Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

U.S. seniors struggle more to pay for healthcare compared to other countries

November 16, 2017
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay News  |  Nov. 15, 2017 at 9:57 PM

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15, 2017 — A new report finds the availability of health care for U.S. seniors lags behind that of other affluent nations.

Access to insurance isn’t an issue, because all Americans 65 and older are covered by Medicare. But America’s seniors are still sicker than the elderly in other countries — and are more likely to go without essential care because they can’t afford it, according to the Commonwealth Fund study.

“Our Medicare is not as generous as comparable insurance in other countries,” fund President Dr. David Blumenthal said during a media briefing on Tuesday.

In other countries, government health insurance is not restricted to the elderly, but covers everyone, he said.

The United States is complacent about the value and benefits associated with Medicare, even though it’s a universal system, Blumenthal said.

“We do know that we, as a country, do tolerate higher levels of inequality. That’s most evident in the fact that we underinvest, compared to other countries, in social services and overinvest, despite the lack of generosity of our insurance, in health care,” he said.

Providing more social services to the elderly might help reduce the inequality of care, Blumenthal said.

For the study, researchers surveyed older adults about their health care. Participants came from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Almost one-quarter of U.S. seniors didn’t go to a doctor in the past year when sick or they didn’t get a recommended test or fill a prescription because they couldn’t afford it.

In France, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, no more than 5 percent of older adults skipped care because of costs, the researchers found.

In the United States, 22 percent of seniors spent $2,000 or more on out-of-pocket costs during the past year. The only country with higher out-of-pocket costs was Switzerland, with 31 percent spending more than $2,000 out of pocket.

Among all the other countries, less than 10 percent of seniors spent $2,000 or more, researchers found.

Among U.S. seniors, 25 percent said they worried about having the money to buy food or pay rent or bills for heat or electricity or medical care.

However, in France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, only 10 percent or less said they had these concerns.

Seniors in many countries who suffered from several chronic health problems or had trouble with the basic activities of daily living reported being dissatisfied with the quality of their care.

For example, in Australia, 41 percent were somewhat or not at all satisfied, compared with 26 percent in the United States and 21 percent in Switzerland, the country rated the best in satisfaction.

Cost was also a concern for the sickest. In the United States, 31 percent skipped health care due to costs, compared with 2 percent in Sweden. Additionally, almost a third of the sickest U.S. seniors worried about having enough money for meals, rent or other bills, researchers reported.

The sickest seniors in other countries struggled as well, with about 25 percent of those in Australia and Germany also saying that they worried about paying for food, rent or other bills.

Many of these seniors also suffered from anxiety or depression, which can lead to poorer health and higher costs, Blumenthal said. Social isolation was also a problem faced by a number of seniors, particularly in European countries, the study found.

Access to care, especially after hours and on weekends, is another challenge seniors face.

Fifteen percent of U.S. seniors and 11 percent of Canadian seniors went to the emergency room for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor or clinic had one been available. In other countries, that figure is 8 percent or less, the researchers said.

U.S. doctors did well when it came to counseling seniors on diet, exercise and the risk of falling. Only doctors in Australia and France were similarly likely to discuss falls with their patients, the researchers found.

Dr. Ken Brummel-Smith is professor emeritus of geriatrics at Florida State University College of Medicine, and a spokesman for Physicians for a National Health Program. He said that providing more home care, social services and after-hour doctor and clinic times could help improve the care of the elderly.

“What older people really need are the support systems to manage themselves,” Brummel-Smith said. “Everyone wants to live independently if possible, but we aren’t set up to do that.”

The report was published Nov. 15 in the journal Health Affairs.

More informationFor more on elder care, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Deaths By Terrorism Down Globally But Up in Europe

November 15, 2017

Even as terrorism-related deaths drop dramatically in some parts of the world, fatalities in OECD countries have reached a 16-year high. Research Director of the Global Terrorism Index Daniel Hyslop tells DW why.

