07/03/2018 Asia Business Report


07/03/2018

Live from Singapore, the essential business news as it breaks and a look ahead to the news that will shape the business day.


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to have made a former Russian spy

and his daughter critically ill.

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Now on BBC News all the latest

business news live from Singapore.

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Asian markets react to the news that

the White House's top economic

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adviser steps down just hours after

President Trumps stands firm on

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steel and aluminium tariffs. And

billions of dollars in offshore oil

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and gas are mocked for East Timor.

Welcomed Asia Business Report live

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from Singapore with me, Marika Oi.

The White House's top economic

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adviser Gary Cohn has resigned,

reportedly unhappy about the

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President's proposed tariffs and

that it could trigger a trade war.

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We are already seeing the impact on

the market, especially on the US

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dollar falling against safe haven

currencies such as the Japanese yen

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and Swiss franc. Mr Trump tweeted

that he will appoint a new person to

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the role in the coming weeks. The

news of Gary Cohn's resignation came

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shortly after his comments that the

recent dispute he disagree with.

The

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United States has been taken

advantage of by other countries both

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friendly and not so friendly for

many, many decades and we have a

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trade deficit of $800 billion a

year. And that's not going to happen

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with me.

Mr Trump is standing firm

on the proposed tariffs so I asked

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our business reporter in New York in

this latest resignation of Gary Cohn

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had come as a surprise.

Gary Cohn

has long said he opposed the tariffs

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the Trump administration has so

vociferously defended. He supports

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free trade, his background, he

worked at Goldman sacks, he is a

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Democrat. He says he supports

pro-business policies and Diaz

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classed with President Trump on a

whole range of issues. They agreed

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on the recently passed tax reform

but there was not much common

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ground. When we saw Donald Trump

come out this afternoon saying he

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wanted these steel and aluminium

tariffs, it seemed like it was a

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done deal that he would have to

resign.

There have been so many

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disagreements from within his own

party as well but we also heard from

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the aluminium industry which is set

to benefit from these tariffs,

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opposing the move.

An industry trade

group said they were deeply

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concerned about the proposed tariffs

and they weren't quite sure this was

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the best way to help the American

aluminium industry. This comes in

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stark contrast with the US steel

industry which is said they support

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the proposal.

What are the most

aggressive reactions to the tariffs

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has come from Europe. They are

meeting today to discuss how to

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respond and the European Commission

said its response would be fully

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compatible with WTO rules. It's

already drawn up a target list of

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100 US goods worth $3.5 billion in

the row has its businesses.

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Electrolux is freezing its US

factory investments. The deal to

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take over the production company of

Harvey Weinstein has collapsed. It

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is the latest twist in the

long-running saga over the future of

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the film studio which is on the

brink of bankruptcy. Last week an

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investment group gave the green

light on an all women run studio

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that they have abandoned the venture

for now. The first fall in sales for

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over a decade for Lego. It saw

strong growth in China but it

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struggled in more established

markets like North America and

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Europe. The firm has diversify then

recent years, moving into

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videogames, a hit movie and

amusement parks. Let us turn to the

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fishing in seafood industry in

Thailand which is worth around $7

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billion according to the latest

estimates. It employs more than

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600,000 people out of which about

300,000 are migrant workers and its

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latest report, the International

Labour Organisation, or the ILO,

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said migrant workers were more

vulnerable to abuse in the industry.

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Let's get more from Jason Judd from

the ILO live from Bangkok. Thank you

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for joining us. Tell us about your

findings and stories you might have

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heard from the workers?

The ILO, a

UN agency, has tracked 435 workers

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in Thailand's seafood and fishing

industry is everybody from the boat

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to the processing plant and its big

business here in Thailand. We found

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evidence of some progress and some

persistent abuses. Evidence of

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progress includes changes in Thai

law that means the fuel workers on

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both factories who are under years

old. There are high wages for some

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workers in some of these vessels. We

see more fishing workers who have a

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written contract, for example. The

number was very low in 2014, 9%, and

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the new number was about 40%. That

is evidence of improvement. On the

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other side, we see problems with

payment of wages. Fishers reported

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that about a quarter of them are not

getting all of their pay. Some of it

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is withheld in part in part in an

effort to keep them on the boats. A

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third of fishers toll is their

passports or other documents are

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kept from them. It means they can't

leave when they want to. As tomorrow

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is International women's Day and it

will be celebrated here in Thailand,

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we saw the gender pay gap in seafood

processing including large factories

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and small. On the whole, we saw that

only half of women are paid legal

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minimum wage but the figure for men

is 75%.

Jason Judd, chief adviser at

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the ILO. After more than a decade of

disagreement, Australia and East

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Timor have finally come to an

agreement over their maritime border

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in the Timor Sea. The deal could

pave the way for major oil and gas

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developments and East Timor

desperately needs them to develop

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its economy. For more, I'm joined by

Timothy McDonald who has been to the

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country. How significant is this

deal for East Timor?

This is really

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as big as it gets. We are talking

about something that will clear the

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way for development projects which

could be worth in the order of $40

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billion. East Timor really does need

this revenue. It has other oil and

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gas projects but they are running

out but they are responsible for

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funding 90% of the government

budgets without it, they could be in

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quite a bit of trouble. On the other

hand, what this treaty doesn't do is

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guarantee that those are going to

happen. The oil and gas companies

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actually want to know what country

they are drilling in, which is fair

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enough. It doesn't guarantee it

because there is still a big

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sticking point and that has to do

whether they are going to process

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the gas and oil. East Timor wants to

do it on shore. The companies don't

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know if they want to do it offshore

or in Darwin.

Very interesting.

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Thank you. The annual list of the

world's richest billionaires, Tim

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and I are not on it but Forbes

released the latest list and topping

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it for the first time is this man,

the founder and boss of Amazon, Jeff

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Bezos, worth $112 billion. Here in

Asia, the founder of WeChat in

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China, which is just crossed the 1

billion accounts mark. He is at

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number 17. And Jack Ma, the Chief

Executive of Alibaba came in at

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number 20 but Donald Trump has

dropped quite a number of places

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this year.

Donald Trump has fallen

2-2 spots, his fortune is down $400

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million and that is primarily due to

retail markets in New York city

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being down but it is also in part

duty is very polarising personality.

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We've definitely seen some of his

licensing and merchandising

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businesses take a hit. You are

seeing some places around the world

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take down the Trump name. It's

definitely losing a bit of its

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lustre.

Let's retake -- recap our

top story which is the sudden

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resignation of Gary Cohn and Asian

markets are already reacting to his

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resignation. Let's show you the

boards. All markets are in the red.

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Also, interestingly, shares in

Japan's defence equipment companies

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are lower after tensions on the

Korean Peninsula appeared to have

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eased after news of the apparent

willingness by North Korea to halt

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nuclear tests. All this after Wall

Street had a volatile session all

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because of continued uncertainty

over US trade policy. There has been

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some impact on the currency market

as well. That

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