George Floyd death: Six officers charged after dragging students from car during Atlanta protests

Six police officers have been charged after bodycam footage showed two students screaming as they were pulled from a car during protests in Atlanta over the death of George Floyd.

Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner were sacked after the video captured them dragging Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim from their vehicle in Downtown Atlanta on Saturday night.

They have now been charged with aggravated assault, along with two of their colleagues, who have not been named.

Another unnamed officer has been accused of aggravated battery, and others in the group have been charged with criminal damage to property and pointing or aiming a gun, Fulton Country District Attorney Paul Howard said.

Driver Mr Young said he and his girlfriend were attacked while they waited in traffic on 30 May.

He said at a news conference: “I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off the street and no longer able to terrorise anyone else.”

The bodycam footage shows his car being surrounded by more than a dozen officers, before one forces the driver’s door open and another smashes the window on the passenger’s side.

The couple scream in horror, with Mr Young heard shouting “I’m not dying today” as he urges the officers to let him go.

One officer uses a stun gun on Miss Pilgrim, before her boyfriend is tasered and taken away in handcuffs.

She told CBS46 on Monday that the incident was “the worst of her life” and “truly traumatising”.

She added: “I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions.”

The college student was released without charge, while her boyfriend was charged with attempting to elude police and driving with a suspended licence, but he was later released.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is calling for both charges to be dropped.

Source: Read Full Article

Donors promise Yemen $1.35 billion, falling short of U.N. target to save aid operations

DUBAI (Reuters) – International donors raised $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen on Tuesday but the amount fell short of the United Nations’ target of $2.4 billion needed to save the world’s biggest aid operation from severe cutbacks.

The conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi group has left 80% of Yemen’s population reliant on aid. The country now faces the spread of the novel coronavirus among an acutely malnourished people.

Saudi Arabia, leader of the coalition fighting the Houthis since 2015 in a stalemated war, hosted a virtual U.N. conference to help counter funding shortages for aid operations in Yemen.

In total, donors pledged $1.35 billion to help aid agencies, U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock told the conference.

Saudi Arabia has already pledged $500 million, including $25 million to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jabir told Reuters.

Saudi has faced criticism from international rights groups for its condcut in the war, particularly a campaign of air strikes that has led to many civilian deaths and destroyed infrastructure.

Britain – which sells weapons to coalition members – and Germany announced respectively $201 million and $140 million. They called on the warring parties to immediately end the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.

The United States, which also backs the coalition, said last month it would extend $225 million in emergency aid for food.

Lowcock, asked about Saudi Arabia co-hosting the event, said Riyadh was a large donor and the United Nations would continue to call out warring parties on actions “they should not be doing”.

“Saudi Arabia keeps trying to whitewash its coalition’s role in the deepening humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, but cohosting the funding event won’t fool anyone,” Afrah Nasser, Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Lise Grande, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, told Reuters before the conference the operation would face “catastrophic cutbacks” if the donations fell short of $1.6 billion.

“We won’t be able to provide the food people need to survive, or the health care they need or the water or sanitation or the nutrition support which helps to keep 2 million malnourished children from dying,” she said.

Related Coverage

  • Factbox: U.N. programmes in Yemen at risk of going broke

Some $180 million of required funding is needed to combat coronavirus in a country with shattered health systems and inadequate testing capabilities.

Yemen has been mired in violence since the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the coalition to intervene a few months later.

Donors had cut funding to Houthi-held areas over concerns the group is hindering aid delivery, a charge it denies.

Source: Read Full Article

Exclusive: Mexico probes Libre Abordo's oil-for-food pact with Venezuela

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The Mexican government’s financial crime department is investigating Libre Abordo, a Mexico-based firm that received millions of barrels of Venezuelan crude under an oil-for-food pact, in a probe coordinated with U.S. agencies, the department’s chief, Santiago Nieto, told Reuters.

The Mexican Financial Intelligence Unit is also separately investigating several other companies, which Nieto declined to name, accused of speculating with food shipments to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government, he said. That probe is being assisted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Treasury’s Office for Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), Nieto said.

Libre Abordo and an affiliated Mexican company, Schlager Business Group, are among firms that have been under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Treasury and State departments for possible violations of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, four sources familiar with the probe told Reuters last month.

“We have an open investigation (into Libre Abordo). It has not been completed so I cannot give more information,” Nieto, whose unit reports to Mexico’s finance ministry, told Reuters in an interview last week at his Mexico City office.

