Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’

US eyes heavy tariffs on China, Russia to counter steel, aluminum glut

February 16, 2018


© AFP | US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross believes that cheap steel and aluminum imports from places like China and Russia “threaten to impair our national security”

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Commerce Department said Friday it recommended imposing tariffs on China, Russia and other countries to counter a global glut in steel and aluminum which it says threatens national security.In a report to President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross includes among the options a nearly 24 percent tariff on all products from China, Russia and three other economies.

Other options would impose either high tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports.

The findings are part of an investigation into the impact of the oversupply of steel and aluminum, and whether it undermines US national security.

In each case “the imports threaten to impair our national security,” Ross told reporters in a conference call about the so-called Section 232 investigation.

China and Russia are primary targets, but many other countries are included in the recommended sanctions, which are sure to spark fears of a global trade war if implemented.

Ross said the sanctions were designed to be broad to prevent targeted countries from circumventing the limits by shipping through a third country.

He said “serial offenders can evade these orders by transshipment through another country.”

For steel, Ross recommended three possible options: a 24 percent tariff on all steel from all countries; a 53 percent tariff on imports from 12 countries, including China, Russia and Brazil; or a quota on steel from all countries.

For aluminum, he recommended either a 7.7 percent tariffs on the metal from all countries; a quota for all countries; or, perhaps the most shocking of all the options, a 23.6 percent tariffs on imports of all products from China, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Venezuela.

Ross submitted the two reports to the White House in late January.

Trump has until mid-April to decide on any possible action, which he acknowledged likely would prompt action by US trading partners in the World Trade Organization.

US industries have urged the administration to take care since high import tariffs would raise the cost of supplies for major industries.

But Commerce said the goal of the measures is to boost domestic aluminum and steel prodcution.



U.S. Weighs Tariffs and Quotas on Steel, Aluminum Imports

February 16, 2018

Trump administration weighs different options, ranging from a global tariff of at least 24%, to a more targeted approach focusing on China and other nations

The Trump administration on Friday said it was weighing broad-based tariffs and quotas to curb imports of steel and aluminum to protect national security, though officials stressed no final decisions had yet been made and the ultimate policy could be considerably more limited.

The recommendations were part of internal administration reports released Friday laying out the options for President Donald Trump as he considers how to fulfill a campaign promise to take a more aggressive stance than predecessors to shield domestic steel and aluminum makers from growing foreign competition.

The recommendations suggest the president choose among several options. One of them is a global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports from all countries. Another is a tariff of at least 53% on steel imports from a dozen countries. Under the latter, targeted option, the tariffs of 53% would be applied on steel from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

The report from the Commerce Department also included, as an alternative, a quota on steel products from countries equal to 63% of the countries’ 2017 exports to the U.S.

“I am glad that we were able to provide this analysis and these recommendations to the president,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “I look forward to his decision on any potential course of action.”

The recommendations are opposed by many lawmakers and businesses who worry that the tariffs risk provoking a trade war and raising prices on a range of domestic products.

The recommendations sent sector stocks soaring Friday. Nucor Corp, the largest U.S. steel producer by sales, rose almost 5% and US Steel Corp and AK Steel Holding Corp gain more than 10%. Aluminum stock reaction more muted, with market leader Alcoa Corp. recently up almost 3% and Arconic Inc up 1.6%, both off earlier highs

Mr. Trump faces an April deadline to decide whether, and how, to restrict imports under little-used section 232 of the 1962 trade law that gives the president wide discretion to impose tariffs and quotas if he deems certain imports pose a national security threat. Mr. Trump launched the studies in a White House ceremony last April with cheering industry and union executives by his side, and he promised at the time dramatic action within weeks.

On aluminum, the Commerce Department recommended global tariffs of at least 7.7% on all aluminum imports, or a tariff of 23.6% on select countries or a quota on imports equal to a maximum of 86.7% of the countries’ 2017 exports to the U.S. Under the second option, which targets individual countries, tariffs would apply to aluminum from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Write to Jacob M. Schlesinger at and William Mauldin at

Leaked memo shows Iranian regime in panic after deadly protests

January 2, 2018

Fox News

Developing now, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018:

