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"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London



WikiLeaks says it releases files on CIA cyber spying tools www.reuters.com

Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks on Tuesday published what it said were thousands of pages of internal CIA discussions about hacking techniques used over several years, renewing concerns about the security of consumer electronics and embarrassing yet another U.S. intelligence agency.

The discussion transcripts showed that CIA hackers could get into Apple Inc iPhones, Google Inc Android devices and other gadgets in order to capture text and voice messages before they were encrypted with sophisticated software.

Cyber security experts disagreed about the extent of the fallout from the data dump, but said a lot would depend on whether WikiLeaks followed through on a threat to publish the actual hacking tools that could do damage.

Reuters could not immediately verify the contents of the published documents, but several contractors and private cyber security experts said the materials, dated between 2013 and 2016, appeared to be legitimate.

A longtime intelligence contractor with expertise in U.S. hacking tools told Reuters the documents included correct "cover" terms describing active cyber programs.

Among the most noteworthy WikiLeaks claims is that the Central Intelligence Agency, in partnership with other U.S. and foreign agencies, has been able to bypass the encryption on popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal.

The files did not indicate the actual encryption of Signal or other secure messaging apps had been compromised.

The information in what WikiLeaks said were 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments appears to represent the latest breach in recent years of classified material from U.S. intelligence agencies.

Security experts differed over how much the disclosures could damage U.S. cyber espionage. Many said that, while harmful, they do not compare to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's revelations in 2013 of mass NSA data collection.

"This is a big dump about extremely sophisticated tools that can be used to target individual user devices ... I haven’t yet come across the mass exploiting of mobile devices," said Tarah Wheeler, senior director of engineering and principal security advocate for Symantec.

Stuart McClure, CEO of Cylance, an Irvine, California, cyber security firm, said that one of the most significant disclosures shows how CIA hackers cover their tracks by leaving electronic trails suggesting they are from Russia, China and Iran rather than the United States.

Other revelations show how the CIA took advantage of vulnerabilities that are known, if not widely publicized.

In one case, the documents say, U.S. and British personnel, under a program known as Weeping Angel, developed ways to take over a Samsung smart television, making it appear it was off when in fact it was recording conversations in the room.

The CIA and White House declined comment. "We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents," CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said in a statement.

Google declined to comment on the purported hacking of its Android platform, but said it was investigating the matter.

Snowden on Twitter said the files amount to the first public evidence that the U.S. government secretly buys software to exploit technology, referring to a table published by WikiLeaks that appeared to list various Apple iOS flaws purchased by the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Apple Inc did not respond to a request for comment.

The documents refer to means for accessing phones directly in order to catch messages before they are protected by end-to-end encryption tools like Signal.

Signal inventor Moxie Marlinspike said he took that as "confirmation that what we’re doing is working." Signal and the like are "pushing intelligence agencies from a world of undetectable mass surveillance to a world where they have to use expensive, high-risk, extremely targeted attacks."



H&M factory in Myanmar damaged in violent labor dispute www.reuters.com

Workers demanding better conditions and benefits have destroyed the production line of a Chinese-owned factory making clothes for Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz, in one of the most violent labor disputes in Myanmar in years.

The month-old dispute, which also saw managers attacked, highlights the need for Aung San Suu Kyi's government to enact social and labor reforms, analysts say, while at the same time reassuring investors looking to tap the opening of one of the world's fastest growing economies after decades of isolation.

Production at Hangzhou Hundred-Tex Garment (Myanmar) Company, which was one of H&M's 40 suppliers in Myanmar, has been halted since Feb. 9, workers and managers in the Chinese company said.

"H&M group is deeply concerned about the recent conflict and our business relationship with this factory is on hold at the moment," the Swedish-based company said in a statement. It declined to elaborate on the impact on its global supply chain.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and are in close dialogue with concerned parties. We strongly distance ourselves from all kind of violence."

Labor activists say the protest in the commercial hub Yangon - in which equipment, buildings and vehicles were damaged - shows the lack of protection for workers in the labor-intensive textile industry.

The dispute started with a strike in late January following the sacking of a local labor union leader, according to workers and managers. Workers demanded a better performance review system and healthcare coverage.

It turned violent on Feb. 9, prompting the factory's closure. Video footage seen by Reuters shows dozens of female workers surrounding and beating a Chinese manager who was struggling to escape. One company manager and a local labor department official confirmed the authenticity of the footage.

In late February hundreds of workers stormed the factory and damaged facilities including textile machinery, computers and surveillance cameras.

