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Argentine unions, small firms and activists gather outside Argentina's Congress to demand changes in President Mauricio Macri's economic policies, in Buenos Aires, Argentina April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo
April 22, 2019
By Maximilian Heath
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentine President Mauricio Macri rode to power in 2015 promising to bolster the farming sector and cut back taxes that had stymied exports. The country’s backbone industry welcomed him with open arms after years of export controls aimed at keeping domestic prices low.
The powerful sector is now cooling on the center-right president, frustrated by revived export tariffs and sky-high borrowing rates that have bruised smaller farmers, a concern for Macri ahead of national elections later in the year.
Argentina’s farming sector, which brings in more than half of the export dollars in South America’s second-biggest economy, is a key barometer for Macri, who has sold himself as a champion of business and industry, none more so than the country’s huge soy, wheat and corn farms.
“We publicly supported the administration in the last elections (mid-terms in 2017) as we believed they were managing the policies farmers needed,” said Carlos Iannizzotto, president of the Confederación Intercooperativa Agropecuaria, one of the country’s four major farming bodies.
“Today we cannot do the same.”
Reuters spoke to the leaders at all four associations, who collectively make up the influential “Mesa de Enlace” or liaison committee. They cited Macri’s backtracking on cutting taxes on exports and the high cost of credit with interest rates above 60 percent.
The farm lobbies do not directly sway the votes of a huge proportion of voters, analysts and pollsters cautioned, but said that their weakening support was a sharp warning sign for Macri ahead of the October election, which is expected to be closely fought.
Dardo Chiesa, president of a second lobby, the Confederaciones Rurales Argentinas, said farmers had become “disappointed” with Macri’s performance on the economy, with a tumbling peso and inflation running at over 50 percent.
“The first issue in terms of voting this year is the economy, and the reality is that the government’s economic management has not satisfied the sector,” he told Reuters.
‘I WANTED CHANGE’
Everything had started so well.
After Macri’s election in 2015 he eliminated export taxes on corn and wheat and lowered those for soy; he also got rid of limits on corn and wheat exports – gaining cheers from farmers.
However, an acute financial crisis last year forced Macri to take a $56.3 billion lifeline from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in return pledging to balance the country’s deficit – including restarting taxes on exports.
In addition, to deal with inflation and protect the peso currency, the government has hiked interest rates to almost 70 percent, choking off the ability of farmers and other small businesses to obtain funds to expand and buy equipment.
Sales of combine harvesters, tractors and seeding machines plummeted last year, government data showed.
“I voted for Macri because I wanted a change, but Macri has really let us down,” Carlos Boffini, who runs a 400-hectare farm in Colón in the province of Buenos Aires, told Reuters.
“(Macri) spoke about how the export taxes were unfair. Yet here they are again. He was going to get rid of a lot of things and he did not get rid of anything.”
To be sure, not all farmers are turning away from Macri, who is still viewed by many as the most business-friendly candidate.
Daniel Pelegrina, head of Sociedad Rural Argentina, which generally represents larger farming groups, stopped short of giving his direct support for the president but said the government’s policies were roughly in the right direction.
“Argentina needs to be reintegrated and active globally, it needs to have an export-oriented economy,” he said, adding that there is, however, a need to review the high taxes.
IF NOT MACRI, THEN WHO?
Macri is facing a split field in the elections that start in October before a potential run-off if there is no clear winner.
Likely rivals include ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, whose populist and interventionist policies made her deeply unpopular with farmers. More moderate members of the Peronist opposition include former economy minister Roberto Lavagna and former congressman Sergio Massa.
Carlos Achetone, president of the Federación Agraria Argentina (FAA), the last of the four main agricultural bodies, said many farmers were looking beyond Macri if there was a “third alternative with substance.”
Analysts and farmers, however, said if the election ended up being between Macri and Fernandez – as many polls expect if she runs – then farmers would have little choice about how to vote.
“There is a consensus of not returning to populism. Argentina cannot return to populism,” said Chiesa, referring to Fernandez’s administration which had introduced export quotas on grains and meat to keep domestic prices low for consumers.
