Trump pulls U.S. out of Pacific trade deal, loosening Asia ties

admin   •   January 24, 2017   •   9068

U.S. President Donald Trump, watched by (L-R) Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, head of the White House Trade Council Peter Navarro and senior advisor Jared Kushner, signs an executive order that places a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, distancing America from its Asian allies, as China’s influence in the region rises.

Fulfilling a campaign pledge to end American involvement in the 2015 pact, Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office pulling the United States out of the 12-nation TPP.

Trump, who wants to boost U.S. manufacturing, said he would seek one-on-one trade deals with countries that would allow the United States to quickly terminate them in 30 days “if somebody misbehaves.”

“We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country,” the Republican president said as he met with union leaders in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

The TPP accord, backed heavily by U.S. business, was negotiated by former Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration but never approved by Congress.

Obama had framed TPP, which excluded China, as an effort to write Asia’s trade rules before Beijing could, establishing U.S. economic leadership in the region as part of his “pivot to Asia.”

China has proposed a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific and has also championed the Southeast Asian-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Trump has sparked worries in Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific with his opposition to the TPP and his campaign demands for U.S. allies to pay more for their security.

His trade stance mirrors a growing feeling among Americans that international trade deals have hurt the U.S. job market. Republicans have long held the view that free trade is a must, but that mood has been changing.

“It’s going to be very difficult to fight that fight,” said Lanhee Chen, a Hoover Institution fellow who was domestic policy adviser to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. “Trump is reflecting a trend that has been apparent for many years.”

Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington, said Trump must now find an alternative way to reassure allies in Asia.

“This could include multiple bilateral trade agreements. Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam should be approached first as they are key to any new Asia strategy that President Trump will enact,” he said.

Trump is also working to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to provide more favorable terms to the United States, telling reporters he would meet leaders of NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada to get the process started.

BUSINESS LEADERS

The new president met with a dozen American manufacturers at the White House on Monday, pledging to slash regulations and cut corporate taxes – but warning them he would take action on trade deals he felt were unfair.

Trump, who took office on Friday, has promised to bring factories back to the United States – an issue he said helped him win the Nov. 8 election. He has not hesitated to call out by name companies he thinks should bring outsourced production back home.

He said those businesses that choose to move plants outside the country would pay a price. “We are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in,” Trump said.

He asked the group of chief executives from companies including Ford Motor Co, Dell Technologies Inc, Tesla Motors Inc and others to make recommendations in 30 days to stimulate manufacturing, Dow Chemical Co Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris told reporters.

Liveris said the CEOs discussed the border tax “quite a bit” with Trump, explaining “the sorts of industry that might be helped or hurt by that.”

“Look: I would take the president at his word here. He’s not going to do anything to harm competitiveness,” Liveris said. “He’s going to actually make us all more competitive.”

At part of the meeting observed by reporters, Trump provided no details on how the border tax would work.

The U.S. dollar fell to a seven-week low against a basket of other major world currencies on Monday, and global stock markets were shaky amid investor concerns about Trump’s protectionist rhetoric.

“A company that wants to fire all of its people in the United States, and build some factory someplace else, and then thinks that that product is going to just flow across the border into the United States – that’s not going to happen,” he said.

CUT TAXES AND REGULATIONS

The president told the CEOs he would like to cut corporate taxes to the 15 percent to 20 percent range, down from current statutory levels of 35 percent – a pledge that will require cooperation from the Republican-led U.S. Congress.

But he said business leaders have told him that reducing regulations is even more important.

“We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more,” Trump told business leaders.

“When you want to expand your plant, or when Mark wants to come in and build a big massive plant, or when Dell wants to come in and do something monstrous and special – you’re going to have your approvals really fast,” Trump said, referring to Mark Fields, CEO of Ford.

Fields said he was encouraged by the tone of the meeting.

“I know I come out with a lot of confidence that the president is very, very serious on making sure that the United States economy is going to be strong and have policies – tax, regulatory or trade – to drive that,” he said.

Trump told the executives that companies were welcome to negotiate with governors to move production between states.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Ayesha Rascoe and David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

Man in Tacloban City quarantined for novel coronavirus infection

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – A 36-year-old male patient in Tacloban City is now under observation for potential signs of novel coronavirus, the Department of Health (DOH) revealed Friday (January 24).

The patient, who traveled from Wuhan, China, showed symptoms of nCov upon his arrival in the Philippines on January 17.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, however, clarified that it is still too early to conclude that the man is infected with novel coronavirus.