"The tension between workers and management was getting bigger day-by-day," said the company's former union leader That Paing Oo, who was fired in January for taking leave without approval.

He had led a labor protest late last year that successfully pushed Hangzhou Hundred-Tex Garment to compensate employees who did not receive overtime pay, several workers said. The company confirmed that it had paid a delayed overtime payment of 70 million kyat ($51,736) to almost all of its 570 workers based on a settlement reached with the workers in December.

The Chinese embassy in Myanmar described the incident as an "attack" and has filed a "serious request" to Myanmar government to hold those involved accountable.

No one was arrested in the late February violence, police said. Workers' representatives are still negotiating with management over conditions once the factory is able to re-open.

The Chinese company makes garments such as skirts and shirts exclusively for H&M, its assistant manager San Htwe told Reuters. He said the damage would cost around $75,000, and the company was planning to demand compensation from Myanmar's Labor Department.

The conflict is troublesome for H&M, which is widely seen as being at the forefront among large apparel companies in promoting workers' rights and fair wages.

H&M has called on governments in sourcing countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh to ensure fair pay for workers. It has said it cannot unilaterally require individual suppliers raise wages as it generally shares them with other brands, although according to the owner that is not the case with the factory in this dispute.

H&M, which sources the bulk of its clothes in Asian low-cost countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar, generally ranks high in sustainability indexes such as the Corporate Knights magazine's Global 100 index, where in 2016 it ranked 20th, lagging only Adidas in its sector.



European firms slam Beijing's 'Made in China' plan www.cnn.com

European businesses have slammed China's plans to boost its high-tech manufacturing industries, accusing Beijing of pursuing protectionist policies.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing published a lengthy report on Tuesday, criticizing the China Manufacturing 2025 strategy. It says foreign companies are being unfairly treated, and warns that government subsidies could create huge overcapacity in certain sectors.
Dubbed the "Made in China" plan by Chinese media, the strategy adopted in 2015 outlines how Beijing plans to accelerate growth in 10 industries, including robotics, electric cars and next generation technology.
The "broad set of policy tools" Beijing is deploying "are highly problematic," the chamber said in its report.

It cited unfair treatment of foreign automakers as one example. In order to produce and sell electric vehicles in China, European companies are being pushed to share their battery technology with Chinese partners.
"European business is facing intense pressure to turn over advanced technology in exchange for near-term market access," the report said.
That kind of pressure is a violation of China's commitments to the World Trade Organization, the chamber said.

The report also notes that China is subsidizing local producers of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, again in possible violation of the country's commitments to the WTO.
Beijing wants Chinese manufacturers to have more than 80% of the domestic market for such vehicles by 2025, the chamber said, citing a publication on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's website.
Trump administration: We may ignore World Trade Organization
Other policies, including "staggering" subsidies running to hundreds of billions of euros, are already harming European businesses in other sectors.
For instance, generous government handouts to the industrial robotics sector could swamp the market with overcapacity, the chamber said.

Foreign companies doing business in China frequently cry foul, accusing Beijing of rolling out policies intentionally designed to cripple international businesses.
Tuesday's report is consistent with findings from a survey the chamber published in June, where European companies said they were getting a tougher deal than Chinese companies.
Similarly, the American Chamber of Commerce in China published a survey last year, in which 77% of firms who responded said they felt less welcome in the country than before.



China wants water from Russia's Lake Baikal to irrigate drought-hit regions www.rt.com

Arid Northwest China is considering building a 1,000km pipeline to pump fresh water from Lake Baikal in Russia’s Siberia, reports Beijing-based Global Times. Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume.
According to reports in the Chinese media, officials in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, intend to build the pipeline through Russia and Mongolia to China.

“Once the technical issues are resolved, diplomats should sit down and talk to each other about how each party would benefit from such international cooperation,” said Li Luoli the vice president of the China Society of Economic Reform, a state-run think tank, who is one of the plan’s masterminds.

The water taken from Baikal will be a fraction for the lake, which contains 23,000 cubic kilometers or roughly 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water.

"However, for Mongolia and northern China which have been plagued by water scarcity, it will help improve environmental conditions that have become a bottleneck for economic development," he wrote in his book in 2012.

For Russia the project would be good, as it would develop resource-rich Siberia and become a major exporter of water, strengthening both politically and economically, according to Li.

The feasibility of such a plan is questionable, as it will involve three countries. "Technology is not a problem. Diplomatic negotiations will depend on the local government," an expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times.

The Russian government has not commented on the issue, but environmentalists have expressed concerns that Lake Baikal has been drying up at an alarming pace.

