Macron is Hosting Biden for a State Visit as the Two Leaders Try to Move Past Trade Tensions

PARIS (AP) — President Joe Biden is being feted by French President Emmanuel Macron with a state visit Saturday, as the two allies aim to show off their partnership on global security issues and move past trade tensions.

Biden and Macron attended ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday. They met separately the following day with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Paris — engagements they both used to underscore the urgent need to support Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

But Macron and Biden have often chafed at the pace of support for Ukraine, especially as the U.S. — by far the largest contributor to Kyiv’s defense — was forced to pause aid shipments for months while congressional Republicans held up an assistance package.

The state visit will begin with a welcome ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe and a military parade along the Champs-Élysées leading to the Élysée Palace, where the two will hold official meetings and deliver public statements. Later, Macron will host a state dinner at the palace for Biden and his wife, Jill.

Biden hosted Macron in December 2022 at the White House for the first state visit of his presidency — a glamorous affair that included business and political figures after the COVID-19 pandemic.

First lady Jill Biden will join her husband for the Saturday events, returning to France aboard a government plane after spending Friday in Delaware to support their son, Hunter Biden, who is standing trial on federal gun charges.

Biden’s trip to France also comes ahead of Sunday’s European Parliament election, in which the far right is likely to emerge as one of the biggest winners while Macron’s pro-EU movement is flagging.

A top French official said Macron and Biden have a friendly and warm relationship and stressed that the U.S. president is spending five days in France, reflecting the importance he attaches to the visit. The official spoke anonymously, in line with customary practices for Macron’s office.

The official said the U.S. presidential campaign was not a factor in the discussion.

Macron previously hosted then-President Donald Trump, the Republicans’ presumptive 2024 nominee, in France for Bastille Day in 2017, before being hosted himself by Trump in 2018 for a state visit, before the two leaders’ relationship soured.

Both U.S. and French officials said Ukraine would be at the top of Saturday’s agenda, but the centerpiece of the weekend event would be the strength of the alliance, proven at Normandy 80 years ago, but with roots far deeper.

“It’s probably a good thing for us to remember that we didn’t win our independence either without some foreign help or foreign assistance, specifically from France,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Friday.

Max Bergmann, a former U.S. State Department official who leads Europe research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the relationship between the two countries is strong despite occasional disagreements.

“There’s always tension in Franco-American relations, because the French try to do stuff,” he said. “They’re bold, they throw up proposals, and that leads to some friction when we push back.”

For example, he said, France proposed putting Western trainers on the ground in Ukraine, leading to questions of whether this is “really giving Ukraine a major, tangible benefit” or has the “potential to be escalatory and dangerous.”

Regarding Macron, Bergmann said, “he’s the one that pushes the boundaries and throws up ideas.”

Kirby said the two leaders would have an announcement Saturday on deepening maritime law enforcement cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. They also are to discuss economic and climate challenges.

While praising the Biden administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine, Macron said earlier this year that Europe must become “capable of defending its interests, with its allies by our side whenever they are willing, and alone if necessary,” arguing the continent should rely less on the U.S. for its own defense.

He also warned Western powers against showing any signs of weakness to Russia as he repeatedly said that sending Western troops into Ukraine to shore up its defense shouldn’t be ruled out.

The two leaders were also set to discuss their efforts to bring about a cease-fire to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, as the U.S. and Israel await Hamas’ response to a Biden-promoted ceasefire proposal that would allow a surge of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

“The president will update President Macron on all of that. And again, eagerly await his perspectives and his views as well on what’s going on in Gaza,” Kirby said.

Macron is expected to raise U.S. trade practices that he has often criticized, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which favors American-made climate technology, like electric vehicles. Macron said the U.S., like China, has “decided not to respect the rules of global trade” by shoring up protections and subsidies while Europe’s industry remains open and is stuck in overregulation.

The French top official said Europe has to defend European interests, after watching the U.S. do the same with its own, but said Macron hopes to find a mutually acceptable outcome.

Gary Hufbauer, nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said trade with China is a sticking point between the U.S. and Europe, particularly France. The U.S. has been more eager to restrict trade, particularly regarding technology.

Biden is also moving toward tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and batteries, which could affect European cars that include Chinese parts.

The fear is that “if you’ve got some component from China, we don’t want you in the U.S.”

“That’s a big worry in Europe.”

Overall, Hufbauer said, “Europe wants to maintain much more trade with China than the U.S. wants.”

WhatsApp boss in online spat with Elon Musk

WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart has hit back at claims from Elon Musk that the messaging app "exports your user data every night."