  • Exclusive: A leaked memo shows how the Iranian regime considered stopping recent deadly protests
  • President Trump returns to the White House after holiday break, prepares to tackle new year’s challenges
  • California officially becomes a “sanctuary state” as new law takes effect
  • U.S. Customs system outage stalls travelers in airports for hours across the country on New Year’s Day
  • Florida family and college basketball standout among the newly identified victims of New Year’s Eve crash in Costa Rica

THE LEAD STORY: Leaked meeting notes provided exclusively to Fox News shows how Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with political leaders and heads of the country’s security forces to discuss how to tamp down on deadly nationwide protests The memo covered several meetings up to Dec. 31 and was given to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) by high-level sources from within the regime. It said the unrest has hurt every sector of the country’s economy and “threatens the regime’s security. The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation.” The notes added, “Religious leaders and the leadership must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation (from) deteriorating further … God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.”

BACK TO WORK: President Trump has returned to the White House after a holiday break looking to capitalize on his victories at the end of 2017 … Trump plans to host Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan at Camp David next weekend to map out the 2018 legislative agenda. The president is hoping capitalize on his pre-Christmas success on tax cuts and make more legislative achievements. Republicans are eager to make progress before attention shifts to the midterm elections. The GOP wants to hold House and Senate majorities in 2018, but must contend with Trump’s unpopularity, some recent Democratic election wins and potential voter anxiety over tax reform.

Congress also has to deal with a backlog from 2017: It must agree on a spending bill by Jan. 19 to avert a partial government shutdown; unfinished business on additional aid to for hurricane victims; lifting the debt ceiling; extending a children’s health insurance program and extending protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump has said he wants money for a border wall in exchange for protecting those immigrants.

INEVITABLE SANCTUARY STATE SHOWDOWN?: California became a “sanctuary state” Monday, as a bill that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in October officially took effect … The law bars police in the nation’s most populous state from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities in most cases. The Golden State is home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants.

NEW YEAR’S DAY TRAVEL NIGHTMARE: A U.S. Customs system outage affecting airports across the country stalled fliers for hours, triggering headaches for many people just trying to get home on New Year’s Day … Customs and Border Patrol officials confirmed that processing systems were back online after “a temporary outage,” adding that the failure was not “malicious in nature.” In a statement to Fox News, CBP said the disruption began at 7:30 p.m. and lasted for roughly two hours. Additionally, “CBP officers continued to process international travelers using alternative procedures at affected airports,” they said.

MORE AMERICAN VICTIMS ID’D IN COSTA RICA TRAGEDY: The identities of more victims of a New Year’s Eve plane crash in Costa Rica emerged Monday, with a second vacationing family and a college basketball standout listed among the 12 people killed … The small charter aircraft carrying 10 American tourists, including families from New York and Florida, and two local crew members crashed and burst into flames midday Sunday in a wooded area in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica on the Pacific coast, the government reported. There were no survivors. Two families, from the New York City suburb of Scarsdale, N.Y., and from Belleair, Fla., accounted for nine of the dead. Their American guide, from Wisconsin, was the 10th U.S. victim. The family from Florida included Drs. Mitchell Weiss, a vascular and interventional radiologist, Leslie Weiss, a pediatrician, and their two children.

IRAN EMBOLDENED UNDER OBAMA: “President Obama made it clear that he was going to stand behind the Iranian regime. He was going to send them lots and lots of money. Of course some of it was their own money, but still they used it to foment terrorism, to export terrorism around the world.” – Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor emeritus on “Fox & Friends,” dissecting former President Obama’s strategy on Iran. WATCH

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Tropical Storm Nate drenches Costa Rica — Heading for US

October 5, 2017


© AFP / by Marc BURLEIGH | Torrential rains from Tropical Storm Nate drench Costa Rica, leaving two dead

SAN JOSÉ (AFP) – A tropical storm sliding north along Central America Thursday has unleashed heavy rains that have killed at least two people in Costa Rica, with forecasters predicting it could strengthen into a hurricane headed for the United States.

Costa Rica declared a national emergency as it struggled with mudslides, washed out roads and overflowing rivers.

Schools, universities, government offices and state banks across the Central American nation were closed.

“We have confirmation that at least two people have died and several who are missing are being sought by emergency teams,” Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis told reporters.

The two fatalities were Nicaraguan farm workers on a property in the central east of the country.

More than 5,000 people were being put up in shelters after having to abandon their homes because of flooding and the risk of mudslides, the director of the National Emergency Commission, Ivan Brenes, said.

