Obama condemns ‘sickening’ Syria chem weapons attackView galleryUS President Barack Obama addresses the nation in a live televised speech from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, September 10, 2013. Obama blended the threat of military action with the hope of a diplomatic solution as he works to strip Syria of its chemical weapons. AFP PHOTO /Pool / Evan Vucci (AFP Photo/Evan Vucci)18 minutes agoPresident Barack Obama denounced what he called the „sickening” chemical weapons attack by Syrian forces in the Damascus suburbs, and said it posed a „danger” to US security.”When dictators commit atrocities, they depend on the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory,” Obama, making his case for military action, said in a much-anticipated televised address to the nation. „The question now is what the United States of America and the international community is prepared to do about it,” he added.Obama also said it was „too early to tell” if Russia’s plan to neutralize Syria’s chemical weapons would work, but welcomed it as an alternative to military action.”Any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments, but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies,” Obama said.
Syria vows to give up chemical weapons, no deal yet at U.NPhil Stewart and Khaled Yacoub Oweis 1 hour ago PoliticsBarack ObamaSyriaChemical weaponUnited NationsUnited StatesRussiaView gallery By Phil Stewart and Khaled Yacoub Oweis WASHINGTON/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria accepted a Russian proposal on Tuesday to give up chemical weapons and win a reprieve from U.S. military strikes but serious differences emerged between Russia and the United States that could obstruct a U.N. resolution to seal a deal.In a televised address to Americans on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama will pledge to explore Russia’s proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international control, while expressing skepticism about the initiative, an administration official said.Even as the White House said it was determined to push ahead with a congressional resolution authorizing force, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the weapons plan would only succeed if Washington and its allies rule out military action. In what amounted to the most explicit, high-level admission by Syria that it has chemical weapons, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said in a statement shown on Russian state television that Damascus was committed to the Russian initiative.View gallery.”A Free Syrian Army fighter tries to climb a wall around Hanano Barracks in Aleppo September 10, 2013 …”We want to join the convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons. We are ready to observe our obligations in accordance with that convention, including providing all information about these weapons,” Moualem said.”We are ready to declare the location of the chemical weapons, stop production of the chemical weapons, and show these (production) facilities to representatives of Russia and other United Nations member states,” he said.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington believes the proposal must be endorsed by the U.N. Security Council „in order to have the confidence that this has the force it ought to have.”Moscow has previously vetoed three resolutions that would have condemned the Syrian government over the conflict.The latest proposal „can work only if we hear that the American side and all those who support the United States in this sense reject the use of force,” Putin said in televised remarks.View gallery.”Ahmad Abu Layl (R), a 15 year-old fighter from the Free Syrian Army, looks through a hole in wall wi …In his TV address, which was scheduled before the Russian proposal emerged, Obama will press his argument that it is in America’s national security interests for Syria to face consequences for using chemical weapons, the administration official said.Kerry and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress the threat of military action was critical to forcing Assad to bend on his chemical weapons.”For this diplomatic option to have a chance of succeeding, the threat of a U.S. military action – the credible, real threat of U.S. military action – must continue,” Hagel told the House Armed Services Committee.U.S. officials said Kerry would meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday for further talks.Amid the whirlwind of diplomatic activity focused on the response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a Damascus neighborhood on August 21, the civil war resumed in earnest, President Bashar al-Assad’s jets again bombing rebel positions in the capital.View gallery.”A Free Syrian Army fighter rests as a fellow fighter aims his weapon behind sandbags in the eastern …UNITED NATIONS The United States and its allies remain skeptical about the Russian proposal and Obama sought to keep the pressure on Syria by maintaining his drive for congressional backing for a possible military strike while exploring a diplomatic alternative.At the United Nations, Britain, France and the United States discussed elements of a draft Security Council resolution that a diplomat from one of the three countries said would include a timeline for Syria to declare the full extent of its poison gas arsenal and to cede control of it to the United Nations.France said the resolution should be legally binding and state clearly that Syria would face „serious consequences” if it failed to comply with the resolution’s demands – diplomatic code for military force. Such language