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The ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing is weighing on Chinese toy exporters.

Even though their products have yet to take a direct tariff hit, exhibitors at the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair said the tariff battle and heightened tensions are still impacting their business.

They cited uncertainty, the impact of tariffs already placed on some electronics that go into increasingly sophisticated toys and supply chain headaches as U.S. and Chinese negotiators work to forge a deal before a mutually-agreed-upon reprieve on new levies ends in March.

The two countries are racing to reach an agreement and avert U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to increase the amount of existing tariffs and even expand them to virtually all of China’s exports.

China dominates global toy manufacturing and some companies are Hong Kong-owned, a remnant of the days in decades past when the city was a thriving toy making center, though now most manufacture is on the mainland.

Johnny Sze, director and vice general manager at Hong Kong-based educational toy producer Eastcolight, said that buyers from the United States are increasingly eager to lock in orders ahead of time in case toys end up on the tariff list.

“This year we noticed that we actually have a lot more U.S. customers coming here, which is quite unexpected,” Sze said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” referring to the fair, which was slated to end Thursday.

Some at the event, which brought together more than 2,100 exhibitors from 42 countries and regions and is sponsored by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said the clash between the world’s two largest economies has clearly hurt industry sentiment.

According to Joe Yao, whose China-based Shantou Subotech Toys employs 500 people and makes precision remote control vehicles, business has declined as the trading companies that buy his wares for export worry about possible future tariffs.

“Hell” is how Yao described the situation Wednesday at his booth at the fair, citing the unease and declining sales as problems. The U.S. market, he said, has been his biggest.

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AG reportedly won’t share Russia report findings with Congress on Saturday

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr departs his home March 23, 2019 in McLean, Virginia.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General William Barr departs his home March 23, 2019 in McLean, Virginia.

Attorney General William Barr will not be sending a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report to members of Congress on Saturday, a senior Justice Department official told NBC News.

Barr had suggested in a letter to the leaders of House and Senate Judiciary committees that he might share the conclusions from Mueller’s final report as soon as this weekend.

NBC reported that Barr was reviewing the document on Saturday at the Department of Justice. The special counsel had delivered the report to Barr on Friday.

Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation of Russian election meddling and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, are working closely together, the official told NBC.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing related to Mueller’s probe, which he has long attacked as a “witch hunt.” The president, at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this weekend, has kept quiet about the probe since the report was delivered.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet Friday that the White House had not yet been briefed on the report, but said “we look forward to the process taking its course.”



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Passengers airlifted from Viking Sky cruise ship in storm off Norway

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OSLO, March 23 (Reuters) – Rescue helicopters evacuated dozens of people from a luxury cruise ship that suffered engine failure on Saturday in stormy weather off the west coast of Norway, police and rescue workers said.

The maritime rescue service said the Viking Sky, with about 1,300 passengers and crew on board, had sent out a mayday signal as it had been drifting towards land.

The crew were later able to restart one engine and the ship was at anchor about 2 km from land and the passengers were considered safe although the evacuation was set to continue, the rescue service said.

Only 87 people had been evacuated by 1750 GMT, and the airlift was set to continue throughout the night, rescue service spokeswoman Borghild Eldoen said. Eight of those evacuated had suffered light injuries.

Passengers were hoisted one-by-one from the deck of the vessel and airlifted to a village just north of the town of Molde on Norway’s west coast.

Cruise passengers described the moment when the ship’s engines stopped, and the evacuation that followed.

“We were having lunch when it began to shake. Window panes were broken and water came in. It was just chaos. The trip on the helicopter, I would rather forget. It was not fun,” American passenger John Curry told public broadcaster NRK.

A second vessel, a freighter with a crew of nine, was also being evacuated nearby after suffering engine failure, diverting helicopters and thus delaying the cruise ship airlift, the rescue center added.

Two purpose-built vessels operated by the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue had been forced to turn back due to the severe weather, the service said.

Waves were 6-8 meters high, with wind blowing at 24 meters per second, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The storm was expected to last at least until midnight local time (2300 GMT).

The stretch of water known as Hustadvika and surrounding areas are known for fierce weather and shallow waters dotted with reefs, and Norway is evaluating whether to build a giant ocean tunnel through a nearby mountain to improve safety.

The Viking Sky, built in 2017, belongs to Viking Ocean Cruises, part of the Viking Cruises group founded by Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen. According to the company’s website, its passenger capacity is 930.

Several vessels and four helicopters took part in the rescue and facilities to receive passengers have been set up on land, the rescue service said.

All search-and-rescue teams in the region are mobilizing, including 60 volunteers from the Norwegian Red Cross, a spokesman said.

Viking’s operational headquarters, located in Basel, Switzerland, did not respond when contacted by telephone.

—Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen; editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Cawthorne

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Trump sends top officials to Beijing to continue China trade talks

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US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Feb. 15, 2019

Mark Schiefelbein | AFP | Getty Images

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Feb. 15, 2019

President Donald Trump is sending U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing, China, on Thursday to continue U.S. trade talks with China, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday.

On Feb. 22 Chinese President Xi Jinping had delivered an optimistic message to Trump, calling on the U.S. and China to redouble their efforts to meet halfway on a trade deal that had been the subject of high-level bilateral meetings in Washington that week.

Lighthizer, who had attended the Oval Office meetings, said negotiations had made some progress but noted that “a few very big hurdles” remained.

The U.S. negotiators will be accompanied by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and other senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of the Treasury.

According to Sanders, the United States looks forward to welcoming a delegation from China, led by Vice Premier Liu He, for meetings in Washington starting on April 3.

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