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Russia has implemented a month-long ban on the sale of non-food products containing more than 25 percent alcohol, a move intended to fight the country's "surrogate alcohol" problem.
The ban follows a Dec. 23 order by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and went into effect on Monday, consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor's press service stated. The restrictions are set to last for 30 days, and exclude perfumes and glass-cleaning products.
The new measures are a response to a mass poisoning in Irkutsk that has claimed the lives of at least 75 people since Dec. 17. The victims had consumed hawthorn berry tincture, an ethyl alcohol-based bath lotion often used as a substitute for vodka. In Irkutsk, however, the tincture contained highly toxic methyl alcohol.
The mayor of Irkutsk declared a state of emergency and several suppliers of hawthorn berry tincture, mostly retailers, have been arrested.
The construction of a long-awaited bridge across the Amur River, to connect Russia's Far East city of Blagoveshchensk with the northeastern Chinese city of Heihe has finally started after 28 years of negotiations.
“We’ve started the construction of the cross-border bridge. The governor of the Amur region and top officials in Heilongjiang province took part in the ceremony,” a Russian official from the Amur region told RIA Novosti.
Construction officially started on Saturday after 28 years of negotiations between Russia and China. The new cross-border road bridge and its corresponding infrastructure will cost around $355 million and will be 19.9 km long. Some 6.5km of the bridge and road junctions will lie in China, and the remaining 13.5km in Russia, according to China's CNS agency. The length of the main suspension bridge will be roughly 1,300 meters and its width 14.5 meters.
“The bridge is an important link and part of the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. It will strengthen cooperation between the two regions, it will break the bottleneck of local development,” Qin Enting, Heihe Communist Party Chief, said at the ceremony.
The territorial principle dominates the construction agreement, each country will construct the respective part of the bridge. Russian companies will make the connection between the two parts. When the construction is completed, the Russian side of the bridge will become the property of the Amur region, while the Chinese part will be owned by Heilongjiang Province. The bridge will contribute greatly to modernization of the transport system of the two regions, according to Heilongjiang Province Governor Lu Hao.
“Infrastructure projects are a priority and top leaders of our two countries are very supportive of such projects in the border area. Once completed the bridge will not only benefit the economy, but all aspects of exchange,” governor of the Amur region, Alexander Kozlov said.
The bridge is expected to be built in three years and will open late 2019. The bridge will greatly facilitate trade between the two countries, since the route will be roughly 3,500km shorter. By 2020,cargo turnover is expected to increase 10-fold, from 300,000 to 3 million metric tons.
The agreement on the bridge's construction was signed in September last year. Works were scheduled to start in July, but were postponed. After the completion of the road bridge, a railroad bridge will be erected next to it.
The new Amur bridge will be an impressive engineering masterpiece, comparable in several aspects with the under construction Crimea bridge, which is expected to be opened late in 2018.
Banks and financial institutions make up the overwhelming majority of more than 100 companies inquiring about relocating to Ireland after Brexit, the head of the agency tasked with bringing foreign investment into the republic has confirmed.
Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of the Industrial Development Agency (IDA), said many of the corporations looking to move were based in the City of London.
Shanahan said that while Ireland would try to make capital out of the UK voting to leave the EU, Brexit was not the outcome he or anyone else in Ireland favoured.
He also said the IDA did not fear a Trump presidency would shut down American multinational investment into Ireland.
The IDA has a target to create an extra 80,000 jobs in the country by 2019, many of them from new US firms setting up their European base in Ireland.
Shanahan told the Guardian that Ireland’s low 12.5% corporation tax remained sacrosanct as one of the Irish Republic’s key fiscal policies.
Ireland will be the only English speaking country left in the EU after Brexit, giving Shanahan and his IDA colleagues extra impetus in their attempts to woo companies, some of which are based in the UK.
He said: “We have seen a huge increase in the amount of inquiries and activities across the globe. It’s not just our office in London, or our office in Dublin; we are receiving inquiries in Asia, in the US, in New York in particular. The figure that we have used to date is over 100 related inquiries.”
