Раздел: Економика

экономические новости

Boeing Faces Union Vote Wednesday

A strongly contested union election pits the world’s largest aerospace company against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers on Wednesday.

Three thousand workers at Boeing’s plant in South Carolina are eligible to vote on whether they want to be represented by the union.

Many businesses and key political leaders in South Carolina have spoken against the union. Union membership in the conservative state is just 1.6 percent, the lowest in the nation. The low level of union representation is said to be one reason that Boeing located the plant in the state.

Boeing employs about 7,500 people in South Carolina, and nearly 150,000 around the world. The company opened a plant in South Carolina after labor strife in Washington state, where unions have been more successful.

The plant is one of two that makes Boeing’s 787 commercial jetliner.

The union vote follows extensive organizing efforts by union supporters and a series of posters, meetings and television commercials by the company urging employees to vote against the union.

Published reports say President Donald Trump may visit the plant on Friday, after the vote.

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In California Border Town, 2 Businessmen Fear Downturn After Ban

Three months after Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president and less than three weeks after a controversial executive order, his intent to restrain immigration may be crimping commerce at the busiest land crossing on the country’s southern border, some local observers say.

At the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, an accountant for Transportes California said the bus company – with routes traversing the border – has “seen a drop” in ridership. Gerardo Chavez did not specify, though he said some potential passengers are fearful because they “do not know what will happen” in terms of their immigration status.

Miguel Aguirre, a longtime San Ysidro businessman and part owner of the city’s landmark McDonald’s Trolley Station Building, also said he has noticed a decrease in customers in the last few months.

But, Chavez added, “most people are optimistic” that, after the first 100 days of Trump’s administration, “everything is going to calm down.”

Fulfilling campaign promise

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly had pledged to increase security and limit irregular immigration – especially at the southern border. His executive order, issued January 25, temporarily barred U.S. immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Days later, a U.S. federal district judge in Washington state froze enforcement of the order, and that decision was upheld by a three-judge panel at the federal appeals court panel after a challenge by the administration. On Monday, a federal judge issued a new injunction to keep the ban from being implemented in the state of Virginia.

More than 14 million cars and 7 million pedestrians crossed the border at San Ysidro in 2015; last July alone, roughly 20,000 were crossing on foot every day, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The local San Diego Union-Tribune has noted San Ysidro is the Western Hemisphere’s busiest land port, connecting the Mexican city of Tijuana with the greater San Diego area. People frequently travel back and forth to work, shop and visit.

Everard Meade, who directs the Trans-Border Institute at the private University of San Diego, cautioned that the executive order’s exact impact cannot be gauged yet.

“It is far too soon to tell if there was some kind of fear effect,” he responded to VOA in an email Monday. “Most regular crossers are going for business, school and family obligations that they cannot simply cancel or postpone indefinitely.”

He also said a thorough assessment “would have to account for protests in Mexico, which have shut down the border crossing every weekend since the beginning of the year. While the protests began over Mexico ending its gasoline subsidy, they have morphed into a broader protest against President Trump’s proposed wall and the perceived weakness of the Mexican government in the face of provocation from the new administration in the United States.”

Matters of access

Businessman Aguirre serves on the institute’s advisory council. He suggested the renewed attention on the border can have a positive impact – if key people realize that frequent north-south crossings serve as economic engines for his and other U.S.-Mexico border communities.

“I believe it’s a good time to realize the potential,” Aguirre said.

Trump also had promised, during his campaign, to build or extend a wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border running east from San Ysidro to Brownsville, Texas. Fencing already stretches along some 650 miles.

Groups gathering at Friendship Park just south of San Diego, California, have staged various events to expand civic awareness about the measure. 

 On Saturday, the Border Angels – a volunteer advocacy group focused on immigration reform – organized a cross-border yoga session for the second consecutive year. (Previous sessions by other groups date to at least 2008.)

Instructor Mark Andeya offered the yoga bridge as a possible metaphor for policymakers. 

“There are barriers that divide countries, and there are emotional barriers that prevent or block healthy relationships,” he said, adding that certain barriers are favorable. “… The idea is to learn to take the favorable and to reject from a little the unfavorable.”

Carol Guensburg contributed to this report from VOA’s Spanish service.

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Small US Company Bucks a Trend, Adding Manufacturing Jobs

A rising tide of automation, trade problems and lagging growth in productivity has slashed millions of jobs from the U.S. manufacturing sector. At the same time, a small factory in Northbridge, Massachusetts, has been hiring, expanding and exporting.

