CHINA, U.S. REACH

Agree­ment cov­ers 10 ar­eas in­clud­ing agri­cul­tural trade, fi­nan­cial ser­vices

New Straits Times - - Business World -

WASH­ING­TON

THE United States reached an agree­ment for China to pro­vide greater ac­cess to US nat­u­ral gas ex­porters as part of a broader ef­fort to be­gin re­shap­ing the trade re­la­tion­ship be­tween the world’s two largest economies, said Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross.

The agree­ment cov­ers 10 ar­eas where trade ne­go­tia­tors from the US and China have reached con­sen­sus, in­clud­ing agri­cul­tural trade and mar­ket ac­cess for fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

By mid-July, US beef pro­duc­ers will have broader ac­cess to Chi­nese mar­kets, while Amer­ica will move for­ward on al­low­ing the im­port of cooked poul­try from China, ac­cord­ing to a joint state­ment an­nounc­ing the deal.

Ross said of­fi­cials from Dow Chem­i­cal Co gave as­sur­ances that in­creas­ing ex­ports of nat­u­ral gas wouldn’t harm the US in­dus­try or con­sumers if sales re­mained less than 30 per cent of to­tal out­put.

He said a sim­i­lar deal for coal ex­ports to China wasn’t likely, such com­pa­nies have been dubbed “black” com­pa­nies in the me­dia.

Pub­lic out­rage over long work­ing hours and the sui­cide of a young worker at Dentsu in 2015, later ruled by the gov­ern­ment as karoshi, have pushed Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to make labour re­form a key pol­icy plank.

The labour min­istry’s list in­cludes 334 com­pa­nies that have re­ceived warn­ings for ex­ces­sive over­time and other labour vi­o­la­tions be­tween last Oc­to­ber and March.

How­ever, not all com­pa­nies un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion were pub­li­cised or in­cluded in the list, said a labour min­istry of­fi­cial.

The na­tion­wide list will be up­dated ev­ery month.

Abe’s gov­ern­ment in March en­dorsed an ac­tion plan for sweep­ing re­forms of employment prac­tices, in­clud­ing caps on over­time and bet­ter pay for part-time and con­tract work­ers.

The pro­pos­als, which may come into ef­fect from 2019, will only add to strains al­ready felt by firms grap­pling with a deep­en­ing labour short­age due to a rapidly age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

That said, more pres­sure to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity is seen as long over­due and could boost growth in the long term.

Lawyers and ac­tivists, how­ever, have said the steps the gov­ern­ment has so far pro­posed do not go far enough.

A spokesman for Dentsu de­clined to comment, and Ja­pan Post could not be im­me­di­ately reached for comment. A Pana­sonic spokesman said the com­pany took the labour vi­o­la­tion case se­ri­ously and that it would work to pre­vent such fu­ture cases. Reuters

REUTERS PIC

Pub­lic out­rage over long work­ing hours and the sui­cide of a young worker at Dentsu in 2015 has prompted Ja­pan to crack down on il­le­gal over­work.

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