– Strengthening into a hurricane –

The rain was caused by Tropical Storm Nate, which on Thursday was located overland in eastern Nicaragua.

The US National Hurricane Center said it expected the storm to keep tracking north, gaining force as it went.

It said Tropical Storm Nate would be “near hurricane intensity” by the time it hit Mexico’s southern Yucatan Peninsula late Friday, then strengthen into a hurricane as it crossed the Gulf of Mexico to hit the southern United States somewhere between the states of Louisiana and Florida.

“It is too early to specify the exact timing, location, or magnitude of these impacts,” the center said.

The United States is recovering up from two major hurricanes: Hurricane Harvey that tore through Texas in August, and Hurricane Irma in September.

Another powerful storm, Hurricane Maria, ripped across Caribbean islands in late September, wreaking destruction in several countries and territories, including Dominica and Puerto Rico.

– Crocodile alert –

In Costa Rica, an alert was issued for people to be wary of crocodiles that might be roaming after rivers and estuaries flooded.

Concerned football officials were monitoring the situation but said they intended to go ahead with a World Cup qualifying match between Costa Rica and Honduras scheduled for late Friday in the capital San Jose.

The annual rainy season is currently underway in Central America, a five-month period typically ending in November in which the risk of flooding and mudslides rise.

This year’s has been intense, with some areas in the region getting up to 50 percent more rain than average for September and October.

The worst-hit country in the region has been Honduras, where 32 people have died so far this season, according to national emergency service officials.

Guatemala suffered 26 deaths, and another 300,000 people were affected, and 4,000 homes were damaged.

In El Salvador, six people died and a national alert urging vigilance was issued last week.

In Panama, a mudslide on Saturday killed six people in an indigenous area.

Belize issued a public warning over Tropical Storm Nate, urging “preparations to protect life and property” and for people in flood-prone areas to move to higher ground.


Magnitude 8 earthquake strikes off Mexico’s southern coast

September 8, 2017

The shock of the quake was felt as far away as Mexico City. The government has said that at least five people were killed in the country’s south as a result of the tremor.

Rescue workers standing in rubble in Mexico (picture-alliance/ZumaPress/A. Salinas)

The quake struck late on Thursday, and was recorded as a magnitude 8.4 on the Richter scale according to Mexico’s National Seismological Service. Government officials said that at least five people died in the country’s south.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said that the quake, the biggest the country has seen in a century, had caused major damage and caused 1 million people to lose power, though it has been restored to about 800,000 already.

The US Tsunami Warning Center has cautioned that widespread, devastating tidal waves were possible on Mexico’s coast, as well as in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador.

Shortly thereafter, authorities reported a tsunami was indeed headed towards the coast, fortunately only 0.7 meters (2.3 feet) tall.

The quake’s epicenter was about 123 km (76 miles) south of the town of Pijijiapan in Chiapas state, but the shock was felt 1000 km (650 miles) as far away as Mexico City, sending residents fleeing swaying buildings and knocking out electricity in parts of the city. The quake was also felt in much of Guatemala, which borders Chiapas.

Mexico’s civil protection agency reported that the last comparable tremor was a 1985 earthquake that killed thousands and destroyed entire buildings in the country’s heavily populated capital.

Impresionante, un hotel en Matías Romero, OAXACA esta inclinado, huéspedes y personal al interior. Están evacuando huéspedes. Vía @rioaxaca

Civil Defense officials wrote on Twitter that their personnel were patrolling the streets in Chiapas aiding residents and looking for damage. They also issued a warning for aftershocks, several of which themselves registered a 5.0 magnitude according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco told broadcaster Televisa some homes had been damaged and a shopping center had collapsed in the town of San Cristobal.

“Homes, schools and hospitals have been affected,” Velasco said.

In Tabasco state, next to Chipas, Governor Arturo Nunez said two of the dead were small children who were residents of his state. One child was crushed by a falling wall while the other was an infant who perished when his ventilator stopped functioning after a power outage in a hospital.

There were also reports of bad damage in Oaxaca state, with buildings collapsed and reduced to rubble. Throughout all three southern states, rescue workers rushed to check for anyone trapped by the debris.

Karte Mexiko Erdbeben ENG

es/ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)


Deadly earthquake hits off the coast of southern Mexico

September 8, 2017

Updated 4:05 AM ET, Fri September 8, 2017

(CNN) — A massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of southern Mexico early Friday morning, killing at five people and triggering tsunamis.

