U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., during an American Workforce Policy Advisory board meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he plans to have dinner with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“Having dinner tonight with Tim Cook of Apple. They will be spending vast sums of money in the U.S. Great!” he tweeted on Friday.
It’s not the first time that Cook and Trump have dined together. The two moguls have met several times, and last August Cook had dinner with Trump in Bedminster, New Jersey, at Trump’s golf club.
Trump was in in Bedminster, New Jersey, this week, according to media reports.
The second part of Trump’s tweet is referring to a press release Apple put out on Thursday in which it described the money it spent on U.S.-based suppliers and vendors.
In the release, Apple said it employs 90,000 people in the United States, and spent $60 billion on U.S. suppliers.
Apple opposes tariffs on imports from China, one of Trump’s primary issues. It assembles many of its products in China. Earlier this week, the Trump administration granted a temporary reprieve on some products imported from China that were due for a 10% tariffs, including iPhones and MacBook laptops.
Bank of America estimated that if 10% tariffs were to be placed on the iPhone and other major Apple goods that Apple could face a drop of 50 to 75 cents per share per year.
Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
USTR weighing 100% tariffs on new EU products including whiskies
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer gestures as he speaks during a meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Mexico City, Mexico December 10, 2019.
Henry Romero | Reuters
The U.S. is weighing tariffs of up to 100% on European products the Trump administration previously absolved from such duties, targeting some of the euro zone’s most emblematic products, including Irish and Scotch whiskies and Cognac.
The U.S. Office of the United States Trade Representative on Thursday published a list of additional European goods it is now considering for the tariffs amid the fallout of its high-profile dispute with Airbus.
The USTR earlier this year published multiple lists of European goods worth more $10 billion that it had hoped to target in response to its beef with Airbus. In October, Washington moved ahead and imposed tariffs of 10% on large civil aircraft and 25% on agricultural goods bound from Europe.
Now the USTR is appearing to solicit advice on whether to hike rates on those goods up to 100% as well as add to its earlier list with some goods that the White House had excluded from its final October list. The new items, if added, could also be taxed at a rate up to 100%.
The items newly being considered for tariffs up to 100% range from Spanish olive oil and French cheese to German knives and Portuguese fish fillets. Among the myriad new products under consideration include European spirits like whiskey and Cognac.
The potential list “once again includes blended whiskies and Cognac … The fact that they had been excluded from the ‘final’ October list was a dodged bullet for Spirits companies back then. But now the threat is back,” wrote Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling in a note to the brokerage’s clients.
“This is a full reshuffle – we are potentially seeing a rolling tariff, which we highlighted as a possibility two months ago,” Stirling added.
The U.S. has long argued that subsidies to Airbus hurt American aircraft giant Boeing and that the EU’s efforts to comply with prior WTO rulings against the subsidies aren’t enough to even the playing field.
But the complaint also represents a chapter in the White House’s broader campaign to reduce trade deficits. Starting with broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, the administration has sought to broker new, more advantageous trade pacts through the use of taxes and quotas.
Asked for comment on the new items, the USTR’s office referred CNBC to a prior statement.
“As a result of the EU’s failure to address these subsidies, on October 18, the United States imposed tariffs of 10 percent on large civil aircraft and 25 percent on agricultural and other products” from the EU, the USTR wrote on Dec. 2.
Due to the EU’s failure to curb the subsidies, “the United States is initiating a process to assess increasing the tariff rates and subjecting additional EU products to the tariffs,” it added at the time.
Though Trump has seen some success with his protectionist tactics — notably in a new NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico — they’ve also angered economic partners around the globe.
In a separate matter, the U.S. government said last week that it might slap tariffs of up to 100% on $2.4 billion in imports from France after concluding that France’s new digital services tax would harm U.S. tech companies.
The administration’s ongoing negotiations with China are most emblematic of the president’s bargaining style with both Beijing and Washington angling for self-serving deals that don’t appear too lopsided in either direction.
The two sides reached a breakthrough in “phase one” discussions on Friday with the U.S. agreeing to cancel Sunday’s new round of tariffs and rolling back some other duties in exchange for Beijing’s purchases of American agricultural goods.
The deadline for public comments on the USTR’s new tariffs is Jan 13.
West Africa’s first large-scale wind farm starts generating power
A project described as West Africa’s “first ever utility-scale wind farm”, has started transmitting power to Senegal’s national electricity grid.
In an announcement Thursday, renewable power firm Lekela said that Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye (PETN) would produce electricity for Senegal across a period of 20 years.
While the 158.7 megawatt (MW) facility has started to export power, construction work is still ongoing and due to finish next year. Once it is fully built, PETN will use 46 wind turbines supplied by Danish firm Vestas.
Africa has huge untapped potential when it comes to renewable energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) it is home to the “richest solar resources in the world” but has installed just 5 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics. This is less than 1% of the planet’s total, the IEA says.
In July 2019, Africa’s largest wind farm, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, was officially inaugurated. The 310 MW facility was opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.
“We are pleased to note that Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy,” Kenyatta said in a speech given at the launch.
