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Venezuelan army soldiers carrying RPG anti-tank rockets participate in a military parade to celebrate Venezuela’s 206th anniversary of its Independence in Caracas on July 5, 2017.

AFP Contributor | AFP | Getty Images

Daily pressure should be exerted on Venezuela’s military to defect from the President Nicolas Maduro regime rather than international military intervention, Colombia’s president told CNBC Tuesday.

“For the weeks to come, and for the months to come, I actually believe that the best thing we can do in the international community is to put enough pressure, and make the big call to the Venezuelan military, that they should step on the right side of history and that means stepping side-to-side with President (Juan) Guaido and the (National) Assembly,” President Ivan Duque told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche in London on Tuesday.

“I think that’s far more important than any military action that can come from abroad,” Duque said.

A “daily call’ had to be made to the Venezuela military to persuade them to defect from supporting Maduro, Duque suggested. Maduro is still in power despite an attempt to oust the controversial leader by opposition lawmaker Guaido earlier this year.

Political turmoil in neighboring Venezuela has dominated Colombia’s foreign policy concerns this year. Duque was one of the first leaders in the international community to recognize Guaido as acting president after the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared himself interim leader in January.

Political stalemate appears to have set in for Venezuela, however, with Maduro hanging onto power and still backed by the military and allies including Russia. The U.S. said it has not ruled out military action in Venezuela but there appears to be little appetite to initiate a potentially protracted intervention there.

“What we have said is that we have to combine all instruments to achieve the most important objective which is Maduro stepping out of power, so that’s why I have been a promoter of the diplomatic blockade,” Duque said.

Migration crisis

In the meantime, Colombia is under pressure from the sheer amount of Venezuelans fleeing the country. According to the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency) and IOM (the International Organization for Migration), the number of refugees and migrants fleeing Venezuela has rocketed to 4 million people by mid-2019 with many seeking asylum in neighboring countries.

Colombia is now hosting 1.3 million Venezuelans, the UNHCR said in a report earlier in June, and almost the same amount of people are being hosted by Peru, Chile and Ecuador put together. Colombia’s president said his country and its economy can cope with the arrivals.

“When we look at the way we have treated the worst migration crisis we have seen in Latin America’s recent history, our policy is based on fraternity, and what we’ve done is to have an orderly management of that migration flow,” he said.

“Because people that are coming from Venezuela are coming with diseases, they’re coming with broken bones, they’re dying of hunger and we have tried to accommodate our policies to attend those people. We have also tried to allow them to participate in the labor force in Colombia in an orderly way.”

“The reason we have done this is that we know that those people are searching for opportunities and in Colombia, the policies we have adopted is to prevent that they can crowd out Colombian jobs,” he said. “The way we have done this is that nobody can hire a Venezuelan worker below the standards we have in Colombia.”

People queue to cross the Simon Bolivar international bridge from San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela to Cucuta, in Colombia, to buy goods due to supplies shortage in their country, on June 8, 2019.

SCHNEYDER MENDOZA | AFP | Getty Images

Fitch ratings agency has warned that migratory flows from Venezuela could pressure public finances in Colombia and attempts to reduce the country’s budget deficit, but Duque denied that, saying that during his 10 months in office, his administration has “begun a sound fiscal policy that is aimed at reducing the fiscal deficit.”

“Actually, by the end of this year, we are going to achieve a primary surplus for the first time in eight years. We’re going to be something close to 2.4% of GDP in (terms of the budget) deficit which is one of the lowest (levels) in the last five years so I think it’s important to put it in context,” he said.

Duque became president of Colombia in August 2018 after standing as a candidate for the Democratic Center, a right-leaning conservative party. Elected at the age of 42, he is one of the country’s youngest presidents in modern history.

Duque has been accused of having little political experience as he studied law and spent 12 years of his career working at the Inter-America Development Bank among other advisory roles. He became a senator in 2014, however, and was in that role before running for president. He is widely seen as the protege of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe who founded the Democratic Center party.

On his election, Duque called for unity and promised to fight corruption and cocaine production. He also pledged to modify and toughen up the terms of a fragile and controversial 2016 peace deal overseen by former president Juan Manuel Santos with the left-wing guerrilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

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Forbes 100 most powerful women of 2019

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named the world’s most powerful woman for the ninth year running in a wide-ranging list intended to celebrate the 100 most influential females of this year.

Forbes’ 2019 edition of its World’s Most Powerful Women, released Thursday, marked a return for the German leader, who has made 14 appearances in the list’s 16-year history.

Merkel was joined in the top spots by fellow prominent female political leaders.

Christine Lagarde moved up one place this year to second position after taking over a president of the European Central Bank. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative, Nancy Pelosi, took third place and Ursula Von Der Leyen, president of the European Commission, fourth. The top five was rounded out by General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde speaks during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on November 7, 2018.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

This year’s top 100 females list featured women from six categories — business (31), technology (17), finance (12), media & entertainment (14), politics & policy (22) and philanthropy (4). Together, they control or influence more than $2.3 trillion in revenue and oversee nearly 6.5 million employees.

To determine the women’s rank within each category, as well as overall, Forbes applied four metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence. The publisher defined power as hard power (currencies and constitutions), dynamic power (audiences, communities and creative influence) and soft power (what leaders do with their influence).

Our 2019 listees remind us of the huge strides that have been made by women, and the great opportunity they have to define the decade ahead.

Moira Forbes

Executive vice president, Forbes

Forbes’ executive vice president and president of ForbesWomen, Moira Forbes, said the list highlights the impressive strides women have made to upend traditional gender stereotypes over the past decade.

“This year’s list of World’s Most Powerful Women is a collection of innovators and instigators who are leading on the world stage to redefine traditional power structures and forge lasting impact in every industry and sphere of influence,” she said.

