Japan warns on Brexit fallout at G20 summit

HANGZHOU — Tokyo issued its boldest warning yet over the potential fallout from Brexit, saying Japanese firms may shift key operations from Britain to Europe if they lose free access to the single market.

With a G20 summit under way in China, a Japanese government taskforce told Britain and the EU to minimise the “harmful effects” of Brexit on firms that treat the UK as a gateway to Europe.

Some of Japan’s best-known companies, including Toyota, Hitachi and investment bank Nomura, are re-assessing their UK investments after Britain voted in June to quit the 28-member EU, according to a report issued by Tokyo.

“Japanese businesses with their European headquarters in the UK may decide to transfer their head-office function to Continental Europe if EU laws cease to be applicable in the UK after its withdrawal,” said the 15-page document, published on Friday.

The topic is almost certain to come up if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British leader Theresa May hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 talks in Hangzhou.

US President Barack Obama told a joint briefing on Sunday with May that they had discussed trade and both countries aim to “ensure that we don’t see adverse effects” in their commercial ties.

Japan warned that some of its firms were lured to Britain by its sales pitch as a launching pad for tapping the much-larger European market, adding that London has a duty to hammer out a Post-Brexit deal that protects Japanese companies.

“We strongly request the UK will consider this fact seriously and respond in a responsible manner to minimise any harmful effects on these businesses,” the report said.

More than 1,000 Japanese companies do business in Britain, employing some 140,000 local people, and Japan’s direct investment in the country has topped 10 trillion yen (RM390 billion) to date.

The report also urged Britain and the EU to make the Brexit negotiation process transparent to avoid “unpleasant surprises”.

“Uncertainty is a major concern for an economy,” it said.

“What Japanese businesses in Europe most wish to avoid is the situation in which they are unable to discern clearly the way the Brexit negotiations are going, only grasping the whole picture at the last minute.”

The G20 leading economies will set up a global forum to combat world industrial oversupply, a senior European Union diplomat said yesterday.

The final communique will say that “measures like subsidies are a root cause of market distortions” and a forum will be set up “to monitor the process” of cutting overcapacity, the official said.

The global steel industry is assailed by huge oversupply with Chinese demand plummeting as its economic growth has slowed.

The G20 host produces half of the world’s steel and it stands accused of dumping on global markets by the US and European Union.

He said the G20 group will also agree at their summit that refugees are a global issue and the burden must be shared.

“The communique reaffirms it is a global issue, and requires burden-sharing among countries,” the diplomat told reporters, shortly before the declaration was due to be released at the end of the summit. — AFP

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Police break up anti-Temer rally in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO — Police used tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of demonstrators at the end of a peaceful march to protest the removal of leftist president Dilma Rousseff last week in an impeachment trial.

It was the largest of a wave of demonstrations against new President Michel Temer since the conservative lawyer was sworn in on Wednesday to replace Rousseff for the rest of her term through 2018.

The marchers, rallied by left-wing groups and unions aligned with Rousseff’s Workers Party, called for new elections and chanted “Out with Temer!” One marcher wore a red T-shirt that said in English: “First of all, Temer must fall.”

The organisers said 50,000 people turned out for the march to a square in western Sao Paulo that included families with children, witnesses said.

As the rally ended and demonstrators headed for metro entrances, riot police fired tear gas canisters that caused panic and led to clashes. Police said they were forced to intervene to stop vandalism at the end of a peaceful march.

There were smaller anti-Temer demonstrations on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and other Brazilian cities.

Temer played down the wave of protests in comments to reporters on the sidelines of a summit of the G0 group of leading world economies in Hangzhou, China.

“They are small groups, not popular movements of any size,” he said. “In a population of 204 million Brazilians, they are not representative.” — Reuters

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Anti-migrant party hands Merkel humiliating defeat

SCHWERIN (Germany) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under renewed pressure over her liberal refugee policy yesterday after an upstart anti-migrant populist party handed her party a humiliating defeat in her home state.

The xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) clinched around 22 per cent in its first bid for seats in the regional parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Vorpommern, results showed after most ballots had been counted from Sunday polls.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) garnered just 19 per cent in its worst ever score in the northeastern state, while the Social Democrats maintained top place with around 30 per cent.

AfD’s lead candidate Leif-Erik Holm called it a “proud result for a young party” as the populists secured seats on the opposition benches of the ninth out of 16 regional parliaments.

