WTO talks end with no major win, throwing trade body into ‘crisis’

By Hashem Osseiran and Agnes Pedrero ABU DHABI, March 1, 2024 (AFP) – A high-level WTO conference ended Saturday with a temporary extension of an e-commerce moratorium but no deals on agriculture and fisheries, throwing into doubt the effectiveness of the multilateral trade body. The outcomes of the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi highlighted the sharp divisions between the body´s 164 members amid geopolitical tensions and economic headwinds that are threatening […]

Musk sues OpenAI over ‘betrayal’ of mission

By Glenn CHAPMAN with Joseph BOYLE in Paris SAN FRANCISCO, March 1, 2024 (AFP) – Elon Musk has launched a legal case against OpenAI, the AI firm he helped to set up in 2015, accusing its leaders of a “betrayal” of its founding mission. The tycoon, who left OpenAI in 2018, argued in documents filed in a San Francisco court late Thursday that the firm was always intended as a nonprofit entity. But he said […]

Bitcoin soars above $60,000, eyes all-time high on ETF boost

By Roland Jackson in London and Matthew Surrusco in Hong Kong LONDON, Feb 28, 2024 (AFP) – Bitcoin passed the $60,000 mark on Wednesday, approaching its all-time high and continuing its unbridled rise since the approval of a new type of investment indexed to the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin traded as high as $61,360, closing in on its all-time high of $68,991 — struck in November 2021 and which some analysts believe is now within reach. Around […]

Glitch causes Coinbase account balances to fall to zero

NEW YORK, Feb 28, 2024 (AFP) – The account balances of some customers of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase fell to zero on Wednesday, the company confirmed, as it moved to assure them that their assets were still there. Dozens of accounts had posted on social media sites including X earlier in the day, with screenshots that appeared to show their Coinbase account balance had fallen to zero. “We are aware that some users may see […]

Reliance, Disney announce giant India media merger

MUMBAI, Feb 29, 2024 (AFP) – India’s Reliance Industries and Walt Disney have agreed to merge their Indian media businesses, creating a $8.5 billion entertainment giant in the world’s most populous nation. India’s entertainment market is already one of the world’s biggest, with the merger expected to further shake up the multi-billion-dollar industry. The two companies had signed “binding definitive agreements” to form a joint venture that will combine the businesses of Reliance-backed Viacom18 and […]

South Korea tells striking medics to return on deadline or risk prosecution

SEOUL, Feb 29, 2024 (AFP) – Most striking doctors have not returned to work despite a deadline, South Korea’s health minister said Thursday, warning of legal action if medics do not end work stoppages that have plunged hospitals into chaos. Nearly 10,000 junior doctors — about 80 percent of the trainee workforce — handed in notice and walked off the job last week to protest government plans to sharply increase medical school admissions to cope […]

Shock as Warner Bros Discovery shutters major N.Zealand news outlet

WELLINGTON, Feb 28, 2024 (AFP) – US entertainment giant Warner Bros Discovery announced plans to shutter major New Zealand news outlet Newshub Wednesday, in what the deputy prime minister called a “disaster for this country’s democracy”. Citing cratering advertising revenues, the US firm said it was closing “all Newshub’s multi-platform news operations” in June, with a reported loss of about 300 jobs. The announcement effectively spreads the impact of massive recent US media cost-cutting beyond […]

Hong Kong scraps property taxes to revive sluggish market

HONG KONG, Feb 28, 2024 (AFP) – Hong Kong has axed all property transaction taxes in a bid to revive the depressed housing market, finance minister Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech Wednesday. The finance hub’s economy was initially buoyed by China’s post-pandemic reopening but recovery has since slowed and residential property prices are at a multi-year low. Chan said Hong Kong would scrap three types of stamp duty with immediate effect, reversing […]

Nissan to launch self-driving taxi service in Japan in 2027

Nissan is planning to launch a self-driving taxi service in Japan in the financial year starting April 2027, the auto giant said Wednesday. The company said it will begin trials of the commercial service in the upcoming financial year from April, using minivans in an area of Yokohama, south of Tokyo. “Local communities have been facing several mobility challenges, such as driver shortages, which are a result of an ageing population,” Nissan said in a […]

Rat on a plane sparks worries for Sri Lanka’s airline

COLOMBO, Feb 27, 2024 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s national airline on Tuesday blamed a rat for grounding a plane for three days, sparking chaotic delays and fears it will scare off investors for the cash-strapped carrier. The stowaway rodent was spotted enjoying the SriLankan Airlines Airbus A330 flight from the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday, triggering an aircraft search to ensure it had not chewed through critical components. An airline official said the plane […]

Struggling US retailer Macy’s to close 150 stores

NEW YORK, Feb 27, 2024 (AFP) – The iconic but struggling US department store Macy’s announced plans on Tuesday to close almost a third of its eponymous locations by 2026 while building up its upscale Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury brands. In a new strategy dubbed a “Bold New Chapter” aimed at breathing new life into the 166-year-old retailer, the company said it would shut 150 “underproductive” Macy’s locations. It will close 50 of them by the […]

Japan inflation slows to 2.0% in January, BOJ faces dilemma between rates and recession

  By Kyoko HASEGAWA TOKYO, Feb 27, 2024 (AFP) – Japanese inflation slowed less than expected to two percent in January, data showed Tuesday, hitting the central bank’s target and firming expectations of an end to its outlier negative rates policy. Other major central banks including the US Federal Reserve have hiked borrowing costs because of rising prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago, and may soon start cutting again. But haunted by […]