New Delhi, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of farmers, workers and agricultural laborers marched Wednesday to India's Parliament demanding better wages, more jobs, higher prices for their produce and an end to privatization of state-run companies.
Waving red communist flags and banners, the protesters blamed the Hindu nationalist government for hardships caused by years of declining earnings in the agriculture sector. The farmers want the government to ensure they earn at least one and a half times their costs in producing their crops.
The march was organized by the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Vijoo Krishnan, joint secretary of the All India Farmers' Group, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power after making many promises, but had betrayed the people.
"They said they would ensure a better life for the working class. So, it is a show of anger against this government and their policies that are only pro-corporate," he said.
Rain-dependent agriculture employs more than half of India's 1.3 billion people, but shrinking earnings mean it now accounts for only 15 percent of India's economy. The bulk of Indian farmers are poor.
Failed harvests force poor farmers to borrow money at high interest rates to buy seeds, fertilizers and food for their cattle. They often mortgage their land and, as debts mount, some are driven to suicide.
Beijing, Sep 4 (AP/UNB) — China faces bigger economic challenges than its trade war with the U.S.
Even before the two sides started imposing tit-for-tat tariffs, growth in the world's No. 2 economy was already forecast to cool from 6.8 percent last year to a still-robust 6.5 percent this year.
Communist leaders who are trying to engineer slower, more self-sustaining growth clamped down last year on a bank lending boom that encouraged businesses and families to borrow and spend beyond their means. That's a tricky balance to strike, and some worry the economy is weakening too much.
Growth in retail sales, a bigger part of the Chinese economy than exports, was weaker than expected in July and close to a 14-year low. Factory output and other sectors also slowed. Beijing responded by easing controls on lending and boosting government spending.
"We expect the economy to get worse before it gets better," Nomura economists said in a report.
Trump's advisers say the slowdown gives Washington leverage in the trade battle.
"Their economy looks terrible," Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said at a Cabinet meeting this month.
But analysts closer to China say it is doing better than Americans might think.
"A lot of this economic slowdown is really the result of an intended policy," said Tai Hui of J.P. Morgan Asset Management in Hong Kong. "The overall growth momentum is still relatively healthy and certainly broadly in line with the authorities' plans."
Here is a breakdown of China's economic strengths and weaknesses:
July's downturn was more abrupt than policymakers wanted, as growth in factory output slowed to 6 percent and corporate profits weakened. Investment in factories and other fixed assets rose at the slowest rate in 19 years.
Weaker demand from Chinese steel mills has taken global prices for iron ore down 14 percent this year — and 60 percent from their 2010 peak. That hurts Australia and other producers.
Chinese leaders want to shift the focus from growth numbers to poverty reduction, energy efficiency and the environment. But they need to keep the expansion above 6 percent to hit their target of doubling incomes from 2010 levels by 2020.
China's yuan has sunk in value against the dollar. That helps exporters by making Chinese toys, appliances and other goods cheaper for American consumers. But regulators worry it will trigger an outflow of money, making it harder for companies to borrow.
Banks have been told to lend more freely to small exporters that might be hurt by Trump's tariffs. That temporarily backtracks on government efforts to rein in rising debt.
Beijing sees the "growth slowdown as a bigger near-term risk," said UBS economists in a report.
The government is pumping money into the economy with plans to spend more on building roads, bridges and other public works.
This month, sales of infrastructure bonds raised 280 billion yuan ($41 billion), more than the total for the first seven months of the year, according to Macquarie Bank's Larry Hu.
Beijing has speeded up the rollout of plans to ease restrictions on foreign ownership in auto manufacturing, banking and insurance.
The moves are not, however, intended to address the American complaints about Chinese plans for state-led creation of global champions in robotics, electric cars and other technologies that Washington says violate Beijing's market-opening commitments and might erode U.S. industrial leadership.
Instead, China is trying to reduce reliance on foreign markets and technology by promoting domestic consumption and industry development.