Trucks as terror weapons: 12 people died in an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016 (picture-alliance/rtn-radio tele nord rtn/P. Wuest)
  • The study by the Institute for Economics and Peace shows terrorism fell significantly in the worst-affected countries  Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — bringing down global casualty figures.
  • The report went on to call 2016 a “turning point” in the fight against radical Islamist extremism.
  • The so-called Islamic State was the “main driver” for a rise in deaths in Europe and other developed countries. The group was linked to 75 percent of deaths from terrorism in OECD nations since 2014.
  • The rise in European deaths coincides with a tactical shift towards simpler and cheaper methods of attack.

Daniel Hyslop, Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace, talks to DW about global changes in terrorism-related deaths.

DW: What was unique about this year’s study?

Daniel Hyslop: The main report finding that was unique was the fact that the number of terrorist deaths actually decreased by 22 percent globally in 2016 compared to the peak of 2014. So it’s a positive story.

Four of the five countries that are most impacted by terrorist activity have actually seen a notable decrease in the number of deaths that they’ve experienced. That’s really a turning point in the fight against terrorism.

Which countries have seen a significant decrease in terms of terror deaths and which ones a significant increase?

Thecountry that saw the largest decreases was Nigeria, largely because of the Multinational Joint Task Force — the coalition of countries that are fighting Boko Haram — which led to an 80 percent decrease in the number of deaths that the groups committed. Maybe about 3,000 fewer people were killed last year from the group’s actions.

The other thing is Boko Haram split into three groups and it’s no longer the coherent group that it was a couple of years ago. It’s a big improvement in Nigeria and a big part of the story.

Read more – AFRICOM: ‘Terrorist groups’ remain a challenge across Africa

Daniel Hyslop, Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace (Institute for Economic Peace)


Daniel Hyslop: ’80 percent fewer terror victims in Nigeria’

There has also been an improvement in Yemen and Afghanistan, as well as Syria and Niger, which is connected to the improvement in Nigeria. The improvement in Yemen is really because of the sporadic peace talks that have occurred. There has been less use of terror tactics by Houthi rebels. Afghanistan was seeing sort of a perverse trend where the number of conventional battle deaths by the Taliban, the most deadly group in Afghanistan, has actually increased. But the use of terror tactics has actually decreased, so there’s a different trend going on there.

In Syria, we have seen a decrease in the level of terrorism from”Islamic State” (IS). The worst groups really tried to hold on to territory in the country and spent all of its resources on conventional battlefield situation.

Your numbers show that terrorism deaths are down by 22 percent compared to 2014. But we see terrorist attacks in the news every day. How do you explain that?

In Europe, I think one of the concerning trends is that in 2016 we saw the highest number of terrorist deaths in the OECD member countries, which include most of Europe, the US, Australia and Canada. And that number was the highest number since 1988. I think that’s largely the reason why at least in Europe we have the perception of there being perhaps more terrorism than before.

Read more – Cities struggle for security in light of terrorist attacks

Which countries had the most surprising outcomes?

Nigeria soldiers at a checkpoint in Gwoza (picture-alliance/AP Photo/L. Oyekanmi)Regional cooperation has helped combat Boko Haram, which used to be the deadliest terror organisation in the world

I think the most surprising outcome was Nigeria. The fact that it’s going down by about 80 percent, that is a dramatic improvement. You have to remember only two years ago Boko Haram was the deadliest terrorist group in the world. We’ve now seen the group significantly hollowed out, split into three parts. It’s also an example of cooperation between those countries in the region to fight against terrorism. And that just shows that these regional coalitions can be very impactful in terms of dealing with their own security challenges.

Has there been a change in how terrorist attacks have been carried out?

In the places where the majority of terrorism happens, which, of course, is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria, there hasn’t been a dramatic change. However, in Europe there has been. What we have seen is a shift towards much simpler tactics, involving a lot less planning and a lot less people, for instance the use of trucks which Islamic State actually called for back in 2016. That has been a particularly disturbing trend. It has been effective and it’s been used several times already. It’s really in response to the fact that a lot of the really complex attacks are much easier to foil by the security services.

Does that mean that security measures and secret services are working more effectively?

If you look at the proportion of terrorist attacks foiled in OECD member countries, it has gone from about 19 percent of attacks being foiled in 2015 to about 34 percent of attacks on average being foiled in 2016.

