Republican US Senator Asks FTC to Examine Google Ads

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch on Thursday added to the growing push in Washington to have the Federal Trade Commission rekindle an antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons recounting several news reports that identified complaints about Google’s anti-competitive conduct and privacy practices.

Alphabet shares were little changed after the release of the letter. The company declined to comment.

Lawmakers from both major parties and Google’s rivals have said this year they see an opening for increased regulation of large technology companies under the FTC’s new slate of commissioners.

Google’s critics say that ongoing European antitrust action against the web search leader and this year’s data privacy scandal involving Facebook Inc and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica demonstrate their concerns about the unchecked power of the tech heavyweights. About 90 percent of search engine queries in the United States flow through Google.

Facebook and Twitter executives are expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 5 about their  efforts to deter foreign campaigns from spreading misinformation online ahead November’s midterm elections. Lawmakers have criticized Alphabet for not scheduling a top executive, such as Chief Executive Larry Page, for the hearings.

In 2013, the FTC closed a lengthy investigation of Google after finding insufficient evidence that consumers were harmed by how the company displayed search results from rivals. President Donald Trump accused Google’s search engine on Tuesday of promoting negative news articles and hiding “fair media” coverage of him.

Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, later said the White House was “taking a look” at Google, and that the administration would do “some investigation and some analysis,” without providing further details.

Earlier this year, Representative Keith Ellison, a Democrat, and Representative Todd Rokita, a Republican, sent separate letters asking the FTC to probe Google.

Simon, the new Republican chairman of the FTC, said in July the agency would keep a close eye on big tech companies that dominate the internet.

An FTC representative was not immediately available for comment.

Hatch, at event hosted by reviews website and Google rival Yelp Inc in May, said moves made by “an entrenched monopolist” deserve extra skepticism.

“They may well be used, not to further consumer welfare, but to foreclose competitors,” he said, according to prepared remarks.

Yelp, a local-search service, said in a statement that Hatch’s letter was “heartening to see” as it underscored the bipartisan plea for FTC scrutiny of Google.



Польська компанія веде чергові переговори про постачання газу в Україну – ЗМІ

«Польська нафтогазова компанія» (PGNiG) бере участь у чергових переговорах щодо постачання газу в Україну. Про це повідомив заступник голови PGNiG Мацей Возняк, передає «Польське радіо».

Повідомляється, що компанія PGNiG в першому півріччі поточного року надала Україні майже 220 мільйонів кубометрів газу.

«Це трішки менше, ніж торік, але ми сподівалися більшої турбулентності після рішення Стокгольмського арбітражу між «Газпромом» і «Нафтогазом». До кінця року ми очікуємо стабілізації і домовляємося про чергові контракти на постачання газу», – сказав представник компанії.

Як повідомляє польський портал, обсяг реалізації газу PGNiG в Україну в 2017 році становив більш ніж 700 мільйонів кубометрів на рік.

Читайте також: 1000 днів без російського газу: що це означає для України?

З кінця листопада 2015 року Україна не імпортує газ із Росії.

Поставки газу з Європи в Україну здійснюються за трьома напрямками: з Польщі, Угорщини та Словаччини.

28 лютого 2018 року компанія НАК «Нафтогаз України» повідомила про перемогу в Стокгольмському арбітражі над російським газовим монополістом, компанією «Газпромом» у суперечці щодо компенсації за недопоставлені «Газпромом» обсяги газу для транзиту. «Газпром» заявив про незгоду з рішенням Стокгольмського арбітражу.

1 березня у компанії «Укртрансгаз» заявили про низький тиск у магістральних газопроводах на вході в українську ГТС і додали, що падіння тиску на вході системи ускладнює його транзит і споживання.

Вже вранці 2 березня польська компанія PGNiG почала постачати газ «Нафтогазу України».



Нацбанк припинив падіння гривні, продавши 50 мільйонів доларів на міжбанку

Національний банк України 30 серпня відреагував на продовження знецінення гривні на міжбанківському валютному ринку, повідомляє сайт «Мінфін». Опівдні регулятор оголосив про намір продати до 50 мільйонів доларів, у підсумку продана сума склала 49,4 мільйона доларів за мінімальною ціною 28 гривень 27 копійок.

Це дозволило припинити падіння гривні, яке на піку сягало 28 гривень 30 копійок (купівля) – 28 гривень 33 копійок (продаж).

Перед закриттям міжбанку котирування опустилися до рівня інтервенції НБУ – 28 гривень 25 копійок (купівля) – 28 гривень 29 копійок (продаж).

Нацбанк встановив на 31 серпня курс 28 гривень 28 копійок за долар, це на 16 копійок більше за курс, встановлений на день раніше.



Indian Currency Decree Did Little to Root Out ‘Black Money’

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, India’s reserve bank has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

The reserve bank report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said.