will be resisted by Russia.The U.N. Security Council initially called a closed door meeting asked for by Russia to discuss its proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, but the meeting was later canceled at Russia’s request.View gallery.”Demonstrators hold up Syrian national flags as they march towards the U.S. Embassy during a protest …French officials said their draft resolution was designed to make sure the Russian proposal would have teeth, by allowing military action if Assad is uncooperative.”It was extremely well played by the Russians, but we didn’t want someone else to go to the U.N. with a resolution that was weak. This is on our terms and the principles are established. It puts Russia in a situation where they can’t take a step back after putting a step forward,” said a French diplomatic source.Russia, however, made clear it wanted to take the lead.Lavrov told his French counterpart that Moscow would propose a U.N. draft declaration supporting its initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.PUTIN: „NO THREAT OF FORCE”View gallery.”Ahmad Abu Layl, a 15 year-old fighter from the Free Syrian Army, aims his weapon as his father stand …The United States and France had been poised to launch missile strikes to punish Assad’s forces, which they blame for the chemical weapons attack. Syria denies it was responsible and, with the backing of Moscow, blames rebels for staging the attacks to provoke U.S. intervention.The White House said Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande had agreed in a telephone call on their preference for a diplomatic solution, but that they should continue to prepare for „a full range of responses.”Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to delay votes on authorizing military strikes in order to give Russia time to get Syria to surrender its chemical weapons, according to U.S. senators.”What he (Obama) wants is to check out the seriousness of the Syrian and the Russian willingness to get rid of those chemical weapons in Syria. He wants time to check it out,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said.The White House said Obama, who has called the Russian proposal a potential breakthrough, would still push for a vote in Congress to authorize force when he makes a televised address to Americans later on Tuesday.View gallery.”A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares a homemade shell in the old city of Aleppo September 10, 2013. R …But the U.S. congressional vote now appeared more about providing a hypothetical threat to back up diplomacy, rather than to unleash immediate missile strikes. A bipartisan group of senior members of Congress was working on a resolution that would take into account the Russian proposal.While the prospects of a deal remain uncertain, the proposal could provide a way for Obama to avoid ordering unpopular action. It may make it easier for him to win backing from a skeptical Congress, which could have severely damaged his authority if it withheld support for strikes. Opinion polls show most Americans are opposed to military intervention in Syria, weary after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.Whether international inspectors can neutralize chemical weapons dumps while war rages in Syria remains open to question.Western states believe Syria has a vast undeclared chemical arsenal. Sending inspectors to destroy it would be hard even in peace and extraordinarily complicated in the midst of a war.The two main precedents are ominous: U.N. inspectors dismantled the chemical arsenal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1990s but left enough doubt to provide the basis for a U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was rehabilitated by the West after agreeing to give up his banned weapons, only to be overthrown with NATO help in 2011.View gallery.”Ahmad Abu Layl (L), a 15 year-old fighter from the Free Syrian Army, walks amidst rubble in Aleppo S …SYRIAN REBELS DISMAYED-The Syrian war has already killed more than 100,000 people and driven millions from their homes. It threatens to spread violence across the Middle East, with countries endorsing the sectarian divisions that brought civil war to Lebanon and Iraq.The wavering from the West dealt an unquestionable blow to the Syrian opposition, which had thought it had finally secured military intervention after pleading for two and a half years for help from Western leaders that vocally opposed Assad.The rebel Syrian National Coalition decried a „political maneuver which will lead to pointless procrastination and will cause more death and destruction to the people of Syria.”Assad’s warplanes bombed rebellious districts inside the Damascus city limits on Tuesday for the first time since the poison gas attacks. Rebels said the strikes demonstrated that the government had concluded the West had lost its nerve.View gallery.”A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares homemade bombs inside a house in the old city of Aleppo Septembe …”By sending the planes back, the regime is sending the message that it no longer feels international pressure,” activist Wasim al-Ahmad said from Mouadamiya, one of the districts of the capital hit by the chemical attack.The Russian proposal „is a cheap trick to buy time for the regime to kill more and more people,” said Sami, a member of the local opposition coordinating committee in the Damascus suburb of Erbin, also hit by last month’s chemical attack.Troops and pro-Assad militiamen tried to seize the northern district of Barzeh and the eastern suburb of Deir Salman near Damascus airport, working-class