Most Recent/Updated Most Recent/Updated en Tariffs and tech to tax G20 ministers in Argentina
The two-day meeting in Buenos Aires, which starts Monday, comes at a particularly tense moment just two days before the United States is set to begin imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

US President Donald Trump has pledged to impose 25% duties on imported steel and 10% on aluminium. Only neighbours Canada and Mexico were exempted.

"Up to now, finance ministers were reticent to tackle the subject of trade, considering that it was not their area of competence," a source close to the negotiations said.

"But the situation is such today that they will not be able to not speak about it. The question is how far we can go."

Meanwhile, the US Treasury wants to use the meeting to win consensus on how to combat China's trade practices, particularly its cheap steel exports.

Except that Trump, far from being reserved when it comes to Beijing, also regularly attacks Europe.

"It's a funny strategy which consists of targeting China by threatening US allies," said a European source.

The meeting in Buenos Aires, which also involve G20 central bank chiefs, will be a test of European cohesion ahead of a meeting next week between the US and EU officials on steel and aluminium taxes.

"The important thing is that the European position is coordinated and united," France's finance ministry said in the run-up to the talks, arguing that Europe "should be exempted" from US tariffs.

The G20 discussed the question of Chinese overcapacity during its 2016 meeting and asked the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to monitor efforts to curb supply but to little avail.

No progress on GAFA

The OECD, which often serves as the operational arm of the G20, is struggling on another thorny issue — the taxation of the world's tech giants, the so-called GAFA.

The acronym refers to the four behemoths of the digital industry: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, whose tax optimization practices are regularly a source of friction between the US and its allies.

The United States said Friday it "firmly opposes" any new tax on big tech, and the Paris-based OECD warned there were "divergent views about how the issue should be approached."

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — the EU's five G20 members — are pushing first for a European solution that can set an example for the rest of the world.

The European Union wants "big tech" to be taxed on overall revenue in the EU and not just on profits, somewhere between two percent and five percent according to a draft proposal obtained by AFP.

In Buenos Aires, ministers and central bank chiefs will also discuss the question of imposing greater oversight on cryptocurrencies.

The draft of the final communique mentions the usual pledge on devaluations and exchange rates: "We will refrain from competitive devaluations, and will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes."

But the word protectionism is conspicuous by its absence from the text, replaced by a warning to countries not to "retreat to inward-looking policies". — AFP]]>
Business Sat, 17 Mar 2018 03:53:57 +0000 theSundaily 533383 at
Japan Tobacco buys Russia's fourth-largest cigarette maker
One of the world's biggest tobacco companies, whose global brands include Winston and Camel, Japan Tobacco (JT) has set its sights on international markets to counter slowing sales at home and intensifying competition in the e-cigarette market.

JT on Friday said the deal would boost its Russian market share to about 40% from the current 33%, which was already the largest in the country.

The acquisition of Donskoy Tabak, whose brands include Donskoy Tabak, Kiss and Play, will be completed later this year, it said.

"This acquisition demonstrates our commitment to reinforce our number one position in Russia," JT executive vice president Mutsuo Iwai said in a statement.

The deal will also include JT's purchase of Greek cigarette maker SEKAP, it said, adding that it has no plan to revise its earnings forecast following the announcement.

Last year JT spent some $2 billion (RM 7,818,000,000.00) on acquiring major tobacco manufacturers in Asia, including Mighty of the Philippines. — AFP]]>
Business Sat, 17 Mar 2018 03:53:57 +0000 theSundaily 533381 at
Najib meets Australian PM Turnbull
The meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, took place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney ahead of the two-day ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018 that will start in the afternoon.

Among others, both leaders discussed issues on defence, education, trade and investment cooperation as well as regional cooperation in countering terrorism.

Also present were Malaysia's Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and his counterpart Julie Bishop.

Najib is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the closing segment of the Counter-Terrorism Conference on the first day of the summit.

Najib is the only ASEAN leader invited to deliver a speech at the closing segment of the conference. The other leader to address the conference will be Turnbull.

The ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018 is organised to discuss the future direction and cooperation between ASEAN and Australia.

Besides that, the special summit is also organised to commemorate the elevation of ASEAN-Australia relations to a strategic partnership.

The ASEAN-Australia Special Summit will comprise three sessions, namely the ASEAN-Australia Leader's Summit, the ASEAN-Australia Business Summit and the ASEAN-Australia Counter-Terrorism Conference.

This is the first time that Australia is hosting a summit with all ASEAN leaders. — Bernama]]>
Local Thu, 15 Mar 2018 07:16:00 +0000 theSundaily 533379 at
FIFA gives VAR green light for World Cup, lifts 30-year Iraq ban
"We are going to have in 2018, for the first time, a World Cup with VAR," said Infantino after a meeting of the FIFA Council which, as expected, rubber-stamped the go-ahead given by the rule-making International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Zurich two weeks ago.