What we have seen in the first half of 2017 is actually fewer deaths than at the same time 2016. It is not a uniform trend across all European countries but certainly in Germany, for instance, there have been no successful attacks in 2017. There have been several foiled attacks, but no success.

Read more – EU introduces new measures to combat ‘low-tech’ terrorism

Read more – Preventing terrorism: What powers do German security forces have?

I think one thing that we touched on the report is the fact that whilst Islamic State, the most devastating group, has almost been militarily defeated in Iraq, in Syria, it’s very hard to defeat the ideology that has given rise to the extreme violence that the group is being based on. I think that is the concerning trend going whether or not there is the potential for more violent permutations of IS to emerge. That is why we really think that what is important to address terrorism in the long run, especially in Iraq and Syria, is to develop more inclusive post-conflict settlements that include the disenfranchised groups like the Sunni groups to ensure that there is a long-term peace.

A lot of our work is based on positive peace, so on a concept of building up the attitudes, institutions and structures that sustain peaceful societies. That’s really where we need to focus rather than on the short-term counterterrorism.

Daniel Hyslop is the Research Director at the Institute for Economics and Peace. He has led consulting work with a range of intergovernmental organizations and think tanks including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Hyslop holds a Masters of Economics from Sydney University.

The interview was conducted by Nastassja Shtrauchler and edited for clarity.

Duterte berates Canada’s Trudeau at end of Philippines summit

November 14, 2017

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attacked Canada’s Justin Trudeau at the end of a summit of Asian and Western nations for raising questions about his war on drugs, a topic skirted by other leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump.

At the traditional news conference by the host nation at the end of the summit on Tuesday, Duterte was asked how he had responded to the Canadian prime minister raising the issue of human rights and extra-judicial killings in his anti-drugs drive.

“I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult,” the Philippines president said in the course of a rambling answer, although he did not refer to Trudeau by name.

“I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off.”

Earlier in the day, Trudeau told a news conference that during his meeting with Duterte “the president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange”.

Human rights activists had been hoping that leaders at the summit, including Trump, would raise the issue of the thousands of users and small-time pushers killed in the campaign that was launched by Duterte after he took office in mid-2016.

His government says the police act in self-defense during drug-busts, but critics say executions are taking place with no accountability.

There was no pressure from Trump on the drugs war when he met Duterte on Monday and the U.S. president later said the two had a “great relationship”.

A joint statement after the meeting only said the two sides “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs.”

Duterte cursed Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, last year for raising concerns about the war on drugs and he subsequently declared that he was breaking ties with the United States, a close ally of the Philippines since World War Two. The relationship appears to have got back on track after the bonhomie between him and Trump.

Trudeau also said that he raised the issue of the exodus of Rohingya during a meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, another sensitive topic bypassed by most other leaders, although he did not mention the Muslim minority by name.

“This is a tremendous concern to Canada and to many, many countries around the world,” he said.


The government in mostly-Buddhist Myanmar regards the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not recognize the term.

President Trump boards Air Force One to depart as he returns home to the U.S. from Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Over 600,000 Rohingya have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh since military clearance operations were launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on Aug. 25.

The plight of the Rohingya has brought outrage from around the world and the United Nations has called the operations ethnic cleansing. There have been calls for democracy champion Suu Kyi to be stripped of the Nobel peace prize she won in 1991 because she has not condemned the military’s actions.

Some countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), particularly Muslim-majority Malaysia, have voiced strong concern over the issue recently.

However, in keeping with ASEAN’s principle of non-interference in each others’ internal affairs, it appeared to have been put aside at the summit, which brought Southeast Asian nations together with the United States, Russia, Japan, China, India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Duterte reported that China had agreed at the summit to work on a code of conduct in the South China Sea with ASEAN nations to ease tensions over disputed claims to the busy and resource-rich waterway.

The group also signed agreements on protecting migrant labor and fighting terrorism and cybercrime.

Trump skipped the plenary session of the summit because of scheduling delays, but he said his marathon trip to Asia had been a “tremendous” success.