Sunni Muslim areas where opposition activists and residents reported street fighting.Fighter jets bombed Barzeh three times and pro-Assad militia backed by army tank fire made a push into the area. Air raids were also reported on the Western outskirts near Mouadamiya.But Damascenes in pro-Assad areas were grateful for a reprieve from Western strikes: „Russia is the voice of reason. They know that if a strike went ahead against Syria, then World War Three – even Armageddon – would befall Europe and America,” said Salwa, a Shi’ite Muslim in the affluent Malki district.View gallery.”A Free Syrian Army fighter helps a fellow fighter get out of a tunnel in the old city of Aleppo Sept …(Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris, Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations, Thomas Grove and Steve Gutterman in Moscow and Patricia Zengerle, Arshad Mohammed, Richard Cowan, Paul Eckert and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Writing by Peter Graff, David Storey and Claudia Parsons; Editing by Jim Loney)
View PhotoA South Korean police officer stands guard on an empty road connecting the Kaesong …SEOUL (Reuters) – North and South Korea have agreed to re-open a shuttered industrial park on a trial basis starting on Monday, the South’s Unification Ministry said in a statement, in a sign of a further thaw between two countries that remain technically at war.Pyongyang appears to have softened its tone after threatening Seoul with retaliatory nuclear attacks earlier this year for what it termed „provocative” joint military exercises with the United States.The industrial zone is located a few kilometers inside North Korea and was closed when Pyongyang pulled its 53,000 workers out in April amid rising tensions.North and South Korea have agreed to stage reunions between families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War for the first time since 2010, in a sign that Pyongyang and Seoul are taking tentative steps towards confidence-building measures.In February, North Korea set an immediate challenge to incoming South Korean President Park Geun-hye by staging its third nuclear test in response to stricter sanctions imposed by the United Nations after a long-range missile test by the North.Pyongyang cut off all links with the South after the nuclear test was condemned and said it was ready for war.The two Koreas will aim to attract foreign investors into the Kaesong industrial zone, a rare source of foreign currency for the North, the ministry said. The Unification Ministry is responsible for handling inter-Korean relations for the South.In a bid to compensate for losses incurred by the shutdown, factories there will be exempt from taxes for the rest of this year, the ministry statement said.(Reporting By Narae Kim and Michelle Kim; Editing by David Chance and Paul Tait)
Tunisia’s assembly to restart work on constitutionTarek Amara 4 hours agoView galleryThe capital’s central Bardo square, where Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly is located, is seen sealed off …By Tarek Amara TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s transitional parliament will resume work on a new constitution after a month-long suspension, its president said on Tuesday, a step that may ease the deadlock between the country’s Islamist-led government and secular opposition.The opposition, riled by the assassinations of two of its leaders and emboldened by Egypt’s army-backed ousting of an Islamist president, held mass protests in a bid to topple the government and dissolve the Assembly.Talks between the sides stumbled and the political crisis threatened to delay the path to fresh elections in a country that had been seen as the most promising example for fledgling democracies that followed revolts in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.The president of the transitional parliament, Mustafa Ben Jaafar, a member of smaller coalition party Ettakatol, halted its work a month ago after the assassination of secular opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi in July.Months earlier, another secular leader, Chokri Belaid, was killed in a similar attack that stoked violent protests.Ben Jaafar said the constituent assembly would restart initial work this week and hold full assembly meetings next week to finish the new constitution, a key step before planned elections.Two-and-a-half years after Tunisia’s revolt toppled autocratic leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and triggered a wave of Arab uprisings, the North African nation is struggling to break the political impasse.Hussein Abassi, the head of Tunisia’s powerful national labor union movement that has been seeking to negotiate an end to the stalemate, said on Tuesday he would propose to restart talks between the government and opposition this week.Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party Ennahda has agreed to step aside for a caretaker government until planned elections, but rejects opposition demands it resign immediately. It said it wanted to give the assembly time to finish the new constitution.Tunisia’s transition since its 2011 revolt has been mostly peaceful, with moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties.But divisions between Islamists and major secular parties widened with opposition leaders accusing the government of trying to impose an Islamist agenda, mismanaging the economy and failing to curb radical Islamist groups.(Writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Mike Collett-White)
Russia-brokered plan for Syria: If it’s approved, can it be verified?