Posting on X, Mr Cathcart said the allegation was simply "not correct".

He pointed to the fact WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they cannot be read by the company at all.

Yann LeCun - artificial intelligence chief at parent company, Meta - has also weighed in, using more industrial language in his X post attacking Mr Musk's claims.

On another Meta platform, Threads, Mr LeCun also levelled further criticisms at Mr Musk, accusing him of making contradictory and unrealistic claims about artificial intelligence and "spewing conspiracy theories" on his own social media platform.

Mr Musk has a well-established reputation for getting himself into online rows, from submariners to sacked former employees.

In this case, Mr Cathcart is right to say only the sender and recipient of a WhatsApp message can read its contents.

In fact, the firm's commitment to encrypting messages is so significant that it previously said it would rather be blocked in the UK than weaken the encryption it uses.

Mr Musk's vague language - simply saying that "user data" was being uploaded - could however be interpreted to refer to metadata, the extra bits of information sent alongside the actual message.

"WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, but user data is not only about messages," said security researcher Tommy Mysk in a post on X.

"That also includes the metadata such as user location, which contacts the user is communicating with, the patterns of when the user is online, etc."

It is known that WhatsApp does share some metadata with other platforms Meta owns - but this does not include messages.

"One area of particular concern has been WhatsApp sharing data with other Meta companies," said Dr Tristan Henderson, lecturer in computer science at the University of St Andrews.

"This does include sufficient metadata for these Meta companies to make suggestions and show personalised adverts, which in itself shows what metadata can reveal."

The WhatsApp Privacy Policy specifically states that the firm will use some user data for "showing relevant offers and ads across the Meta Company Products".

The BBC has approached Meta for comment.

S. Korea, UAE Sign Free Trade Deal to Open Up Crude, Automobile Markets Tariff Free

Anchor: South Korea and the United Arab Emirates(UAE) on Wednesday signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement(CEPA), Seoul's first such pact with an Arab nation. President Yoon Suk Yeol and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held summit talks in Seoul, seeking ways to boost their cooperation. 
Kim Bum-soo has more. 


[Sound bite: Official welcome ceremony before S. Korea-UAE Summit]

A grand welcoming ceremony featuring the Air Force's Black Eagles aerobatic team and honor guard inspections signaled a wider market opening between South Korea and the United Arab Emirates(UAE).  

President Yoon Suk Yeol and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held bilateral talks at the top office in Seoul on Wednesday, launching the first free trade agreement between South Korea and an Arab country. 

The UAE is South Korea’s 14th largest trading partner, with an annual bilateral trade volume exceeding 20 billion U.S. dollars.

With the comprehensive economic partnership agreement(CEPA) officially signed, the two sides are scrapping tariffs on more than 90 percent of their trade items over the next ten years, including automobiles and crude oil. 

While exporting 483 million dollars worth of cars to the UAE, Seoul last year imported over ten percent of its crude oil purchases from the Arab country. 

With the bilateral free trade deal, the UAE is also set to open its online game and music markets to the highest level to South Korea.

On the first day of his state visit to South Korea on Tuesday, Sheikh Mohamed held meetings with leaders of key South Korean businesses, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and SK groups as well as Hybe, the entertainment agency for K-pop superstars BTS. 

At the bilateral talks, the UAE's sovereign wealth fund also reaffirmed its plan to invest 30 billion dollars in South Korea, which was agreed during Yoon’s state visit to Abu Dhabi last year.  

The two countries also signed a memorandum of intent for South Korea’s construction of at least six liquefied natural gas carriers worth around one-point-five billion dollars. 
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

PM calls on parents to strengthen moral education for children in the age of digital technology to maintain dignity in society

The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Dr. Hun Manet, called on families and communities to strengthen moral education for future generations in order to maintain the dignity of society in the era of technological globalisation.

In a message celebrating Family Day under the theme “Families are a strong foundation for social and economic development,” held on May 15, Prime Minister Hun Manet said that the family is an important cell for building high-quality human resources and well-being, which is a strong asset to maintain peace and increase economic value, raise cultural values, and create new ideas towards achieving the long-term sustainable goals of socio-economic development.

At the same time, grandparents, fathers, mothers, and brothers and sisters all play an important role in raising and educating children to be good children, good students, and good citizens for the community and society. The Prime Minister said that education from this family has actively contributed to the preservation and promotion of culture, religion, traditions, and customs of the nation by adhering to morals, ethics, understanding, tolerance, and respect for the law.