He told reporters on Air Force One that he had delivered his prepared remarks during a lunch before the summit meeting.

Trump said at least $300 billion, possibly triple that figure, of deals had been agreed in the trip. He did not elaborate.

“We’ve explained that the United States is open for trade but we want reciprocal, we want fair trade for the United States,” he said.

Trade and concern about possible protectionism under Trump’s “America First” agenda have come up during his visit to the region, which included stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam before concluding in the Philippines.

After Trump left Manila, a group of Asia-Pacific nations pursuing a separate Beijing-backed trade deal that does not include the United States agreed to “intensify efforts” in 2018 to bring their negotiations to a conclusion.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) appeared to have been given new impetus at the summit by Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, to which China is not party.

The two trade deals are not mutually exclusive.

ASEAN is joined in the RCEP talks by China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Martin Petty, Neil Jerome Morales, Manuel Mogato, James Pomfret and Enrico dela Cruz; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by John Chalmers

Australia should accept New Zealand offer to resettle refugees: UNHCR

November 14, 2017


SYDNEY (Reuters) – The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees from an abandoned Australian-run detention center in Papua New Guinea, as about 450 men remain barricaded inside without food or water.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and outdoor

An undated image released November 13, 2017 shows detainees staging a protest inside the compound at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea. Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via REUTERS

The asylum seekers have been holed up inside the center for the past two weeks defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea to close the facility, saying they fear for their safety if moved to transit centers.

With many detainees complaining of illness bought about by the unsanitary conditions in the camp, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Australia to allow 150 of them to resettle in New Zealand.

“We urge Australia to reconsider this and take up the offer,” Nai Jit Lam, deputy regional representative at the UNHCR told Reuters.

Most of the asylum seekers are from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Syria.

Australia’s “sovereign borders” immigration policy, under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, has been heavily criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups but has bipartisan political support in Australia.

Australia says allowing asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores would only encourage people smugglers in Asia and see more people risk their lives trying to sail to Australia.

Two motions introduced in Australia’s parliament by the Labor and Green parties, and passed in the upper house on Tuesday, call on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to approve the New Zealand proposal.

“This is a foul and bloody stain on Australia’s national conscience,” Greens senator Nick McKim told reporters.

Turnbull this month rejected the refugee resettlement offer from his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, preferring instead to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former U.S. President Barack Obama last year.

Under the U.S. deal, up to 1,250 asylum seekers detained by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific could be resettled in the United States in return for Australia accepting refugees from Central America. So far, the United States has accepted only 54.

Despite Turnbull rejecting the offer, Ardern this week said it remained on the table and she would seek a second meeting with Turnbull to discuss the “unacceptable” situation inside the Manus island detention center.

Water and electricity to the center were disconnected two weeks ago after Australian security withdrew and the camp closed on Oct. 31. The camp gad been declared illegal by a Papua New Guinea Court.

Papua New Guinea has threatened to forcibly move the men if they remain inside the center. It has set three deadlines but all have passed largely without incident.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

Stalemate as refugees dig in at closed Australia camp in PNG

November 14, 2017


© REFUGEE ACTION COALITION/AFP | Most of the 600 refugees detained at the camp refused to leave when Australia officially closed it on October 31 after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the site unconstitutional, citing fears for their safety outside

SYDNEY (AFP) – Some 400 refugees rebuffed continued efforts by Papua New Guinea authorities to convince them to move from a shuttered Australian detention camp Tuesday as the tense standoff over their future drags into a third week.

The confrontation has drawn global attention to Canberra’s tough immigration policy, under which asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to remote Pacific camps on PNG’s Manus Island and the island nation of Nauru.

Most of the 600 refugees detained at the camp refused to leave when Australia officially closed it on October 31 after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the site unconstitutional, citing fears for their safety outside.

They are barred from resettling in Australia and Canberra has struggled to transfer them to third countries.

Kurdish-Iranian detainee and journalist Behrouz Boochani told AFP on Tuesday that the detainees were going to dig another well, a day after police moved into the camp to puncture or remove tanks holding the refugees’ remaining supplies of drinking water.