Rounding up a nation’s chemical weapons stockplie – amid civil war – is no small task. Secretary Hagel says the US must ‘be clear-eyed and ensure it is not a stalling tactic’ by Russia or Syria.
Russia-brokered plan for Syria: If it’s approved, can it be verified?Rounding up a nation’s chemical weapons stockplie – amid civil war – is no small task. Secretary Hagel says the US must ‘be clear-eyed and ensure it is not a stalling tactic’ by Russia or Syria.Anna Mulrine 1 hour ago PoliticsForeign PolicyRussiaChemical weapon As Russia promptly seized on Secretary of State John Kerry’s apparently off-hand remark that, if the Syrians surrender all of their chemical weapons, the country might avert a US military strike, the next question becomes how to verify that this happens.Rounding up a nation’s entire stockpile of chemical weapons – in the middle of a civil war – is no small task. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told lawmakers Tuesday that he is “hopeful” that the plan to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime “swiftly turn its chemical weapons arsenal over to international control so that it can be destroyed forever in a verifiable manner” could be “a real solution to the crisis.”RECOMMENDED: Briefing Chemical weapons 101: Six facts about sarin and Syria’s stockpile That said, “We must be clear-eyed and ensure it is not a stalling tactic by Syria and its Russian patrons,” he added, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.In other words, trust but verify – with a strong emphasis on the verify. The Syrians, backed by the Russians, insist they will help with this by providing the actual location of their caches.“We’re ready to inform about the location of chemical weapons, halt the production of chemical weapons, and also show these objects to representatives of Russia, other states, and the United Nations,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Tuesday. For the Syrians to admit that they do have chemical weapons – a fact that they had denied in the past – is a big step, analysts point out.But how can the United States be sure the regime will see to it that they are all destroyed?“It’s impossible to verify that you’ve gotten everything, and to do so in the context of a civil war seems even harder,” says Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.“It’s worth exploring this option – but not forever and not naively,” adds Richard Fontaine, the president of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. For now, the US and Russia will work, in large part, through the United Nations – a move that President Obama is expected to outline in his speech Tuesday evening – to rid the Assad regime of the chemicals that US officials say he has used against his people.This will, in turn, postpone the “unbelievably small” strike, in the words of Secretary Kerry, that the president had planned to carry out against Mr. Assad’s chemical stockpiles and the personnel responsible for maintaining them.Yet another uncertainty – as it was with Iraq in 2003, analysts point out – is whether US officials will give UN inspectors a chance to do their job, a step that is likely to take some considerable time. “We’re in for a drawn-out process,” says Mr. Fontaine.“The administration is going to be in the bind of having to continue to use the threat of military force as leverage, while at the same time pursuing what will be a complicated process of securing chemical weapons, verifying that they are secure, and working all of that through international channels – all while there’s a raging civil war going on,” he adds.One other stumbling block is Russia’s apparent insistence that the US foreswear the use of force, if Syria gives up its chemical weapons.This is a non-starter for the Obama administration. “It was the president’s determination to hold Assad accountable – and the fact that he put military action on the table – that enabled this new diplomatic track to gain momentum,” Mr. Hagel told lawmakers. For this reason, he still urged them to support the resolution authorizing the use of force. “The support of Congress for holding Assad accountable will give even more energy and urgency to these efforts,” he said.In the meantime, while the diplomatic wrangling is likely to continue for some time, one bright spot already seems clear, says Dr. Kuchins of CSIS: “It does raise the bar a lot higher for Assad’s people to use chemical weapons again now.” RECOMMENDED: Briefing Chemical weapons 101: Six facts about sarin and Syria’s stockpile
