Dhaka, Nov 9 (UNB) - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said China will continue supporting Bangladesh's various economic development and infrastructure projects.
He conveyed this to Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque at a meeting in Beijing, said the Foreign Ministry here on Friday.
Shahidul Haque led a 10-member Bangladesh delegation to the 11th Bangladesh-China Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) held in Beijing on Thursday.
The Chinese side was led by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Kong Xuanyou.
Bangladesh Ambassador to China Fazlul Karim and senior representatives from both sides were present.
The Chinese Vice Minister reiterated his country's commitment to play a positive and constructive role in resolving the Rohingya crisis and appreciated the staunch political will of Bangladesh to resolve the crisis peacefully.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque noted that the crisis originated as a conflict between the Myanmar government and its own people and stressed that Myanmar should start taking back its people without further delay as per the agreement reached during the recently concluded Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting.
In this context, he urged the Chinese side to do its utmost to encourage Myanmar to create a conducive environment for the speedier return of the displaced Rohingyas to their homeland in Rakhine.
The FOC reviewed various global, regional and sub-regional issues of mutual interests.
Issues of bilateral cooperation were also discussed at length. It took stock of the implementation status of decisions taken in the past at different levels of the two governments.
A host of new and emerging issues also came up for discussion.
The FOC especially focused on progress of materialising the agreements reached during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Bangladesh in October 2016 and during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to China in June 2014.
The FOC outlined the future course of action to carry forward the ongoing works to translate into action the commitments reached at the leaders’ level.
The Vice Minister of China stated that Bangladesh is an important country for China's Belt and Road Initiative.
The Foreign Secretary underscored Bangladesh's support for the regional initiatives on connectivity, energy cooperation and economic integration under Saarc, Bimstec, BBIN and BCIM amongst other formations.
He noted that Bangladesh is engaged with all major economic powers of the world for realising its legitimate development aspirations, and connectivity across all major fields of economic partnerships.
He briefed the Chinese side about the Vision 2021 and the Vision 2041 outlined by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and sought continued Chinese support for the realisation of the Vision.
Consensus was reached at the FOC to expedite the approval procedure for Chinese loans for speedy implementation of infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.
Enhancing trade and investment promotion measures, technical cooperation in agriculture, attracting investments for the Hi-tech parks in Bangladesh, production capacity cooperation, cooperation in Blue Economy, power and energy cooperation, cooperation on climate change issues, and visa facilitation measures, among others, came up during the consultation.
Foreign Secretary Haque requested the Chinese Vice Minister Kong for ‘positive actions’ to respond to Bangladesh’s concerns over the trade imbalance.
He also requested the Chinese side to substantially increase import of Bangladeshi products, including jute and jute goods, pharmaceuticals, fruits and vegetables, and other non-traditional items for bridging the trade gap.
Foreign Secretary Haque stressed the need for enhanced Chinese investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and in the Hi-tech parks.
The Chinese Vice Minister assured that necessary steps would be instituted to support Bangladesh's trade interests. Decision was taken at the FOC to hold the first-ever consular consultation between the two countries in Dhaka at an early date.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque along with his delegation visited the Headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at Xicheng District, and met DJ Pandian, Vice-President and Chief Investment Officer of AIIB.
Milan, Nov 9 (AP/UNB) — The Italian bank UniCredit said Thursday that third-quarter profits dropped 99 percent due to one-off provisions to cover any settlement for alleged U.S. sanctions violations in Iran and a write-down on its Turkish unit.
Net profits fell to 29 million euros ($33 million), from 2.8 billion euros in the same period last year. It put aside 741 million euros mostly to cover any potential settlement with the United States, and recorded an 846 million-euro write-down on its Turkish bank, Yapi Kredi.
CEO Jean Pierre Mustier said U.S. settlement talks were still ongoing, but he expected no significant impact beyond the amount provisioned. UniCredit has been under investigation in the United States since 2012 over whether past operations involving Iranian companies were in breach of U.S. sanctions.
Excluding the provision and other charges, net operating profit rose 24 percent to 1.5 billion euros on strong commercial activity. Net interest income rose by 7.2 percent on higher loan volumes to 2.8 billion euros while fees and commission earnings rose 2.5 percent to 1.6 billion euros. Trading profits were down by more than a quarter to 277 million euros as client activity was lower amid an unfavorable market environment.
Mustier said, not taking into account the one-offs, "we would have had a blow-out quarter and the best for the last 20 years of the bank. We use it to adjust, and put everything behind us and move forward."
The bank acknowledged a difficult macroeconomic situation, including pressure on Italian government bonds as the government clashes with the European Union over its big spending plans. UniCredit holds 57.9 billion euros in Italian government bonds, about 48 percent of its total sovereign exposure.
