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Brexit won’t hit European economy hard: IMF

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International Monetary Fund

Washington, July 20: The United Kingdom’s planned exit from the European Union will have a small negative impact on the bloc’s economy, although it will prove more damaging to countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium that have closer links with Britain, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday.

In its annual review of the eurozone’s economic policies, the Washington, DC-based institution also warned that failure to reduce the large trade surpluses recorded by Germany and some other members could provoke a protectionist response from their partners, as evidenced by recent tariffs imposed by the United States on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Efe cited a report from Dow Jones Newswires.

“The strength of euro area-UK integration implies that there would be no Brexit winners,” the IMF said.

The IMF’s analysis of the costs of Brexit to the rest of the EU is its first since the June 2016 vote, and concludes that it will be more damaging to the UK than the rest of the bloc, but that after 40 years of deepening trade, financial and migration ties, no country will benefit.

The study comes as even the broad outlines of the way in which the UK will leave the bloc in March 2019 remain uncertain, as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to reconcile opposing views within her ruling Conservative Party.

“We are very concerned,” said Mahmood Pradhan, the deputy director of the IMF’s European department. “It is quite late in the process and we don’t have any clarity. We are getting close to some very important deadlines.”

The IMF’s economists examined two scenarios at opposite ends of the range of possible exit deals. In the first, the UK negotiates a free-trade agreement with the rest of the EU in which tariffs on goods remain at zero and the non-tariff costs of trade rise “moderately.” It also assumes that exports of UK financial services to the EU fall by “about” 40 percent.

In the second scenario, the UK leaves the EU without a free-trade agreement, and commerce between the two is governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization.

Under that scenario, tariffs on goods would rise, and the non-tariff costs of engaging in trade would be twice as high as under the first scenario.

The IMF’s economists calculate that under the first scenario, which they call “optimistic,” there is very little damage to the EU economy.

In the second, “pessimistic” scenario, the loss of output could be as large as 1.5 percent. over a period of between five and 10 years.

However, the losses suffered by some EU members could be much larger, Dow Jones added in a report supplied to EFE.

Among EU members, Ireland has the closest economic ties with the UK, and could see its GDP reduced by more than 2.5 percent under the “optimistic” scenario and by almost 4 percent under the “pessimistic” scenario.

The IMF said it would publish equivalent estimates for the UK in Sept., but they will be larger than those of Ireland.

The Irish government continues to hope that the UK negotiates a free-trade agreement, and that there is no need for customs checks on its land border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

However, Ireland announced Wednesday that it will hire 1,000 new staff for its ports and airports to cope with the possibility of new customs requirements linked to Brexit.

Reviewing the outlook for the eurozone, the IMF said economic growth has likely passed its peak, and urged the European Central Bank to remain cautious as it mulls steps to wind down its stimulus measures.

It noted that some of the currency area’s members are running “excessive” surpluses in their trade with other countries.

It noted that Germany’s current account surplus hit 8 percent of GDP in 2017, while the Netherlands’ was almost 10 percent.

“If left unchecked, they could stoke protectionism among major trading partners, with costly economic and political ramifications,” the IMF warned.

It said the German government should raise its investment spending, and encourage higher wage deals.

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Disaster

Boris Johnson says UK at ‘critical moment’ in Covid-19 fight

Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street in London, Johnson struck a sombre note as he called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in order to avert another nationwide lockdown, even as he warned that he would not hesitate to impose further restrictions if needed.

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Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said the UK is at a “critical moment” in its fight to control the spread of coronavirus, as a further 71 deaths took the country’s death toll from the deadly virus to 42,143.

Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street in London, Johnson struck a sombre note as he called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in order to avert another nationwide lockdown, even as he warned that he would not hesitate to impose further restrictions if needed.

His warning of a high number of infections and “tragic increase” in deaths came as this week marked the biggest rise in daily cases since the pandemic began, with a further 7,108 infections recorded on Wednesday and the number of patients with Covid-19 on ventilators hitting 312.

“These figures show why our plan is so essential. We have to stick to it together and we should stick to it with confidence,” said Johnson.

“I know some people think we should give up and let the virus take its course despite the huge loss of life that may entail. I profoundly disagree. I don’t think the British people want to throw in the sponge, they want to fight and defeat this virus,” he said, adding that the UK will “get through this”.

He was joined by his scientific and medical experts who reiterated that the coronavirus cases were “heading in the wrong direction”.

