without an official indictment. Additional charges can be tagged on, resulting in longer detentions. Neither has been charged so far.
The maximum penalty upon conviction for violating finance and exchange laws is 10 years in prison, a 10 million yen ($89,000) fine, or both.
A French citizen born in Brazil, Ghosn became something of a corporate superstar in Japan as he led Nissan's revival from near bankruptcy after Renault sent him to help in 1999.
Ghosn served as Nissan's chief executive from 2001 until last year. He became chief executive of Renault in 2005, leading the two automakers simultaneously. In 2016, he also became chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. after Nissan took it into the alliance.
Kelly, 62, joined Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models, in the U.S. in 1988. He became a board member in 2012. His background is in human resources and alliance management.
Analysts say the future of Nissan's alliance with Renault may be at stake, though Nissan's statement Thursday said the company's leadership was determined to minimize the impact from Ghosn's case on the partnership. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, and Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.
The economy ministers of Japan and France met in Paris on Thursday to discuss the issue and released a statement saying both sides are committed to supporting the alliance.
Nissan said its board will study setting up a third-party committee to beef up governance in management and compensation at Nissan.
Janet Lewis, managing director and head of industrial research, Asia, at Macquarie Capital Securities in Tokyo, said in an interview that an adjustment was needed to give Nissan more say in the alliance with Renault.
The partnership remains crucial for both companies, she said, since apart from financial ties the companies share technology and parts. The automakers need to be more like roommates than a married couple, she said.
"So they have to find a way to share their house and share all of their expertise because it's very necessary in terms of new automotive technology, new platform development," Lewis said. "They need to figure out how they can continue this and still live happily together in the same house."
Taiwan, Nov 23 (AP/UNB) — China and its growing pressure campaign loom large as Taiwan holds elections for mayors and other local officials Saturday, in what is partly seen as a referendum on the policies of independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen.
Driven from power two years ago, the opposition Nationalists are hoping to regain territory by counting on their pro-business image and a more accommodating line toward Beijing, which detests Tsai for her refusal to endorse its stance that the self-governing island democracy is a part of the Chinese nation.
The China factor and the potential impact on the next presidential election are giving added weight to the polls, said Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Taiwan's Tamkang University.
"It's more important than the usual local elections," Huang said. "Confidence has been disrupted by the overall environment and the difficult relationship with the mainland."
Key races include mayoral offices in the capital Taipei and southern port of Kaohsiung, where the Nationalists and ruling Democratic Progressive Party are fighting for votes. The elections are being portrayed as the largest ever on the island of 23 million, with about 19 million voters casting ballots for more than 11,000 local officials.
Economic growth, employment and pension reforms are also key issues, but while local issues may be of greatest importance to voters, the outcome will be presented nationally by both major parties as a "status check on the Tsai administration," said Derek Grossman, who studies Taiwan-China ties at the RAND Corporation.
Since her election in 2016, Tsai has walked a fine line on relations with China, maintaining Taiwan's de facto independent status that the vast majority of Taiwanese support, while avoiding calls from the more radical elements of her party for moves to declare formal separation from the mainland, from which it split amid civil war in 1949.
But she's also emphasized the importance of Taiwan's sovereignty, rejected Beijing's "One China" principle and sought to strengthen relations with the U.S. and other countries similarly skeptical of China's motives while working to diversify the island's economy away from the Chinese market.
While ties between Washington and Beijing are at their lowest ebb in years, Taiwan is benefiting from greater U.S. diplomatic and military assistance, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties that were broken in 1979 when the U.S. switched recognition to China.
Beijing's response has been to sever contacts with her administration, cut numbers of Chinese tourists visiting and further the island's diplomatic isolation by barring it from multinational forums and wooing away its dwindling number of diplomatic allies, now reduced to just 17.
China's authoritarian leader Xi Jinping — who has said "unification" with Taiwan can't be put off indefinitely — has also stepped up military intimidation with war games and aerial training near the island aimed at advertising Beijing's threat to bring it under its control by force if necessary. Taiwanese officials have also warned that Beijing is seeking to sway voters through the spread of disinformation online similar to Russia's iinterfering in U.S. elections.
The impact of those moves on Taiwanese voters is hard to gauge and by law, no public opinion surveys can be published within 10 days of the elections.
However, Timothy Rich, an expert on Taiwan electoral politics at Western Kentucky University, says his research on Taiwan's diplomatic relations and public opinion shows that, rather than blaming Tsai, voters are angry at Beijing for limiting Taiwan's international breathing space.
Yet, there's little doubt that Beijing is hoping diplomatic, economic, and military pressure points undermine and ultimately sabotage support for Tsai, who is also party chairwoman and faces re-election in 2020.
"If the DPP loses ground, it will serve as confirmation for Beijing that its strategy of undermining the DPP and Tsai is working ... and thus it'll likely proceed apace," Grossman said.
Still, the election will likely be a tough slog for the Nationalists, who ruled the island for half a century after Chiang Kai-shek relocated his government here following the victory of Mao Zedong's Communists in Beijing. After losing both the presidency and their legislative majority, they have struggled with candidates who can both fire up their pro-China supporters and win over young Taiwanese who have increasingly turned to the DPP.
The Nationalists' best chance appears to be in the mayoral race in Kaohsiung, a DPP stronghold that has nonetheless appeared to be in play this year.
"What I expect is that the DPP will lose some key races, but it won't be a game changer unless the DPP does very poorly in the south," Rich said, adding that losing Kaohsiung would be "symbolically problematic."
A result that ends in Tsai stepping down as party chair could also energize the Nationalists and create problems for the DPP in the 2020 elections, he said.
Despite relatively healthy growth estimated at around 2.6 percent this year, many Taiwanese say they fear the impact of China's continuing undermining policies.
"The shortage of confidence across the Taiwan Strait and the lack of communication between the two governments have made Taiwan's business environment become more difficult," Huang said.
Performance in office, especially on the economy, is the most important factor for Taipei voter Giyun Lihang.
"Those elected need to act properly so people can earn more money, not like now where people are having a hard time," Giyun said.
Voters will also cast ballots on 10 referendums, including one on whether to amend the civil code to include same-sex marriage — which was legalized last year — and on whether to uphold a commitment to ban nuclear energy by 2025.
And in a highly symbolic but potentially impactful referendum, voters will be asked whether they wish to compete in future international sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as "Taiwan" instead of "Chinese Taipei" — they name the island is required to use at China's insistence.
Although the IOC has already ruled out any changes and warned Taiwan could even lose its accreditation, many see the vote as a test of support for independence and a means to fire up the DPP base.
China has already responded. Earlier this year, it forced a vote at the Asian Olympic Committee to withdraw the right of the city of Taichung in central Taiwan to host a youth competition scheduled for next year.