Its core Tier-1 ratio, a key measure of a bank's health, dropped to 12.1 from 13.8 percent last year. The bank lowered its Tier-1 ratio forecast to a range of 11.5 percent to 12 percent, from around 12.5 percent previously. The bank also cut its revenue forecasts to 19.7 billion from 20.1 billion euros.
The bank's shares closed down 3.8 percent, at 11.35 euros, on the Milan Stock Exchange.
In a demonstration of confidence, the bank announced after markets closed that Mustier would invest 600,000 euros in the bank's shares and another 600,000 in capital raising instruments, for a total equivalent of his annual gross salary.
"I think it is important on my side to show confidence not only in Unicredit, but also in Italy," Mustier told investors earlier in the day.
Detroit, Nov 9 (AP/UNB) — Australian telecommunications executive Robyn Denholm brings much-needed financial and auto industry expertise to her new role as Tesla's board chairwoman, but her biggest challenge is whether she can rein in a CEO with a proclivity for misbehavior.
Denholm, who has been a Tesla board member for nearly five years, was named to the post late Wednesday, replacing Elon Musk as part of a securities fraud settlement with U.S. government regulators.
Corporate governance experts say they would have preferred an outsider with manufacturing expertise be appointed to lead the board, now dominated by people with personal and financial ties to Musk, including his brother.
They aren't sure if Denholm was hired just to placate the Securities and Exchange Commission to comply with the settlement or whether she'll actually be able to corral the visionary but erratic Musk, who remains CEO.
"With all the crazy stuff going on, she was there," said Rohan Williamson, a finance professor who studies corporate governance at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. "She couldn't control him before. Is anything going to change?"
Denholm, 55, is chief financial officer and strategy head at Telstra Corp. Ltd., Australia's largest telecommunications company. Her new role at Tesla came largely because of the board's failure to control Musk, especially when he made a surprise announcement over Twitter in August that funding was secured to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
That drove up Tesla's stock price and hurt short-sellers, investors who bet against the company's success. Eventually it drew a lawsuit from the SEC alleging that Musk misled investors.
Denholm will step down from Telstra after a six-month notice period. Then she'll work full-time at Tesla, where she has served on the board since 2014. Under the SEC settlement, Musk can't return as chairman for three years, and only with a shareholder vote.
The move vaults Denholm from relative obscurity into a high-profile position of trying to muzzle Musk and manage a company that is struggling to produce vehicles and make money.
Charles Elson, director of the corporate governance center at the University of Delaware, said Tesla should have brought in someone from outside. No matter how talented Denholm may be, and even though she appears to have fewer ties to Musk than other directors, she has a shadow over her of being on the board that did little as Musk misbehaved. "You really have got to wonder," he said. "No other CEO of any other public company would have survived this."
Making Denholm a full-time chair also creates governance problems because she could become a Tesla executive, blurring her role as an independent check on management, Elson said.
Email messages sent to Denholm Thursday were not immediately returned and Tesla declined comment beyond its statement announcing Denholm as chair.
Denholm brings financial experience and other positives to the table for Tesla, said Michael Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.
Before Telstra, she worked in Silicon Valley as chief financial officer at Juniper Networks and head of corporate strategic planning at Sun Microsystems. She also was national finance manager at Toyota Motor Corp.'s operations in Australia, and she's a member of the board at Swiss robotics and industrial machinery maker ABB.
"She could bring some more financial discipline to Tesla," which has $10 billion in debt and must keep manufacturing a large number of lower-priced Model 3 sedans to service its large debt and pay the bills, Cusumano said. Tesla cars also are having reliability problems, he said.
Cusumano further notes that Denholm's track record as a Tesla board member is not necessarily an indication of how she'll be as a chairwoman.
"She's had a ringside seat to the chaos and she didn't or was not in a position to change anything," said Cusumano, who has served on corporate boards. "All the information you are given comes from the CEO, COO, CFO," he said. "It really is a restricted position. So I don't think we can say that, well, she was ineffective as a director, the whole board was ineffective, so she's likely to be ineffective as chairwoman."
On Twitter Thursday morning, Musk wrote that he has great respect for Denholm. "Very much look forward to working together," he wrote.
In a statement, Denholm said she believes in Tesla and looks forward to helping Musk and the company "achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value."
Tesla earned a $311.5 million net profit during the third-quarter. It was only the third time that Tesla has posted a quarterly profit in its eight-year history as a public company and the first time in two years. Telsa has never reported an annual profit.
Under the settlement with the SEC, Tesla also is required to appoint two new independent directors, and it must review Musk's posts about the company on Twitter. Musk and Tesla each had to pay a $20 million penalty under the September deal with the SEC, and he cannot return as chairman for three years.
But controlling Musk will be a big job for Denholm. Even after the settlement was announced, Musk taunted the SEC, calling it the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission" before snidely praising it for "doing incredible work."