“It’s the moment to accept failure & let us go to a 3rd country,” Boochani, who has acted as a spokesman for the refugees, added in a tweet Tuesday.

Police, who have so far complied with orders from higher authorities not to resort to force to remove the men, used loudspeakers to appeal to the detainees to move on Monday.

Chief Inspector David Yapu issued a statement late Monday indicating growing impatience at the stalemate, after the refugees ignored several deadlines for the camp to be cleared.

“Those refugees were sitting in their compounds and staring at us without any signs of moving out from the centre,” the Manus provincial police commander said in the statement.

“Apparently my message went through deaf ears and into the brick wall.”

Yapu added that he needed “some clear directives on our next course of action” to persuade the men to leave.

PNG police said they have managed to get about 180 men to voluntarily relocate to three nearby transition centres.

Boochani said those who agreed to move to those new sites have complained about the harsh conditions there.

Canberra has been hopeful that up to 1,250 refugees on Manus and Nauru could be transferred to the United States under a resettlement deal struck last year.

But so far, just 54 refugees have been accepted by Washington, with 24 flown to America in September.

At the same time, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has snubbed an offer from New Zealand to resettle 150 refugees, citing fears it would restart the people-smuggling trade.

His New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern has expressed concerns about Manus and said Saturday she would raise the issue with him at the East Asian Summit in Manila this week.

“In terms of the people currently at the Manus Island centre, they should comply with the lawful requirements of the government of Papua New Guinea,” Turnbull told reporters in the Philippines on Tuesday, adding that the US deal “is progressing”.

Despite widespread criticism, Canberra has defended its offshore processing policy as stopping deaths at sea after a spate of drownings.

Trump caps Asia tour with international summit in Manila

November 13, 2017

AFP and AP

© Noel Celis, AFP | World leaders link hands during the Opening ceremony of the 31st ASEAN summit in Manila on November 13, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-11-13

President Donald Trump is winding down his lengthy Asia trip with an international summit and a series of meetings with Pacific Rim allies, including his host in the Philippines who is overseeing a bloody drug war.

Trump jointly met Monday with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, with whom he had a contentious phone call last winter, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who hosted the president in Tokyo earlier in the trip. Trump raved about his accomplishments on his five-nation journey, including on trade and North Korea, but said he would wait until his return to Washington on Wednesday to elaborate with a “major statement.”

“We’ve made some very big steps with regard to trade – far bigger than anything you know,” Trump told reporters at the beginning of the meeting in Manila, touting business deals forged between U.S. and foreign companies.

“We’ve made a lot of big progress on trade. We have deficits with almost everybody. Those deficits are going to be cut very quickly and very substantially,” Trump said.

“Except us,” Turnbull chimed in, to laughs.

“You’re the only one,” Trump responded. Trump also said the trip had been “very fruitful” for the United States and pointed to the warm welcomes he had received in capitals like Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.

“It was red carpet like nobody, I think, has probably ever received,” Trump said. “And that really is a sign of respect, perhaps for me a little, but really for our county. And I’m really proud of that.”

The opening ceremonies of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference began with pageantry, including a group photo of the leaders and the summit’s traditional handshake. That cross-body handshake, during which each leader shakes the opposite hands of those next to him or her, briefly baffled Trump, who then laughed as he figured out where to place his arms.

One of the leaders on his flank was Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has overseen a bloody drug war that has featured extrajudicial killings. The two men are also slated to hold longer, formal talks later Monday and White House aides signaled that Trump is not expected to publicly bring up human rights in their discussions.

Trump will also meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, which plays a key role in the U.S. vision of an Indo-Pacific region that attempts to de-emphasize China’s influence. And he is slated to have dinner with Turnbull.

But swirling questions about Russia followed Trump halfway across the globe.

He tried to have it both ways on the issue of Russian interference in last year’s presidential race, saying he believes both the U.S. intelligence agencies when they say Russia meddled and Putin’s sincerity in claiming that his country did not.

“I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election,” Trump said Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“As to whether I believe it, I’m with our agencies,” Trump said. “As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

But just a day earlier, he had lashed out at the former heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies, dismissing them as “political hacks” and claiming there were plenty of reasons to be suspicious of their findings that Russia meddled to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Former CIA director John Brennan, appearing Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said Trump was deriding them in an attempt to “delegitimize” the intelligence community’s assessment.

