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US-China trade war could lower global GDP by 0.8 percent in 2020

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Washington, Sep 13 The International Monetary Fund said that the trade war between the United States and China could potentially reduce the level of global GDP (gross domestic product) by 0.8 per cent in 2020, with additional losses in future years.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice recalled at a news conference at the organization’s headquarters in Washington on Thursday that it had previously characterized the trade tensions as a threat, Efe news reported.

But now they “are actually beginning to weigh down the dynamism in the global economy,” he said. “Our latest estimate is that … the US-China tariffs, including those implemented and announced, could potentially reduce the level of global GDP (gross domestic product) by 0.8 per cent in 2020, with additional losses in future years.”

Rice added that the US-China tensions are causing greater uncertainty and having negative repercussions on business and global trade.

The Fund is due to release its new economic outlook at the 2019 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, a gathering that will be held from October 14-20.

In its report released in Santiago in July, the IMF lowered its 2019 global growth forecast from 3.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent, citing international tensions and the US-China trade war in particular.

On September 1, the US followed through on plans to impose a 15 per cent tariff on certain Chinese consumer-goods imports – including apparel, electronics, footwear and dairy products – that were valued at around $112 billion last year.

Those tariffs were in addition to 25 per cent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports that began to be imposed in July of last year.

The Trump administration said last month that it would wait until December 15 to impose tariffs – now set at 15 per cent – on certain mass-consumption products imported from China, including smartphones, laptops, video games and toys. If those tariffs are implemented, virtually all Chinese imports would be subject to punitive taxes.

China retaliated on September 1 by starting to impose tariffs of between 5-10 per cent on US imports – including crude oil – valued at $75 billion last year.

Beijing had earlier implemented tariffs on roughly $110 billion worth of US imports.

Trade tensions eased somewhat this week, however, when both countries announced that they would put off planned tariff increases.

The US has postponed by two weeks its plans to raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports – mostly goods used by companies in the manufacturing process – from 25 per cent to 30 per cent. That hike was to have occurred on October 1.

China responded by unveiling two lists of products that will be exempt from higher tariffs between September 17, 2019, and September 16, 2020.

Those moves appear to be attempts to lower tensions ahead of a new round of trade talks in Washington in early October.

Trump launched the trade war as part of his “America First” bid to lower a wide trade deficit with China, but the tariffs imposed thus far have barely made a dent in that gap.

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5 killed in France building fire

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Paris, Feb 27 (IANS) Five people were killed and seven others injured in a building fire in the French city of Strasbourg on Thursday, the local fire service said in a statement.

According to local media, firefighters responded to the incident at 1.16 a.m. after receiving an alert that there was smoke in the seven-storey building, Xinhua news agency reported.

Some 23 people were rescued and the fire was brought under control.

The cause of the blaze was under probe.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Mayor Roland Ries of Strasbourg have expressed their condolences to the victims and their families on social media.

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US Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross eyes strengthening economic ties with Pakistan

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US President Donald Trump and Pak PM Imran Khan

Islamabad, Feb 27 : US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visited Pakistan and explored areas where both countries could renew their economic partnership and step up efforts to enhance economic, trade and investment ties, the media and government officials said on Thursday.

During his visit on Wednesday, the US official along with his trade delegation held detailed discussions with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan, and Abdul Razak Dawood, advisor to the premier on commerce, textile, industry and production, and investment, reports Xinhua news agency.

Khan said that Ross’s visit would help in realizing the shared vision of Pakistan-US leadership to transform the bilateral relationship into a broad-based, multifaceted and economic-centred partnership.

The Prime Minister also underscored the need to “take full advantage of trade and investment opportunities” in Pakistan, stressing the importance of enhancing business-to-business cooperation between the two countries.

During his separate meeting with Dawood, the Commerce Secretary said that several American companies hoped to enhancing their investments in Pakistan, adding that Islamabad and Washington would have to collectively work to promote the volume of their bilateral trade.

“We want to play our full part in the progress and development of Pakistan,” Ross said.

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India calls USCIRF remarks on Delhi violence ‘misleading’

“Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”

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New Delhi/Washington, Feb 27 : India on Thursday hit back at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), by calling their scathing remarks on the Delhi violence “factually inaccurate and misleading”.

The USCIRF had said that the Delhi violence in which over 30 people were killed, was specifically targeted against Muslims.

Rebutting their comments, the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said: “We have seen the comments made by USCIRF, sections of the media and a few individuals regarding recent incidents of violence in Delhi. These are factually inaccurate and misleading, and appear to be aimed at politicising the issue.”

The government said that the law enforcement agencies were working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy.

“Senior representatives of the government have been involved in that process. Prime Minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time,” the statement added.

Earlier, USCIRF had expressed “grave concern over the ongoing violence taking place in Delhi” and accused India of “targeting and potentially disenfranchising Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards”.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava in a statement had said: “According to reports, several mosques have also been set alight or vandalized. Many Muslim residents have been forced to flee the area. This unrest comes in the wake of widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act following its passage in December 2019.”

“The brutal and unchecked violence growing across Delhi cannot continue,” Bhargava said, adding that the Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of all of its citizens.

“Instead, reports are mounting that the Delhi police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens.”

USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said the ongoing violence in Delhi and the reported “attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops, and their houses of worship are greatly disturbing”.

One of the essential duties of any responsible government, he said, is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith.

“We urge the Indian government to take serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence.”

In its annual report last year, the USCIRF classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designations as a “country of particular concern (CPC)”, under the International Religious Freedom Act.

The ongoing violence in North-East Delhi erupted after clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters on Sunday.

Besides the casualties, over 200 others have been injured in the deadliest violence in the national capital in decades.

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