Geneva, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) — Alibaba founder Jack Ma said Tuesday that the trade dispute between the U.S. and China could last 20 years. But he expressed hope that a solution could be reached as a trade war would "hurt everybody."
The Chinese e-commerce billionaire also questioned the focus among some on trade deficits, calling it a relic of the 20th century. U.S. President Donald Trump has long decried the U.S.'s whopping deficit with China.
"When trade stops, sometimes the war starts. So trade is the way to stop wars," Ma said at a World Trade Organization seminar. "Trade is the way to build up trust. It's not the weapon to fight against each other."
He said trade conflict would not only hurt the U.S. and China but other countries' small businesses. The standoff, he added, "may last 20 years, unfortunately."
Overall, Ma expressed bullishness about trade, but said it needed to be protected from regulators.
"Today we see Made in China, Made in America, Made in Switzerland or Made in Geneva: 2030 will see Made in Internet." More than 85 percent of business will be e-commerce, he said.
Alibaba Group is the world's biggest e-commerce company by value of the goods that pass across its platforms.
A key part of its business is connecting American retailers with Chinese suppliers, many of them small producers of furniture, handbags, tools and household appliances. The United States is an important market for Chinese businesses and Washington's tariff increases have been a hit.
The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods, prompting retaliation from Beijing.
Ma, 54, is one of China's most prominent and outspoken business leaders. He announced last month he will step down as Alibaba's chairman next September but will stay on as a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group that retains control of the company through their right to nominate a majority of its board of directors.
Dhaka, Oct 3 (AP/UNB) - Vehicle sales are slowing down despite a run on big SUVs.
Major automakers said Tuesday that U.S. sales fell 7 percent in September and 4 percent for the June-through-September quarter, compared with the same periods last year.
Weaker numbers for September and the third quarter wiped out a 1.8 percent gain during the first half of the year, and left auto sales on pace with 2017. Some analysts had cautioned that the first-half gains were driven by incentives and low-margin sales to fleet buyers like rental car companies.
Industry officials blamed the recent weakness partly on hurricanes — in both 2017 and 2018.
Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle suggested that the September numbers were hurt by Hurricane Florence, which flooded parts of the Carolinas. That made it tougher to compete with September 2017, when sales were boosted by owners replacing cars after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, he said.
Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo also noted that while prices and interest rates for auto buyers are rising, favorable credit deals are getting harder to find.
"The trickle-down effect of elevated interest rates really started hitting car shoppers in September," he said.
General Motors Co.'s chief economist, Elaine Buckberg, predicted 2018 will be the fourth-straight year with industry sales above 17 million vehicles. She said a new trade agreement among the U.S., Mexico and Canada will ease uncertainty for the auto industry, and consumer confidence remains high because of the strong job market.
Confidence might explain why more consumers are gravitating toward SUVs and trucks despite having to spend more for gasoline to keep them running.
Ford said September sales of Lincoln Navigators — a tiny fraction of the company's sales — soared 77 percent, and they stayed on dealer lots for an average of just 12 days. At General Motors, a 12 percent gain in combined sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon large SUVs helped push the company's average transaction price up by $700.
Meanwhile, Ford reported that sales of cars plunged 25.7 percent in September, compared with a 9.9 percent drop for pickups and a 2.7 percent dip for SUVs.
Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota division in North America, said on a call with reporters that the industrywide ratio of truck and SUV sales to car sales is nearing 70-30, adding that he is "not so sure that it's stopping quite yet."
While industry officials expressed optimism in the economy, automakers have other concerns.
New U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum could increase their costs. A new trade deal also could make vehicles more expensive by raising the amount of content required from North America to avoid duties, and requiring that at least 40 percent of a car's content be built where workers earn $16 an hour.
Here is how major automakers fared at U.S. sales in the third quarter, according to Edmunds, which provides content, including automotive tips and reviews, for distribution by The Associated Press:
— General Motors, down 11 percent to 694,638.
— Toyota, down 6 percent to 634,923.
— Ford, down 4 percent to 606,939.