A 2015 report said the shores of Baikal are covered with rotting algae dangerous to its unique ecosystem.

Lake Baikal is increasingly contaminated by Spirogyra, which could pose a threat to the purity of its waters.

Spirogyra is not native to Baikal's ecosystem. It thrives on biological waste which, according to ecologists, comes from sewage facilities from several local holiday centers, as well as private boats.

Also in 2015, Baikal’s water level hit a record low – five centimeters below the critical level of 456 meters.



Hungary gains final EU approval for its Russian-built nuclear power plant www.rt.com

The European Commission on Monday gave a green light to a new Russian-backed nuclear power project in Hungary, ending an investigation which began in 2015. The project was challenged by Brussels, which accused it of non-compliance with EU rules.
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban © Alexei Druzhinin'Brussels annoying' Hungarian PM Orban heading to Moscow to meet Putin
The Commission said Hungary’s investment in the Paks-2 nuclear plant, backed by a loan from Russia, did represent a form of state aid. It invalidated Hungary’s argument that the project was economically viable and imposed a number of conditions that came with the project’s approval.

“During our investigation, the Hungarian government has made substantial commitments, which has allowed the Commission to approve the investment under EU state aid rules,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

An important project for Russia and Hungary, Paks-2 was agreed at the end of 2014.

The €12.5 billion contract, partly aided by Moscow’s €10 billion loan, would add two new 1,200 megawatt (MW) reactors to Hungary’s only operating nuclear power plant.

Located on the River Danube, about 100 kilometers from the capital, four Paks reactors produce up to 50 percent of the country’s electricity. However, Hungary says it may lose the bulk of its power over the next two decades, as the remaining reactors would run out between 2032 and 2037.

In November, the Commission ended an investigation into the way Hungary handed the contract to the Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom. Budapest argued only Rosatom was able to undertake the work, saying the existing reactors are Russian-built, and it made sense to contract Rosatom to build the new ones. It insisted that only Rosatom’s newest VVER-1200 reactors could fulfill all of its requirements for the project.



Asia infrastructure needs exceed USD 1.7 trillion per year, double previous estimate www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Infrastructure needs in developing Asia and the Pacific will exceed $22.6 trillion through 2030, or $1.5 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain growth momentum, according to a new flagship report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The estimates rise to over $26 trillion, or $1.7 trillion per year, when climate change mitigation and adaptation costs are incorporated.

The report, Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs, focuses on the region’s power, transport, telecommunications, and water and sanitation infrastructure. It comprehensively examines current infrastructure stocks and investments, future investment needs, and financing mechanisms for developing Asia.

“The demand for infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific far outstrips current supply,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. “Asia needs new and upgraded infrastructure that will set the standard for quality, encourage economic growth, and respond to the pressing global challenge that is climate change.”

Infrastructure development in the 45 countries covered in the report has grown dramatically in recent decades — spurring growth, reducing poverty, and improving people’s lives. But a substantial infrastructure gap remains, with over 400 million people still lacking electricity, 300 million without access to safe drinking water, and about 1.5 billion lacking access to basic sanitation. Many economies in the region lack adequate ports, railways, and roads that could connect them efficiently to larger domestic and global markets.

“ADB pledges to work with member countries and use our 50 years of experience and expertise to meet infrastructure needs in the region. As the private sector is crucial to fill infrastructure gaps, ADB will promote investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms to develop bankable project pipelines for public-private partnerships,” said Mr. Nakao.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.

Report Highlights:

• Developing Asia will need to invest $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change (climate-adjusted estimate). Without climate change mitigation and adaptation costs, $22.6 trillion will be needed, or $1.5 trillion per year (baseline estimate).

• Of the total climate-adjusted investment needs over 2016-2030, $14.7 trillion will be for power and $8.4 trillion for transport. Investments in telecommunications will reach $2.3 trillion, with water and sanitation costs at $800 billion over the period.

• East Asia will account for 61% of climate-adjusted investment needs through 2030. As a percentage of GDP, however, the Pacific leads all other sub-regions, requiring investments valued at 9.1% of GDP. This is followed by South Asia at 8.8%, Central Asia at 7.8%, Southeast Asia at 5.7%, and East Asia at 5.2% of GDP.

• The $1.7 trillion annual climate-adjusted estimate is more than double the $750 billion ADB estimated in 2009. The inclusion of climate-related investments is a major contributing factor. An even more important factor is the continued rapid growth forecasted for the region, which generates new infrastructure demand. The inclusion of all 45 ADB member countries in developing Asia, compared to 32 in the 2009 report, and the use of 2015 prices versus 2008 prices also explain the increase.