The quake, which was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City, struck 74 miles (120 kilometers) off the Pacific Coast at 12:49 a.m. ET Friday, when many people would have been sleeping.

Latest updates

— Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said three people died in the state of Chiapas and two in Tabasco. Gov. Manuel Velasco said two of them died in a house collapse.
— Some 23,000 people likely experienced violent shaking, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS Pager system, which predicts economic and human loss following earthquakes, issued a red alert. “High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response,” it said.
— A tsunami has been confirmed in Mexico, with one wave coming in at 3 feet (1 meter), according to a tweet from the National Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center’s verified account.
— The main quake had a depth of 69.7 kilometers (43 miles), according to the USGS. It was a particularly shallow quake, according to Jana Pursely, a geophysicist at the USGS.
— The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, close to both the Mexican states of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, and Oaxaca, in the Middle America trench.
— The USGS has reported multiple aftershocks, including four with tremors measuring above 5.0 in magnitude.
— Gov. Velasco told Foro TV that there have been reports of damage, including hospitals that have lost power and buildings with collapsed roofs. He said that he will cancel school on Friday.
— A tsunami threat is being evaluated by the Tsunami Warning System. The Tsunami Warning Center advised the public that tsunami waves could hit within three hours off the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and even Ecuador.
— Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales activated security personnel to assess the damage.
A dark street can be seen in the street in Mexico City.

Chiapas hit hard

Gonazalo Segundo was awoken by the shaking.
“I was already in bed. I was in my place so we were expecting to have a tranquil night but suddenly … everything breaks apart, glasses, furniture and everything,” he told CNN over the phone from Chiapas.
The states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, home to at about 9 million people, are both located close to the earthquake’s epicenter. They are two of the impoverished areas in Mexico, and were likely hit the hardest.
First responders at the scene after the quake.

“We have experienced earthquakes before, but not like this. It was so intense,” Segundo said. “We are alive, that’s the important thing.”
Many of those in Chiapas may not have been so lucky. The earthquake struck in the early hours of the morning when most people would have been sleeping. Chiapas is Mexico’s poorest state.
Pursely of the USGS told CNN she expects damage along the coast, meaning a costly cleanup could be on the way. These types of shallow quakes have the potential to be very dangerous, she said.
CNN attempted to contact two seaside hotels in Chiapas but the lines appeared to be down.
People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during the quake.

Mexico City shakes

On his verified twitter account, Mexican President Peña Nieto tweeted, “Civil protection protocols are activated, including the National Emergency Committee.”
It appears even the capital, hundreds of miles away, was not spared from the quake’s tremors. Mexico CIty Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said parts of the city are without in an interview on Foro TV.
Videos on social media showed significant tremors in various parts of the country as well as major damage to buildings and infrastructure, including traffic lights shaking.
Paulaina Gomez-Wulschner was driving when it struck. She heard an earthquake alarm go off on the radio, parked her car and joined others stood in the middle of the street to avoid falling objects.
“This was a very, very strong earthquake, one of the strongest I’ve felt, and I was here in 1985 when that earthquake collapsed Mexico City,” she told CNN.”It was very scary,” she said.
Gomez-Wulschner said she could hear sirens, ambulances and helicopters in the aftermath, but did not see any immediate damage near her.
But a receptionist at the Intercontinental in Mexico City said he only felt light shaking.

See also:

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Southern Mexico; Tsunami Warning Issued

Digital Clue Links North Korea to Theft at New York Fed

April 3, 2017

Kaspersky Lab says digital records show link to a computer with North Korean internet address

The Wall Street Journal
April 3, 2017 2:00 p.m. ET


A newly discovered digital clue links the hacking group blamed for a multimillion-dollar cyberattack on Bangladesh’s central bank to a computer in North Korea, according to the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab ZAO.

Kaspersky announced Monday at its security conference on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten that its researchers had obtained digital records showing a European server used by the group to launch its attacks…

China risks undermining a unique economic and environmental pact

December 4, 2016

By Jake Colvin
The Hill

In Geneva this week, senior officials will seek to conclude a deal to lower the cost of environmentally-friendly technologies, but it will take greater leadership and increased flexibility from China to get this unique economic and environmental agreement over the finish line.

The Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) would eliminate tariffs between China, Europe, Japan, the United States, Costa Rica and other innovative economies on a broad range of products beneficial to the environment from wind turbines to LED lighting.