Riverdale Mills hopes to grow further by making unusual products and building a strong workforce.

Riverdale makes materials that have revolutionized lobster fishing with unique processes and materials. The company applied lessons from fishing to making security fences, including some that protect borders. 

After welding, the wire metal mesh is dunked in a vat filled with tons of molten zinc at a historic building about an hour west of Boston. It’s just one part of a complex process used to make many kinds of rust-resistant products. 

That process combines skilled people and high-tech innovation. It’s helping the company find new markets for updated products, and means while other factories are laying off workers, Riverdale’s Dennis Meola is training new employees.

“We have an experienced operator training a new individual,” Meola said. “We started a new person today, as a matter of fact.”

Riverdale CEO Jim Knott says the company is growing, in part because he sells nearly half of his products overseas. Knott says he needs more than just machines to keep customers happy here and abroad.

“The key to being successful, both globally and in a domestic market, you have to have skilled or trained employees who are capable of making a leadership product that is better than what other people are making throughout the world,” he said.

On a recent visit to Riverdale, technicians were upgrading computers and other equipment that helps to run a huge machine that makes hundreds of welds at once. More automation is the reason that U.S. manufacturers produce as much as ever, with ever fewer people.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Tom Kochan says automation and international trade has cut one-third of U.S. manufacturing jobs since 1980. He says American employers mistakenly think of labor only as a cost to be minimized, not an asset. 

“Anytime some new form of technology comes along that they think they can replace that worker with technology, they tend to move in that direction,” Kochan said. “Often what that does is it over-invests in technology and under-invests in worker skills, and they end up still being the high cost producer.”

MIT research scientist Andrew McAfee says the U.S. education system is turning out workers with the skills “we needed 50 years ago.” He says a more modern approach is needed to boost productivity and prosperity. 

“We need to be encouraging creativity,” he said. “I think we need to be encouraging not just the ability to solve problems, but the ability to figure out what problem we should go chase down next. Technology is still lousy at that.”

McAfee says people eventually will adapt to the changing work environment, much as their ancestors did when the U.S. economy shifted from farming to manufacturing. It was a wrenching transition that began around the time when the building that now houses Riverdale Mills produced bayonets for the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War.

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One-Man Chocolate Factory Flourishes

Americans shower their loved ones with gifts on Valentine’s Day, with chocolate candy being the most popular gift-giving item, according to a recent National Retail Federation survey. The organization estimates consumers will spend $1.7 million on chocolates this year. That keeps Ben Rasmussen, who creates award-winning chocolates, especially busy. VOA’s June Soh visited his one-man chocolate factory in the Virginia suburbs. Carol Pearson narrates her report.

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China Inviting World Leaders to Forum on Fighting Protectionism

In May 2015, China convened a meeting of representatives of 56 countries to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, against stiff U.S. resistance. This May, Chinese President Xi Jinping is inviting heads of several countries in Asia, Europe and the American continent for a meeting in Beijing under the name of One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Forum.

Chinese officials and experts have made it clear the May meeting’s purpose goes beyond OBOR because they want it to discuss the rising specter of protectionism in different countries, including the United States. China is also trying to raise and consolidate international opinion against actions by U.S. President Donald Trump, who is expected to impose restrictions on Chinese goods and investments, independent analysts said.

“The upcoming forum will be a major event for China’s diplomacy in 2017. It is set to discuss plans for future cooperation of the involved countries and organizations, explore ways to address regional and global economic problems, and generate fresh energy for interconnected development,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Goal post

Analysts said China has sensed an opportunity to grab a leadership role after Trump’s comments and actions caused uncertainties in European markets, and voices of resentment emerged from some countries like Australia, after his talks with their leaders.

The forum is also part of China’s efforts to enhance international business and political ties out of fear of a debilitating trade war with the United States that might occur if Trump goes ahead with his election promises to impose a high duty on Chinese goods, and restrict investments from China, they said.

“Trade war with the United States will be very bad for the Chinese economy. This fear of trade war is behind the move to expand cooperation and seek mutual interest with countries other than the U.S.,” Jan Gaspers, head of research for the European China Policy unit at Berlin’s Mercator Institute for China Studies, told VOA.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is among the first to accept the forum invitation. British Prime Minister Teressa May’s office has said she will soon visit China, which is being read in Beijing as confirmation that she will attend the forum. China’s new friend, Philippine President Rodrigo Détente, who chairs the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), has also promised to attend. China expects heads of more than two dozen governments to attend.