Beijing, Nov 8 (AP/UNB) — Growth in Chinese exports to the United States ticked up in October as traders rushed to beat a new tariff hike in a battle over Beijing's technology policy.
Shipments to the U.S. market rose 13.3 percent over a year earlier to $42.7 billion, up from September's 13 percent growth, customs data showed Thursday. Imports of American goods rose 8.5 percent to $10.9 billion, decelerating from the previous month's 9 percent.
China's trade surplus with the United States narrowed to $31.8 billion from September's record $34.1 billion.
Traders are rushing to beat a U.S. tariff hike planned for January, ING economist Iris Pang said in a report. Pang said they are pessimistic this month's planned meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump in Argentina will "yield positive results."
"We expect this front-loading behavior to continue for the rest of 2018," said Pang.
China's exports to the United States, its biggest market, have been unexpectedly resilient since Trump started imposing punitive tariffs goods in July in a fight over Beijing's technology policy.
That includes a 10 percent charge on $200 billion of Chinese goods that is due to rise to 25 percent in January. Another $50 billion of Chinese goods already is subject to 25 percent duties.
Beijing has responded with tariff hikes on $110 billion of American goods. Trump has threatened to expand U.S. penalties to all goods from China.
China's global exports rose 12.6 percent to $217.3 billion, down from September's 14.5 percent growth. Imports rose 20.3 percent to $183.3 billion, accelerating from the previous month's 14.3 percent. The global trade surplus was $34 billion, up from September's $31.7 billion.
"While shipments to the U.S. held up well, those to other parts of the world grew even faster, suggesting that global demand is more resilient than expected," said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics in a report.
Unexpectedly strong imports contrasted with other signs that China's factory output and other economic activity is cooling.
Chinese leaders have cut tariffs on non-U.S. goods and promised to encourage imports of consumer goods but reject pressure to roll back plans for state-led development of technology industries.
Washington, Europe and other trading partners complain plans such as "Made in China 2025," which calls for creating Chinese global champions in robotics and other fields, violate Beijing's market-opening obligations.
Xi presided over the opening of an import fair Monday in Shanghai that is meant to rebrand China as a welcoming market for other countries' goods. Some 3,600 companies from 152 countries are taking part in the five-day event.
The president promised to open Chinese markets wider, to cut costs for importers and to increase consumer spending power. But he gave no response to foreign complaints about technology policy and investment barriers.
Beijing agreed in May to narrow its trade gap with the United States by purchasing more American soybeans, natural gas and other exports. Chinese leaders scrapped that deal after Trump's first tariff hikes hit.
Chinese companies have been ordered to stop buying American soybeans — the biggest U.S. export to China — and find other suppliers and export markets.
American demand for Chinese goods should weaken next year as tariff hikes bite, said ING's Pang. She said exporters might try to sell more to Europe or other Asian economies, but those markets also might be hurt by U.S. import controls.
"Strong export growth may not last very long," said Pang. "We are not particularly optimistic on China export growth in 2019."
Washington, Nov 8 (AP/UNB) — The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of U.S. sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur.
The State Department reminded the global shipping and insurance industries Wednesday that as part of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure campaign" to get Iran to change its behavior, insuring Iranian tankers will now incur penalties under U.S. sanctions reinstated this week.
Brian Hook, the special U.S. representative for Iran, said that as major insurers withdraw coverage from Iranian vessels, Iran will likely turn to domestic insurance companies that will not be able to cover losses for maritime accidents that could run into the billions of dollars.
"From the Suez Canal to the Strait of Malacca and all choke points in between, Iranian tankers are now a floating liability," Hook told reporters. "Countries, ports and canal operators and private firms should know they will be likely responsible for the costs of an accident involving a self-insured Iranian tanker."
The U.S. "sincerely hopes" accidents do not occur, he said, but he noted that an Iranian tanker was involved in an accident in the East China Sea in January that resulted in the loss of the ship and a massive oil spill. He said the U.S. has evidence that Iranian vessels are trying to evade U.S. sanctions by disabling location transponders used to prevent collisions.
"This tactic is a maritime security threat," Hook said. "These transponders are designed to maximize visibility at sea and turning them off only increases risk of accidents and injuries. Self-insured Iranian tankers engaging in unsafe behavior, with many tons of crude oil on board, is courting environmental and financial disaster."
The sanctions that came into force Monday target Iran's energy, financial and shipping sectors and mark the end of U.S. participation in the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from in May.
The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran by choking off its main source of revenue — oil exports — by imposing sanctions on countries and companies that do not end their imports.
However, some trade is still allowed, as the administration has granted waivers for eight major importers to continue buying Iranian petroleum products without penalty for another six months.