Such a deal would have important economic benefits for all of the participants. For China, a study commissioned by the Coalition for Green Trade suggests that an agreement would increase China’s GDP and national income by billions of dollars.

For the United States, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that American exporters produced and sent $130 billion of environmental goods abroad in 2015, and this agreement would enable American manufacturers to grab a larger share of the $1 trillion dollar global environmental goods industry. Other Asian, European and Latin American economies would see new markets open for their manufacturers.

An agreement would also have a positive effect on the global environment. In particular, it would help China and other participants meet their global climate commitments and reduce air and water pollution at a lower cost.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates that one million people die each year in China from outdoor air pollutants. This deal would help economies including China adopt air pollution control technologies at a lower cost. Ultimately, the Coalition for Green Trade study notes that China could gain approximately $659 billion annually in economic benefits that stem from improved environmental quality thanks to cost savings that an EGA would bring.

For all of these reasons, experts and business groups from around the world have strongly encouraged negotiators to finish the deal this year.

Last month at a seminar in Beijing, Professor Tu Xinquan, Dean of China Institute of WTO studies at the University of International Business and Economics noted that an EGA “will have very great environmental benefits,” and noted that China’s pollution “will challenge the Chinese government to make great progress in the EGA negotiations.”

At the same seminar, Wang Zhuo, Vice Secretary-General of the China Association of Lighting Industry (CALI), highlighted how LED lighting can reduce energy consumption and called for a rapid conclusion to the negotiations.

In the United States, the effort enjoys strong and longstanding bipartisan support across multiple Administrations and Congresses, as well as from business groups from the Business Council for Sustainable Energy to the Business Roundtable and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

And dozens of business groups, including the Australian Industry Group, Business New Zealand, Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters, Japan Machinery Center for Trade and Investment, Singapore Business Federation, and Solar Energy Industries Association, signed a letter earlier this year calling for a conclusion of the agreement by year-end.

Despite these clear, shared benefits for Beijing and Washington in particular, as countries send their senior ministers to Geneva in an attempt to finalize an agreement, China has arrived with a lengthy shopping list but little flexibility or currency in its pockets to pay for what it wants.

The hallmark of any successful negotiation is a good-faith give-and-take between countries that results in a deal which benefits all parties. To the extent that any one party to a negotiation arrives asking that all of its requests be accommodated while simultaneously refusing to accommodate the requests of others, as China appears poised to do, that is a recipe for failure.

Failure to conclude this unique agreement now would be more than another missed deadline. It would undermine the authority of world leaders who, under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s leadership at the G-20 Ministerial in Hangzhou, hailed a “landing zone” for the agreement and emphasized a shared commitment to finish an ambitious deal by the end of 2016.

The inability to conclude an EGA would be a particular blow to China’s credibility on trade. Last month, President Xi touted China’s commitment to free trade, saying at the APEC leaders’ summit that Beijing “oppose[s] all forms of protectionism” and wishes to “inject positive energy into economic globalization.” China’s state-run news agency touted the idea that China would “take the driver’s seat in terms of pushing for greater free trade” in the Asia Pacific.

Failure would also diminish the World Trade Organization (WTO), the umbrella under which this agreement is being negotiated. A failed ministerial meeting  —  on a topic that is relatively uncomplicated and enjoys broad support  —  could undermine the credibility of the organization as a forum to modernize other, more complex trade rules in the future.

The flip side is that an ambitious agreement would be an important shared victory for the participants’ economies, the global environment and the international institutions and rules that support the global marketplace. Success would also help cement the leadership of China, the United States, Europe, and the other innovative participants in the global economy.

We will soon find out whether world leaders can keep their word, and whether innovative economies can join forces and secure an ambitious agreement that enhances shared economic and environmental goals before time runs out.

Jake Colvin is Vice President for Global Trade Issues at the National Foreign Trade Council and Executive Director of the Global Innovation Forum. Follow the conversation @NFTC and @GlobaliForum

Who Does Most Harm To Global Innovation? India, China And Thailand

January 30, 2016

By Megha Bahree

Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have done the most for global innovation on a per-capita basis while India, Indonesia, and Argentina have done the least, according to a new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think-tank that focuses on a range of issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy.

