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LONDON, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - Companies in Britain must strive to rein in excessive executive pay, pay more heed to staff and make boards more diverse under a new "short and sharper" corporate code, published on Monday.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has updated its non-binding 26-year old code of corporate standards for publicly listed companies, which must comply with it or explain in annual reports to shareholders if they do not.

The government has shown no appetite to force companies to implement the code.

The new 15-page code, about half the length of the current version, comes as the watchdog, which oversees company governance standards and accountants, faces a review to see if it can uphold high corporate standards to maintain Britain's attractions as a place to invest after Brexit.

The code, the result of a public consultation, comes into effect for accounting purposes from next January.

"These changes will drive improvements in how boardrooms engage with employees, customers and suppliers as well as shareholders, delivering better business performance and public confidence in the way businesses are run," said Greg Clark, Britain's business minister.

British lawmakers have called for tougher corporate governance standards following a row between food retailer Tesco and its suppliers and the collapse of retailer BHS and outsourcer Carillion. And shareholders have become much more active in terms of rejecting some executive pay deals.

"This new code, in its short and sharper form, and with its overarching theme of trust, is paramount in promoting transparency and integrity in business for society as a whole," FRC Chairman Win Bischoff said.

Royal London Asset Management said that, "Ultimately though, tangible results will come from institutional investors who have the potential to drive change through their power as the ultimate owners of companies."

There is a new provision for greater board engagement with the workforce to understand their views - aimed at reinforcing an existing provision in law since 2006 which has had a patchy impact - but stopping short of calling for worker representation on boards.

"Whilst our inclination is for there to be an employee elected representative as a director on the board, the code is right to put the onus on company boards to determine what the optimal approach is in their specific context," said Saker Nusseibeh, chief executive of Hermes Investment Management.

This, along with a requirement to have "whistleblowing" mechanisms that allow directors and staff to raise concerns for effective investigation, mark the biggest broadening of corporate standards in many years, the FRC said.

CAIRO, July 15, 2018 (MENA) - French Ambassador in Cairo Stefan Roumtier said that Egypt moves on the right track after restoring stability.

Addressing a French National Day ceremony, the ambassador said late Saturday that Egypt will reap the fruits of its tough economic reform program.

Egypt is regaining its status in the region, which is undergoing several crises, he added.

The country is continuously moving forward and developing, Roumtier said.

He added that France supports Egypt in light of their deeply-rooted bilateral relations.

Roumtier said his country has never been late in supporting Egypt over the past period.

He cited France's support for Egypt in its fight against terrorism and its efforts to help Egypt overcome the challenges it faces.

Egypt is carrying out major projects, and we want to help Cairo in all fields, the ambassador said.

French companies believe in the future of Egypt, he added.

CAIRO, July 15, 2018 (MENA) - Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli praised the ties binding Egypt and Bahrain, asserting the importance of boosting economic cooperation between both countries.

This came during Madbouli's meeting with Bahrain's Ambassador to Egypt Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulrahman al Khalifa.

The Bahraini ambassador praised the achievements of the Egyptian government that contributed to improving the country's economic indicators.

He invited Madbouli to visit Bahrain and congratulated him on assuming his new post as premier.

He said Bahrain is looking forward to more economic cooperation with Egypt and increasing the volume of investments and trade exchange for the interest of both countries. 

BEIJING, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) - China’s trade surplus with the United States swelled to a record in June as its overall exports grew at a solid pace, a result that could further inflame a bitter trade dispute with Washington.

But signs exporters were rushing shipments before tariffs went into effect in the first week of July suggest the spike in the surplus was a one-off, with analysts expecting a less favorable trade balance for China in coming months as duties on exports start to bite.

The data came after the administration of US President Donald Trump raised the stakes in its trade row with China yesterday, saying it would slap 10 per cent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items.

China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the centre of the tariff tussle, widened to a record monthly high of $28.97 billion, up from $24.58 billion in May, according to Reuters calculations based on official data going back to 2008.

The record surplus “won’t help already sour relations and escalating tensions”, Jonas Short, head of the Beijing office at Everbright Sun Hung Kai, wrote in a note.

Trump, who has demanded Beijing cut the trade surplus, could use the latest result to further ratchet up pressure on China after both sides last week imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion of each other’s goods. Washington has warned it may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - nearly the total amount of US imports from China last year.

The dispute has jolted global financial markets, raising worries a full-scale trade war could derail the world economy. Chinese stocks fell into bear market territory and the yuan currency has skidded, though there have been signs in recent days its central bank is moving to slow the currency’s declines.

China’s June exports rose 11.3 per cent from a year earlier, China General Administration of Customs reported, beating forecasts for a 10 per cent increase according to the latest Reuters poll of 39 analysts, and down from a 12.6 per cent gain in May.

China’s commerce ministry confirmed last month that Chinese exporters were front-loading exports to the US to get ahead of expected tariffs - a situation that could exacerbate any slowdown in shipments toward the year-end.


LONDON, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - The British economy expanded by 0.3 per cent in May from the previous month, a strong performance that is likely to further bolster expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month.

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that much of the growth was due to a 2.9 per cent growth in construction. It was the first time the agency published monthly figures for growth, which has traditionally been reported quarterly.

The figures back the bank's claim that first-quarter growth was mainly held back by wintry weather. In the first three months, the economy grew by a tepid 0.2 per cent.

The Bank of England has its next policy meeting on Aug. 2 and is widely expected to raise its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.75 per cent.


BEIJING, July 6, 2018 (News Wires) - The United States and China hiked tariffs Friday on billions of dollars of each other's goods, launching what Beijing called the "biggest trade war in economic history" in a spiraling dispute over technology.

The Trump administration is confronting Beijing over development tactics it says include stealing or pressuring foreign companies to hand over technology. American officials worry Chinese plans to create tech champions in fields including robotics, biotech and artificial intelligence will erode US industrial leadership.

Washington imposed 25 per cent duties on $34 billion of imports from China in the first in a possible series of increases that President Donald Trump says could affect up to $550 billion of Chinese goods.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said "retaliatory tariffs" took effect. The Communist Party newspaper People's Daily said they were imposed on a $34 billion list of goods issued last month that included soybeans, pork and electric vehicles.

Washington has "ignited the biggest trade war in economic history," said a Commerce Ministry statement.

Companies worry the spiraling dispute could chill global economic growth. Chinese exporters have reported US orders fell off ahead of the tariff hike. But Asian financial markets took Friday's developments in stride.

Japan's main stock index, the Nikkei 225, gained 1.1 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.5 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng also rose 0.5 per cent.

The conflict between the world's two biggest economies reflects chronic tension in their relationship as customers, business partners and increasingly as competitors. It also is rooted in the clash between American notions of free trade and Beijing's state-led development model.

China's ruling Communist Party has insisted on making changes at its own pace while sticking to state-directed technology development seen as the path to prosperity and global influence.

Beijing has announced reforms this year including ending limits on foreign ownership in its auto industry, but none directly addresses complaints that are fueling its conflict with Washington.

On Thursday, Trump said higher tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese goods were set to take effect in two weeks.

After that, the hostilities could intensify: Trump said Washington is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports - and then $300 billion more - if Beijing does not yield.

That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to $550 billion - more than the $506 billion in goods that China shipped to the United States last year.

Chinese officials reject accusations they steal or force foreign companies to hand over technology. But rules on auto manufacturing and other industries do require companies to work through state-owned partners, obliging them to share know-how with potential competitors.

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