Chinese authorities want to turn OBOR or the Silk Road program into a diplomatic tool. “The future of globalization and the world economy are extremely uncertain. And the forum in May will reinforce confidence in the world economy,” the official media quoted Chu Yin, associate professor at the University of International Relations, as saying.

Bai Gao, a sociology professor at the Duke University took a somewhat different view. “I don’t see the purpose of this gathering is to raise voices against Trump’s actions. Rather, I guess the purpose of this gathering is to build consensus on free trade and raise voices against protectionism,” he said. .

Road to everywhere

China’s Ministry of Commerce recently said Chinese companies have invested $24.19 billion in 77 “economic cooperation zones”, which are industrial areas, in 36 countries. These zones covered 1,522 foreign companies and played a positive role in “the development of bilateral trade and economic relationship”.

Analysts say industrial investments are are foreign policy tools for China.

Beijing launched a $10 billion fund for industrial development in Latin America in 2015, and followed it up last year with a $11 billion fund for China-led development in Europe. More such announcements could be expected at the forum.

“The conference would be genuinely meaningful only if it is accompanied by commitments to more fully liberalize China’s economy, instead of the usual promises of China handing out more money, much of which will go to Chinese state owned enterprises,” said Scott Kennedy, director of the project on Chinese business and political economy at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Making the magic work


Analysts say several European countries are uneasy about China using state power to aggressively promote Chinese companies instead of living up to its rhetoric about globalization and free trade.

“I do not see Europe being in a role that would allow China to take the lead in the global economic order without first complying to international standards on fair trade, environment and other issues,” Gaspers said. “Chinese are not terribly keen about promoting international standards. European countries are trying to find out how they can work constructively with China without giving up its standards”.

Some analysts said China is complaining too much without taking account of its own behavior on trade and investment.

“Whatever the difference between Xi and Trump in terms of rhetoric, China still has far more barriers in place to foreign goods, services and investment than the United States,” Kennedy of CSIS said, adding, “The U.S. also lacks the kind of industrial policy that China wields to give an added advantage to domestic companies”.

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Peugeot Buys Iconic Indian Car Brand

French car manufacturer Peugeot has bought India’s most iconic car brand from its maker Hindustan Motors in a deal that signifies the passing of an era in India’s motoring history.


Over the weekend, the C.K. Birla Group that owns Hindustan Motors said it had signed an agreement with Peugeot SA to sell the Ambassador for 800 million rupees ($12 million).


The hulking Ambassador sedan remained largely unchanged for more than five decades, ferrying India’s elite, including prime ministers, visiting heads of states and celebrities. It was a throwback to an era when India’s policy of economic self-sufficiency meant domestically produced cars were the norm.


First manufactured in 1948, the Ambassador was the only luxury car available in India till the mid-1980s. By the early 1990s, economic reforms had opened India’s doors to many small car manufacturers.


Hindustan Motors stopped making Ambassadors in 2014 after about 2,200 cars were sold in 2013.


Fondly referred to as the “Amby,” the Ambassador was modeled after the British Morris Oxford III. Its lumbering shape, often compared to a bowler hat on wheels, was suited for India’s pot-holed roads and rugged terrain. But poor gas mileage and a lack of luxury features led a rising Indian middle class to aspire to own cheaper, newer models that were easier to maneuver in crowded cities.


Displaced by Japanese and Korean cars, the sturdy Ambassadors were relegated to use by taxi services and government departments. But even that has changed with the Indian government switching to smaller, swifter cars than the bulbous Ambassador.


It is unclear what exactly the French car maker plans to do with the Ambassador brand.


Peugeot pulled out of India after a joint-venture effort in the 1990s collapsed. Last month it signed an agreement with Birla to return to the fast-growing market, saying it will invest $107 million in a Hindustan Motors manufacturing facility in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.


That deal includes hiking manufacturing capacity to 100,000 vehicles a year, to take advantage of the rapid growth in India, where car sales expanded 7 percent to 2.96 million cars last year.


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IMF: Trump’s Plans Could Boost US Economy, Endanger Global Advances

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde voiced optimism Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned tax cuts and construction spending would boost the American economy, but said they could cause trouble for the economies around the globe.