• Currently, the region annually invests an estimated $881 billion in infrastructure (for 25 economies with adequate data, comprising 96% of the region’s population). The infrastructure investment gap—the difference between investment needs and current investment levels—equals 2.4% of projected GDP (climate-adjusted) for the 5-year period from 2016 to 2020.

• The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has a gap of 1.2% of GDP in the climate-adjusted scenario. Without the PRC, the gap rises to a much higher 5% of the remaining 24 economies’ projected GDP. Public finance reforms could generate additional revenues estimated to bridge around 40% of the gap (or 2% of GDP) for these 24 economies. For the private sector to fill the remaining gap (3% of GDP) it would have to increase investments from about $63 billion today to as high as $250 billion a year over 2016–2020.

• Regulatory and institutional reforms are needed to make infrastructure more attractive to private investors and generate a pipeline of bankable projects for public-private partnerships (PPPs). Countries should implement PPP-related reforms such as enacting PPP laws, streamlining PPP procurement and bidding processes, introducing dispute resolution mechanisms, and establishing independent PPP government units. Deepening of capital markets is also needed to help channel the region’s substantial savings into productive infrastructure investment.

• Multilateral development banks (MDBs), have financed an estimated 2.5% of infrastructure investments in developing Asia. Excluding the PRC and India, their contributions rise above 10%. MDBs are scaling up operations with a growing proportion financing private sector infrastructure projects. Beyond finance, MDBs are also playing an important role in Asia by sharing expertise and knowledge to identify, design and implement good projects. They are integrating more advanced and cleaner technology into projects and streamlining procedures. MDBs are also promoting investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms.

Source: Asian Development Bank



National program to improve maternal and newborn health www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on March 7, Tuesday, the Cabinet adopted a National Program on Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health.

Corresponding Ministers and governors of the capital city and aimags were assigned to project necessary measures to realize the program in their yearly action plan, reflect the required fund in their budgets, and fund the program through international aids and loans.

Although Mongolia’s maternal mortality rate upgraded from high to medium as a result of more than 10 programs that were implemented during the course of the last 20 years, maternal and infant mortality rate isn’t stably declining.

According to studies, factors that lead to maternal death in Mongolia are livelihood, migration, administration issues and late reception of medical services.

The program is expected to improve readiness of maternal, newborn and reproductive health services, introduce advanced diagnosis and treatment technologies, enhance human resource capacities, and increase access and quality of medical services.

Image source: Ministry of Health



Mongolia to double land open for exploration -mining minister www.reuters.com

Mineral-rich Mongolia plans to double the amount of land available for exploration in an effort to tap into the mining industry's appetite for new resources and help shore up its finances following an IMF-led bailout.

Mongolia will increase the land to 20.9 percent of the country from 9.6 percent currently, and could announce the change later this month, the minister of mining and heavy industry, Dashdorj Tsedev, said in an interview on Monday.

Miners say Mongolia ranks as one of the best prospects in the world for new copper reserves, as the best quality ore bodies in many other parts of the world have been depleted and electric vehicles raise the possibility of a surge in demand.

The expansion reflects improved geological surveys, and the land open for exploration could increase as further improvements are made, the minister said at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto.

"A big amount of land will be up for exploration and license," said Tsedev, speaking through a translator, adding that ecologically sensitive areas are excluded.

The land-locked country is home to Rio Tinto's massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine. Rio decided in June to go ahead with a $5.3 billion expansion, which will take five to seven years.

The mine will eventually be responsible for around 30 percent of the economy, Rio said, but direct benefits for Mongolia will be delayed. According to a 2009 agreement, investors must recoup their original investment costs before Mongolia can collect dividends for its 34 percent shareholding in the mine.

Mongolia's economy grew at a double-digit annual rate over 2011-2013 as foreign investors rushed in to take advantage of its vast untapped mineral deposits, but it has been hit hard by an economic crisis since 2016 due to government overspending and declining revenues from commodity exports.