“As we come to the close of the current decade, our 2019 listees remind us of the huge strides that have been made by women, and the great opportunity they have to define the decade ahead,” Forbes added.

Youth activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations on September 23, 2019 in New York City. While the United States will not be participating, China and about 70 other countries are expected to make announcements concerning climate change.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

The 2019 list spans seven generations and 32 countries and territories.

Environmental activist and Time’s 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg, who ranked in 100th place, became the youngest person in the list’s history at the age of 16. She was ranked in 100th place. Queen Elizabeth (40th) was among the eldest.

Other list debuts were made by Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF (15th); Jessica Tan, co-CEO, CIO and COO of Ping An Group (22nd); Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s finance minister (34th); and singer/songwriter and entrepreneur Rihanna (61).

Overall, North America accounted for the greatest number of honorees at 50. It was followed by Asia Pacific (21), Europe (23), the Middle East (3), Latin America (2), and Africa (1).

Don’t miss: These are the best places in the world to be a woman entrepreneur

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UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he will not lead the party in future elections

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Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech at the County Hotel on June 4, 2017 in Carlisle, England. C

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn announced he will not be leading the U.K.’s opposition Labour party in future elections, following what he called a “disappointing night.”

An exit poll by Ipsos Mori — commissioned by Sky News, the BBC and ITV — released shortly after the polls closed, projected that the Conservatives would win 368 seats in Parliament, a gain of 50 seats from the 2017 election. The U.K. pound quickly jumped more than 2% on the news.

Speaking on ITV on Friday, Corbyn said Labour will go through a reflection process and that he will lead the party during this period. However, he confirmed that he will not be leading the opposition party in any future election.

“This is obviously a very disappointing night for the Labour Party with the result that we’ve got,” Corbyn said. 

The veteran left-winger was a surprise pick for his party back in 2015 and had spent 32 years on the backbenches of the House of Commons. However, he rose in popularity with the general public and stopped former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party from gaining an outright majority in the 2017 election.

But he has been accused of pushing his party too far to the left. The party’s image has also been hit by claims of anti-Semitism, something that is being investigated by Britain’s human rights watchdog after a surge in complaints since Corbyn took office.

On Brexit, Corbyn was criticized for not fully backing the remain campaign during the 2016 referendum. More recently, the party had pledged to renegotiate a Brexit deal with the EU and to then put this to a public vote. But this proved to be fodder for attacks from the rival Conservative Party. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party claimed that Labour would “dither and delay for months and months” and then force the country though more referendums.

Sterling traded 2.4% higher against the dollar, at $1.3471, driven by exit poll results that predicted a Conservative win. 

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Japan manufacturers’ business mood gloomiest in nearly 7 years

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Mount Fuji and buildings in the Shinjuku district are reflected on a table at an observation deck in Tokyo, Japan, on December 24, 2013.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Japanese big manufacturers’ business mood sank to a near seven year low in the fourth quarter, a closely watched central bank survey showed, as the U.S.-China trade war and soft global demand weighed on the export-reliant economy.

Companies expect conditions to remain unchanged or even worsen three months ahead, the Bank of Japan‘s “tankan” quarterly survey showed, suggesting that the fallout from the trade conflict could hurt broader sectors of the economy.

But there were some bright signs. Non-manufacturers’ sentiment appeared to weather the hit from October’s sales tax hike with companies maintaining robust capital expenditure plans, reinforcing market expectations the BOJ will hold off on expanding stimulus at next week’s rate review.

“The tankan suggests that the economy is slowing rather than collapsing so the BOJ is unlikely to cut interest rates at next week’s meeting,” said Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at Capital Economics.

The headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment stood at 0 in December, down from plus 5 in September and worse than a median market forecast of plus 2, the tankan showed on Friday.

It marked the fourth straight quarter of decline and hit the lowest reading since March 2013, a month before BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda deployed his “bazooka” monetary stimulus to pull Japan out of deflation.

Underscoring the pain from the trade war, an index gauging big automakers’ sentiment turned negative for the first time in more than three years.

Some steel and cement makers also saw demand ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games peak, a BOJ official told reporters.

“The weakness in automakers’ sentiment is noteworthy. The global economy is taking longer to recover and that uncertainty is affecting Japanese companies,” said Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research Institute.

A sales tax hike that rolled out in October weighed on Japan’s service sector, with the index for big non-manufacturers sliding to plus 20 from plus 21 in September. But the reading exceeded a Refinitiv estimate of plus 17.

“Domestic demand wasn’t hurt much by the sales tax hike so far. Public works projects to be earmarked under the government’s spending package will underpin growth,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities.

Big firms plan to increase capital expenditure by 6.8% in the current business year ending in March 2020, up slightly from their plan made three months ago, the survey showed. It compared with a median market forecast of a 6.0% gain.

The reading backs the BOJ’s view that robust corporate spending plans will keep domestic demand firm and help the economy weather heightening overseas risks, analysts say.

“Domestic demand may slow temporarily … though in the long-term, it will stay resilient,” BOJ Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya said on Thursday, adding that now was the time to stand pat and carefully watch upcoming data.

Capital expenditure has been among the few bright spots in Japan’s economy as companies continue to invest in high-tech and labor-saving technology to cope with a labor crunch.

Japan’s economy expanded at a much faster pace than initially reported in the third quarter, as solid domestic demand and business spending offset the pain from weak exports and output.

But many analysts anticipate a slowdown this quarter as the October sales tax hike weighs on consumption.

The tankan’s sentiment indexes are derived by subtracting the number of respondents who say conditions are poor from those who say they are good. A positive reading means optimists outnumber pessimists.

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