— Fiat Chrysler, up 10 percent to 564,507.
— Honda, down 5 percent to 419,173.
— Nissan, down 9 percent to 343,987.
— Subaru, up 4 percent to 180,558.
— Hyundai, up 1 percent to 166,653.
— Kia, down 2 percent to 158,479.
— Volkswagen, up 2 percent to 93,330.
— BMW, down 1 percent to 83,236.
— Mercedes-Benz, down 14 percent to 77,965.
— Mazda, down 10 percent to 71,198.
Dhaka, Oct 2 (UNB) – Leaders of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) on Tuesday emphasised reducing the registration fee for lands and apartments.
They also called for changing the provision of paying registration fee in every selling and buying, and stressed upgrading the land-keeping system as a time-befitting one.
The issues were discussed at a meeting of the FBCCI Standing Committee relating to the Ministry of Land at its conference centre.
The FBCCI leaders also emphasised solving the water-logging issues and recovering the city canals for smooth flushing out water, and sought steps for strengthening the activities of Detailed Area Plan (DAP).
It also urged the authorities concerned to upgrade the land development Act.
Amarat Hossain, Chairman of the Standing Committee, briefed the meeting about its plan to work on land system and environment protection.
FBCCI Director Hafez Harun-Or-Roshid, among others, joined the meeting held with Amarat Hossain in the chair.
Singapore, Oct 2 (AP/UNB) — Asian shares fell on Tuesday as relief that the United States had brokered a trade deal with Canada gave way to concerns that negotiations with China were at a standstill.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.2 percent to 24,294.43. Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 1.6 percent to 27,333.36. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.7 percent to 6,130.20, ahead of a statement by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 1.5 percent. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.7 percent to 2,322.58. Markets in the Chinese mainland were closed for a week-long holiday.
WALL STREET: Stocks advanced after the U.S. and Canada agreed to a new trade deal, but the rally fizzled, leaving major indexes mixed on Monday. The S&P 500 index added 0.4 percent to 2,924.59. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.1 percent to 8,037.30, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.7 percent to 26,651.21. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 1.4 percent to 1,672.99, its worst loss since late June.
U.S.-CANADA DEAL: Canada joined the revamped North American trade agreement with the U.S. and Mexico late Sunday after weeks of negotiations. On Monday, President Donald Trump hailed the agreement as a breakthrough for U.S. workers and vowed to sign it by late November. Trump branded the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as "USMCA" and added that the new name had a "good ring to it." Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the deal was a "win-win-win for all three countries." But the new agreement still faces a lengthy path to congressional approval, having been a lightning rod for criticism among labor unions and manufacturing workers.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "The revamped trade pact adds to KORUS, the bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Korea, to show that the Trump administration has capacity to strike trade deals," Zhu Huani of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary. "Nonetheless, a protracted trade war with China is still expected given both sides have little appetite for further negotiation at this juncture," she added.
TESLA: Tesla logged its biggest gain in five years after company founder Elon Musk reached a settlement with securities regulators on Monday that will allow him to stay on as CEO of the electric car maker. Its stock soared over 17.3 percent to $310.70. Musk agreed to give up the chairman's role for at least three years, while Tesla will appoint two new, independent directors to its board. On Friday, Tesla plunged 14 percent after the Securities and Exchange Commission said Musk had misled investors with a tweet saying he had secured the funding to take Tesla private. The SEC said in a court filing that it wanted to bar Musk from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company and called his actions securities fraud.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 24 cents to $75.54. The contract climbed 2.8 percent to $75.30 a barrel in New York on Monday, its highest price since November 2014. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 3 cents to $85.01 per barrel in London. It was also trading at four-year highs, after adding 2.7 percent to $84.98 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 113.94 yen from 113.92 yen on Monday. The euro fell to $1.1572 from $1.1575. The Canadian dollar rose to $1.2805 from $1.2787.
Birmingham, Oct 2 (AP/UNB) — Britain's Brexit chief appealed for Conservative Party unity on Monday, as he warned the European Union that the U.K. will leave the bloc without a divorce deal rather than accept one that makes Britain follow too many EU rules.
Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab's call to "come together, because this is a moment for the optimists" fell largely on deaf ears at the Conservative conference in Birmingham. Instead, pro-Brexit politicians took pot-shots at the EU, pro-EU Conservatives battled to stop the U.K.'s exit from the bloc — and British Prime Minister Theresa May was caught in the middle, trying to cling to power.
The Conservatives are holding their annual meeting in the central English city 10 days after EU leaders told May that her proposed divorce terms were unacceptable. That rejection has sparking an impasse in Brexit negotiations and a crisis for Britain's leader, with less than six months to go until Britain leaves the 28-nation bloc on March 29.
Raab accused the EU of casting "jibes" at Britain and having a "theological approach (that) allows no room for serious compromise."
Raab said that if the EU tried to "lock us in via the back door" — by keeping Britain in the bloc's single market or customs union — "then we will be left with no choice but to leave without a deal."
Raab's combative comments followed Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's remark on Sunday that the EU should not try to prevent a smooth departure by Britain because "it was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving." His comparison of a bloc that includes several former Communist countries to the USSR drew a rebuke from former British diplomats and from the EU.
"We would all benefit, and in particular foreign affairs ministers, from opening a history book from time to time," said European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.
Pro-Brexit flag-waving got a warmer reception at the Conservative conference, where party members mixed with lobbyists, think-tank academics and a group of men dressed as soldiers from the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 — a time when Britain was engulfed in civil war and Europe seemed far away.
May, meanwhile, faces a growing threat to her leadership amid deepening opposition to her Brexit plan, which would keep Britain in the EU single market for goods — in return for following EU regulations — while leaving it free to make its own rules on services.
Advocates of "hard Brexit" argue that would make the U.K. a "vassal" of the EU, whereas a clean break with the bloc would let Britain strike new trade deals around the world.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a rival of May's who is a likely future contender for her job, has called the prime minister's plan "preposterous" and "deranged." Johnson is set to address party delegates on Tuesday, a day before May's keynote speech to the conference.
In the speech widely seen as Johnson's leadership manifesto, he will urge the party to "follow our conservative instincts" and cut taxes.
On May's other flank are pro-EU ministers such as Treasury chief Philip Hammond, who called Johnson's claims about Brexit "fantasy land." Hammond used his own conference speech to stress that the Conservative Party "is, and always will be, the party of business."
It's a sign of how Brexit has upended British politics that the party of free-market former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher needs to make such an assurance.
But many British businesses are anxious about Brexit, fearing barriers to trade and recruiting workers could hammer the U.K. economy.
Hammond echoed their concerns, saying "our businesses, and the workers whose jobs depend on them" need "friction-free access" to EU markets.
Hammond backed May's Brexit plan, but EU leaders say it amounts to "cherry picking" the benefits of membership in the bloc without assuming the costs and responsibilities.
May is sticking to her proposal. But with Brexit day looming on March 29, chances are rising that the U.K. could find itself crashing out of the bloc without a deal. The government has acknowledged that could leave planes grounded and trucks backed up at British ports.
Pro-EU Conservatives, who have been sidelined since the country voted in 2016 to leave the EU, think opinion is turning in their favor now that the downsides of Brexit are becoming clearer. Several hundred people packed a meeting in Birmingham on Monday to hear from Conservatives calling for a "people's vote" — a new referendum on any final Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.
Speakers warned that the party would be punished by voters if it pushed through a "hard" Brexit.
"Every single socio-economic ill that takes place between now and the next general election is going to be blamed on 'Tory Brexit,'" said lawmaker Phillip Lee, who resigned as a junior minister over his opposition to Brexit.
Lee claimed to know three government ministers who privately supported a new referendum, and urged Conservative lawmakers with doubts about Brexit to speak up.
Conservative legislator Anna Soubry encouraged British businesses to go public with their concerns about Brexit.
"There are so many private conversations that should now be public conversations — and notably by British businesses," Soubry said. "We have only six months to save our country."