Lagarde, speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, said, “From the little we know, and I will insist on the little we know, because this is really work in progress… but from the little we hear, we have reasons to be optimistic about economic growth in the United States.”

Major U.S. stock indexes are near record highs, with the new U.S. leader promising to unveil a “phenomenal” tax cut plan in the next two to three weeks, while also pledging to launch $1 trillion in major infrastructure spending to fix the country’s deteriorating roads and bridges and expand airports. But both measures would need approval by Congress, where the controlling Republican lawmakers have voiced skepticism about any changes that would add to the country’s nearly $20 trillion in long-term debt.

But Lagarde warned that advances by the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, could hurt economies elsewhere because of the strength of the dollar against other currencies and expected action by the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, to gradually boost its benchmark interest rate to keep the American economy from overheating.

She said U.S. gains are good, but that “the more worrying news, if you will, is that it will have consequences on the rest of the world, and we are seeing it.” She said the Fed’s tightening of monetary policy “will be difficult on the global economy and for which economies will have to prepare.”

The IMF last month boosted its U.S. growth estimate a tenth of a point this year to 2.3 percent, and four-tenths of a point to 2.5 percent for 2018. The IMF predicted an increase in global growth to 3.4 percent in 2017 and and 3.6 percent in 2018, up from the 2016 figure of 3.1 percent.

Trump has already revoked U.S. participation in the planned 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade in favor of American deals with individual countries.

Lagarde, however, continued to promote globalization of the world economy, while acknowledging its negative aspects, which Trump says has cost U.S. manufacturing workers their jobs as their employers moved operations overseas in search of cheaper labor.

“We have been saying globalization is great, international trade is great — and it is,” Lagarde said. “But we have not looked at those who were badly, negatively impacted.”

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Somalia Says It Will Resume Printing Currency Soon

Somalia intends to resume printing banknotes this year for the first time since the government collapsed in 1991.

The governor of Somalia’s central bank, Bashir Issa Ali, told VOA in an exclusive interview Saturday that all technical preparations are complete, and his government is confident it can assemble a financial aid package within three months to fund the printing program. Further work would take another four months.

Asked if Somalia will print and distribute banknotes during 2017, Ali answered: “Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely!” He pledged the new currency would include “good, reliable security features.”

Pre-1991 banknotes have disappeared from Somali markets, replaced by either Western currencies, including dollars, or privately printed notes, most of which are worthless fakes.

Financial reforms to take hold soon

Ali said international institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the U.S. Treasury, have been helping Somalia reform its financial sector and train central bank staff. 

“We have prepared all the issues and all the basic groundwork, and put in place the technical requirements,” he told VOA.

Outgoing Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met a key demand of the international community last year by signing into law parliament-approved legislation to outlaw money laundering and “financial terrorism.”

The Somali government needs $60 million to be able to begin printing banknotes. Ali said he expects to obtain pledges for that sum at an international donors’ conference for Somalia in London in May.

“We expect the international community to assist us with that issue,” the bank governor said.

Private banks, ‘mobile money’

Hardship and the scarcity of trustworthy currency has created opportunities for some innovative strategies in the private sector, Ali said, and Somalia has made some progress in establishing private banks and mobile money systems.

Many transactions in Somalia now take place using “electronic mobile money,” Ali added.

Somali shillings account for a small portion of the payments system, he said.

“Most of it is done through dollars and electronic money, which is a great thing for … saving costs and effort and very convenient, also.”

Remittance companies that relay payments from Somalis working abroad operate in many parts of the country, Ali noted, but a large part of the nation does not have access to electronic funds or dollars, so there is an urgent need for a reliable national currency.

Once Somalia-printed banknotes begin to circulate, the central bank governor said, his staff will be able to regulate and control operations by private banks and remittance services.

The bank now has trained staff members to work on the financial and exchange systems, and training efforts are continuing. On February 12, he said, “more than 10 staffers are departing for training about counterfeiting and financial controls. They include staff from the bank, police and the national security agency.”

Monetary policy comes next

Since Somalia does not yet have its own currency, it also lacks a monetary policy, Ali said, but once the banknotes begin circulating, he looks forward to “the beginning of a new era” in the East African nation.

“Monetary policy always must come together in close collaboration with the fiscal policy of the government — taxation and revenue, the public budget and these kind of things,” Ali told VOA. “We don’t apply any monetary policy at the moment.”