Dr. Hun Manet also called on each family and community to continue to strengthen the spirit of good solidarity and pay attention to education, morals, traditions, and customs by providing education, learning, morality, ethics, behaviour, general knowledge, and other professional skills.

The Prime Minister also asked the monks, elders, and teachers to provide good advice to family members and communities for the younger generation to learn and follow; as the saying goes, “the elderly are the training ground for the younger generation.”

Cambodia, Japan to strengthen economic ties

Cambodia and Japan will strengthen economic ties in a bid to boost trade and investments. This was decided at a business matching event held at the headquarters of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Tokyo recently.

Sun Chanthol, Deputy Prime Minister and First Vice-Chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), accompanied by Tuy Ry, Ambassador of Cambodia to Japan led the Cambodian delegation at the event on Wednesday.

At the meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to “friends who organized a valuable matching programme on the occasion of the investment door-knocking mission of the CDC.”

The Deputy Prime Minister also emphasized that the enterprises that were participating in the meeting had also participated in the Cambodia Investment Seminar 2023, presided over by Prime Minister Hun Manet on December 19, 2023, in Tokyo.

The Deputy Prime Minister expressed strong hope that the Cambodian private sector will seize this golden opportunity to attract Japanese enterprises to invest in Cambodia.

Participants at the meeting included investors in the logistics, manufacturing, aluminium, agriculture, agro-industry, pharmaceutical and information technology and communications sectors.

It may be recalled that Japan is now the fifth biggest trading partner of Cambodia with bilateral trade (exports and imports together) reaching $507 million in the first three months of this year, an increase of 11 percent year-on-year.

Cambodia’s exports to Japan reached $365 million in the first quarter (Q1), an increase of 18.4 percent compared to the same period last year. The rising exports also ensured that Japan is now the fourth biggest export destination of Cambodia, accounting for 5.8 percent of the Kingdom’s export market.

PM vows to attract new investors and establish an effective private sector problem-solving working group

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet vowed to attract new investors and establish an effective private sector problem-solving working group.

He made this statement on Thursday (May 9) during an inauguration of Cambodia Confederation of Investors Association (CCIA) at Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The premier continued that in order to attract more new investment, the Royal Government must ensure that all existing investors in Cambodia grow in order to be able to attract more newcomers. To achieve this, it is necessary to increase the positive impacts and mitigate the negative impacts.

The Royal Government amplified the positive impacts through the implementation of incentive policies and budget allocations to support key sectors, initiatives that have been underway since previous mandates. In this mandate, the Royal Government have reformed various programs to streamline processes, reduce bureaucracy, and enhance the utilisation of technology.

To address negative impacts, the solution lies in promptly addressing private sector challenges through regular forums and working groups involving all relevant sectors. This approach ensures ongoing monitoring and troubleshooting. To enhance efficiency, Samdech formed a problem-solving working group dedicated to resolving issues for the people, private sector, and individual companies. Additionally, the Royal Government has devised various strategies, action plans, and key tasks to ensure the successful execution of this policy.Fresh News

‘One enterprise as one peaceful community’ award rolled

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training announced the commencement of a ‘One Enterprise as One Peaceful Community’ award to be held on May 1 of every year.

The minister, Heng Sour, unveiled the recognition on April 28, adding that the first round of the award with three prizes will take place on May 1, 2025.

According to the minister, the winners of the three prizes will be granted an award mascot, a recognition certification that can be used as a reference to build trust among their partners, and an exception to regular inspection for one to three years.

The announcement also entailed the assessment criteria for recognition, including compliance with working conditions, professional relationships, and occupational safety and health conditions.

Compliance with young employment as well as the implementation of the social security system, a labor productivity promotion program, and corporate social responsibility, is also part of the criteria. AKP

Musk Disbands Tesla EV Charging Team, Leaving Customers in the Dark

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference on innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June 16, 2023.


14:00 JST, May 1, 2024

April 30 (Reuters) – Elon Musk has dismissed two Tesla TSLA.O senior executives and plans to lay off hundreds more employees, frustrated by falling sales and the pace of job cuts so far, The Information reported on Tuesday, citing the CEO’s email to senior managers.

Rebecca Tinucci, senior director of the electric vehicle maker’s Supercharger business, and Daniel Ho, head of the new vehicles program, will leave on Tuesday morning, the report said.

Musk also plans to dismiss everyone working for Tinucci and Ho, including the roughly 500 employees who work in the Supercharger group, The Information said. It was not clear how many employees worked for Ho.

Tesla’s public policy team, which was led by former executive Rohan Patel, will also be dissolved, the report said.