Shanahan continued: “For the financial services sector it is the fact that they need to have access to the European market and they need a jurisdiction in which they can do that. Ireland is extremely attractive because we are English speaking, have a common law system, there is the close proximity to the UK.”
On the threat of Trump imposing protectionist barriers to US companies locating abroad, the IDA chief executive said: “US companies, in my view, will continue to want to … go abroad, seek new markets, seek the talent that exists abroad and have access to the innovation and research that exists outside the US. I don’t see any kind of scenario where that isn’t the case.”
Shanahan stressed that the instability and uncertainty of global politics, from Brexit to Trump’s election win, might actually benefit Ireland.
“In the context of a very turbulent world Ireland looks very stable economically because of the strong growth in 2014, 2015, and it looks the same in 2016. And we look very stable from an enterprise and policy perspective as well.”
Despite criticism from fellow EU nations such as France that Ireland operates sweetheart tax deals for some of the biggest corporations on the planet, Shanahan predicted there would be no change to the 12.5% corporation tax regime.
“Investors place great store in the fact that Ireland has been unwavering and consistent. They know exactly what they are getting, the fact that it is 12.5%. I do not see any circumstances, and this has been confirmed by the minister for finance, Michael Noonan, that it will change any time in the near future, or even the long-term future for that matter,” he said....
BEIJING - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged greater efforts to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the country's western regions.
China has made remarkable progress since it initiated a strategy to develop its vast western areas in 2000. The 13th Five-Year (2016-2020) Plan period is a crucial time for western regions to realize transformation and upgrading, Li said at a conference on Friday.
The country should push forward supply-side structural reform, expand demand moderately, boost innovation, continue to implement the west development strategy, and strengthen the coordination of it with other major strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative and development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, he said.
The fundamental way to develop the regions is to enhance their endogenous growth through innovation and reform and opening-up, Li said.
More efforts should be done to streamline administrative approvals, reduce taxation and fees, cut transaction costs, improve business environment, promote entrepreneurship, encourage private capital to participate in the development of the western regions.
Li stressed the importance of infrastructure construction and ecological protection in promoting the western regions' sustainable development. He urged efforts to protect the environment, improve road and water infrastructure, and ensure the quality of drinking water for rural residents.
Environmentally-friendly industries that can employ a large workforce are encouraged to move to the western regions. Investors are also encouraged to build factories there.
Li called for efforts to develop advanced manufacturing sector and emerging sectors, and promote the development of industries with ethnic characteristics such as medicine and traditional handicraft.
He added that in order to improve people's livelihoods, targeted and precise measures should be adopted to alleviate poverty. More education and health care resources should be channeled to the western regions, and basic public services should be increased.
The west development strategy covers 11 provinces and autonomous regions including Gansu, Guizhou, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Inner Mongolia and Guangxi, in addition to Chongqing municipality. The regions account for more than two thirds of the nation's territory, with a population making up over 20 percent of the nation's total.
As the world's biggest transfer center for small items, the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang provicne provides 60 percent of global Christmas commodities, with over 1,000 containers full of Christmas items being delivered abroad from Yiwu just ahead of this year's Christmas Day.
Santa Claus-themed items and LED reindeer are sold in Yiwu through the year, making it seem that people here celebrate Christmas every day.
Workers in Yiwu set out to make Christmas products early in the summer.
There is a "Yiwu Christmas Village" where production is in full swing for months each year in order to provide commodities for overseas markets.
It's reported by BBC that there is no items that one cannot find in Yiwu. A brochure of a local logistics company reads that Yiwu attracts businesses from all over the world like a magnet.
As many as 8,000 foreign purchasers come to Yiwu for commodities, reports Der Spiegel.
This year, there were also direct railway routes transporting Yiwu products to Europe. It will take three weeks for the freight trains to arrive in Spain as they need to travel across Siberia....
China will encourage labor-intensive manufacturing industries located along the eastern coast to relocate inland, it said in a new 2016-2020 plan to develop the economy of its western regions.