“I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump’s interest in being flattered. And also I think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do or what might come out as a result of these investigations,” Brennan said.

Brennan said Trump’s ambiguity on Russia’s involvement was “very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

“I think he’s giving Putin a pass and I think it demonstrates to Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and play upon his insecurities,” Brennan said.

Questions about whether Trump believes the assessment about Russian election-meddling have trailed him since January, when he said for the first time, shortly before taking office, that he accepted that Russia was behind the election-year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race.

A special counsel’s examination of potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides so far has led to indictments against Trump’s former campaign chairman and another top aide for crimes unrelated to the campaign, and a guilty plea from a Trump foreign policy adviser for lying to the FBI.

Multiple congressional committees are also investigating.

Trump told reporters traveling with him to Hanoi on Saturday that Putin had again vehemently denied the allegations. The two spoke during an economic conference in Danang, Vietnam. Trump danced around questions about whether he believed Putin but stressed Putin’s denials.

“Every time he sees me, he says: ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe – I really believe – that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said, arguing that it makes no sense for him to belabor the issue when Russia could help the U.S. on North Korea, Syria and other issues.


Philippines: Anti-Trump, Anti-U.S. Protest Broken Up By Riot Police, Water Canon

November 12, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, crowd and outdoor


Protesters shout slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit at the Philippine International Convention Center, venue of the upcoming 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Czar Dancel

MANILA (Reuters) – Riot police used water canon to prevent hundreds of protesters reaching the U.S. embassy in Manila on Sunday, just a few hours before the arrival of President Donald Trump in the Philippines for a regional summit and the last leg of his Asia tour.

Carrying placards declaring “Dump Trump” and “Down with U.S. Imperialism”, the left-wing protesters were blocked by police in riot gear with shields and batons, and then showered with jets of water from a fire engine.

”Trump is the CEO of the imperialist government of the US, said 18-year-old student Alexis Danday after the protesters were scattered. “We know he is here to push for unfair treaties between the Philippines and the U.S.”

Trump was expected to arrive in the Philippines at around 5 p.m. (4.00 a.m. ET) for meetings with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other East Asian nations, fresh off an Asia-Pacific summit and bilateral visit in Vietnam.

In Hanoi earlier on Sunday, Trump said he was prepared to mediate between claimants to the South China Sea, where four ASEAN countries and Taiwan contest China’s sweeping claims to the busy waterway.

“If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know,” Trump said at a meeting with Vietnam’s president, Tran Dai Quang. “I‘m a very good mediator and arbitrator.”

In August, foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but one seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its power.

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven man-made islands in disputed waters, three of them equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

Protesters shout slogans during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit at the Philippine International Convention Center, venue of the upcoming 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The framework will be endorsed by China and the 10 nations of ASEAN in Manila on Monday, a diplomat from one of the regional bloc’s countries said.

The Philippines will be Trump’s last stop on a marathon tour that has taken him to Japan, South Korea, China as well as Vietnam. Despite Trump’s “America First” policy, the visit should provide some reassurance that Washington remains committed to a region that Beijing sees as its strategic domain.

The increasing use of the phrase “Indo-Pacific” by Trump and his team during their Asian tour this week, instead of the more common “Asia-Pacific” term has been seen by analysts as an effort to depict the region as more than China-dominated.

Pacific Rim nation leaders agreed in Vietnam on Saturday to address “unfair trade practices” and “market distorting subsidies”, a statement that bore the imprint of Trump’s efforts to reshape the global trade landscape.

The summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam put on show the contrasting vision of the “America First” policy with the traditional consensus favoring multinational deals that China now seeks to champion.

Trump will meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, where he will try to shore up relations strained by the mercurial Duterte’s notorious anti-U.S. sentiment and his enthusiasm for better ties with Russia and China.

Others who will be in Manila for the summit meetings include Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and leaders from Japan, Canada, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand as well as the member states of ASEAN.