Economists have recently predicted a slowdown for Somalia’s domestic economy, which largely relies on livestock exports. Ali said a “very disastrous” drought has killed thousands of farm animals.

“When you don’t have enough crops, it will contribute to food shortages,” he said. “When you have drought problems, you will not be able to export livestock.

“That will affect our foreign market and our exports,” he added, so Somalia’s foreign-exchange earnings will decline.

“When you get less foreign exchange, you will not be able to import what is required,” the bank governor said, “and when you import less, there will be less tax revenue for the government.”

In the short term, the peaceful election of a new Somali president appears to have helped the nation’s economy. The Somali shilling rose in value compared with the U.S. dollar over a two-day period; $1 brought 22,000 shillings before the election in Mogadishu, and by Saturday it was trading at 16,000 shillings.

“It’s a matter of expectations. There is a new government, new environment and new atmosphere,” Ali said, and that will have an effect on people’s opinions about security, the economy and the stability of the government.

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Bolivia Fights Locust Plague Threatening Corn, Sorghum Harvests

Bolivian farmers and government officials are fighting a locust plague threatening corn and sorghum harvests, just as agricultural areas were starting to recover from the South American country’s worst drought in a quarter century.

The locusts, first reported in late January in Bolivia’s eastern grains belt, have affected around 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of crops and 500 producers, said Vicente Gutierrez, president of a corn and sorghum producers group.

Government authorities and farmers were preparing on Friday to fumigate 300 hectares of crops, with the ultimate goal of spraying some 17,000 hectares and preventing the plague from spreading and endangering the food supply.

“This fight will not be short,” said Reinaldo Diaz, president of Bolivia’s oilseed and wheat producers’ association. “We’re trying to identify where the eggs are, where the nymphs are – those are the initial stages of the plague and where we can control it most efficiently.”

The plague follows a severe drought in Bolivia that prompted controversial water rationing, conflicts between miners and farmers over aquifer use, and slashed agricultural harvests, requiring a sharp increase in imports.

Recent rains have relieved Santa Cruz and inspired optimism for this year’s crops although drought continues to afflict the main city of La Paz.

For the moment, the 1,000 hectares affected by locusts represent only a small fraction of the 100,000 hectares planted with grains in Santa Cruz department.

Bolivia, normally self-sufficient in grain production, had to import more than 100,000 tonnes of corn worth $21 million in 2016, largely from Argentina, according to the private Bolivian Institute of Foreign Trade. The country also imported 2,000 tons of sorghum worth $5 million.

Argentina, the world’s No. 3 corn exporter whose output has been rising since corn export taxes were slashed in late 2015, had sent experts to assist the fumigation effort, Bolivian producers said.

“They have lived with this since 1920; we are learning how to combat this problem,” Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said after flying over affected areas.

Producers in Santa Cruz, one of Bolivia’s wealthiest areas, have for years lobbied the government to lift export restrictions and liberalize regulations on the use of genetically-modified seeds, which they say will help produce crops that are resistant to plagues and adverse climate events.

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Promised Trump Tax Plan Boosts Stocks

U.S. stocks “melted up” Friday as the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the Dow Jones industrial average, Nasdaq Composite Index and Russell 2000 Index posted all-time closing highs on continued upward momentum from President Donald Trump, who promised a “phenomenal” announcement about his tax plan in the next two to three weeks.

Industrial stocks, led by defense/aerospace companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin, outperformed on the week. Crude oil also helped lead the charge amid output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which in turn boosted energy stocks.

The momentum looks as if it could continue. “Broad market sentiment is showing some signs of excessive optimism, which could act as a near-term contrarian warning sign,” analysts at LPL Financial said in a research report. “These are only near-term concerns, though, as we still aren’t seeing the type of over-the-top sentiment seen at major market peaks.”

Policy reforms

One of the bigger challenges with the Trump agenda has been predicting how his administration will prioritize policy efforts. Of particular interest are the competing priorities of health care overhaul and tax reform, especially with the run-up in equities. Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President Gary Cohn is leading the effort to craft the tax overhaul, according to a White House official.

Trading week ahead

The Federal Reserve moves back into the spotlight with a slew of speakers on the circuit, including Chair Janet Yellen, who will give her semiannual testimony to the House Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST.

Key economic data include the January Consumer Price Index (CPI), Retail Sales, Leading Indicators, Housing Starts, and other industrial and manufacturing reports. The earnings calendar is starting to wind down, with mostly cable and technology names reporting.

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