The country's cabinet, the State Council, approved the western development five-year plan on Friday, according to a notice published by China's official government website late on Sunday.
China's rapid economic development over the past four decades has been skewed heavily toward the eastern coast.
Beijing has been trying to correct the imbalance not only in order to promote growth in politically crucial and energy-rich western regions such as Xinjiang and Yunnan, but also to ease environmental pressures in eastern regions, including the congested and polluted Yangtze and Pearl river deltas.
Premier Li Keqiang, who chaired the cabinet meeting, said China would continue to implement measures aimed at reducing the tax burden in the west to cut the cost of doing business.
He also said the west must promote new forms of urbanization and industrialization and pay attention to protecting the environment, particularly its scarce water supplies, which have constrained development in large parts of the region.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Eric Meijer)
Singer George Michael has died at the age of 53, his publicist has said.
The star, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and continued his success as a solo performer, is said to have "passed away peacefully at home" in Goring, Oxfordshire.
Thames Valley Police say they are treating the death as unexplained but there were no suspicious circumstances.
His former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley said he was "heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend".
Writing on Twitter and referring to Michael as "Yog", a nickname for "Yours Only George", he added: "Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx"
In a statement, Michael's publicist said: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.
"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."
On Instagram, Sir Elton John posted a photograph of himself with Michael, writing: "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans."
Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring at 13:42 GMT on Christmas Day.
The force said: "At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.
"A post-mortem will be undertaken in due course. There will be no further updates from Thames Valley Police until the post-mortem has taken place."
A small heart wreath and a rose are among the tributes that have begun to be left outside the front door of Michael's home, a detached property by the River Thames.
Treatment for pneumonia
Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.
He first found fame with his schoolfriend Ridgeley in duo Wham! - reaching number one in the singles charts on four occasions - before going on to release solo albums, including the multi-million selling Faith in 1987 and its follow-up Listen Without Prejudice Vol
His talents as a singer, songwriter and music producer made George Michael one of the world's biggest-selling artists.
Blessed with good looks and a fine singing voice, his stage presence made him a favourite on the live concert circuit as he matured from teen idol to long term stardom.
But there were times when his battle with drugs and encounters with the police made lurid headlines that threatened to eclipse his musical talents.
Michael scored a further seven number one singles in the UK with songs including Careless Whisper and Faith, and won three Brit Awards and two Grammys.
But as his career faded, he began to face headlines for the wrong reasons.
In October 2006 he pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs, and in 2008 was cautioned for possession of class A drugs, including crack cocaine.
In September 2010, Michael received an eight-week prison sentence following an incident the previous July in which he crashed his Range Rover into a shop in north London. He admitted driving under the influence of drugs and possessing cannabis.
George Michael, Andrew Ridgely in 1984Image copyrightPA
George Michael and Andrew Ridgely first found fame with Wham! in the 1980s
Pop stars from Michael's heyday were joined by contemporary names in paying tribute on Twitter.
ABC frontman Martin Fry said: "Absolutely devastated to hear of the loss of @GeorgeMichael Truly brilliant talent #sad #sad #sad."
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's on-demand services unit is close to securing $1.2 billion of funding for expansion after getting backing from first-time investors including Silver Lake Management and China's sovereign wealth fund, people familiar with the matter said.
The latest round for Koubei, which deals in local services such as food delivery, will surpass a $1 billion target with backing from China Investment Corp, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. The round also includes Yunfeng Capital, a fund backed by Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, and values the two-year-old startup at about $8 billion, they said.
Silver Lake, the largest technology-focused private equity firm, was an early investor in Alibaba but typically eschews early-stage backing for Chinese startups. On-demand local services have attracted major spending in past years and have become a costly battleground for Chinese internet companies from Alibaba to Tencent Holdings Ltd, as more people turn to the web to order take-out, schedule beauty treatments and hire domestic helpers.
Beijing-based Primavera Capital Group and CDH Investments are also investing in Koubei's round, the people said.