Pacific Rim states agree on ‘core elements’ of TPP trade deal, without US

November 11, 2017

Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries have reached an agreement on the “core elements” of the TPP trade pact, even with the US staying out of the deal. At the same time, Canada warned there was more work ahead.

Vietnam APEC meeting (picture-alliance/empics/The Canadian Press/M. Tsikas)

The representatives of the 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including  Japan, Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Mexico, have agreed to push ahead toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The decision comes after days of tense negotiations on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.

In a joint statement early on Saturday, the trade ministers said they were “pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements” of the major trade deal, which aimed to slash tariffs across the Pacific region.

Infografik APEC Größte Wirtschaftsländer ENG

Read moreWhy is the United States interested in the ‘Indo-Pacific’?

The basic agreement would maintain “the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants,” they said.

APEC Conference gets underway in Vietnam

The statement marks an important breakthrough for the deal, which was on the brink of collapsing after President Donald Trump announced the United States would be leaving the pact earlier this year. While the US championed the TPP under former President Barack Obama, Trump said such deals are unfair to his country. Trump restated his criticism at the leaders’ summit in Vietnam on Friday.

“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” he said.

‘Some work to be done’

Canada, however, voiced its reservations during the latest talks, insisting on environmental and labor protection. Late on Thursday, Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters that a basic deal was achieved, but this was quickly disputed by Canada’s representative Francois-Philippe Champagne.

Mexiko Kanadischer Handelsminister Francois-Philippe Champagne in Mexiko-Stadt (Reuters/H. Romero)Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s International Trade Minister

Read more: APEC and free trade in Asia in the age of protectionism

While Champagne backed the joint statement on Saturday, he also warned that Canada will “not be rushed” into a potentially bad deal.

“We are pleased that progress is being made towards a possible agreement, but there is still some work to be done. Our priority is to ensure that it is the right deal for Canadian workers and businesses,” he said.

A press conference was scheduled later on Saturday.

dj/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)


Trans-Pacific Partnership countries agree to continue pact without Trump’s US

November 11, 2017

Eleven countries wish to press on with rebranded free trade deal after reaching agreement in talks at Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam

By Liu Zhen
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 November, 2017, 4:20pm

Eleven countries have agreed to rename the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and move on without the United States after they reached a “fundamental agreement” to continue the pact in Vietnam on Saturday.

Ministers from 11 former TPP countries decided to call the new regional free trade arrangement the “Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership” (CPTPP) following a three-day negotiation on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh said.

“We have reached agreement on a number of fundamental parts,” Tran told a press conference on Saturday.

Tran said the spirit of the former TPP agreement would endure, maintaining its high standards regarding trade practices, but the members would suspend certain clauses in light of the new situation.

The countries have yet to reach consensus in four areas so a date for signing the new deal has yet to be finalised.

Tran said: “The ministers will have negotiations to discuss the remaining technical issues that have not been agreed yet as well the legislative matters needed to put the agreement into implementation.”

Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi hailed the Da Nang talks as a “success”, saying they have managed to limit the number of suspended articles to 20.

At one point the negotiations in Da Nang appeared on the brink of failure after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau missed a TPP leaders’ meeting on Friday.

Canada has the second largest economy, after Japan’s, of the remaining TPP countries.

The Canadians changed their mind on one area “at the last minute”, according to Motegi, threatening to scupper the deal before Trudeau finally agreed to let it go ahead.

Kyodo news reported that a negotiation source had said Canada was apparently dissatisfied about the rules on intellectual property as well as those on trade in the auto industry. Ottawa was also dissatisfied with the way Japan had chaired the TPP meetings, the source said.

 Leaders of the 21 Apec nations pose for a group photo in Da Nang. Photo: Reuters

China had been sceptical about the TPP, which had been spearheaded by Barack Obama’s administration, believing it was Washington’s attempt to contain Beijing.

Beijing instead attempted to push forward the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which encompasses 21 Pacific Rim countries, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as a counterbalance to the TPP.

Zhang Yansheng, a senior researcher with the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, said the TPP was “exclusive and unfair” towards other countries.