"This has been approved and we are really very happy with this decision."

The World Cup, which takes place from June 14-July 15, will see VAR used to judge whether or not a goal has been scored, analyse whether a penalty should be awarded, decide on red cards and rectify if a player has been mistakenly sanctioned.

"What we want is to help and to give the referee the possibility to have extra help when he has to make important decisions, and in a World Cup we make very important decisions," added Infantino.

"It cannot be possible that in 2018 everybody, in the stadium or at home, knows in a few seconds if the referee has made a mistake but not the referee himself — not because he doesn't want to know about it but because we forbid him to know.

"The VAR is helping the referee and we are going to have a more transparent and fairer game, and that's what we want."

VAR has been trialled since 2016 by 20 federations, including the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A, with around 1,000 matches involved.

But it has not been universally welcomed with even UEFA, the European governing body, still to be convinced.

"Nobody knows exactly how VAR will work. There is already a lot of confusion," said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who insists that VAR will not be used in next season's Champions League.

"I am not at all against it but we must better explain when it will be used. We will see at the World Cup."

One of the problems that dogs VAR, say its critics, is not the accuracy of its decisions but the time it takes to arrive at them.

It's a drawback which has left many fans and purists frustrated that the flow of a game is interrupted.

"The intervention of VAR takes one minute on average in each game. If we lose a minute to correct mistakes, I think we have done something good," said Infantino earlier this week on a visit to Lima.

30-year Iraq ban lifted

However, Colombia coach Luis Fernando Suarez added in an interview with AFP: "It seems hurried to me. I think we should do other trials in other tournaments, analyse them well, and then put it in place."

Suarez, who led Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and Honduras in 2014 in Brazil, remains a fan in general of the use of technology in football, which he has witnessed close up.

That came in the 2014 tournament when his Honduras team played France in Porto Alegre when the first goal decided by GLT (goal-line technology) was awarded to France.

"It's good and necessary that there are changes but it's essential that we don't lose the essence of football," added Suarez.

Meanwhile, FIFA said it was lifting the three-decade ban on Iraq hosting international football with the cities of Arbil, Basra and Karbala given the go-ahead to stage official matches.

"We are allowing international matches to be staged in the cities of Arbil, Basra and Karbala," said Infantino

However, FIFA added that they cannot "yet" agree to a request from the Iraqi authorities to organise matches in the capital of Baghdad.

Iraq has not played full internationals on home turf since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The ban, covering all but domestic matches, stayed in place after the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

It was briefly lifted in 2012, but a power outage during an Iraq-Jordan match in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil led FIFA to promptly reinstate it.

The FIFA Council also decided that Peru will host the 2019 Under-17 World Cup with Poland staging the Under-20 tournament. — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:28 +0000 theSundaily 533377 at
FIFA lifts three-decade ban on Iraq hosting international matches
"We are allowing international matches to be staged in the cities of Arbil, Basra and Karbala," FIFA president Gianni Infantino told reporters after a meeting of the FIFA Council in Bogota.

The three cities had been allowed to organise friendlies in the last year provided the security situation was "stable".

Iraq will host Qatar and Syria for a friendly tournament starting on March 21 in Basra.

"FIFA has given the green light for the resumption but the organisers of the championship must take the final decision," added Infantino.

FIFA added that it cannot "yet" agree to a request from the Iraqi authorities to organise matches in the capital of Baghdad, but Infantino promised that the city's application would continue to be studied.

For years, Iraq has been busily building stadiums and pressurising stars and the sport's governing bodies to help them return to the international fold.

Friday's decision followed an international friendly between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Basra on Feb 28, they're first on Iraqi soil in 40 years.

It was watched by Asian Football Confederation head Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa who said "the time had come" to end the three-decade ban.

Iraq has not played full internationals on home turf since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The ban, covering all but domestic matches, stayed in place after the US-led invasion of 2003 toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

It was briefly lifted in 2012, but a power outage during an Iraq-Jordan match in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil led FIFA to promptly reinstate it. — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:28 +0000 theSundaily 533375 at
Mourinho tells United flops to grow up
The fall-out from United's shock failure in a 2-1 home defeat against Sevilla is still being felt at Old Trafford, with Mourinho launching an impassioned defence of his record during Friday's press conference ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final with Brighton.

United boss Mourinho admitted his players must learn to cope with the pressure of expectations, a problem that has become all the more apparent in the wake of Tuesday's European setback.

"The fans have to be sad with being out and the players have to learn how to cope with that level of expectation and that level of pressure," Mourinho said.

"They have to survive and when they survive they become stronger. An easy life, and the fans not upset, and no critics? That's not good.