While Wall Street sets records, China's stock market is 2018's worst global performer.
The market benchmark tumbled 25 percent from its January peak to mid-August. It has gained 3.7 percent since then after government spending plans helped to revive investor confidence.
The biggest decliners are real estate, construction and other companies hardest-hit by Beijing's lending controls.
Shares in Poly Real Estate Group, one of China's biggest developers, have lost 40 percent of their value this year. Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the country's biggest aluminum producer, is down by half.
The biggest gainers are smaller tech companies that look set to benefit from official industry plans. Shares in Zhongshi Technology Ltd., a Beijing-based maker of insulators for telecoms, medical and automotive equipment, are up 400 percent this year.
July exports to the United States rose 13.3 percent over a year ago despite a tariff hike. Forecasters expect exports to soften but mainly due to flagging global demand rather than American controls.
The tariffs target Chinese goods such as medical equipment and factory machinery that Washington says benefit from improper industrial policies. But U.S. officials have tried to limit the blow to consumers by avoiding penalties on Barbie dolls, Apple iPhones and many other brand-name products made in Chinese factories.
China is the world's No. 1 trader, but exports have shrunk as a share of the economy, to 19 percent of gross domestic product from 38 percent in 2005. Exports supplied 0.6 percentage points of GDP growth of 6.8 percent in 2017, while consumption accounted for more than half.
The United States buys about 20 percent of China's exports. Sellers of low-margin goods such as surgical gloves and handbags say American customers are canceling orders. But producers of higher-technology goods such as factory machinery and medical equipment report little impact.
Chinese leaders are encouraging exporters to sell to other markets, especially in Asia and Africa. That will be a challenge, because their consumers buy lower-value goods than Americans.
So far, U.S. tariff hikes have had little impact on a Chinese economy that is bigger than Japan and Germany combined. The first round hit July 6 and Trump says they could spread to cover up to $250 billion of Chinese imports.
Credit Suisse says if all threatened U.S. tariffs are imposed, that might trim 0.2 percentage points off Chinese growth this year and 1.9 percentage points in 2019.
"I don't think Beijing is willing to yield significantly," said Hui of J.P. Morgan. "Especially to pressure from another country. You know the historical precedent of that is just not acceptable."
Dhaka, Sep 4 (UNB) - Bangladesh is likely to receive another funding from newly established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for improvement of drinking water supply and sanitation facilities in the rural municipal areas.
According to official sources in the China-led multilateral financial institution, AIIB and World Bank will jointly implement a scheme titled `Bangladesh Municipal Water Supply and Sanitation Project` at a total cost of $270 million.
Of the total cost, AIIB and World Bank will invest $130 million each while Bangladesh government will have $10 million investment, said Laurel Ostfield, head of communication and development of the Beijing-based AIIB while talking to reporters during the visit of a high profile delegation of her bank to Dhamrai of Manikganj on Monday.
The 5-member AIIB delegation led by its UK Director Emil Levendoglu visited the area to see the implementation progress of the new bank`s $165 million funding for the Rural Electrification Board (REB).
The project titled `Distribution System Upgrade and Expansion` is a part of a greater scheme of $274 million in power and energy sector which will benefit $12.5 million people through providing $2.5 million new power connections in the rural area across the country.
During the visit, the delegation members had interactions with the beneficiaries of the project where they said that now they have been benefited a lot by getting electricity connection as it improved their quality and standard of living.
“In addition to use of different electric appliances, now I can easily recharge our mobile phones and communicate with my husband working abroad. My children can study at night taking benefit of electricity” said Hasna Begum.
However, some of the villagers alleged that they had to spend up to Tk 7000 to get an electricity connection although official cost is about Tk 600.
“We had to pay the extra amount to some middlemen to get electricity connections”, alleged Osman Mia.
The villagers suggested strong monitoring of the project implementation to ensure transparency in every stages of the project.
