Woolworths underpaid workers

30/10/2019 16:00 | Share

Australian retail giant Woolworths yesterday admitted underpaying workers up to AU$300million (US$206 million), the latest in a string of big businesses that have failed to properly pay staff.The payment shortfall by one of the country’s largest grocery chains is the largest in Australian history and follows a series of wage scandals that have affected some of the country’s biggest names.Woolworths estimated that about 5,700 staff had been underpaid between AU$200 million and AU$300 million dating back to 2010.“We unreservedly apologize,” CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement. “The highest priority for Woolworths Group right now is to address this issue and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”The retailer said it would begin making back payments, including interest and retirement contributions, before Christmas.Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker described the underpayment as a breach of Australia’s workplace laws on a “massive scale.”Unions have warned that so-called “wage theft” is becoming an entrenched business practice in Australia and are calling for harsher penalties for companies that flout workplace laws.

City seeks gains from “spillover”

29/10/2019 16:00 | Share

SHANGHAI will hold a meeting to introduce the city’s business environment and investment policies to overseas investors, aiming to lure more foreign capital and attract enterprises to the city.

It is scheduled during the second China International Import Expo, as an attempt to seek greater spillover benefits from the CIIE.

Nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend the meeting, including key CIIE exhibitors, multinational corporations, state-owned enterprises based in Shanghai, as well as private companies, platforms and agencies.

Authorities will focus on four key areas — the Pudong New Area, the Lingang Special Area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the Hongqiao Commercial Zone and the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone.

The meeting will also highlight the core functions and competencies of the city, as well as major progress made by MNC headquarters and the development of the city’s “five centers” and “four brands.”

“At the forefront of the reform and opening-up, Shanghai has always attached great importance to and unswervingly expanded the use of foreign capital,” said Yang Chao, deputy director of the city’s commission of commerce.

It will be held on November 6 at the International Convention Center in Pudong.

Xi’s visit to expo highlights commitment to free trade

29/10/2019 16:00 | Share

PRESIDENT Xi Jinping is to attend the upcoming China International Import Expo in Shanghai for the second consecutive year, demonstrating the “great importance” attached to the event by the Chinese government.

“The attendance of Xi also shows the country’s long-term standing of supporting free trade, an open world and the construction of a shared future for all people,” Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Bingnan told reporters yesterday.

Xi will deliver a keynote speech at the expo’s opening ceremony next Tuesday, address the Hongqiao International Economic Forum, and tour the national pavilions with other country leaders.

During the expo, Xi will meet country leaders and government heads and host a welcoming banquet with his wife Peng Liyuan for guests from more than 170 countries and regions involved in politics, business and academia as well as international organizations.

“The China International Import Expo is an important initiative for China to accelerate a new round of high-quality opening-up to the outside world,” Wang said.

“We have completed most of the preparation works for the expo, which includes national pavilions, enterprise pavilions and the second Hongqiao International Economic Forum.”

The 30,000-square-meter national pavilions will feature 64 countries, including China, Russia, France, Greece, India, Italy and Thailand, showcasing their industries, business environment and development achievements.

The 330,000-square-meter enterprise pavilions will have a wide range of displays covering equipment, consumption, food, health and services. More than 3,000 companies from 150 countries and regions have registered.

More than 500,000 professional buyers and visitors will take part in the expo.

The Hongqiao International Economic Forum will bring together top names from international organizations in business and academia to discuss opening-up and innovation for win-win cooperation.

Guideline for foreign investors

29/10/2019 16:00 | Share

CHINA will roll out a guideline to better use foreign investment with a focus on safeguarding the national treatment of foreign-funded enterprises, an official said yesterday.

The guideline, which was adopted at an executive meeting of the State Council held on October 16, puts forward 20 policies in four aspects to create a more “fair, transparent and predictable” business environment for foreign-invested enterprises, said Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen.

For a start, in deepening opening-up, China will continue to reduce the negative list for foreign investment access in the national and pilot free trade zones, and comprehensively eliminate restrictions that are not on the negative list.

China will accelerate the opening-up of the financial sector and optimize the foreign investment policies for automobiles, Wang said. It will optimize the scientific and technological innovation services for foreign-invested enterprises and improve the construction of pilot free trade zones.

Third, China will lower the cost of cross-border capital use, make it easier for foreigners to work in China, and optimize the approval process for the use of land for foreign-funded projects.

Fourth, China will fully implement the foreign investment law, establish and improve institutions for accepting complaints.

US urged not to stifle Chinese firms

29/10/2019 16:00 | Share

CHINA yesterday accused the US of “economic bullying behavior” after US regulators proposed to cut off funding for Chinese equipment in US telecommunications networks.

China would “resolutely oppose the US abusing state power to suppress specific Chinese enterprises with unwarranted charges in the absence of any evidence,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

“The economic bullying behavior of the US is a denial of the market economy principle that the US has always advertised,” Geng said, adding the US actions would “undermine the interests” of US businesses and consumers, especially in rural areas. “We would like to urge the US once again to stop abusing the concept of national security,” Geng said.

The Federal Communications Commission votes next month on whether to bar telecom companies from using government subsidies to pay for networking equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

This is the latest in a series of actions by the US government aimed at barring US companies from purchasing Huawei and ZTE equipment.

Huawei and ZTE would have 30 days to contest the FCC’s national security risk designation and a final order compelling removal of equipment is not expected until next year at the earliest.

“In 30 years of business, Huawei has never had a major security-related incident in the 170 countries where we operate,” said a Huawei spokesman in Shenzhen.

“Today’s proposal, released by the FCC Chairman, only impacts the broadband providers in the most unserved or underserved rural areas of the United States,” the spokesman said.

“Such action will further widen the digital divide; slowing the pace of economic development without further securing the nation’s telecommunications networks.”

Citing US media reports, Geng said the US Rural Wireless Association has estimated that 25 percent of its members have Huawei and ZTE equipment in their networks, and that replacing them would cost US$800 million to one billion.

The move mostly affects small, rural companies, since larger US wireless companies do not use equipment from the two Chinese firms.

The agency is also exploring the impact of requiring companies to rip out their current Huawei and ZTE equipment, a demand a trade group for small rural wireless carriers has said would cost up to US$1 billion.

The government is seeking comments on how it can help companies financially if they’re required to do that. Bills in Congress have proposed setting US$700 million to US$1 billion aside for telecom companies to replace their networks.

The US government says Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of telecom gear and No. 2 smartphone manufacturer, poses an espionage threat. It has presented no evidence of its equipment being used for spying by the Chinese government and both Huawei and ZTE have denied their equipment is used for such purposes.

The US government also has been pressuring allies to ban Huawei from their networks and has restricted exports of US technology to Huawei.

Geng noted that for a large majority of countries, the cases of the PRISM program and Alstom are still fresh in their memories, but until now, the United States has not given a clear explanation to the international community.

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