Farmer Boffini agreed, adding the sector’s general dislike of the former leader could well be Macri’s saving grace.
“Do you know what Macri’s advantage is? It’s that we don’t like Cristina and so if Cristina shows up and there are no other options, we will simply vote for Macri so that Cristina does not get in,” he said.
(Reporting by Maximilian Heath in Buenos Aires; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Matthew Lewis)
U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) speaks at a Merrimack County Democrats Summer Social at the Swett home in Bow, New Hampshire, U.S., July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
April 22, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran and Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, entered the 2020 presidential nomination contest on Monday, swelling the ranks of declared contenders to almost 20, according to an NBC news report.
He enters the race as an underdog, with little national name recognition and a shorter track record than some of his opponents who have spent years in the U.S. Senate or as state governors.
But Moulton, 40, has already built a political career driven by challenging the party’s establishment.
First elected to Congress in 2014, he won the seat after mounting a primary challenge against John Tierney, a fellow Democrat who had held the seat for 18 years.
After Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, Moulton led an unsuccessful effort to remove Nancy Pelosi as the party’s leader in the chamber.
“Tough conversations make us stronger, not weaker, and we need to keep having them if we’re going to deliver on the change that we’ve promised the American people,” Moulton said in a statement announcing the end of his opposition to Pelosi.
Moulton served in the Marines from 2001 to 2008. During his 2014 congressional bid, he became a vocal critic of the Iraq War in which he served, saying no more troops should be deployed to the country.
He also has advocated stricter gun laws, saying military-style weapons should not be owned by civilians.
Moulton supports the legalization of marijuana and told Boston public radio station WGBH in 2016 that he had smoked pot while in college.
He graduated from Harvard University with an undergraduate degree in physics in 2001 and returned to receive a master’s degree in business and public policy in 2011.
(For a graphic of the 2020 presidential candidates, see: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ff62ZC)
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)
FILE PHOTO: People fish in front of an Orient Overseas Container Line container ship, at Kaohsiung Port, Taiwan August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
April 22, 2019
By Yimou Lee
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s export orders fell for the fifth straight month in March, and at a much sharper pace than expected, as the island’s manufacturers kept struggling with a drop in global tech demand.
Orders in March dropped 9 percent from a year earlier to $38.59 billion, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed on Monday.
For January-March, export orders slid 8.4 percent, the biggest annual drop for a first quarter since 2009 when they tumbled 30 percent, the ministry said.
March orders fell at almost twice the 5.45 percent forecast in a Reuters poll, though the pace was less than February’s 10.9 percent, the sharpest fall in nearly three years.
Taiwan’s hi-tech factories are major suppliers for global tech heavyweights such as Apple Inc and Qualcomm, and the continued drop in orders suggests global electronic could remain soft for some time.
The ministry said the March shrinkage was also due to declining machinery orders due to business caution in China as the U.S-Sino trade dispute continues.
However, launches of smartphone models and demand for new technology such as artificial intelligence and 5G could support a rebound of orders for electronics in coming months, it said.
The faster 5G networks are coming on line in the United States, China, South Korea and other places this year, but probably will not be widespread until 2020. The telecommunications industry is expected to spend $275 billion over seven years in the United States alone, according to Accenture estimates.
Carl Liu, an analyst at KGI Securities, said Taiwan export orders “are unlikely to return to growth until in June, thanks to re-stocking of electronics ahead of the peak season in the third quarter”.
CAUTION ON OUTLOOK
The ministry said it expects April export orders to decline 6.7-9.2 percent, and that it could be July before orders rebound.
“We remain cautious about orders in the first half and expect a year-on-year decline for the second quarter,” ministry official Lin Lee-jen said.
The slowing tech demand has taken a toll on Taiwan’s supply chain manufacturers. Chipmaker TSMC last week posted its steepest quarterly profit drop in more than seven years partly due to sluggish smartphone sales.
But the company gave an upbeat forecast for the coming months, betting on rising chip demand thanks to a rollout of 5G mobile network.