“The icing on the cake is that we have left Merkel’s CDU behind us … maybe that is the beginning of the end of Merkel’s time as chancellor,” he said.

Although the former Communist state is Germany’s poorest and least populous, it carries a symbolic meaning as it is home to Merkel’s constituency Stralsund.

Together with Berlin’s elections in two weeks, Sunday’s polls are a key test ahead of general elections next year, when Merkel’s decision exactly one year ago to let in tens of thousands of Syrian and other migrants is expected to be a key point of contention.

Although she won praise at first, the optimism has given way to fears over how Europe’s biggest economy will manage to integrate the one million people who arrived last year alone.

Merkel’s decision has left her increasingly isolated in Europe, and exposed her to heavy criticism at home, including from her own conservative allies.

The CDU’s general-secretary Peter Tauber said Sunday’s results were “bitter”, acknowledging voters “wanted to send a signal of protest, as we noticed in discussions about refugees”.

In the sprawling farming and coastal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where economic regeneration and jobs used to be residents’ top concerns, the issue of refugees and integration has become the deciding factor for one in two voters.

A pensioner and former teacher who declined to be named said he picked AfD because of the “question over asylum-seekers”.

“One million refugees have come here. There is money for them, but no money to bring pensions in the east to the same levels as those of the west,” he said, referring to the lower retirement payments that residents of former Communist states receive compared to those in the west.

The AfD, founded in 2013, has continued its meteoric rise even though leading members of the party have sparked outrage over insulting remarks, including one disparaging footballer Jerome Boateng, of mixed German and Ghanaian descent, as the neighbour no German wants.

Its latest achievement was hailed by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who wrote on Twitter: “What was impossible yesterday has become possible: The AfD patriots have swept away Merkel’s party!”
— AFP

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Clinton kicks off fall campaign, with press in tow

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton embarked on a campaign swing across battleground states yesterday, bringing travelling press aboard her plane for the first time as she seeks to regain momentum against her White House rival Donald Trump.

Clinton, the Democratic nominee, will attend events with working families in Cleveland, Ohio and Hampton, Illinois celebrating Labour Day, the US holiday that traditionally kicks-off the fall campaign season and the fast-paced, two-month sprint to the Nov 8 presidential election.

She then flies to Tampa later today for a campaign rally at the University of South Florida, before travelling on Thursday to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Florida and North Carolina, like Ohio, are critical battlegrounds in the 2016 race.

Republican flagbearer Trump, 70, trails in polling but dominated the week’s political messaging and imagery, with his surprise trip to Mexico, a fiery immigration speech in which he embraced a hardline position on the issue, and his closely watched visit to an African-American church in Detroit.

And while Sunday’s CBS News Battleground Tracker shows Clinton, 68, leading Trump in two key states — by eight points in Pennsylvania and four points in North Carolina — recent polls show the race tightening nationally.

“The polls are close so Crooked Hillary is getting out of bed and will campaign tomorrow,” Trump taunted on Twitter on Sunday.

With just three weeks before the first of three presidential debates that are expected to be the most watched moments of the election, Clinton will seek to reassert herself with multiple events.

She has been under sustained pressure to provide more access for journalists seeking to cover her every move, resisting the typical arrangement of a substantial travelling press corps sharing the same plane with a presidential hopeful.

Also hitting the road are her running mate Tim Kaine and current Vice-President Joe Biden, who stumped for Hillary in Pennsylvania, and her husband, former Bill Clinton, who attends events in Michigan and Ohio.

On Sunday Trump’s campaign blasted out an email, stating: “It has been 274 days since Clinton has held a press conference,” as part of a daily “Hiding Hillary” email series aimed at highlighting the Democrat’s aversion to pressers.

New revelations from notes released by the FBI from its July interview with Clinton about her email use showed she said she did not recall specific training about how to handle classified information, and that she was unaware that confidential material was marked with a “C.”

The FBI notes prompted Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, to accuse Clinton of acting with “criminal intent” with regard to her emails. — AFP

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‘Oz’ writer Richard Neville dies at 74

SYDNEY — Australian counterculture figure Richard Neville, who was at the heart of Britain’s ‘Oz’ obscenity trial, has died aged 74, reports said yesterday.

Neville co-founded the satirical Oz magazine in Sydney in 1963, a publication which shook up the conservative establishment with articles on abortion, homosexuality and censorship.