Johnson’s briefing came as the House of Commons passed by 330 votes to 24 an extension to the Coronavirus Act, the emergency legislation which needs parliamentary approval every six months.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged to the members of the Parliament that they would be given votes “wherever possible” on any new coronavirus rules before they come into force in future. The assurance comes amid growing disquiet within Johnson’s own Conservative Party over some of the tough and hard to interpret localised lockdown measures being imposed in large parts of the country.

In a rare intervention, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle delivered a harsh rebuke on the government for its failure to seek parliamentary approval for these measures.

“The way in which the government has exercised its powers to make secondary legislation during this crisis has been totally unsatisfactory,” he said. Hoyle warned that he was “now looking to the government to rebuild trust with the House and not treat it with the contempt it has shown”.

As a result, any further tough lockdown moves are likely to be first tabled for a vote in Commons.

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‘Human rights abuser Pakistan resorting to mockery of UNHRC with India bashing’

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New Delhi/Geneva, Sep 30 : India on Wednesday said that Pakistan’s perennial India bashing at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) amounted to mockery, while its own record of human rights for ethnic minorities, social activists and journalists was abysmally poor.

“No fabricated words against India is going to change the fact that Pakistan and territories under its control are deathtraps for journalists, human rights defenders, social activists and religious and ethnic minorities,” representative of the Permanent Mission of India at Geneva, Pawan Badhe, said at the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

India was responding to the statement made by Pakistan, under its right to reply at the interactive dialogue with the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights on the report of the Secretary General on cooperation with the United Nations, representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.

“The perennial India bashing project of Pakistan in the UN system is also not going to change the fact that hundreds of journalists and human rights defenders die each year in Pakistan due to systematic killings, including extrajudicial ones,” Badhe said.

Incessant attempts to malign India in all international forums is not going to change the fact that tens of thousands of minorities would not stop fleeing Pakistan, he added.

The Indian representative said, “Resorting to abusive and unacceptable language against India in this august forum can’t rectify Pakistan’s dubious human rights record. Pakistan’s India focus agenda demonstrates its own hollowness when it comes to accountability and justice for oppressing those standing for their rights.”

The pathetic state of affairs for journalists and human rights defenders is well known when the deep state could make prominent journalists disappear in broad daylight in the heart of Pakistan, the Indian diplomat pointed out.

“We could only imagine the fate of those journalists and human rights defenders in territories under its control. Silence is the apt word for them effected through enforced disappearances, murders, detentions, custodial deaths and torture in Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Pakistan occupied parts of Indian Union Territories of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh,” he said.

While the world has progressed well, Badhe said that Pakistan is still at the crossroads to understand the real meaning of modern laws, democracy and human rights.

“The language of accountability, civic space, fundamental freedom and public participation is yet to find resonance with the authorities of Pakistan,” he said.

Of course, the world has witnessed the history of Pakistan where voice of dissent is brutally muzzled without fail, he added.

“We are not baffled that Pakistan does well when it comes to inciting hatred against religious minorities and targeting our leadership with hate speeches. Its well cherished and inherited culture of hatred makes it the perfect candidate for carrying forward the legacy of intolerance against anybody having modern views on human rights,” Badhe said.

The Indian diplomat said that Pakistan should not make mockery of the “august forum when it attempts to self-crown itself as an ardent supporter of political dissidents, journalists, social activists, minorities and human rights defenders. For that Pakistan has many miles to go.”

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France to ban use of wild animals in circuses

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France’s environment minister has announced a gradual ban on using wild animals in travelling circuses, on keeping dolphins and killer whales in captivity in marine parks and on raising mink on fur farms.

Barbara Pompili, France’s minister of ecological transition, said in a news conference Tuesday that bears, tigers, lions, elephants and other wild animals won’t be allowed any more in travelling circuses “in the coming years.” In addition, starting immediately, France’s three marine parks won’t be able to bring in nor breed dolphins and killer whales any more, she said.

“It is time to open a new era in our relationship with these (wild) animals,” she said, arguing that animal welfare is a priority.

Pompili said the measures will also bring an end to mink farming, where animals are raised for their fur, within the next five years.

The ban does not apply to wild animals in other permanent shows and in zoos.

Pompili did not set any precise date for the ban in travelling circuses, saying the process should start “as soon as possible.” She promised solutions will be found for each animal “on a case-by-case basis.” The French government will implement an 8 million-euro ($9.2 million) package to help people working in circuses and marine parks find other jobs.

“That transition will be spread over several years, because it will change the lives of many people,” she said.

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