The DOH is keeping a list of all individuals from China who sought medical tests relative to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

Among them is a two-year-old toddler from Aklan.

The DOH clarified, however, that the toddler showed symptoms not worse than an ordinary flu.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they are expecting the release of the confirmatory test on the patients’ blood samples by next week.

The samples are now being tested at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia, including that of the 6-year-old Chinese boy in Cebu who was first to be observed for nCoV infection.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is not yet considering the situation a global health emergency.

Also, the Philippines is still technically free of novel coronavirus pending the confirmatory tests from Australia.

Nonetheless, Health offices across the country remain on alert against possible entry of the nCoV given the Philippines’ proximity to China.

Authorities are warning the public to refrain from travelling to China and always wear masks especially airport personnel as they are the first to have contact with arriving passengers from other countries. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Duterte turns down Trump invite to attend US-ASEAN meet

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he has decided to reject the invitation of United States President Donald Trump to attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit to be held in Las Vegas this March.

Duterte announced his decision during an interview with Russian International Television Network RT.

“I just received an invitation to go to the United States together with the ASEAN leaders. I haven’t been to the States. I was invited by [former US President Barack] Obama a while back. But I did not go,” he said in a video posted on Thursday.

When asked if he will attend the upcoming summit between the US and ASEAN, Duterte replied with: “No, no.”

During the interview, the president recalled the time when Obama criticized him and his campaign against illegal drugs.

“One time when I was being criticized by Obama in a press conference, he should have realized that I’m also the head of a sovereign state. He should have criticized me in the proper venue,” he said, referring to a September 2016 press conference where Obama urged Duterte to conduct his campaign “the right way.”

The president said Obama’s move to castigate him in a press briefing got him “so mad” and prompted him to curse the former president.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the chief executive is “still pondering” on whether he would accept Trump’s invitation as he is mindful of the possibility of getting barred from entering the US since he doesn’t have a visa, and making some American senators “unhappy” seeing him there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

WHO: Coronavirus outbreak has not yet become a global health emergency

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020

Madrid – The coronavirus outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) today,” Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.

“For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade.

“We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures,” he added.

This announcement comes after three Chinese cities with a total population of around 18 million people had been put on lockdown Thursday in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus as hundreds of millions prepare to travel across the country to celebrate the new year.

China’s National Health Commission on Thursday published detailed information about the 17 mortal victims of the disease, which include 13 men and 4 women aged between 48 and 89.

Chinese state TV said there were now over 600 confirmed cases within the country.

Authorities closed down public transport and urged people to stay at home in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei province with a population of 11 million.

They later implemented similar measures in neighboring cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, which are separated by the Yangtze River and have populations of six and one million respectively.

Airlines in South Korea and Japan, where cases of the virus have also been detected, also halted outbound flights to China’s seventh largest city.

Singapore authorities confirmed a new case — a 66 years-old man with Chinese nationality who arrive in the city from Wuhan on January 20.

The coronavirus outbreak had already sparked even worries within the country, which is just a four-and-a-half hour flight from Wuhan.

The United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that Dubai airport will start screening passengers coming from China.

“Dubai International Airport will conduct thermal screening measures on passengers on direct flights from China,” Dubai Media Office posted to Twitter.

The Dubai airport, one of the world’s busiest, received in 2019 a total of 3.7 million Chinese visitors.

It said is prepared to welcome “the thousands of Chinese passengers anticipated to arrive at the airport during the Chinese New Year (25 January) festivities.”

Two days after the US authorities had confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Washington state, Canada Health Minister Patty Hajdu informed that several people in Canada were under observation for pneumonia signs although the risk remained low in the country.

“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu said.
“The risk is low to Canadians.”

In other countries, the risk remains low, although Mexico and Brazil confirmed several suspected cases.

Health officials reported three new possible cases on Thursday, a woman, a man and a 2-year-old child from Tepatitlan, Jalisco.

The Brazilian government declared the Level 1 health alert due to the possible arrival of the coronavirus to the country since authorities had ruled out five suspected cases of the disease.

An Emergency Operations Center was installed to monitor the risk, according to official sources.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, originating in Wuhan and provisionally named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO), in many cases seems like a cold, but include fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The new coronavirus sometimes referred to as Wuhan pneumonia, is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that in 2002-2003 killed more than 700 people. EFE-EPA

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