By Yeganeh Torbati DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the time for resolving Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West was limited, and urged the world to seize the opportunity of his election.Iran has been engaged in on-off negotiations with major world powers and the United Nations about its nuclear program for more than a decade, and has been subjected to several rounds of U.N. and Western economic sanctions.The last round of talks with the big powers – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany – was held in April in Kazakhstan, before Rouhani’s election, and both sides have said they want to continue soon.”The world must know completely that this period of time for resolving the nuclear issue will not be unlimited. We have a specified period of time,” Rouhani, a centrist cleric who took office last month, said in a live interview on state television.”The world must also use this period of time and this opportunity that our people created in this election. We will also use this opportunity. God willing, I am hopeful we can, step by step, solve this problem.”Western countries in particular object to Iran’s uranium enrichment program and fear it may be developing a capacity to build nuclear weapons. Iran says the program is purely peaceful and designed to meet its energy needs.Rouhani, who succeeded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative known for his bellicose rhetoric on the international stage, has pledged moderation in Iran’s foreign and domestic policies and called for „constructive interaction” with the world.He has also made a number of appointments that suggest a more pragmatic foreign and nuclear policy, while reiterating Iran’s consistent line that it has a right to enrich uranium.MEETINGS IN NEW YORK Rouhani said on Tuesday he would meet with the foreign ministers from some of the six powers – Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – when he attends the U.N. General Assembly in New York this month.”I believe that if the opposite side has a serious will, the nuclear issue can be resolved in a not very long time,” he said.”In the nuclear issue, the end of the game must be a win-win game. Win-lose has no meaning,” he said. „We can have a win-win game, we are ready for a win-win game. I think the beginning of this work will start in New York.”Rouhani’s attempts to create a better atmosphere for the talks have been complicated by the war in Syria, currently absorbing most of the big powers’ diplomatic attention.Shi’ite Muslim Iran is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main ally against mostly Sunni Muslim rebels, so a mooted U.S. strike against Assad would be almost certain to spur demands for a tough anti-Western posture from the hardliners who dominate Iran’s parliament and the powerful Revolutionary Guards.Rouhani expressed strong support for a Russian-backed plan aimed at averting a U.S. strike, under which Syria said it would hand over its chemical weapons and join a convention that prohibits their use.”The probability that this danger (of a U.S. strike) has lessened is very great,” Rouhani said.Rouhani and other Iranian officials have condemned the use of chemical weapons, pointing to their use against Iranian soldiers by the Iraqi army during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.”The Islamic Republic of Iran has joined this treaty, the chemical weapons ban treaty, and we believe that all countries in the region must join these requirements and this treaty,” Rouhani said.(Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Insight: Changing China set to shake world economy, againBy Kevin Yao and Alan Wheatley | Reuters – 3 hours agoBy Kevin Yao and Alan Wheatley BEIJING/LONDON (Reuters) – Long after concerns about tightening U.S. monetary policy have faded, a more profound issue will still dog global policymakers: how to handle the second stage of China’s economic revolution.The first phase, industrialization, shook the world. Commodity-producing countries boomed as they fed China’s endless appetite for natural resources. Six of the 10 fastest-growing economies last decade were in Africa.China’s flood of keenly priced manufactured goods hollowed out jobs in advanced and emerging nations alike but also helped cap inflation and made an array of consumer goods affordable for tens of millions of people for the first time.The second stage of China’s development promises to be no less momentous.Consumption will take over the growth baton from investment. Services will grow as a share of the economy, while industry shrinks. Commodity-intensive mass manufacturing based on cheap labor will give way to greener, cleaner ways of making things.More of the value added by a better-educated, more productive workforce harnessing new technologies will stay in China instead of going to multinational companies.That’s the plan, anyway.China will remain the most powerful engine of global growth for the next couple of decades, but it will no longer be just processing imported raw materials and components for re-export, said