Fred Hu, chairman of Primavera, confirmed the company is an investor in Koubei without elaborating. Silver Lake declined to comment while CIC, CDH and Yunfeng didn't respond to requests for comment.
Baidu Inc is the other big player in a loosely defined "online-to-offline" market that's expected to reach 7.28 trillion yuan ($1 trillion) by 2017. Chinese users of location-based services could rise 29 percent to 400 million people next year, according to Shanghai-based internet consultant iResearch.
The intense competition for online consumption requires billions of dollars in marketing, subsidies and other incentives to encourage spending. It's also heightening tensions between the country's largest internet players.
Checking and reapplying makeup is part of the daily routine for users keen to keep blotches covered up, but that could be about to change with the advent of a “second skin” cosmetics innovation.
Instead of applying liquid or powder to conceal spots or wrinkles, the new technology is based on the idea of wearing a tailor-made sheet produced by a special printer.
Panasonic Corp. is developing what it calls the “makeup sheet,” an ultra-fine film that the company says can mask a person’s skin problems by covering the face with it.
According to the company’s announcement on Dec. 1, a smart “mirror” developed for the makeup sheet system assesses five categories of the skin’s condition such as blotches, wrinkles and transparency with a built-in camera under a light-emitting diode (LED) light.
Within about two minutes of the analysis, the inkjet printer developed for the system prints a sheet up to 10 centimeters square that best matches skin color and the size of wrinkles.
Spraying water on one side of the sheet allows it to be stuck on to the skin, and other cosmetics can be applied on top of it, according to Panasonic. It can be easily removed with water.
Under the project, Panasonic draws on technology used in chips, organic electro-luminescence and other fields.
The company is looking for a cosmetics maker to translate the technology into a marketable product.
“We want to see the makeup sheet become part of our daily life by around 2020,” said Panasonic’s Sachiko Kawaguchi, who is in charge of the project.
Conventional ideas of skin-care products and cosmetics are undergoing transformation in other areas such as “cosmetics garments” that have already hit shop shelves.
Teijin Ltd., a leading fiber maker, announced in November last year that it has developed what it described as the country’s first cosmetics garments designed to keep the skin moist.
The product, named Raffinan, is made of fiber soaked in malic acid.
The company said it keeps the skin in the healthy condition of being mildly acidic by retaining moisture.
Teijin said the Raffinan material retains its ability even if it is washed 50 times or so.
Descente Ltd., a sportswear maker, has rolled out T-shirts and tank tops made of the material since March under the brand name Uroute.
India’s biggest oil and gas producer will pay as much as $1.2 billion to buy a majority stake in a gas field off the country’s east coast, aiming to boost production as the country seeks to cut energy imports.
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd.’s board approved the purchase of an 80 percent stake in Gujarat State Petroleum Corp.’s deepwater block in the Krishna Godavari basin, it said in a statement on Friday. The New Delhi-based company will pay $995.26 million for the Deen Dayal West Field, the largest discovery in the KG-OSN-2001/3 block, with estimated natural gas reserves of 1.1 trillion cubic feet.
It will pay another $200 million for six other discoveries in the block located in the Bay of Bengal. The block has likely total reserves of at least 11.2 trillion cubic feet, according to GSPC’s annual report for the year ended March 31.
“The acquisition fits well with the strategy of ONGC to enhance natural gas production from domestic fields on a faster pace,” the company said, adding that trial gas production from Deen Dayal West Field has already started.
The deal will help expedite production of gas from the block critical to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of reducing import dependency of hydrocarbons by 10 percent by 2022.
The companies will share infrastructure and reduce costs in an area where both have spent or plan to spend at least $3 billion each. The deal is critical for GSPC, a company owned by the government of the western state of Gujarat, as it is at least four years behind schedule in starting commercial gas production despite having completed construction of a processing platform, gas pipeline and an onshore terminal.
ONGC said the acquisition will help it develop faster its discoveries in the Yanam and Godavari areas as well as gas discoveries in its KG-DWN-98/2 block.