Innovation is the creation of new value for the world whether through new technologies, new business models, new products and services, or new forms of social entrepreneurship. As countries increasingly vie for leadership in the global innovation economy, they can implement policies that benefit only themselves at the cost of hurting global innovation, or policies that can bolster their own innovation capacity while also generating positive spillovers that benefit the entire global innovation system, the report said.

The study assesses the impact of innovation policies of countries on the broader global innovation system. For that, it looks at whether the countries in question–56 in this study–are attempting to bolster their innovation capacities through positive-sum policies such as investments in R&D, education, or tax incentives for innovation that contribute positively to the global body of knowledge and stock of innovation; or if they are trying to compete through negative-sum “innovation mercantilist” policies such as localization barriers to trade, export subsidies, or inadequate protection of foreign intellectual property (IP) rights (for instance, through the issuance of compulsory licenses or even outright IP theft). The latter behavior leads to less, not more, global innovation, the report said.

The report lays out policies under four categories–1) the good: those that benefit the country and the world simultaneously, 2) the ugly: those that benefit the country at the expense of other nations, 3) the bad: those that fail to benefit either the country or the world or 4) self-destructive: those that actually fail to benefit the country but benefit the rest of the world.


“Good” innovation policies include increasing investments in basic scientific R&D; effective policies to transfer technologies out of universities and national laboratories for commercialization by the private sector; openness to high-skill immigration; effective science, technology, engineering, and math education initiatives; promotion of ICT deployment and adoption; and tax policies that spur the investment that leads to innovation. Countries’ “good” innovation policies are positive for the world as well as for the country, as discoveries, inventions, and innovations made in one nation ultimately spill over to the benefit of citizens worldwide.

In contrast, “ugly” policies include those—such as currency or standards manipulation, forced IP transfer, or domestic sourcing of production as a condition of market access—designed to benefit themselves to the detriment of others. “Bad” policies are those, such as import substitution industrialization policies or restrictions on inbound foreign direct investment (FDI). Finally, “self-destructive” innovation policies, such as a country turning away high-skilled immigrants or raising corporate taxes so high that multinational corporations relocate elsewhere, are those that hurt a country while actually benefiting others.

The report assesses the impacts of countries’ economic and trade policies on the broader global innovation system. It examines 27 indicators, including 14 “contributors” that constructively spill over to contribute to global innovation, grouped into three categories— taxes, human capital, and R&D and technology—and 13 “detractors” that inhibit greater levels of global innovation, also grouped into three categories—balkanized production markets, IP protection, and balkanized consumer markets.

The report finds that the nations doing the most to support global innovation while doing the least to detract from it, on a per capita basis, are Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and the Netherlands. Some of the policies these countries have fielded include robust levels of government investment in scientific research and education and innovation-enabling tax policies. In contrast, the countries making the least constructive impact on the global innovation system—Argentina, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Ukraine—contribute less to global innovation and at the same time use more innovation mercantilist policies that detract from it.

And how does the United States stack up? Not as well as those at the top of the list. It ranks 10th, largely because its innovation-supporting policies (such as funding for scientific research) are lower than those of the leaders (on a per capita basis). China ranks 44th, largely because it fields so many policies that harm global innovation.

The report scores the countries various indicators including contributions and detractions.

On the contributions indicator, Singapore, Korea, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom lead the world. Relative to the size of their economies, these nations invest more in science and human capital, and have stronger tax policies to incentivize innovation. In contrast, Costa Rica, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, and Colombia field policies that contribute the least to the global innovation system. These countries tend to underinvest in research, produce fewer science researchers, and have relatively less-developed toolsets to support innovation policies, the report says.

In terms of detractions, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and Sweden field policies that do the least to detract from the global innovation system. In general, these countries play by the rules of the international system, implement few trade barriers, ensure strong protections for intellectual property, and do not overtly favor domestic enterprises at the expense of foreign competitors.

In contrast, Thailand (which ranks 53 in the report), China (44), India (54), Argentina (56), and Russia (42) field policies that detract the most from the global innovation system. These countries make the most extensive use of trade barriers and other distortions while providing weaker environments for intellectual property protection, the report says. For instance, through its Preferential Market Access program, India’s government aims for 80 percent of ICT products procured by government agencies to be domestically produced by 2020, per the report. China subsidizes a variety of industries, including steel, energy, glass, paper, and auto parts, which have contributed to significant global overcapacity in these industries and distorted markets for their trade, the report said.