Li Jian with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, the Commerce Ministry’s think tank.”China has realized that it cannot blindly rely on investment and exports as the main drivers of growth. So China’s demand will be more balanced,” Li said.HIGH STAKES-To show it is serious about more sustainable growth, China deliberately engineered the first-half slowdown that unnerved markets in order to address these longer-term structural priorities, according to President Xi Jinping.Xi and the other new leaders of China’s Communist Party are expected to approve a blueprint for reform at a plenum in November. Overcoming vested interests opposed to the new economic model will be a stern test of their credibility.A lot is at stake for the global economy too.Philip Schellekens, an economist with the World Bank in Washington, said the importance of the reforms Beijing intends to make cannot be overstated. As China changes, so will the rest of the world.”The structural transformations that we think are going to happen in China over the next two decades will matter far more than the near-term vulnerabilities,” he said.On balance, commodity-exporting developing economies stand to be affected more than rich nations – an obvious exception being Australia, where the end of a China-driven mining boom was a big issue in Saturday’s election. China buys a third of Australia’s exports.Commodity demand should stay strong, especially as China’s capital stock per head is only 10 percent that of America’s and urbanization has a long way to go. But rebalancing will favor commodities more closely tied to consumption than to investment.Economists fret that too many emerging markets spent their windfalls from surging raw material prices instead of ploughing them into infrastructure and other investment. As a result, growth is slowing now that China’s demand is softening.China’s appetite for agricultural commodities and energy should hold up well but Capital Economics, a London consultancy, said it was concerned about large metals exporters that have not saved their extra income and so are running current account deficits.It singled out South Africa, Zambia, Chile and Peru as being particularly vulnerable.WINNERS AND LOSERS-Of course, lower raw material prices should boost growth and lower inflation for commodity importers.Take iron ore. With no other country coming close to being able to absorb the slack left by China, which imports about two-thirds of the world’s ore, prices risk years of decline as a major oversupply swamps demand, with some forecasting prices to be cut in half by 2015.Another bonus is that big emerging markets such as India and Indonesia will have a chance to move into basic manufacturing sectors that China is vacating. Bangladesh has quickly become the world’s second-biggest textile exporter.Brazil stands out as an example of a country that has already been under intense pressure from China in low-skill industries such as footwear and will increasingly be going head to head with China in higher-value markets too. Policies to boost competitiveness thus become more imperative than ever.After largely missing the chance to reform during the boom, Brazil also risks squandering the opportunities thrown up by China’s transition slip unless it improves its infrastructure, cuts red tape and overhauls its tax system, economists say.”Some of the underlying structural shortcomings of the economy were covered up during the bonanza. It’s only as the commodity boom has slowed that the supply side constraints have become more visible,” said Jens Arnold, who tracks Brazil for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.In the case of advanced economies, China’s transition is a double-edged sword, according to He Yifeng, an analyst at Hongyuan Securities in Beijing.”For the United States and Europe, China’s rebalancing could create more competition for them. But they can take the initiative by focusing on the higher end of the value chain, relying on knowledge and technology exports,” he said.SERVICES BONANZA-Already a lucrative market for European purveyors of luxury goods, China will increasingly present opportunities for foreign firms as incomes rise and consumers grow more discriminating.Safety-conscious parents’ choice of foreign-made baby milk formula is a case in point, said Haibin Zhu, chief China economist for JP Morgan in Hong Kong.”We will probably see a shift in the consumption basket,” Zhu said. „The increased focus on product quality is positive news for many international exporters, particularly from advanced economies.”Another rich seam for advanced economies is services, which account for just 43 percent of Chinese GDP, the smallest share of any major economy.James Emmett, global head of trade finance at HSBC in London, said