"If you want to make a real top team with the top mentality, you need to grow up and the best way is to have this kind of feeling.

"I don't want the fans to have low expectations, I want the fans to have high expectations because I want the players to have expectations too."

Those players have been a major problem for Mourinho this season, especially in recent games when the form of Paul Pogba and new signing Alexis Sanchez have come in for criticism from pundits and supporters alike.

But Mourinho said losing to Sevilla was not the major surprise that many claimed, even though he had spoken of his ambition to reach this season's Champions League final.

And, tellingly, in his analysis of his players' performances this season, only Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic were spared their manager's thinly-veiled criticism.

Go for the jugular

"I also said we are not one of the top teams, not one of the favourites to win," Mourinho added.

"I told you that with these words because I cannot tell you with different words while I am still in the competition. I cannot be in competition, go there and say we have no chance.

"It's the same thing. You cannot expect me to say, 'this and that player, they have to do better'.

"I prefer to say that Matic and Lukaku are performing at a high level from day one until the last match.

"I cannot tell you the ones that are not performing. I cannot tell you before a Champions League match.

"We went out to a side that's more successful than Manchester United in the last seven years in Europe.

"We are out to a team that knocked out Atletico Madrid in two legs. We are knocked out by a team that is brilliant in their approach for many years, with their scouting system."

Despite his argument, Mourinho's relationship with his club's supporters is clearly at a difficult point after the events of midweek.

Mourinho conceded that, with free-spending Manchester City on course to win the title by a record margin, it will be difficult for United to challenge them in the short term.

"We try but the reality is that some clubs, they were ready to win," he said.

"One thing is to go for the jugular and another is to build a different process.

"If the clubs that are in a better situation than us stop investing and we invest, we are side by side. If they keep investing the same or more than us, it's difficult. It's as simple as that.

"So the fans, they read what people write, they listen what people say.

"I used to call them idealists or idiots — they can be both. In my dictionary, the dictionary of life, a person with a lot of ideas can be an ideologist or an idiot.

"The people, they listen to the ideologists and they also listen to the idiots. That's life." — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:28 +0000 theSundaily 533373 at
Coaching Italy would be extraordinary - Mancini
Mancini, 53, is among the favourites to lead the four-time World Cup winners, with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and former Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti also being touted as candidates.

"When you're abroad you always miss your country," said Mancini in an episode of "The Lords of Football" series with Sky Sports, which will be broadcast on Saturday.

"When you are in Italy, you sometimes criticise it rightly. You go abroad and you miss this feeling.

"You become nostalgic for the past when we were young, in the '70s and '80s when we saw the Italian national team playing with great emotion.

"You never know in life, I think that coaching Italy one day would be an extraordinary thing of enormous prestige."

"In the meantime, though, I'll try to win and do my best with Zenit," he added of his current team, who are struggling down in fifth in Russia.

Giampiero Ventura was fired as coach last November, days after Italy's shock failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

The new boss is expected to be appointed by June, with Italy Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio in interim charge for friendlies against Argentina and England next month.

Mancini led Manchester City to their first English title in 44 years in 2012 and won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan and Italian Cups with Inter, Fiorentina and Lazio.

And the former Italian international has said he wants to take over as national coach to fulfil his dream of winning the World Cup.

The former Lazio and Sampdoria forward never became a regular with Italy during his 10-year international career, during which he won 36 caps and scored four goals.

He reached the semi-finals of Euro 1988 and was in the squad that finished third in the 1990 World Cup on home soil. — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:28 +0000 theSundaily 533371 at
Dan's the man: Lin stuns old rival Lee Chong Wei at All England
The 34-year-old Chinese player beat the 35-year-old Malaysian 21-16, 21-17, though their light-footed movements and brilliantly varied stroke-play would have made it impossible for outsiders to guess their ages.

Lee attacked more than usual to try to nullify the attacking threat of a freshly motivated Lin, and managed to squeeze in front at 16-15 in the first game and 13-10 in the second.

But Lin showed just why he has made himself many people's unofficial favourite for his seventh All-England title, making brilliant surges during the most crucial phases of both games and finishing them off quickly.

"I played quite well," said Lin understatedly. "It's a great tournament, and he is one of the great competitors, so this is superb."

Lee did not appear too downcast.

"I will move forward now," he said. "There are a lot of competitions to come this year."

But there will surely be fears that this may have been his last appearance at the tournament he says he loves best.

Earlier there was an upset when Olympic champion Chen Long lost for the first time to his fellow Chinese player Shi Yuqi, and after his 21-10, 21-17 defeat he appeared to be suggesting that the result was to be expected.

"I am happy that whoever wins this match will go to the semi-finals for Team China," he said.