Another instance of localization of barriers to trade, the report said, is of compulsory licenses which allow a third party to produce a patented product or process without securing the consent of the patent owner. For instance, on March 9, 2012, the Indian Patent Controller General granted a compulsory license to Natco, an Indian pharmaceutical company, enabling it to produce a patented cancer drug, Nexavar, made by Bayer. (Of course, the flip side of that argument usually is that the drug was exorbitantly priced for the local market and out of reach of those who needed it the most.)

According to the report, there’s a strong correlation between countries’ contributor innovation policies and their levels of domestic innovation success. Meaning, doing well on innovation policy can also mean doing good for the world. If the world is going to maximize global innovation, it will need to develop stronger mechanisms to encourage nations to do more contributing and less detracting. That’s why, says the report, perhaps the most important step needed to move in this direction is for global policymakers, economists, and pundits to begin to treat innovation as though it is as important as trade in optimizing global economic growth and welfare.

Honduras arrests five Syrians headed to US with stolen passports

November 19, 2015


Tegucigalpa (AFP) – Honduran authorities have arrested five Syrians intending to make it to the United States with stolen Greek passports, triggering alarm Wednesday in the wake of the Paris attacks launched by Syria-linked jihadists.

The Syrians were arrested on Tuesday as they flew into Toncontin airport serving the Honduran capital and failed to make it past airport security checks, a police spokesman, Anibal Baca, told reporters.

“Five Syrian citizens have been detained and will be taken to our offices to be investigated because it is suspected they are carrying false documents, passports stolen in Greece,” Baca said.

They had traveled by air from Syria to Lebanon, then to Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica and on to Honduras.

From there they were to make their way to Honduras’ second city of San Pedro Sula with the aim of going overland through Guatemala, then Mexico and on to the United States, Baca told AFP.

The reasons for the Syrians’ trip were not immediately known, and Honduran police were considering the possibility that they were refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

“We are not saying they are terrorists,” Baca said. “They are being investigated for using false passports. It could be they are fleeing war. That is being investigated.”

Countries involved in the Syria conflict, including the United States, have been on alert for possible attacks since the killings in Paris last Friday and the October 31 bombing of a Russian passenger jet leaving Egypt.

Those attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State group based in Iraq and Syria. One of the gunmen in the Paris attacks was carrying a Syrian passport used to transit through Greece, though authorities have not confirmed that he was the man in the document.

Honduras on Monday said it had reinforced security in its ports and airports following the French attacks.

A spokesman for the country’s Inter-institutional Security Force, Lieutenant Colonel Santos Nolasco, said that day that Honduras was part of a route to the United States often used by unauthorized migrants.

This year, 12,600 foreigners were detected illegally entering Honduras, almost all of them with the aim of getting to the United States, Nolasco said.

Those detained by authorities include nationals of Somalia, Iran, Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea, Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Togo, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, as well as of other Latin American countries.


BBC News

One of the Syrians is escorted by police at Tegucigalpa airport

One of the Syrians is escorted by police at Tegucigalpa airport, Reuters photo

Police in Honduras have arrested five Syrians who were travelling on stolen Greek passports and reportedly intended to enter the US by land.

The five were detained after arriving on a flight from neighbouring El Salvador on Tuesday night, police said.

Honduran special police force spokeman Anibal Baca, said they had been tipped off by Greece about the men’s imminent arrival.

Greek diplomats in Honduras say none of the five speak Greek.

They were held at the international airport in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

According to Honduran police, they were planning to travel to the northern city of San Pedro Sula.

From there, they intended to cross into Guatemala and then Mexico before reaching the US border, some 2,000km (1,2000 miles) away.

Unknown identities

“The passports were stolen in Athens,” said Mr Baca from the Police Investigations Division (DPI).

A sign welcoming refugees in Phoenix, Arizona
A possible review of the refugee programme has been dividing public opinion in the United States. AP

“Those are not their real names. We are still trying to establish their identities,” he told La Prensa newspaper.

The names on the passports are: Charalampos Kyrimopoulos, Alexandros Tzempelikos, Vasileios Bouzas, Konstantinos Marinakis and Anastasios Bellios.

Interpol will assist Honduran police with the investigation.

American politicians have expressed concern over the arrival of Middle Eastern refugees following Friday’s attacks in Paris.

Republicans in the House of Representatives said they were drafting legislation to introduce tougher controls on Syrian and Iraqi refugees.