Talking to reporters Emil Levendoglu said the AIIB is considering more funding for Bangladesh to improve its infrastructure and livelihood of the rural people.
“As part of the AIIB objective, the new project on water supply and sanitation was designed to bring more benefits to the people of Bangladesh”, he said.
Laurel Ostfield informed that the AIIB will consider the new fund for Bangladesh in a meeting in April next year.
She said that by providing sustainable access to water supply and sanitation to selected small to medium pourashavas, the new project will contribute to the government`s key objectives of improved urban environment and health in Bangladesh.
Tokyo, Sep 3 (AP/UNB) — Asian shares were mostly lower Monday amid worries about escalating trade friction between the U.S. and Canada, who have been unable to agree to a revamped trade deal but will continue negotiating this week.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent in morning trading to 22,751.13. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was virtually unchanged at 6,321.60. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.5 percent to 2,312.09. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent to 27,586.05, while the Shanghai Composite index was down 1.2 percent at 2,693.31.
WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index was down for most of the day Friday but inched up 0.39 points to close at 2,901.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,964.82. The Nasdaq composite rose 21.17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,109.54. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 8.40 points, or 0.5 percent, to a record high of 1,740.75.
TRADE WORRIES: Investors had hoped the U.S. and Canada would finish the outlines of a revamped NAFTA pact after the U.S. and Mexico announced a preliminary agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last week that talks will resume on Wednesday. President Donald Trump said he is willing to make a deal with just Mexico, excluding Canada, but Wall Street is confident the final deal will include all three.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "With Canada not reaching an agreement with the U.S. on the NAFTA talks that were rushed on Friday last week, focus has now shifted to the mid-week deadline for Canada to sign up for the revamped NAFTA structure," said Vishnu Varathan at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 20 cents to $69.60 a barrel. It fell 0.6 percent to $69.80 a barrel in New York late Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 22 cents to $77.42 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.92 yen from 110.75. The euro fell to $ 1.1598 from $1.1685.
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) - Bangladesh has urged Canadian investors and Bangladeshi Diaspora to bring in bigger investment here.
Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose made the call while addressing a ‘luncheon meeting’ for attracting Canadian Diaspora organized by Canada Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry or CanCham Bangladesh in the city recently.
Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit Prefontaine and CanCham Bangladesh President also spoke.
Secretary Bose said Bangladesh needs huge Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
He said bilateral trade has been growing at a faster rate than before due to duty free market access.
Export of Bangladesh reached US $ 1.61 billion in 2017-18, 95 percent of which are garment items, said the CanCham on Monday.
He also mentioned that lots of people are going to Canada in search of business and many students are going for quality education.
Bose said awarding honorary membership to Iqbal Roshd, a very successful Canadian entrepreneur of Bangladeshi origin, will be a great encouragement to Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.
Roshd was also appointed as a special representative of CanCham Bangladesh in the province of Ontario, Canada.
While handing over the membership certificate and the appointment letter, CanCham Bangladesh President Masud Rahman hoped that Roshd would take all possible steps to encourage Canadian entrepreneurs including Bangladeshi Diaspora for trade, investment and technology transfer from Canada to Bangladesh, particularly in organizing a Diaspora Meet-Up in Canada next year.
Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit Prefontaine stressed the importance of bringing in Bangladeshi Diaspora from Canada to exploit the great opportunity existing in Bangladesh.
The envoy said his government is also attaching high priority to Bangladesh and taking a number of steps to facilitate business between the two countries adding that posting of a Senior Trade Commissioner in Bangladesh office for the first time is a proof of it.
He also mentioned that they have relaxed the travel advisory alert for Bangladesh and hoped that more Canadians would now visit to Bangladesh.
The envoy expressed his desire to work closely with the government of Bangladesh as well as CanCham Bangladesh and praised the strategic decision of CanCham Bangladesh to reach out to business person in Canada like Iqbal Roshd.
He also assured to provide full support in continuing this type of event.