The two companies have repeatedly denied any violations, saying their oil-for-food agreement with Venezuela, which was suspended by Maduro in May, was permitted under humanitarian waivers and the contract was with a government entity not included in the U.S. list of sanctioned entities.

Libre Abordo announced on Sunday it was bankrupt and said Venezuela had terminated its oil-for-food agreement under pressure from the United States.

On Monday, Nieto told Reuters the investigation would continue.

Libre Abordo told Reuters in a statement on Tuesday that it was unaware of any investigations in Mexico into its operations, but any such probe would “surely confirm the legality and transparency” of its activities.

WATER TRUCKS

The companies provided Venezuela with hundreds of water trucks in exchange for about 30 million barrels of Venezuelan crude and fuel through May, according to Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA’s internal documents and information provided by the firms.

The deal threw a lifeline to Maduro, whose administration is struggling to pay for imports of everything from food to medicine amid an economic crisis.

Washington has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s government and PDVSA in a bid to oust Maduro. U.S. authorities said in April they were investigating whether Mexican companies had violated those sanctions.

PDVSA did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

CLAP BOXES

Nieto’s unit is separately investigating a group of 25 people and companies from Mexico and Venezuela accused of speculating with food shipments under a program administered by Maduro’s government, known as CLAP, Nieto said.

The program – intended to tackle scarcity and hyperinflation – distributes subsidized food, most of it imported, to registered citizens across Venezuela.

Nieto’s unit has submitted three cases related to the probe to Mexico’s Attorney General’s office, while freezing the bank accounts of 19 companies allegedly linked to “laundering of Venezuelan money in Mexico,” he said.

He declined to name any of the individuals or companies involved.

Elliott Abrams, U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, told Reuters on Friday “there has been vast corruption involved in the (Maduro) regime’s purchase of food in Mexico.” He cited U.S. sanctions imposed in 2019 on several people, including members of Maduro’s family, for alleged fraud in the CLAP program.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Maduro’s government has repeatedly denied accusations of corruption, overpricing and poor quality of produce in the CLAP program.

An investigation into the CLAP shipments was launched in 2018 by former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration, which closed the case after imposing fines on the companies involved.

The reopened probe is being coordinated with the DEA and OFAC, which oversees the implementation of U.S. sanctions, Santiago Nieto said.

He said the scheme began with the creation of a company in Hong Kong – which he declined to name – owned by the Venezuelan government. This company then opened subsidiaries in Mexico, which bought poor-quality products to be sold at higher prices to the OPEC-member country.

“From our point of view, there was corruption at the attorney general’s office during the previous administration,” said Nieto, a 47-year old lawyer, explaining why the probe had been reopened. He did not provide further details.

Reuters was unable to reach former officials at the attorney general’s office for comment.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December 2018, has made fighting corruption one of his administration’s priorities. His predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, has rejected accusations of wrongdoing during his time in office.

Source: Read Full Article

UK weather forecast: ‘Intense rainfall’ to lash Britain – 50mm to strike in 3-hour blitz

Much of the UK has basked in scorching sunshine over the past few days with thermometers in some parts nudging towards 26C. However, the country is expecting a massive change in the weather as rain sinks southwards across the whole country – with the risk of “localised downpours” and “thunderstorms” across southern England on Wednesday. Temperatures are also expected to take a huge hit – with highs of 26C in London on Tuesday, falling towards 16C by Friday, BBC Weather claim.

Grahame Madge, Senior Press Officer at the Met Office, warned the “rain could be quite heavy” over the coming days, and although no warnings are currently in place he said, “it is possible there could be a warning or two in place for rain”.

The Met Office spokesman added there could be as much as 50mm of rainfall in central England in a three-hour period as the front sweeps southwards on Wednesday.

He told Express.co.uk: “In terms of the front coming down, it will be moving from northern Scotland and work its way down reaching all places by tomorrow, with that bringing cooler conditions.

“There will also be a temperature drop in northern England of around 10C – Manchester 25C to 15C – not that much range in South East England but could see a 7C-8C plunge.”

He added: “We are entering an unsettled spell. Rainfall could well also be pepped up by the buoyant atmosphere – that’s a typical set up – that could cause thunderstorms or intense rainfall even if it doesn’t develop, with heavy bursts.”

Mr Madge noted the huge contrast to conditions many Britons have experienced over the previous month, with Northamptonshire only seeing 1.7mm in the last month – and now some areas expecting 50mm in just a few short hours.

Asked if the UK is likely to experience stormy conditions for the coming days, Mr Madge added: “As we switch to northerly airflow we will see over the weekend winds strengthening”.

Brian Gaze of The Weather Outlook, also forecasts unsettled conditions moving in this week.

He said: “Today it will be fine and warm for many but from tomorrow all regions can expect to see showers or longer spells of rain.”

The weather forecaster warned that tonight a “band of rain spreads southeastwards” before tomorrow morning “it will be focused on Wales and northern England”.

He said: “Ahead of it there could be a few showers. Areas to the north will be colder with clear spells.”

DON’T MISS:
Water use warning as hot spring sees reservoirs decline  [HOSEPIPE BAN]
Arctic blast to bring ‘big drop’ in temperatures after heatwave [MAPS]
Thunderstorms crash into Europe as temperatures plummet [BBC WEATHER]

Rainfall could well also be pepped up by the buoyant atmosphere

Grahame Madge, Senior Press Officer at the Met Office

For Wednesday, the forecaster warned the “showery outbreaks of rain” will continue to “spread southwards”.

The Weather Outlook forecaster said: “Locally there could be thunderstorms.

“The South East and East Anglia may remain drier, although there is a risk of showers breaking out in the afternoon. Cooler generally.”

Looking further forecast, the weather forecaster warned of much cooler and showery conditions smashing into Britain.

He said: “Thursday could begin with outbreaks of rain in the South East and East Anglia.

“They clear to leave a mix of sunshine and showers. It will be cool, particularly in the north.”

The forecaster added: “Through the rest of the week northerly winds bring changeable conditions.

“Daytime temperatures remain low for June and it will be windy with a risk of gales in the north.

“In sheltered locations ground frost is possible on some nights. Showers continue and in the north there could be longer outbreaks of rain with snow over the Scottish mountains.

“The cool and showery period is now expected to continue through the the weekend and into next week.”

Look further forward towards the middle of the month, the Met Office’s long-range forecast said there “seems to be a continuation of the changeable setup with further outbreaks of rain or showers, although there is considerable uncertainty”.

But they say that “longer drier, brighter spells” could develop towards mid-June, “especially across northern and western areas”.

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus: Government-backed loans to support virus-hit businesses top £31bn

Three government-backed loan schemes for UK businesses have paid out more than £31bn to date, according to updated Treasury data on taxpayer support for firms and workers’ wages.

The latest figures showed almost 750,000 companies had seen loans approved by Sunday 31 May under the emergency COVID-19 funding initiatives; the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS).

The data showed that £31.3bn had been paid out by banks – up from £27.5bn a week ago.

The growth continued to be led by demand for the BBLS, in which sums – 100% guaranteed by the government – can be borrowed up to a maximum of £50,000.

The Treasury said £21.3bn had been dispersed by lenders to 699,354 companies.

The total number of applications for bounce back loans stood at more than 873,000.

A sum of £8.9bn had been lent to nearly 46,000 companies under CBILS, and a further £1.1bn to 191 companies as
part of CLBILS, the figures showed.

It was also confirmed that the number of workers’ wages being supported by the Job Retention Scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, which is aimed at limiting the lockdown’s impact on employment, had topped 8.7 million – up from 8.4 million a week earlier.

The Treasury put the cost at £17.5bn to date.

Source: Read Full Article

Archaeology breakthrough: Historians’ amazement at ‘oldest European shipwreck’ revealed

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

The British-led expedition off the coast of Oman – in the Middle East – led to the discovery of a 500-year-old wreck site of what it claims is the earliest ship ever found from Europe’s “Age of Discovery”. The Portuguese vessel was captained by an uncle of the legendary explorer Vasco da Gama. The ship was called the Esmeralda, and was one of two vessels to sink in a storm off the coast of Oman in 1503, five years after its captain discovered the first sea route linking Europe to India.

The British team undertook excavation and historical and scientific research for three years, and the archaeologists reaped the rewards in 2016 with a collection of artefacts including one of the rarest coins in the world and what may be part of a previously unknown maritime astrolabe.

David Mearns, director of West Sussex-based Blue Water Recoveries which led the expedition, told the Guardian that the major significance of the find was the date of its sinking, very early in the period when a handful of European maritime powers were racing to discover and exploit new routes to the east.

He said: “This is the earliest ship [from the period of European maritime exploration of Asia] that has been found by a long stretch.

“If you consider that the pre-colonial period started on a major basis with Columbus, in 1492, this is just a decade after that.”

The ship sank in a storm off the coast of what is now the small Omani island of Al-Hallaniyah in 1503, with the loss of all crew and of its captain Vicente Sodre, a maternal uncle of da Gama.

Because it broke up in shallow waters, very little of the ship itself has survived, but thousands of artefacts were uncovered from the sand in the shallow bay.

Among them was an extremely rare silver coin called an Indio, of which only one other is known to exist.

The coins were forged in 1499 after da Gama’s first voyage to India, which helps date the wreckage.

Stone cannonballs appearing to bear Sodre’s initials were also discovered.

However, Mr Mearns said the most exciting discovery was a metal disc bearing the Portuguese coat of arms and an image of an armillary sphere, a model of celestial globe, which was the personal emblem of the then King of Portugal.

The archaeologists speculated that it may be a component part of a type of astrolabe, a navigational device, but are not certain.

He added: “There’s no doubt it’s a very important object. It’s made of valuable material, it’s got these two iconic symbols on it, they don’t just stamp those things on to any piece of equipment on a ship.

“This was an important thing, but what was it?”

DON’T MISS
How Archaeologists found 2,000-year-old shipwreck artefacts [INSIGHT]
Archaeology: How historians found ‘one of best shipwrecks we’ve seen’ [ANALYSIS]
Archaeologists’ impossible find of ‘world’s oldest shipwreck’ exposed [INSIGHT]

He said he hoped other experts would now add their input to help identify the object, adding: “What’s really exciting about this discovery being so early, this may be something nobody has ever seen before, and that’s challenging for the archaeologists but also fun and exciting.”

He said the dig had been a “dream job” for the archaeologists, and that “these are people who work in England in dry suits in freezing cold water, sometimes they can see no further than their nose”.

He added: “So to come to this really beautiful island, completely remote, you have nothing there … this lovely bay, warm waters and you are visited every day by dolphins coming to play with you.

“These are the sort of exotic holidays that people would pay tens of thousands of pounds to go on.”

The findings of the expedition were published by The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

Source: Read Full Article

The jig’s up! EU faces unexpected trade loss – expert reveals sign no deal Brexit incoming

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Mr Hogan, 59, is widely reported to be considering throwing his hat into the ring for the top job at the WTO to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, 62, who surprisingly announced he was stepping down as director-general on August 31, a year earlier than planned in what he insisted was a “personal decision”. Ray Bassett, who has served as Ireland’s ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, said he had been “surprised” at the reports, which originally surfaced in various Irish media outlets including broadcaster RTE and the Irish Times.

Ray Bassett, who has served as Ireland’s ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, said he had been “surprised” at the reports, which originally surfaced in various Irish media outlets including broadcaster RTE and the Irish Times.

He told Express.co.uk: “He has been with the EU Commission since November 2014 in high profile positions.

“The WTO is going through a very difficult time and it would seem a bit strange to jump from a very substantial job with the EU Commission into an organisation in deep trouble.”

It may also indicate that Hogan believes that the trade talks with the UK are going nowhere and does not want to be damaged by a failure, something which would greatly hurt Ireland

Ray Bassett

Mr Bassett suggested a perceived lack of progress in the negotiations between the UK, led by David Frost, and the EU, led by Michel Barnier, aimed at thrashing out a free trade agreement, which resumed today, might also be a factor.

He added: “It may also indicate that Hogan believes that the trade talks with the UK are going nowhere and does not want to be damaged by a failure, something which would greatly hurt Ireland.”

Additionally, the reports were scarcely a ringing endorsement of Mrs von der Leyen, who appointed Mr Hogan when she came into the job on December 1.

DON’T MISS
Brexit fury: Boris and Varadkar set to clash over UK-Ireland customs [LATEST]
Varadkar humiliation: How Irish PM sparked Twitter outrage [UPDATE]
Varadkar shamed: Plot to keep lame-duck PM in power condemned [LATEST]

Mr Bassett said: “The new EU Commission has had a very poor start under Ursula von der Leyen.

“Possibly Hogan is unhappy with how it is operating.”

The speculation about his EU future was “not exactly a vote of confidence in his boss and her team”, Mr Bassett said.

Additionally, he suggested there may be domestic considerations at work – specifically, an acknowledgement current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was likely to remain in post, in the short term at least.

Mr Bassett explained: “While based in Brussels, Hogan has stayed very close to his home base in Ireland.

“Given his frequent trips back home and his media activities, there was speculation that he might want to return to Ireland, possibly as a successor to Leo Varadkar as leader of the Fine Gael Party.

“This may indicate that he has judged that Varadkar is going nowhere for the present.

“Hogan was always a very shrewd political operator.

“I imagine he has sounded out the support he would be likely to receive and decided that he would not have the numbers necessary to mount a leadership challenge, should Leo decide to resign.”

Mr Hogan himself paid tribute to Mr Azevedo after news of his decision to step down broke last month.

In a statement issued via the European Commission on May 14, he said: “Of course, the WTO is now encountering major challenges and we hear louder voices demanding reform and greater effectiveness.

“Today’s announcement by Roberto, and I agree with him, offers a good moment for us to select a new Director-General to embrace and respond to the many challenges for the organisation.

“It is essential that we quickly chart a new path ahead at this critical and uncertain time for trade.”

He added: “The trade challenges arising from the impact of COVID-19 require immediate planning for the future.

“The WTO’s role is to respond collectively to this pandemic so that we can achieve better coordination and eliminate unnecessary and associated trade barriers. Many important policy areas require immediate attention.

“A new Director-General will help the membership to play an integral part in shaping the future. We cannot waste a moment.”

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus: Marvel comics artist creates ‘superhero’ masks for children flying with easyJet

A Marvel comics artist has designed “superhero” face mask covers for children flying with easyJet.

The move aims to help youngsters feel more relaxed on journeys after the airline resumes flights later this month with strict safety protocols in place for passengers and crew to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The face mask covers have been created by Irish illustrator Will Sliney, who has worked on Spider-Man and Star Wars comics.

They feature lion and pilot designs, and are to be worn over the top of a young traveller’s own face mask.

EasyJet said it would make thousands of the items available on selected routes when it restarts its operations.

The no-frills carrier announced last month that wearing face masks on aircraft would be mandatory for all customers, cabin and ground crew.

Other measures include no onboard food service, enhanced deep-cleaning of aircraft and the provision of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser.

Captain David Morgan, easyJet’s director of flight operations, said: “We have teamed up with a comic illustrator to create some bespoke children’s face mask covers as we know the airport environment could feel different and possibly daunting for younger travellers when flying initially resumes.”

Sliney added: “Flying with face masks is going to be a new experience for everyone, especially young children, so I hope these fun designs, inspired by comic book characters, help to encourage kids to wear their masks onboard.

“I have used a combination of a lion animal character and a futuristic pilot to create a set of mask covers to bring out the inner superhero in all young flyers.”

Source: Read Full Article

Iran fury: US sanctions could be broken AGAIN as Iran delivers more fuel to Venezuela

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

It comes after five Iranian tankers stocked with fuel were sent to Venezuela in order to temporarily ease the South American nation’s fuel shortage. There had been concerns of a confrontation between Iran and the US if the US moved to interrupt the shipment.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in mid-May that there would be “consequences” if the US interrupted the shipment, according to Al Jazeera.

However, Iranian state media said that the fifth and final tanker arrived into Venezuelan waters yesterday, according to Bloomberg.

The Wall Street Journal reported in the middle of last month that the Trump administration was weighing up “legal steps” in response to the shipment, including potential new sanctions.

However, Abbas Mousavi, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, told Iranian state TV on Monday this week that “Iran practices its free trade rights with Venezuela, and we are ready to send more ships if Caracas demands more supplies from Iran,” Al Jazeera reports.

And Ali Rabiei, government spokesman for Iran, said that the country’s fuel delivery to Venezuela was “not a political signal but a normal measure” based on free international trade, according to Bloomberg.

A further shipment of oil between the two nations would be likely to further worsen relations between them and the US.

The completed shipment is said to have contained around 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and other chemical components.

Caracas is the capital city of Venezuela, while Tehran is Iran’s capital.

US sanctions are in place on Venezuela which prevent it from importing certain types of fuel from abroad, Voice of America reports.

This is a big issue for Venezuela; despite the country sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world, it is currently in the midst of a fuel crisis.

However, the country is struggling to domestically produce the fuel that it needs. Critics say that this is because of government mismanagement.

But the government – headed by controversial president Nicolás Maduro – claims that US sanctions are to blame.

The BBC reports that the US sanctions occurred at a time when the country was already struggling.

Footage shows cars forming huge queues at petrol stations, while some resort to buying fuel privately on the street.

According to Voice of America, Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro said in a recent speech that “Venezuela has the right to buy in the world whatever it wants to buy.”

Further confusing matters is the fact that Washington, as well as many western countries including the UK, back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

They consider Guaido to be the legitimate leader of Venezuela after he challenged Maduro’s presidency and declared himself interim president in January 2019.

Iran is also under US sanctions, following the Trump administration’s controversial pull-out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

The deal had previously seen an easing of sanctions from the US as well as the EU and UN as long as Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities.

Source: Read Full Article

World War 3: Australia ‘carefully’ watching for US-China trade diversions

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Australia and China have been at loggerheads due to Australia’s strict shutdown over COVID-19. Recently, China has hit Australia with higher tariffs on barley as a result of Australia’s strong calls for an inquiry into China’s handling of the pandemic.

The Australian capital Canberra is looking “carefully and closely” at US-China trade flows, with the inference that the phase one trade deal is causing “managed trade” that may breach World Trade Organisation protocols and damage Australia’s exports.

The phase one deal between the two global superpowers includes China agreeing to increase purchases of American products and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years, among other additional purchases.

In response the US will cut by half the tariff rate it imposed on September 1 on a $120 billion list of Chinese goods, to 7.5 percent, along with other restriction lifts.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham told the South China Morning Post in a statement on Monday that while “the full nature or implications of this arrangement may not be clear for some time”, Australia is on the lookout for trade diversion that could hit its own exports to China.

But Chinese government officials have told major state-run agricultural companies to pause purchases of some American farm goods including soybeans and pork as Beijing evaluates the ongoing escalation of tensions with the US over Hong Kong.

Despite this, Chinese state-owned firms bought at least two more cargoes of US soybeans on Monday despite the reports that they would stop doing so.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump ordered his administration to begin the process of removing Hong Kong’s current US trade privileges in response to China decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong.

He stopped short of calling for sanctions that would affect the financial industry or the phase one trade deal.

Canberra has become embroiled in it’s own trade dispute with Beijing, resulting in an 80.5 percent anti-dumping tariff on Australian barley and the suspension of beef exports from four Australian abattoirs.

Meanwhile, China has stepped up purchases of previously banned American beef and barley, as it looks to meet lofty import targets imposed by US President Donald Trump.

Mr Birmingham said: “Of course, if we believe the deal enters into some sort of managed trade realm that appears to be in breach of World Trade Organisation [WTO] obligations, we’ll certainly look carefully and closely,”

However he remained confident that the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, as well as a different export portfolio to the US might shield Australia from a loss in trade.

This is despite the fact that China has opened the door to American barley and beef imports in recent weeks.

DON’T MISS: 
China increases defence spending by £146bn fearing threats [REVEAL]  
US aircraft carrier returns to sea as Beijing’s ‘harassment’ continues [REVEAL]
World War 3 fears: Australia alarmed over Beijing’s agression [REVEAL]

Birmingham said of the deal with China: “We expect pork, poultry and soybeans to command much of the commodities that will be exported from the US to China, rather than some of our key exports such as beef and wine where we will continue to maintain tariff differential advantages,”

“Australia has had a major advantage in the Chinese market for many years given our high-quality free trade agreement.

“This has meant our goods have landed in China with lower tariffs and have given us a competitive advantage.

“We were never going to have this advantage forever, but as long as the US-China deal is applied in ways that allow fair competition to flow, we should back the quality of our exporters to compete against any other nation.”

In the US, experts said Washington would likely avoid any public perception that US farmers were benefiting at Australia’s expense, given shared wariness of China’s military, political and human rights policies.

Philip Shull, a trade consultant who led the US Department of Agriculture’s Beijing operation under the Obama administration, said that close ties between Australia and the US at a fraught geopolitical time may also mean that Canberra is unlikely to accuse Washington of “selling out an ally”, at least in public, due to China’s growing purchases of American beef and barley.

He said: “I am not aware that the US ever criticised Australia or Argentina for increasing their sales to China during its long and technically unjustified ban on US beef.

“Our trading partners all understand that China, at some point or other, can be expected to rubbish everyone.”

Source: Read Full Article