Росія мала найбільші обсяги прямих інвестицій в Україну в першому півріччі – Держстат

Росія мала найбільші обсяги прямих інвестицій в Україну в період від січня до червня 2018 року, повідомляє Державна служба статистики України.

Загальна сума російських інвестицій до України становила 436 мільйонів доларів США (34,6%). На другому місці – Кіпр (219 мільйонів доларів), на третьому – Нідерланди (207,7 мільйона доларів).

До переліку найбільших країн-інвесторів також увійшли Австрія (58,7 мільйона доларів), Польща (54,1 мільйона), Франція (46,9 мільйона) та Велика Британія (43,4 мільйона).

Найбільший обсяг інвестицій спрямований на фінансову та страхову діяльність (750,5 мільйона доларів).



Trump OKs Tariff Relief for Three Countries

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed proclamations permitting targeted relief from steel and aluminum quotas from some countries, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

Trump, who put in place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March, signed proclamations allowing relief from the quotas on steel from South Korea, Brazil and Argentina and on aluminum from Argentina, the department said in a statement.

“Companies can apply for product exclusions based on insufficient quantity or quality available from U.S. steel or aluminum producers,” the statement said. “In such cases, an exclusion from the quota may be granted and no tariff would be owed.”

Trump, citing national security concerns, placed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

The tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico took effect June 1, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said May 31 that arrangements had been made with some countries to have non-tariff limits on their exports of the two metals to the United States.

Ross said the arrangement with South Korea was for a quota of 70 percent of average steel exports to the United States in the years 2015 to 2017.

The Brazilian government said at the time the U.S. quotas and tariffs on Brazil’s steel and aluminum exports were unjustified but that it remained open to negotiate a solution.

Brazilian semi-finished steel exports to the United States are subject to quotas based on the average for the three years from 2015-2017, while finished steel products will be limited to a quota of 70 percent of the average for those years.



Trump, Trudeau Upbeat About Prospects for NAFTA Deal by Friday

The leaders of the United States and Canada expressed optimism on Wednesday that they could reach new NAFTA deal by a Friday deadline as negotiators prepared to talk through the night, although Canada warned that a number of tricky issues remained.

Under pressure, Canada rejoined the talks to modernize the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement after Mexico and the United States announced a bilateral deal on Monday. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said late on Wednesday that talks were at “a very intense moment” but said there was “a lot of good will” between Canadian and U.S. negotiators.

“Our officials are meeting now and will be meeting until very late tonight. Possibly they’ll be meeting all night long,” Freeland said. She and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had agreed to review progress early on Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has set a Friday deadline for the three countries to reach an in-principle agreement, which would allow Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to sign it before he leaves office at the end of November. Under U.S. law, Trump must wait 90 days before signing the pact.

Trump has warned he could try to proceed with a deal with Mexico alone and levy tariffs on Canadian-made cars if Ottawa does not come on board, although U.S. lawmakers have said ratifying a bilateral deal would not be easy.

“They (Canada) want to be part of the deal, and we gave until Friday and I think we’re probably on track. We’ll see what happens, but in any event, things are working out very well.” Trump told reporters at the White House.

The upbeat tone contrasted with Trump’s harsh criticism of Canada in recent weeks, railing on Twitter against Canada’s high dairy tariffs that he said were “killing our Agriculture!”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he thought the Friday deadline could be met.

“We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada,” he said at a news conference in northern Ontario on Wednesday.

“No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.”

 Freeland, who is Canada’s lead negotiator, was sidelined from the talks for more than two months, and will be under pressure to accept the terms the United States and Mexico worked out.

She declined comment on the issues still in play, but said on Tuesday that Mexico’s concessions on auto rules of origin and labor rights had been a breakthrough.

Ottawa is also ready to make concessions on Canada’s protected dairy market in a bid to save a dispute-settlement system, The Globe and Mail reported late on Tuesday.

Sticking points

One of the issues for Canada in the revised deal is the U.S. effort to dump the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that hinders the United States from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Monday that Mexico had agreed to eliminate the mechanism.

To save that mechanism, Ottawa plans to change one rule that effectively blocked American farmers from exporting ultra-filtered milk, an ingredient in cheesemaking, to Canada, the Globe and Mail reported, citing sources.

Trudeau repeated on Wednesday that he will defend Canada’s dairy industry.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Trump administration’s own anti-dumping duties on Canadian paper, used in books and newsprint, were thrown out by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The independent panel ruled that about $1.21 billion in such paper imports from Canada were not harming U.S. producers.

Other hurdles to a NAFTA deal include intellectual property rights and extensions of copyright protections to 75 years from 50, a higher threshold than Canada has previously supported.

Some see the tight time-frame as a challenge.

“There’s nothing here that is not doable for Canada,” said Brian Kingston, vice president for international affairs at The Business Council of Canada.

“We’ve got the best negotiators in the world, but they can only stay awake so many hours of every day.”