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Biden administration ‘strike force’ to combat unfair trade | Business and Economy News

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The United States will target China with a new “strike force” to combat unfair trade practices, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday, as it rolled out findings of a review of US access to critical products, from semiconductors to electric-vehicle batteries.

The “supply chain trade strike force”, led by the US trade representative, will look for specific violations that have contributed to a “hollowing out” of supply chains that could be addressed with trade remedies, including towards China, senior administration officials told reporters.

Officials also said the Department of Commerce was considering initiating a Section 232 investigation into the national security impact of neodymium magnet imports used in motors and other industrial applications, which the US largely sources from China.

President Joe Biden ordered the review of critical supply chains in February, requiring executive agencies to report back within 100 days on risks to the US access to critical goods like those used in pharmaceuticals as well as rare earth minerals, for which the US is dependent on overseas sources.

Though not explicitly directed at China, the review is part of a broader Biden administration strategy to shore up US competitiveness in the face of economic challenges posed by the world’s second-largest economy.

“Semiconductors are the building blocks that underpin so much of our economy, and are essential to our national security, our economic competitiveness, and our daily lives,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

The US faced serious challenges getting medical equipment during the COVID-19 epidemic and now faces severe bottlenecks in a number of areas, including computer chips, stalling production of goods such as cars.

The White House on Tuesday said efforts to strengthen supply chains “are critical because, as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have shown, structural weaknesses in both domestic and international supply chains threaten America’s economic and national security”.

“While amplified by the public health and economic crisis, decades of underinvestment and public policy choices led to fragile supply chains across a range of sectors and products.”

US agencies are required to issue more complete reports a year after Biden’s order, identifying gaps in domestic manufacturing capabilities and policies to address them.

Address ‘unfair trade practices’

A senior official told reporters the US had faced unfair trade practices from “a number of foreign governments” across all four of the supply chains covered in the initial review, including government subsidies and forced intellectual property transfers.

“Obviously, a number of Chinese industrial policies have contributed to vulnerable US supply chains,” the official said. “I think you are going to see this strike force focusing in feeding into some of our China policy developments.”

The official added the US was not looking to “wage trade wars with our allies and partners”, the official added, noting the strike force would be focused on “very targeted products”.

But the senior officials offered little in the way of new measures to immediately ease chip supply shortages, noting in a fact sheet that the Commerce Department would work to “facilitate information flow” between chipmakers and end users and increase transparency.

In medicine, the administration will use the Defense Production Act to accelerate efforts to manufacture 50 to 100 critical drugs domestically rather than relying on imports.

And to address supply bottlenecks from lumber to steel that have raised fears of inflation, the administration is starting a task force focused on “homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food”.

Semiconductors are a central focus in sprawling legislation currently before Congress, which would pump billions of dollars into creating domestic production capacity for the chips used in everything from consumer electronics to military equipment.

Biden has said China will not surpass the US as a global leader on his watch, and confronting Beijing is one of the few bipartisan issues in an otherwise deeply divided Congress.

But some lawmakers have expressed concerns that a package of China-related bills includes huge taxpayer-funded outlays for companies without safeguards to prevent them from sending related production or research to China.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Denmark’s Eriksen is joking and in a good mood: Agent | Euro2020 News

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‘He is fine,’ but may have to stay in hospital for two more days, the Inter Milan player’s agent Martin Schoots told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen may have to stay in hospital for two more days but is making a good recovery, his agent said on Monday.

Eriksen collapsed during Saturday’s European Championship game against Finland in Copenhagen and doctors think he had a cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated on the pitch.

“He has been joking, he was in a good mood. He is fine,” the Inter Milan player’s agent Martin Schoots told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper after visiting him.

“We all want to know what happened, he as well. The doctors are doing lots of tests and that takes time.”

The 29-year-old is not expected to play again in the tournament but could continue his recuperation at home soon.

Eriksen will stay in hospital in Copenhagen on Monday “and perhaps also Tuesday” added Schoots.

“He is happy because he has seen how many people care about him. He has had messages from across the world,” he added.

Denmark, who lost 1-0 to Finland having decided to restart the game hours after his collapse, meet favourites Belgium in their second Group B game on Thursday.

“Without a doubt, he wants to support his team against Belgium as a fan,” said Schoots, without specifying whether that would be in the Parken Stadium in the Danish capital.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Covid-19 claims Kanungu district health officer Dr Ssebudde

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Kanungu district health officer, Dr. Stephen Ssebudde has succumbed to Covid-19. According to Kanungu deputy resident district commissioner, Gad Ahimbisibwe Rugaaju, Ssebudde breathed his last at 09:00 pm yesterday at Entebbe Grade B hospital where he spent a week in admission.