In March, weak export demand was seen from all Taiwan’s major markets.
Orders from the United States fell 9.7 percent on-year, on top of February’s 5.5 percent decline.
Those from China dropped 13.7 percent, compared with a fall of 14.3 percent the previous month, while orders from Europe slipped 2.4 percent. Japan orders declined 5.8 percent.
Taiwan’s government in February trimmed its 2019 economic growth forecast to 2.27 percent, citing growing uncertainties over global growth.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Taipei newsroom; Editing by Richard Borsuk)
FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi
April 22, 2019
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India hopes the U.S. will allow its allies to continue to buy some Iranian oil instead of halting the purchases altogether from May, a source familiar with U.S.-India talks said on Monday.
The United States is expected to announce on Monday that buyers of Iranian oil need to end imports soon or face sanctions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, triggering a 3 percent jump in crude prices to their highest for 2019 so far.
“They (the U.S. administration) have to take care of their allies, strategic partners. Under sanctions from the beginning, there was talk of a gradual reduction and not going to zero on one stroke,” said the source, who did not wish to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
India, Iran’s biggest oil client after China, has almost halved its Iran oil purchase since November. That was when Washington granted significant reduction exceptions (SREs) from sanctions to countries, including India.
“Under SREs we hope they will give us relaxation and allow us to buy some Iranian oil,” the source added.
Indian refiners have not yet placed orders to lift Iranian oil in May, pending clarity on whether Washington will extend the sanctions waiver.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Edited by Martin Howell)
FILE PHOTO: A man checks phone at Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, Shanghai, China March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song
April 22, 2019
BEIJING (Reuters) – China should fine-tune monetary policy in a pre-emptive way ,based on economic growth and price changes, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Monday, citing a top-level meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.
Monetary policy should be kept neither too tight, nor too loose, Xinhua quoted the meeting as saying, adding that China will step up fiscal policy and strengthen macro counter-cyclical adjustments, a phrase that usually refers to efforts to reduce pressure on the slowing economy.
(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Kim Coghill)
Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they attend a mass anti-government protest outside Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
April 22, 2019
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) warned on Monday against protesters blocking roads and limiting the movement of citizens as protests continued after president Omar al-Bashir was forced from power.
The TMC also said it was unacceptable that some young people were exercising the role of the police and security services, in violation of the law, a reference to youths who have been searching protesters taking part in a sit-in outside the Defense Ministry.
The TMC and the opposition have traded threats since Sunday, with the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), the main organizer of the protests, saying it would suspend talks with the Council.
“We have decided to opt for escalation with the military council, not to recognize its legitimacy and to continue the sit-in and escalate the protests on the streets,” Mohamed al-Amin Abdel-Aziz of the SPA told crowds outside the Defense Ministry on Sunday.
The protesters have kept up the sit-in outside the Ministry since Bashir was removed by the military on April 11 and have demonstrated in large numbers in recent days, pressing for a rapid handover to civilian rule.
TMC head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told state TV on Sunday that the formation of a joint military-civilian council, one of the activists’ demands, was being considered. “The issue has been put forward for discussion and a vision has yet to be reached,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said on Sunday they had agreed to send Sudan $3 billion worth of aid, throwing a lifeline to the country’s new military leaders.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Gareth Jones and David Holmes)
FILE PHOTO: A woman shops in a wet market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
April 22, 2019
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s consumer prices are expected to edge higher in March, rebounding after two months in deflationary territory, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.
The consumer price index in March was forecast to rise 0.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the median estimate among 13 economists surveyed.
The index turned negative in January for the first time since November 2009, declining 0.7 percent year-on-year. In February, it dropped 0.4 percent.
Price pressures have been mild since the government scrapped an unpopular consumption tax in June 2018 and reinstated a narrower sales and services tax (SST) three months later.