"I often train with him and we are friends," responded the seventh-seeded Shi.

"But every time we played before he won. I will try to do better than last year," he added, referring to his loss to Lee Chong Wei in 2017 final.

He next has a semi-final with Son Wan Ho, the fifth-seeded Korean.

The other Olympic singles champion also lost.

Carolina Marin's 21-15, 21-18 defeat against Akane Yamaguchi, the World Super Series title-winner from Japan, was however much more in line with current form.

Yamaguchi was fast, tenacious, and clever at getting the match played where it suited her, in the mid-court and forecourt.

She now plays Pusarla Sindhu, the fourth-seeded Indian, who reversed the outcome of the women's singles final at the World Championships in Glasgow in August by recovering from a four-point final game deficit against Nozomi Okuhara, the seventh-seeded Japanese, to win 20-22, 21-18, 21-18.

Sindhu was given a yellow card for taking too long to serve just before the end of the match, and her revenge win was only complete after a tense last moment pause when Okuhara called for a video replay to see whether or not Sindhu's winning kill at match point had landed on the line.

The other women's semi-final will be between Tai Tzu-ling, the top-seeded titleholder from Taiwan and Chen Yufei, the eighth-seeded Chinese player. — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:29 +0000 theSundaily 533369 at
Arsenal vow fan safety in Moscow clash is 'top priority'
British Prime Minister Theresa May this week expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the nerve agent poisoning of a former spy and said British royals and ministers would not attend the World Cup in Russia this year.

The first leg of the Arsenal-CSKA tie will take place in London on April 5 with the return leg in the Russian capital on April 12.

The trip to Moscow will be under scrutiny until the tie begins, with one Gunners supporters' group calling it "a hot potato of a draw in view of the political stand-off".

But Arsenal chiefs insist they want to make sure everything is in place to provide a safe environment.

"The safety of our fans is always a top priority for us and we will be working with the relevant authorities in London and Moscow in preparation for the game," a club spokesman said.

Arsenal also posted a statement on their website drawing the attention of fans to travel advice issued by Britain's Foreign Office, which said: "Due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time.

"You're advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments."

The competition represents Arsenal's only remaining chance of winning a trophy this season and their sole chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Atletico Madrid, who won the Europa League in 2010 and 2012 and were losing Champions League finalists in two of the last four seasons, is the most imposing of the quarter-finalists. They take on Sporting Lisbon, with the first leg in Portugal, for a place in the last four.

Marseille, the only former Champions League winner left in the competition, face rising German force RB Leipzig, who are competing in Europe for the first time.

Former Barcelona 'keeper Andoni Zubizarreta and current Marseille sports director were upbeat about being France's last remaining French representative in UEFA competition.

"PSG and Lyon are gone. And the final (of the Europa League) is in Lyon. We are the only French side left, nobody was thinking about us but here we are. We are very happy to be in the quarters.

"Representing France in a competition whose final is in France, Lyon is not far from us, it's really quite something," said Zubizarreta.

Austria's Red Bull Salzburg, finalists in 1994 but very much the minnows of this year's last eight, travel to Rome for their first leg against Lazio.

All the matches will be played on April 5 and April 12. The final at the Parc OL in Lyon is on Wednesday, May 16. — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:29 +0000 theSundaily 533367 at
Hughes urges Southampton players to raise game
The Welshman, 54, was this week appointed until the end of the season to replace the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino and been tasked with staying in the top flight and winning the FA Cup.

Hughes, who played for Southampton during a distinguished career, had been out of work for only 67 days following his dismissal by struggling Stoke, who remain two places below Southampton in 19th.

On Sunday he oversees his first fixture as Southampton manager in the FA Cup quarter-finals at Wigan but after that, he will only have eight matches in the league to secure survival.

That run includes games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City and Hughes said: "Sometimes you have to step on people's toes and we are in that situation.

"When you've got the luxury of a little bit more time you can build relationships and that takes time.

"We've got no time to wait. We have eight weeks and we have to get on with it. If we upset people along the way they will have to accept it."

Hughes said there was "a real energy to the club" but Southampton had to translate that into victories.

"I work in a certain way and with certain levels of training intensity, I am looking for. I have seen that in the last two days — the levels that I demand I have seen.

"It's fair to say the feedback from people in and around the club is that maybe that intensity hasn't been there before but for me, it's the norm because that's the level I work at."

"We are looking solely to the end of the season and we want to be a Premier League club and win the FA Cup," he added.

Southampton, just one point above the relegation zone, are on a run of only one win in their last 17 Premier League games, and they remain without the injured Charlie Austin and Steven Davis. — AFP]]>
Sports Sat, 17 Mar 2018 00:26:29 +0000 theSundaily 533363 at