urbanization and the rise of China’s middle class offered openings to firms in Britain and beyond in sectors such as health, education and tourism.”We are seeing a change in the nature of China,” he said.As services blossom, foreign companies could reap a windfall of up to $6 trillion by 2025 in everything from retail trade and transport to hotels and finance, said Yale University’s Stephen Roach, a former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.Zhu at JP Morgan expects investment to drop from 48 percent of GDP to 35 percent by 2018-2020 as consumption (household and government) rises to 60-65 percent from 50 percent.At the same time, GDP growth is likely to slow toward 6.5 percent a year by 2016-2020 from 7.7 percent in 2012 and 10 percent a year on average since the late 1970s.Yet market worries about the transition need to be kept in perspective. Even if growth slows to 5 percent a year by 2030, Schellekens with the World Bank said China will still be adding output every year equal to the size of the South Korean economy.”Even though China is facing quite a transformation, the long-term future is still a very positive one,” he said.(Editing by Mike Peacock)
Russia, unhappy with Moldova’s EU drive, bans its wine and spirits Reuters – 7 hours agoCHISINAU (Reuters) – Russia on Tuesday announced a ban on imports of Moldovan wines and spirits, saying they contained impurities, a move certain to be seen in the small ex-Soviet republic as retaliation for its drive to expand ties with the European Union.Russia’s public health chief Gennady Onishchenko said the ban on one of Moldova’s main export earners, due to come into force on Wednesday, had been imposed because Moldova had consistently failed to act to improve the quality of its produce.”We don’t intend to act as a nanny for the Moldovan economy,” Onishchenko said in Moscow, according to Interfax news agency.”The ban is a necessary step that we have undertaken reluctantly, but it is the only possible way of solving the present situation,” he said. „There have been violations in technical preparation, storage and end-production.”In Chisinau, Economy Minister Valerii Lazar said the Moldovan side were unclear about the reasons for the Russian move.”We will have to clarify where technical problems about the quality of Moldovan wine end and where political aspects begin,” he told Reuters.Moscow is unhappy with Moldova’s drive to conclude political association and free trade deals with the European Union in November in preference to expanding ties with Russia.A Kremlin envoy this month warned that Chisinau’s policies could bring retaliation from Moscow, possibly involving cuts in Russian gas deliveries, on which Moldova relies heavily.Moldova’s neighbor Ukraine, another former Soviet republic, has also come under pressure from the Kremlin to halt its European integration plans.Exports of wines and spirits such as cognac and vodka are a big currency earner for Moldova – which has a population of 3.5 million and is one of Europe’s poorest states.Sales to Russia, the main market for its alcoholic drinks, brought in $135 million last year.Despite pressure from Russia, both Moldova and Ukraine are looking to a November summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, to lock in place landmark agreements with the EU.(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Thomas Bach of Germany elected IOC president; talks to Putin about Sochi GamesBy Stephen Wilson, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 6 hours agoPlay VideoRogge leave IOC Faster, Higher, Stronger and Richer euronews Videos 1:09View PhotoJacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), watch IOC …BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Within minutes of being elected to the top job in the Olympics, Thomas Bach got a phone call from a powerful leader he’ll work with closely in the next few months: Russian President Vladimir Putin.Bach, a 59-year-old German lawyer, was elected Tuesday as president of the International Olympic Committee. He succeeds Jacques Rogge, who stepped down after 12 years.Bach, the longtime favourite, defeated five other candidates in the secret ballot for the most influential job in international sports, keeping the presidency in European hands.The former Olympic fencer received 49 votes in the second round to secure a winning majority. Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico finished second with 29 votes.One of the first congratulatory phone calls came from Putin, who will host the IOC in less than five months at the Winter Olympics in the southern Russian resort of Sochi.The Sochi Games are one of Putin’s pet projects, with Russia’s prestige on the line.”He congratulated and (said) there would be close co-operation to make the success of Sochi Games sure,’ Bach told The Associated Press.The buildup to the Feb. 7-23 games, however, has been overshadowed by concerns with cost overruns, human rights, a budget topping $50 billion, security threats and a Western backlash against a Russian law against gay „propaganda.”Bach and the IOC have been told by the Russians there would be no discrimination against anyone in Sochi, and that Russia would abide by the Olympic Charter.”We have the assurances of the highest authorities in Russia that we trust,” Bach said.It remains unclear what would happen if athletes or spectators demonstrate against the anti-gay law. Rogge said this week that the IOC would soon send a reminder to athletes that, under the Olympic Charter, they are prohibited from making any political gestures.”We will work on our project now and then it will be communicated to the NOCs (national Olympic committees) and then athletes,” Bach said. „It will be elaborated more in detail.”Earlier, Bach said his first priority would be to celebrate, and his second to get ready for Sochi.”We have to prepare well,” he said, „and I’m sure the games will be a great success.”A former Olympic fencing gold medallist who heads Germany’s national Olympic committee, Bach is the ninth president in the 119-year history of the IOC. He’s the eighth European to hold the presidency.Of the IOC’s leaders, all have come from Europe except for Avery Brundage, the American who ran the committee from 1952-72.Bach is also the first gold medallist to become IOC president. He won gold in team fencing for West Germany in the 1976 Montreal Olympics.He received a standing ovation for nearly a full minute after Rogge opened a sealed envelope to announce his victory. Bach bowed slightly to the delegates to acknowledge the warm response and thanked the members in several languages.”This is a really overwhelming sign of trust and confidence,” Bach said.”I want to be a president for all of you,” he told the members. „This means I will do my very best to balance well all the different interests of the stakeholders of the Olympic movement. This is why I want to listen to you and to enter in an ongoing dialogue with all of you. You should know that my door, my ears and my heart are always open for you.”Bach has long been viewed as the favourite because of his resume: former Olympic athlete, long-serving member of the policy-making IOC executive board, chairman of the legal commission, head of anti-doping investigations and negotiator of European TV rights.”It is what I and many of the others had anticipated,” said IOC member Prince Albert of Monaco. „I think it was very clear. You can’t argue with his experience and his leadership and his great knowledge about the Olympic movement and the world of sports, and also the outside world. I think we are getting a great president.”Bach was elected to an eight-year term. In 2021, he would be eligible to run for a second and final four-term term.Bach presented the 71-year-old Rogge with the IOC’s highest award, the Olympic gold order. The German could be overheard saying, to a few laughs, „I have to get used to this.”After awarding the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo and bringing wrestling back into the games, the IOC completed the last of its three critical votes — choosing the person to lead the body for the most powerful job in international sports.Bach’s supporters had hoped for a first-round win, but a second-round victory still showed that he had a big base of support.Carrion, who chairs the IOC’s finance commission and negotiates lucrative U.S. TV rights deals, wound up being Bach’s only serious challenger.The votes fell off after that with Ng Ser Miang of Singapore getting six, Denis Oswald of Switzerland five and Sergei Bubka of Ukraine four. C.K. Wu of Taiwan was eliminated in the first round after an initial tie with Ng as low vote-getter.In the first round, Bach got 43 votes, followed by Carrion with 23, Bubka eight, Oswald seven and Ng and Wu six each. Ng then beat Wu 56-36 in a runoff.Ng had been considered a strong contender, but his chances were dented after Tokyo’s win because the IOC was unlikely to give Asia two major prizes in a row.Much of the pre-election talk among the members has been about the power of Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti who heads the Association of National Olympic Committees.The sheik was a key backer of Bach. With his influence in Asia and among the national Olympic committees, the Kuwaiti can deliver a large number of votes. He was seen as playing a key role in Tokyo’s victory, even helping Istanbul get to the second round of voting to keep Madrid out of the final.___AP Sports writers Stephen Wade and Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.___Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap