FM Announces Reforms, US-China Trade War Escalates, Amazon Accused of Listing Thousands of Unsafe/Banned Products

Nirmala Sitharaman’s measures to boost slowing economy. Markets expected to react positively on Monday. 5G pricing “very reasonable”, says TRAI. Telecos anxiously await verdict of 14-year-long legal battle with Govt. Amazon lists thousands of banned, unsafe and mislabeled products. Google asks employees to keep their politics out of the workplace. US and China impose more tariffs on each other in day of escalation. Trump “orders” American companies to shift base from China and look for alternatives. Japan-South Korea tensions continue to spiral. G7 prepares for annual summit in France.

 

 ECONOMY 

Nirmala Sitharaman’s measures to boost slowing economy. Markets expected to react positively on Monday. Amazon lists thousands of banned, unsafe and mislabeled products. Google asks employees to keep their politics out of the workplace.

 

ICYMI: On Friday evening, Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference where she announced a slew of measures in a bid to boost the slowing economy. The Finance Minister sought to boost business sentiment, encourage buying and address liquidity concerns with these announcements, some of which were backtracks of Budget commitments that did nothing to delight businesses.

 

The main announcements: surcharge on FPIs withdrawn, CSR violations no longer criminal offenses, more liquidity through capital infusion, fast-tracking pending GST dues, one-time settlement policy for MSMEs. The Minister also promised more reforms in the coming weeks. More here.

 

Will It Be Enough?: Markets are expected to react positively to the reform package on Monday. But will it be sufficient to reverse post-Budget stock market losses? Only time will tell.

 

 TELECOM 

5G pricing “very reasonable”, says TRAI. Telecos anxiously await verdict of 14-year-long legal battle with Govt.

 

No Biggie: The base price for 5G airwaves is “very reasonable”, TRAI Secretary Sunil Kumar Gupta told ETT.

 

TRAI had recommended the spectrum price to be Rs 492 crore per Megahertz (Mhz). Telecom operators have long criticised the regulator for charging steep prices, labeling its 5G pricing as “unacceptable”. Gupta brushed off these apprehensions, arguing that India’s 5G prices are “much below [those in] many other countries”.

 

The End Has Come: Speaking of dissatisfaction between private telecom operators and the government, the verdict of a 14-year-long legal battle between telecom operators and the government is expected soon.

 

The case deals with the definition of “adjusted gross revenue”. The DoT says this should include revenue from non-core telecom operations but operators contend it should only comprise revenue from pure telecom services. If they lose the case, private operators including Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Jio will have to cough up crores in interests and penalties.

 

 TECH 

Amazon lists thousands of banned, unsafe and mislabeled products. Google asks employees to keep their politics out of the workplace.

 

Your Order, Which Is Banned By Federal Agencies, Will Be Delivered By Tomorrow: You might expect Amazon to be a hot-shot very-posh big-town super-market that adheres to common-sense regulations and rules. But it seems the e-commerce giant has evolved to be akin to a flea market.

 

A Wall Street Journal investigation found 4,152 items for sale on Amazon.com that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies. These items include school products with limit-breaching lead levels and sleeping mats that regulators warn can suffocate infants. Many of them are sold from Amazon warehouses and listed as “Amazon’s Choice”.

 

Criminal Negligence: It’s not unreasonable that this sort of lacklustre oversight of third-parties by Amazon has been compared to the carelessness of other big tech companies in dealing with third-parties on their own platforms. Fake news on Facebook and Twitter has real world consequences. As do shady listings on Amazon. In 2014, young Albert Stokes lost his life after the helmet he bought on Amazon came off during an accident. The helmet had been recalled by regulators but was still listed on Amazon – that too as regulation-compliant, that too till as late as last month.

 

Don’t Google Politics: Google has banned politics. Well, specifically, only political discussions, and only by employees during work hours. In a memo, besides barring trolling, name-calling and ad hominem, Google also asked employees to refrain from “disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story”.

 

 TRADE WAR 

US and China impose more tariffs on each other in day of escalation. Trump “orders” American companies to shift base from China and look for alternatives.

 

Retaliation Day: If you’re someone with investments in China or the US, this weekend’s going to be an onerous ordeal for you. On Friday, both sides of the trade war escalated tensions. China announced a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75bn of US goods. Only a few hours later, Washington responded. Trump tweeted that existing American tariffs on China would be increased.

 

Stock markets dived as trade tensions escalated. The Dow dropped 1.9% while S&P500 and Nasdaq lost 2% each.

 

The Tides of War: The US President also “ordered” American companies to “start looking for an alternative to China” and bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. Ironically, this statement is similar to a tactic used by Beijing, which had earlier ordered its companies to stop buying American agricultural goods. Anyway, for all purposes the US-China trade war is now full-blown.

 

 WORLD 

Japan-South Korea tensions continue to spiral. G7 prepares for annual summit in France.

 

There’s A Fire In My Seoul: Coming to another trade war, one that’s spiraling in the West Pacific, South Korea has announced it will no longer adhere to intelligence sharing agreements with Japan.

 

Tokyo Drift: This comes after many days of tensions between the powerful East Asian economies. A WW2-era feud regarding reparations owed burst its way to the headlines after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japan to compensate wartime victims. Tokyo shrugged off the verdict and tightened crucial exports to South Korea – exports vital to the latter’s chipmaking industry. South Korea responded with its own tariffs, including encouraging its citizens to boycott Japanese goods.

 

The two countries were uneasy allies at the best of times. Now, tensions have breached the surface and they threaten global tech supply chains, not to mention the impact another trade war could inflict on an already slowing world economy.

 

Coalition of the Unwiling: The fires burning down the Amazon rainforest, climate action, slowing global growth and geopolitical tensions will feature highly as the G7 congregates in Biarritz, France for its 45th annual summit.

 

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