The central bank has said, however, that Malaysia did not face serious deflationary pressures. Headline inflation, which came in at 1 percent in 2018, was likely to average higher this year, Bank Negara Malaysia said.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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FILE PHOTO: The AT&T logo is pictured during the Forbes Forum 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico, September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo
April 15, 2019
(Reuters) – Streaming service company Hulu is buying back wireless carrier AT&T Inc’s 9.5 percent stake in the company in a deal valued at $1.43 billion, the two companies said on Monday.
The transaction valued Hulu at $15 billion. AT&T said it will use proceeds http://pdf.reuters.com/htmlnews/htmlnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=urn:newsml:reuters.com:20190415:nBw2r0mxza from the deal to cut down its debt.
(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Friday night called on members of Congress to rebuke President Donald Trump over a video he shared on twitter showing Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial quote on the 9/11 terrorist interspersed with video of the attacks on New York City.
Omar is quoted in the video saying the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was founded after 9/11 because “some people did something.” CAIR was actually founded in 1994, though its membership spiked after the 9/11 attacks.
“Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Her life is in danger. For our colleagues to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress. We must speak out.”
By Saturday, several Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had spoken out, saying, the president “shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack.”
Other comments included:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.:
“Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.:
“The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion. It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.”
Former Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum:
“There is no rock bottom to @realDonaldTrump. His tweet is out of context, morally & factually dishonest, & threatening @IlhanMN. His dangerous, cowardly behavior behind a keyboard deserves the strongest rebuke from ALL Americans & a suspension, @jack. #SuspendTrumpsAccount”
Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass.:
“President Trump understands the weight his words carry. His tweet about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar puts her life & her family’s lives at risk. Our outrage should be nonpartisan. That it’s not will only give him license to continue to incite violence.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii
“.@realDonaldTrump’s unconscionable attack on Rep. @IlhanMN feeds the racist right wing fear of all Muslims. Once again, Trump shows us there is no low to which he won’t sink.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
Iranian boxer Sadaf Khadem in action against French boxer Anne Chauvin during an official boxing bout in Royan, France, April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
April 17, 2019
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Sadaf Khadem, who on Saturday became the first Iranian woman to contest an official boxing bout, has canceled her return to Tehran after an arrest warrant was issued for her there, her representative said on Wednesday.
An arrest warrant was also issued against Mahyar Monshipour, the Iranian-born former boxing world champion who set up the bout in western France and was planning to travel back to Iran with Khadem this week, the representative, Clara Dallay, told Reuters.
Monshipour is a French citizen.
On Saturday, Khadem beat local boxer Anne Chauvin in an amateur bout.
The 24-year-old, who was in Paris on Monday, was returning to Monshipour’s home town of Poitiers.
France’s foreign ministry could not immediately comment on the case.
A spokesman from Iran’s embassy in Paris said he had received a request to confirm there was an arrest warrant out and comment on Khadem’s and her coach’s decision not to return to Iran. He gave no other comment.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by John Stonestreet)
FILE PHOTO: Ice Hockey – 2018 IIHF World Championships – Group A – Russia v Slovakia – Royal Arena – Copenhagen, Denmark – May 14, 2018 – Nikita Gusev of Russia in action. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor/FIle Photo
April 14, 2019
Nikita Gusev, the reigning MVP of the Kontinental Hockey League, is joining the Vegas Golden Knights for their playoff run.
He signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Golden Knights on Sunday and is expected to practice with the team on Monday.
Vegas and the San Jose Sharks were tied 1-1 in their best-of-7 series entering Sunday’s Game 3 in Las Vegas.
“He’ll join our group (Monday) and we’ll see where it goes,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told reporters. “I’m not going to make any promises either way. We’ll see what happens. I like our team. I’ve liked our team all year. If we think we need him to put in the lineup, we’ll see where it goes.”
Gusev, 26, has been on the roster of SKA St. Petersburg since the 2015-16 season. He led the league in scoring this season with 82 points (17 goals, 65 assists). He was released from his contract this week after SKA St. Petersburg was eliminated in the KHL conference finals.
He has played nine seasons in the KHL and was part of Russia’s gold-medal team in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted him in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL Draft. Vegas acquired his rights in a trade with Tampa Bay during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
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Source: The War Room