Slowing demand for coal and copper, Mongolia's chief exports, and a plunge in foreign investment have left the world's most sparsely populated sovereign country with soaring debts and a rapidly declining currency, forcing government to hike interest rates and slash spending. (Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in London; Editing by Leslie Adler)



Airbus sales chief sees some export credit cover in 2017 www.reuters.com

Airbus (AIR.PA) expects to have access to European export credit financing on a "case by case" basis in 2017, its sales chief said on Monday, granting it a respite from a series of setbacks.
European Export Credit Agencies (ECA) suspended financing for Airbus deliveries in 2016 amid a UK investigation into discrepancies in paperwork over the use of intermediaries.
"I would be expecting that we will get ECA cover on a case-by-case basis this year," John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers said in an interview on the sidelines of the ISTAT Americas air finance conference.
Covering a range of topics on the sidelines of what could be his last such meeting before retiring around the turn of the year, Leahy said Airbus would need until at least 2018 to recoup production levels it had originally planned for its A320neo jet following production problems at engine maker Pratt & Whitney.
"I think Pratt has been frustrating. We are certainly capable of delivering the airframes the moment we have engines. The good news is the engine is meeting and exceeding our expectations," Leahy told Reuters.
Airbus delivered 68 A320neos in 2016, well below earlier expectations, and predicts it will treble this number in 2017.
Industry sources say deliveries of the new Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engine to Airbus and Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO) fell as much as 50 percent below the original plans in 2016, raising questions over how quickly it could catch up.
That has implications for the penalties that planemakers may continue to have to pay to airlines beyond 2017 and that they will in turn want to recoup from the U.S. engine maker.
Leahy confirmed the overhang of late deliveries caused by missing engines would persist into 2018.
"We will still be cumulatively behind by the end of 2017 but we will still be in the process of catching up. We can always hope that they will do more, but at this point their track record isn’t that impressive."
Pratt & Whitney has acknowledged the industrial problems in two parts inside the engine and production of its front fan blades, but says it is well on the way to resolving them.
"We will execute and get this behind us," sales chief Rick Deurloo told the conference.
A320 snags and high early costs for its A350 helped push Airbus margins down last year, despite higher deliveries and lower spending on research and development.
Analysts say profits have also been squeezed by the legacy of lower pricing for an earlier version of A350, which was relaunched in 2006 with a bolder design and higher price tag.
Some of the airlines taking A350s are those such as Finnair which had ordered the earlier version and believed to have been granted permission to change to the new design at the same price. In all, Airbus sold more than 100 of the earlier version, a derivative of its A330, before opting for an all-new design.
"We did honor some firm contracts that people had for the original airplanes," Leahy told Reuters, asked about the impact of the pricing switch, adding: "We are almost through it".
Airbus is also still studying a possible larger A350-2000 version, but is in no hurry, Leahy said.
"We are studying it but this market right now is soft for wide-bodies, so I don’t see a big queue of customers saying I want to launch a new program ... We have time to study it."
The A350-2000 is a 400-seater designed to compete with Boeing's 777-9, whose development the U.S. company's marketing chief Randy Tinseth said was ahead of schedule.
In a setback to the A350-2000 idea, Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI) placed a big order for 777-9s last month.


Copper will trend lower this year: Jiangxi boss www.mining.com

The head of China's second-largest copper refiner is sounding a bearish note on the red metal, even as the country is targetting higher economic growth.

Interviewed by Bloomberg on Sunday, Jiangxi Copper Co. Chairman Li Baomin predicted copper will average 45,000 (US$6,524) to 46,000 (US$6,673) Chinese yuan per ton in 2017, down from an average 47,513 yuan (US$6,892), year to date. Chairman Li cited worries over the raising of U.S. interest rates, which would increase the cost of financing major infrastructure projects, along with unclear U.S. policies and uncertainties over upcoming European elections. “There are things worrying us,” he told Bloomberg.

On the brighter side, he said global copper demand is set to exceed production, noting China is predicted to grow at 6% this year versus 5.8% last year, along with greater demand for copper used particularly in power grids and electric vehicles. For its part, Jiangxi Copper is planning on cranking out the tonnage, from 1.2 million tons last year to its maximum capacity of 1.36 MT, said Li.

Last week copper for delivery in May gained for the fourth day in a row, jumping 2% to hit a day high of $2.7685 per pound or $6,103 a tonne as a return to production at two top mines – combined responsible for some 8% of global output – looked increasingly doubtful in the near term.

Today on the Comex, copper for May delivery, the most active futures contract, was down by 4 cents, to close at $2.6520 a pound.

Chairman Li's remarks temper what analysts said about copper in December, with several forecasting a banner year for the red metal, based on increased demand from China leaving the market in a tighter supply situation. Although, even if copper in Chinese yuan drops to 45,000 (US$6,524), that is still higher than the price forecast by Goldman Sachs. The influential bank was the most bullish of five analysts quoted by MINING.com in January, predicting copper could go to $6,200 during the first half of 2017.