“Hopefully these actions are making it clear that we need to be absolutely hard core about headcount and cost reduction,” Musk wrote in the email, the report said. “While some on exec staff are taking this seriously, most are not yet doing so.”

Tesla, which had 140,473 employees globally as of end-2023, did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

Ho joined Tesla in 2013 and was a program manager in the development of the Model S, the 3, and the Y before being put in charge of all new vehicles, while Tinucci joined in 2018 as a senior product manager, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Two other senior leaders — Patel and battery development chief Drew Baglino — announced their departures earlier this month, when Tesla also ordered the layoffs of more than 10% of its workforce.

Tesla is grappling with falling sales and an intensifying price war, which led to its quarterly revenue falling for the first time since 2020, the company reported last week.

Musk made progress towards rolling out Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance package in China, the epicenter of the EV price war, during a surprise visit to Beijing on Sunday.

That trip came just over a week after he scrapped a planned trip to India, where Tesla has long sought to start operations, due to “very heavy Tesla obligations.”

Japan’s Nikkei Edges Lower as Investors Await Fed Decision

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo


12:57 JST, May 1, 2024

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Nikkei share average fell in the morning session on Wednesday, with traders maintaining a cautious stance on the first day of the month ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision.

The Nikkei was down 0.56% at 38,189.54 by the morning break.

The broader Topix declined 0.64% to 2725.70.

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday, as U.S. inflation proves sticky.

U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as markets weighed economic data showing rising labor costs and deteriorating consumer confidence.

While markets have already pared back expectations of a Fed rate cut this year, investors remain wary of how hawkish a message Fed Chair Jerome Powell will send at his press conference.

Large policy rate gap between Japan and the U.S. continues to put pressure on the yen, raising questions on how excessive currency weakness will impact the local economy and the Bank of Japan’s rate outlook.

The risk of currency intervention, and suspicion that Tokyo may already have intervened, was also keeping investors on alert.

“In that sense, I don’t think people are going to be very keen to buy stocks while the yen is this weak,” said Hiroshi Namioka, chief strategist at T&D Asset Management.

Of the Nikkei’s 225 constituents, only 44 advanced versus 181 decliners.

Among individual stocks, earning results and share-specific news drew out some stark winners and losers.

Shares of chip-related equipment maker Lasertec jumped 16.1% after the company published an estimate-beating earnings post market hours on Tuesday.

West Japan Railway Co gained 7.7% on Wednesday following its decision to buy back 4.1% of its own shares.

JGC Holdings Corp was the largest decliner, falling 11.2% on disappointing revenue forecast.

Cambodia’s fish enter Australian market

Fish processing enterprise Home Taste Food exported its first batch of processed fish to Australia, becoming the first Cambodian firm to export fish products to a foreign market.

Sim Sereyroth, Founder of Home Taste Food based in Siem Reap province, told Khmer Times that 4.7 tonnes of fish products have been exported and soon they will be available at supermarkets in Australia.

“It is a significant step for us as a local enterprise and it is a testimony to the quality of the product,” Sereyroth said.

The enterprise is capable of scaling up the production if the demand goes up in the foreign market, she said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) applauded the success of the company. “The presence of Cambodian processed fish products in an international market is a welcome development,” said Im Rachna, the ministry’s Under-Secretary of State and spokeswoman.

“Home Taste Food is the first Cambodian enterprise to export processed fish products to foreign markets,” Rachna confirmed to Khmer Times.

The ministry will continue to support the company which now aims to expand its exports to the US and New Zealand markets by more than 100 tonnes in the near future, Rachna said.

The Kingdom is also looking into opportunities for the export of processed fish products to the European market.

According to Rachna, to boost exports, Home Taste Food employees have been undergoing training by the CAPFISH-Capture, an initiative of MAFF and UNIDO, she said.

The training is aimed at improving the technical capacity of the private sector. It will also promote competition and help the implementation of the food standard system in Cambodia to meet national and international standards.

“The enterprises that can export processed fish products are recognized by the UNIDO and the Fisheries Administration by awarding Cambodia Quality Seal (CQS) certification,” Rachna said.

The CQS is a prestigious certification scheme of the Department of Fisheries Post-harvest Technologies and Quality Control under the Fisheries Administration.

It was established specifically for fish and fishery products to recognize business operators in Cambodia for their commitment to high-quality, safe products.

The certification is awarded to companies that meet rigorous standards of excellence in safety, quality, environmental responsibility, gender equality, child labour prevention, and customer satisfaction.