Despite Neville being charged with bringing out an indecent and obscene publication, the magazine was a success and in 1966 he moved to London where he went on to start a British version.

Richard Walsh, who co-founded Oz in Sydney with Neville and artist Martin Sharp, said he had known for some time that his friend suffered from Alzheimer’s and his death was not a shock.

“Those of us who knew him well understood the path that his life was taking. I am, in a sense beyond sadness, because that’s been a very sad route that he has taken,” Walsh told ABC radio.

“And this morning I’m glad that he has finally come to the end of the yellow brick road.”

Walsh said the Oz had come along at a time when religion and the monarchy were key institutions in Australian life and the magazine had “found a hole in the fence”.

In Britain, the counterculture magazine sparked an obscenity trial over an issue edited by high-school students which included a cartoon of children’s comic strip character Rupert Bear with an erection.

Neville, who attracted the support of the likes of John Lennon and Yoko Ono during the trial, was found guilty on an obscenity charge but this was ultimately overturned on appeal.

Speaking to the ABC in 2013, Neville said it was the staid conservatism of 1960s Australia which motivated him.

“There were lots of kind of stuff going on in the ether that was beginning life quite a lot different from the life of our parents, and I guess you could say sex, drive-in movies, rock and roll, the pill, great music all over the world,” he said. — AFP

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Tearful Masson’s unlikely win

MONTREAL — The unlikely figure of Caroline Masson emerged from a crowded leaderboard to clinch a one-stroke victory at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada on Sunday.

German Masson recovered from a double-bogey at the first hole, roaring back with nine birdies to leapfrog more than a dozen players with a five-under 67 at the Whistle Bear course in Cambridge, Ontario.

“It means so much,” a tearful Masson told Golf Channel after being doused with beer by several of her peers, including runner-up Lee Minjee.

Masson finished at 16-under 272 for her first LPGA victory, with Australian Lee (68), South Korean Lee Mi-hyang (71) and France’s Karine Icher (66) equal second on 15-under.

An anticipated showdown between world No 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No 1 Lydia Ko never materialised, though both were in contention until late.

Thai Ariya, seeking her sixth victory since May, missed a three-foot putt at the 15th and later hooked her tee shot into an unplayable lie in thick woods at the last and had to retee.

She finished two strokes off the pace, equal fifth with New Zealander Ko and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.

Masson’s victory was just the second of the year by a European in a season dominated by Asian-born players.

“I’ve been out here for a long time. Four years is a long time,” said Masson, 27, who clinched victory with a tap-in par at the last. “I’ve just gotbetter every year, working hard.”

She said dropping two shots at the first hole and falling five strokes from the lead perhaps helped her relax.

“It’s hard to believe I came back after that start. Maybe the pressure was off a little bit.

“It’s a golf course where you can make a lot of birdies and that’s what I tried to do. It was super-important to birdie the second hole and just get it going and see some putts go in.”
— Reuters

Noren holds nerves in playoff

CRANS-MONTANA — Sweden’s Alex Noren beat Australia’s Scott Hend at the first playoff hole to win the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland on Sunday.

Noren had trailed Hend by a shot heading into the final round but a five-under 65 allowed him to finish level on 17 under with Hend, who had a 66.

The pair then had to go back up the 18th and Hend hit his tee-shot towards the trees on the left but saw his ball bounce back to the fairway and only just cleared the water with his second, as Noren put his second from the fairway to 30 feet.

The Australian chipped to eight feet but Noren holed his putt for the birdie and the win.

It is the second time the Swede has won the European Masters after a previous triumph in 2009, and his second win of the year following his Scottish Open victory in July.

“It was amazing. I’ve never won coming from behind. I’ve never won a playoff on the European Tour, so it feels even more amazing,” said Noren, who took some time off earlier in the year when his partner had a baby.

“It’s fantastic. I never thought it would be this good of a year.”

Noren birdied the first and a run of four straight birdies from the sixth put him two shots clear at the turn, with Hend claiming birdies at the fifth and ninth.

However, Hend fought back on the homeward stretch to force the playoff, bogeying the 11th but then managing three birdies at the next four holes.

Noren was level on the back nine and a sudden death playoff awaited after Hend got up and down from the back of the green for par at the last while his Swedish opponent could not convert a long birdie attempt.