“This will not only ensure that our nation’s scenic beauty and unique ecosystems are preserved and protected for both present and future generations, but will also ensure that we become energy independent and that our energy supply will be safe as well as predictable,” he added.
The project is made up of 365 turbines, each having a capacity of 850 kilowatts. It is located 600 kilometers from Nairobi in the Loiyangalani District, Marsabit County.
Construction of the facility started in October 2014 and it began full commercial operations in March 2019.
Three words that got Boris Johnson the UK election victory he craved
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to supporters at the Copper Box Arena on December 11, 2019 in London, United Kingdom.
Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images
“Get Brexit Done.”
Three simple words that resonated with millions of people and propelled Boris Johnson into 10 Downing Street as a U.K. prime minister with a fresh term and a comfortable majority.
The brutal simple message was endlessly repeated by the Conservative Party to a frustrated public — tired of the endless arguing over the result of the 2016 EU referendum.
The Conservatives have 365 MPs (Members of Parliament) and an 80-seat majority over all the other parties combined when the new U.K. Parliament resumes. Labour, meanwhile, will occupy just 203 seats in the 650-strong Parliament, its worst return since 1935.
A Brexit election
The Conservative Party’s ruthless message was aligned to a strategy that sought votes from the millions of leave voters in the 2016 referendum. That meant reaching beyond the Tory heartland of southern England and looking to smash the Labour strongholds of Wales and England’s midlands and north.
If the Tories were clear and simplistic, then Labour’s message got lost in the fog. The opposition party had some initial success by refusing to commit to whether it supported Brexit or not, but ultimately voters tired of the indecision.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn eventually said he would negotiate a new deal and hold a second referendum, but then refused to declare who he would campaign for.
Voters interpreted that as a weak and confusing stance and on Thursday, Labour’s so-called “red wall” — a stronghold of seats across the country it has typically controlled — crumbled.
U.K. politics professor at the University of Essex, Paul Whiteley, told CNBC Friday that while Johnson isn’t popular by historical standards, he was still a lot more admired than Corbyn.
Whiteley said by phone that Labour’s Brexit position had offered a “terrible narrative in the context of a weary electorate.”
Cost of Corbyn
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was emblematic of Labour’s apparent muddle.
Many viewed him as too left wing — a Marxist who would ruin the U.K. economy with plans to nationalize key industries. Others felt his political history showed improper sympathies with anti-Israeli groups as well as pro-IRA supporters in Ireland. That led to concerns over weakness on national security.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attends the launch of the party’s election manifesto at Birmingham City University on November 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Corbyn attempted to shift the U.K. election campaign away from the constitutional question of Brexit onto domestic matters such as the National Health Service and education.
But its manifesto, which included proposals to provide free internet and up spending on health care and education, was decried as too expensive by opponents. Again, Labour and Corbyn had failed to convince.
Labour has now not won an election since 2005, and only one of its leaders, Tony Blair, has won an election in more than 40 years.
Corbyn has announced he will now step down and the battle for control of Labour’s leadership and party direction will begin again.
A right-wing country?
Prior to the election, a right-of-center think tank claimed that for the Conservatives to win a majority they would need to target “Workington Man.”
This fictional stereotype voted for Brexit, was older, white and northern. It was decried as a rude stereotype but ultimately a total of 27 Labour-held seats in constituencies in the north of England fell to the Tories — including the real town of Workington.
According to data published by the polling company YouGov in August, 28% of Britons describe themselves as left-wing while 25% consider themselves right-wing. A further 19% place themselves in the center and the remaining 29% don’t know.
Whiteley said any idea that the U.K had become more right-wing was simplistic and that the electorate, especially in poorer areas, believed two things. First, that Johnson will deliver on improving the lives of people with better social support and employment prospects, and second, that he will deliver Brexit.
A disunited kingdom
The voting trends in England and Wales do not translate to the two other constituents of the United Kingdom — Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) now hold 48 of the 59 available seats north of the border. The SNP campaigned hard against Brexit after the 2016 referendum revealed only a third of Scots wanted to leave the European Union.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech during a media conference at the Scotland House in Brussels as she is on a one day visit to meet with EU officials, on June 29, 2016.
Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt | AFP | Getty Images
The leader of the party, Nicola Sturgeon, said early Friday that the general election result reflects a desire in Scotland to choose its own destiny within Europe and the U.K.
It’s expected she will now put pressure on Johnson to accede to a fresh vote on Scottish independence. He is expected to resist, and enmity between the governments in Edinburgh and London will grow.
Whiteley said despite the SNP gains, the prospect of a second referendum now looks more remote as the ruling Conservative Party won’t entertain another vote.
“They are just going to turn down the SNP flat,” said Whiteley.
Northern Ireland was central to the debate over Brexit as lawmakers wrestled with how to maintain frictionless trade across the U.K. border with sits on the island of Ireland.
Following Thursday’s vote, and for the first time ever, nationalist parties now hold more seats than unionist parties. Irish unity will surely come to the fore as a topic and one poll in September showed a slight majority for Irish unification among people in Northern Ireland.
Whiteley claimed that while demographics were moving in the direction of Irish unity, many supporters want to wait for fear that rushing the process could herald a return to violence in Ireland.
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