Kanungu resident district commissioner, Hajji Shafiq Ssekandi who also heads the district Covid-19 taskforce says that Ssebudde’s death is a big blow to the district health department because he has been working selflessly to ensure that all people in the community receive equal health services.

Martin Kafanta Atukwase, the former Kanungu district youth chairperson, says Ssebudde’s death should send a strong message to the public about the need for extra vigilance and the need to implement Covid-19 preventive measures because the disease has the capacity to get to anyone.  

This is the first district health officer in Uganda to succumb to the virus, which has claimed at least 15 prominent figures in the last seven days.

Some of the victims include Manzi Tumubweine, the former state minister for Privatization and former Rukiga county MP, Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the former Kabale district LC V chairman, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Samuel Bamuzibire, the Kampala Metropolitan 999 Patrol commander, and former judiciary permanent secretary, Kagole Kivumbi among others.



Source – observer.ug

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Myanmar’s pro-Rohingya social media campaign gathers mass support | Rohingya News

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Hundreds of thousands of Myanmar’s anti-military government protesters have flooded social media with pictures of themselves wearing black in a show of solidarity with the Rohingya, a minority group that is among the most persecuted in the country.

Since the military overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power in a February 1 coup, an anti-military movement demanding a return to democracy has grown to include fighting for ethnic minority rights.

The mostly-Muslim Rohingya – long viewed as interlopers from Bangladesh by many in Myanmar – have for decades been denied citizenship, rights, access to services and freedom of movement.

In 2017, a bloody military campaign in Myanmar’s west sent about 740,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh carrying accounts of rape, mass killings and arson.

The military has long claimed the crackdown was justified to root out rebels, and Aung San Suu Kyi defended the army’s conduct by travelling to the Hague to rebut charges of genocide at the UN’s top court.

The Myanmar public was largely unsympathetic to the Rohingya’s plight, while activists and journalists reporting on the issues faced vitriolic abuse online.

On Sunday, activists and civilians took to social media to post pictures of themselves wearing black and flashing a three-finger salute of resistance, in posts tagged “#Black4Rohingya”.

“Justice must [be] served for each of you and each of us in Myanmar,” prominent rights activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi said on Twitter.

Local media also showed a small protest in Myanmar’s commercial hub Yangon, with black-clad demonstrators holding signs in Burmese that said they were “protesting for the oppressed Rohingya”.

By the evening, the #Black4Rohingya hashtag was trending on Twitter in Myanmar with more than 332,000 mentions.

Sunday’s show of support from the mostly Buddhist, ethnic Bamar-majority population is a far cry from previous years when even using the term “Rohingya” was a lightning rod for controversy.

‘Solidarity is important’

Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, told Al Jazeera that the #Black4Rohingya campaign has “received a huge support and solidarity from our fellow Burmese this year”.

“In the past, we only had international supporters but since the coup, we have received public apologies from individuals and organisations in Myanmar,” he added.

“The solidarity from our fellow Burmese is very important for us. We were friendless in our own country, regarded like enemies, intruders, interlopers and sub-humans but now many of them accepted Rohingya as their fellow citizens. Many of them realised that they were brainwashed by the military.

“The people who used to call us ‘Bengali’ are now calling us Rohingya. That means they are now respecting the very basic human rights.”

Prominent Europe-based Rohingya activist Ro Nay San Lwin told AFP news agency the online campaign is an annual effort to raise awareness but Sunday was “the first time” he had seen it go viral in Myanmar.

“I am so happy to see those inside Myanmar joined this campaign. I am more hopeful to have a stronger solidarity from them,” he said.

The shadow National Unity Government (NUG) – made up of overthrown lawmakers of Myanmar working to topple the military from power – has also extended an olive branch to the minority group, inviting them to “join hands… to participate in this Spring Revolution” in a recent announcement.

The NUG has been branded as “terrorists” by the military regime, while military leader Min Aung Hlaing has dismissed the word “Rohingya” as “an imaginary term”.

Since the coup earlier this year, more than 860 people have been killed in brutal crackdowns by security forces, according to a local monitoring group – a death toll that has drawn alarm from the international community.

On Friday, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Myanmar has plunged from a “fragile democracy to a human rights catastrophe” – pointing with particular concern at the escalating violence in regions like Kayah, Chin and Kachin states.

State-run television on Sunday evening condemned Bachelet’s comments, saying that the international body “should not be biased”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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