England’s Andrew Johnston finished third at 14-under, with Lee Westwood — a wildcard pick in the Europe team for the upcoming Ryder Cup — two shots further back in fourth after finishing with a 63. — AFP

Casey stays in hunt

BOSTON — England’s Paul Casey stuck to his game plan on Sunday with a five-under 66 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, giving him a shot at just his second win on the PGA Tour.

The 39-year-old Casey stormed into Monday’s final round of the second of four FedExCup playoff events by seizing a three-shot lead over American Brian Harman who finished with a 68.

“I am obviously over the moon,” Casey said.

Casey closed his third round with an eagle on the par-five 18th hole to finish 54 holes at 13-under 198.

Casey has 13 wins on the European Tour but just one victory on the USPGA Tour, defeating J.B. Holmes in a playoff seven years ago in Texas.

Casey surrendered his membership on the European Tour to play in America.

PGA champion Jimmy Walker shot a 70, placing him four back and in a three-way tie for third with second-round leader Kevin Chappell, who shot a 71, and Smylie Kaufman, who shot 68.

Ryan Moore is in solo sixth after posting a 68. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who is fifth in the world, vaulted into the picture with a 66 and is tied for seventh with South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, who carded a 64.

Olympic champion Justin Rose of England shot a 69 and Tony Finau put up a 68, and the two are also tied for seventh. — AFP

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Maverick talent wins in style

SILVERSTONE — Spaniard Maverick Vinales rode a masterful race to secure his first ever MotoGP victory, easing to take the chequered flag in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday.

The 21-year-old — the 2013 Moto3 world champion — gave Suzuki their first win in the British edition in this category since American Kevin Schwantz in 1994.

It was their first in the category overall since Chris Vermeulen triumphed in France in 2007.

Vinales led home Honda’s Cal Crutchlow — the first Briton since Barry Sheene in 1977 to take pole — with legendary Italian Valentino Rossi third on his Yamaha for his 217th podium placing.

Rossi marginally reduced Marc Marquez’s lead in the overall standings, the Spaniard holding a 50-point advantage over the Italian, 210 points to 160.

The race had to be reduced to 19 laps after it was halted following a brutal first-lap collision between French rider Loris Baz and Pol Espargaro of Spain.

Baz, on a Ducati, and Espargaro on a Yamaha Tech3 were at the back of the field but debris from their bikes littered the corner and the track.

Crutchlow staved off a stern challenge by Marquez for second spot in the closing stages and the latter also had to concede third place to Rossi. — AFP

Hamilton in a spin after poor start

MONZA — Lewis Hamilton’s dreams of winning the Italian Grand Prix for the third year in a row, and chalking up his 50th Formula One race victory, went out with the start lights on Sunday.

In a split second the triple world champion went from pole position to chaser, a slow getaway leaving him sixth as Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg disappeared into the distance.

The fault appeared to be his, as he hinted over the team radio, even if he said afterwards that he had done everything as normal and the clutch was to blame.

“I am told it wasn’t a driver error but it wasn’t anyone’s error,” said the Briton, whose advantage over Rosberg was cut to two points.

“It was just we continue to have an inconsistency with our clutch. It has hit me quite a lot this year.

“The procedure was done exactly how I was supposed to do it but unfortunately the wheels were spinning from the get-go.”

Hamilton passed Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, leaving just the two Ferraris between him and Rosberg.

Ferrari’s two-stop strategy, compared to the single stop of the Mercedes pair, resolved that but the gap to the German was too great for Hamilton to close and keep life in the tyres.

“Nico drove a great race … and did what he had to do. Once you are out front here it is relatively plain and simple … all he had to do was match some of my times and he was sorted,” said Hamilton.

“It’s like less than a 10th of a second (at the start) decided the race and that is tough for everyone.”

The rules governing the start were changed last year, reducing the amount of information drivers have to help with clutch settings.

Both Mercedes drivers, who have started all but one race on pole, have suffered slow getaways this season.

“It’s the rule change, it makes it more challenging. Because now it’s down to the driver to do it, it’s more difficult,” declared Rosberg.

“The driver thing is the same as it was before,” countered Hamilton. “It’s just that we have a relatively inconsistent clutch.”

Team principal Toto Wolff said “machine and driver” had got it wrong.

“The only thing I heard was in the race he (Hamilton) said ‘Don’t worry guys I got it wrong in the start’,” said the Austrian.

“A driver in the heat of the moment after losing a race to his teammate will say things. Once we have seen all the data we will address internally what needs to be done.” — Reuters

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