Talk with EU could be alternative to auto import tariffs

New negotiations with the European Union could be an alternative to imposing tariffs on automotive imports next month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (pix) has suggested in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump declared this year that some imported vehicles and parts posed a national security threat, but delayed a decision until November on whether to impose tariffs, so as to allow for more time for trade talks with the European Union.

“One (option) would be to say, ‘I’m just not going to do anything’, the second would be to impose tariffs on some or all (countries) . . . the third might be some other form of negotiation,“ Ross said, describing options being considered by Trump.

On Friday, the United States began slapping tariffs on EU imports worth an annual $7.5 billion, ranging from British whisky and French wine to Spanish olives and cheese from across the bloc, including Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ross dismissed criticism of the step, saying the tariffs were not imposed unilaterally and that the measure was taken with the “full support” of the World Trade Organization.

Commenting separately on trade talks with China, Ross said China was following through “in good faith” on assurances given in October to press ahead with large purchases of U.S. farm products.

As the Trump administration’s general licence for U.S. companies to sell to telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies expires in November, Ross told the newspaper this was not a hard deadline and could be altered.

“The deadlines are within our control, we can shorten them, we can lengthen them, we can do whatever – at this point they are being treated separately and independently from the trade talks,“ Ross said. – Reuters

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Uber turns to India, Africa and Middle East as losses mount

NEW DELHI: The head of Uber said Tuesday that the global ride services firm was counting on India, Africa and the Middle East for future growth amid investor fears about mounting losses and a slump in its share price.

Uber has exited several markets — including China and Southeast Asia — to pare back losses, and is in fierce competition with rival Ola in India, a market estimated to be worth $7 billion a year.

Since its public offering in May, Uber’s share price has tumbled some 30 percent, while the company lost $5.2 billion in the second quarter.

“India is a fundamental part of Uber’s growth going forward… it’s a top 10 market for us,“ chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi (pix) told reporters in New Delhi.

“The profitability characteristics of our business here are improving. If I look at Uber’s growth over the next 10 years, it’s… going to be defined by India, Africa and the Middle East, more so than the developed markets.”

Khosrowshahi brushed aside fears the stock price could fall further after the expiration of a lock-up period in November, after which company employees and early investors can sell their shares.

The chief executive, who was in Delhi to unveil an updated version of Uber’s app linking the Delhi Metro public transport system with its services, said he was focused on long-term prospects.

The revamped app is part of a global campaign to attract more users.

While India is one of Uber’s biggest markets — with 12 percent of its global rides — the firm still lags behind Ola in the nation of over 1.3 billion people.

It has also struggled to keep up with the two largest online food-delivery players Zomato and Swiggy.

The company laid off some staff in India as part of global job cuts as it tries to map a route to profitability.

But chief product officer Manik Gupta told AFP that Uber would double its technology team to 1,000 as proof of its commitment to Asia’s third-largest economy.

“We definitely want to show our commitment to India,“ Gupta said.

Uber’s third-quarter results will be released in two weeks. -AFP

Asia shares slip on Brexit snag, Texas Instruments’ revenue woes

TOKYO: U.S. stock futures and Asian shares slipped on Wednesday as revenue warnings from Texas Instruments raised worries about the global tech sector and after British lawmakers forced the government to hit the pause button on the latest Brexit deal.

S&P500 mini futures dropped 0.3% while Japan’s Nikkei last stood almost flat after having fallen as much as 0.4%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5%.

On Tuesday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 lost 0.36%.

After the bell, Texas Instruments, whose broad lineup of products makes it a proxy for the global chip industry, forecast current-quarter revenue to fall 10 to 17% from a year earlier, well below estimates.

Texas Instruments shares tumbled 9.8% in after-hour trade, driving down other chipmaker shares including Intel and Nvidia.

Worries that the global microchip industry is being squeezed by a downturn in demand and a prolonged U.S.-China trade dispute sent some Asian chip-related shares lower.

Taiwan’s TSMC fell 0.2% while South Korea’s SK Hynix shed 0.7% and Japan’s Tokyo Electron slumped 3.7%.

“Given recent rally in semi-conductor shares, some adjustments will be inevitable,“ said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities.

“But our investor survey has shown that many investors are still cautious on the sector so a bit of weakness in the industry would surprise few of them,“ he added.

In the currency market, sterling dipped 0.15% to $1.2851 , falling further from five-month highs of $1.3012 set on Monday.

But the currency still kept hefty gains made over the past fortnight on growing expectations that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided even though it is still not clear how the process will unravel.

On Tuesday, the British parliament voted in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, but then rejected his timetable to fast-track legislation to take Britain out of the European Union. That effectively meant Britain would not be able to finalise its exit by Johnson’s Oct. 31 deadline.

The next step, Johnson said, would be waiting for the EU to respond to a request to delay the Oct. 31 Brexit date, which the prime minister reluctantly sent to Brussels on Saturday after being forced to do so by lawmakers.

A source in Johnson’s office said on Tuesday that a new election is the only way to move on from Britain’s Brexit crisis if the European Union agrees to a delay until January.

“Broadly speaking, there are two scenarios. There will be a short extension before the parliament will agree on Johnson’s plan. Or there could be a general election, which would need a longer extension,“ said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale.

“But it now seems unlikely that Britain will crash out of the EU on Oct. 31,“ he said.

Receding worries about a no-deal Brexit also underpinned the euro, which stood at $1.1122, flat on the day and a tad below Monday’s two-month high of $1.1180.

The yen ticked up 0.15% to 108.31 yen per dollar, in a slow recovery since hitting a 2-1/2-month low of 108.94 on Thursday.

The dollar was broadly weak, ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting next week, where policy makers are expected to cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage point.

Oil prices fell after industry group data showed U.S. crude stocks rose more than expected last week.

Still, on the whole the market held firm after China signalled progress in trade talks with the United States and OPEC and its allies pondered deeper production cuts.

Brent crude futures fell 0.52% to $59.39 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 0.81% to $54.04 per barrel. -Reuters

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