However, he suggested there was no need to be overly concerned about the possible impact of the 11-member TPP given the size of China’s economy and scale of its influence.

Wei Jianguo, a former vice commerce minister, said the economic scale of the deal was much smaller without the US and would have little impact on China. He said it remained to be seen wether sensitive areas, such as access to the auto market in Japan, would be implemented.

“There are many multinational or bilateral trade pacts in the world. China hopes it is open, inclusive and equal,” said Wei.

The US-led TPP agreement was signed in February 2016. The free trade agreement also set high standards in non-trade issues such as the environment and labour rights.

The 12 signatories were the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, who are also all APEC members.

But the US pulled out in January days after Donald Trump was sworn in as president because he believed it would harm American interests.

“When the United States, the country with great economic weight, the greatest of all, withdrew from the TPP, it created difficulties for other countries in maintaining the TPP with the same standards and finding a new balance in interests and responsibilities,” said Tran.

Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.

“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of any more,” he told an APEC business conference.

The change of the name reflects the fact that the US has withdrawn, but the remaining members still hope the US will return, said Motegi.

Motegi said the 11 countries shared the view that the pact would prove beneficial and urged the US to return, so that they completed a series “unprecedented high frequency” meetings and reached core consensus very quickly in only four months since July without anyone dropping out.

“All the 11 countries are on board and this would send out a very strong positive message to the United States and other Asia-Pacific countries in the region,” he added.

Additional reporting by Wendy Wu



Pacific trade deal reached but leaders won’t endorse it yet

November 11, 2017

Tran Tuan Anh, Toshimitsu Motegi

DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries announced an agreement Saturday on pushing ahead with a free-trade deal whose destiny was uncertain after President Donald Trump dropped it.

“We have reached an agreement on a number of fundamental parts,” Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, told reporters in the coastal resort city of Danang, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. But more work must be done before leaders of the countries involved can endorse the plan, said Anh and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi.

The 11 counties remaining in the trade pact rejected by Trump in January have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without U.S. involvement. That involved a difficult balance between maintaining high standards and pragmatism, Motegi said.

“Through a pragmatic response of the officials involved we could come to an agreement,” Motegi said. He said it was clear there would be a need for further changes but that differences had been narrowed down.

“The substance is something all the TPP countries can agree on,” said Motegi. “This will send a very strong message to the U.S. and the other countries in the region.”

The talks resulted in an even longer name for the trade pact than originally devised. It is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The announcement of a basic agreement was delayed by last-minute discord that prevented the TPP leaders from endorsing the plan when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not join other leaders who gathered Friday to endorse an agreement in principle on pressing ahead without the U.S.

In the end, Canada’s Minister for International Commerce Francois-P Champagne said in a tweet Saturday that “after lots of work, big progress on the ‘Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.’”

Trudeau had said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.

Despite enthusiasm for sticking with the plan following the U.S. withdrawal, criticism over various issues persists. Detractors of the TPP say it favors corporate interests over labor and other rights. Trudeau said days before arriving in Danang that he would not be rushed into signing an agreement that did not suit Canada’s interests.

Aspects of the trade pact have also raised hackles over a requirement that companies be allowed to sue governments for lack of enforcement of related laws.

The proposed basic agreement reached in Danang said that the ministers maintained “the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants and preserving our inherent right to regulate, including the flexibility of the parties to set legislative and regulatory priorities.”

The U.S., the biggest TPP economy, had been one of its most assertive supporters before Trump took office. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America first.”

Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.

“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” he told an APEC business conference. He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying “I am always going to put America first.”

Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to U.S. involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.

In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.

Xi drew loud applause when he urged support for the “multilateral trading regime” and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific. China is not part of the TPP.

APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments are to be eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.

But even talks this week on a declaration to cap the APEC summit had to be extended for an extra half day as ministers haggled over wording. The release of a set of ministerial agreements early Saturday suggested the leaders would finesse any disagreements, as usual, to demonstrate unity and avoid embarrassing their hosts.

As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year’s host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West. The summit is an occasion for its leaders to showcase the progress its economy has made thanks largely to foreign investment and trade. Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.


Associated Press writer Robert Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.