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TPP trade negotiators reach landmark deal

Pacific ministers have reached a deal on the biggest trade liberalization pact in a generation. News agencies reported the accord would set standards for 12 nations and reduce tariffs for a wide range of products. Officials cited by Reuters said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) would affect 40 percent of the world economy and had the potential to reshape industries. Should national lawmakers approve the deal reached Monday, it would influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer treatment in the nations concerned. The TPP accord had been controversial because of the secret negotiations that had shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to an array of interest groups from Mexican carmakers to Canadian dairy farmers. Stumbling stone removed The complex deal is to bring about tariff reduction schedules for hundreds of imported items from pork and beef in Japan to pickup trucks in the US. However, one issue had threatened to derail the talks until the very end, notably the length of monopolies to be awarded to the developers of new biological drugs. The US had sought 12 years of protection to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in expensive treatments, while Australia, New Zealand and others would have preferred a five-year period of protection. Negotiators were reported to have agreed on a compromise on minimum terms that was short of US expectations.

Pacific ministers have reached a deal on the biggest trade liberalization pact in a generation. News agencies reported the accord would set standards for 12 nations and reduce tariffs for a wide range of products. Officials cited by Reuters said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) would affect 40 percent of the world economy and had the potential to reshape industries. Should ... Read More »

Asian markets see red, China fears persist

Weak Chinese industrial data and slackening demand for commodities the world over weighed heavily on Asian markets on Tuesday. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney were all in negative territory. Key Asian stocks slid to their lowest levels in more than three years on Tuesday after China said its key industrial companies saw profits fall nearly 9 percent in August - the fastest plunge in four years. Demand for resources is softening in the world's number two economy as China experiences a painful slowdown in its economy , and commodities prices are taking a hit. Tokyo closed more than 4 percent lower, Hong Kong slid 3.59 percent by lunch, and Shanghai was 1.9 percent lower in late trading. Glencore on shaky ground Mining giant Glencore lost 26 percent in morning trading in Hong Kong, following a nearly 30 percent drop in London a day earlier as analysts warned of impending danger if commodities prices don't pick up. "We know all their businesses, including agricultural, enegery, or mining are all in trouble," said Jackson Wong, a securities analyst at Simsen Financial Group. "They are in a very tough situation over how they are going to survive in the next few years with the slow economy in China, that's the worry that investors have." Investors take refuge in western bourses Other analysts said Asian markets are also struggling to keep capital as investors jump ship. "Disappointing industrial profits in China continue to bolster concerns about growth and many investors are taking profits from the Nikkei and sitting in cash and alternatives, or repatriating capital to western markets in a perceived flight to quality," said Martin King, co-managing director at Tyton Capital Advisors. In Japan, investors are anxious before the release of the Bank of Japan's Tankan quarterly business survey on Thursday. The Japanese economy has been battling stagnation after it contracted in the second quarter.

Weak Chinese industrial data and slackening demand for commodities the world over weighed heavily on Asian markets on Tuesday. Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney were all in negative territory. Key Asian stocks slid to their lowest levels in more than three years on Tuesday after China said its key industrial companies saw profits fall nearly 9 percent in August ... Read More »

Will VW scandal end with prison sentences?

The auto industry is no stranger to legal trouble. Though companies normally reach financial settlements with US authorities, individuals at Volkswagen could face criminal charges. Spencer Kimball reports from Chicago. The timing couldn't be worse for Volkswagen. Before the VW emissions scandal broke, the US Justice Department vowed in a memo to redouble its efforts to prosecute individuals in white collar criminal cases - and a new CEO is unlikely to change that calculation. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, federal prosecutors extracted massive financial penalties from investment banks. But only one Wall Street executive, Kareem Serageldin at Credit Suisse, was prosecuted and sentenced to time in prison. "There's recently been criticism that the government has too often been using settlements with corporations as the end of the game and not following through as much on individual prosecutions," Samuel Buell, who prosecuted corporate crime at the Justice Department, told DW. Amid this controversy, the Justice Department's Resources and Environment Division has launched an investigation into Volkswagen cheating on diesel emissions tests, according to Bloomberg and "The Wall Street Journal." "This is their first opportunity really in a high-profile case to show that they mean business by going after individuals," Peter Henning, an expert on white collar crime at Wayne State University Law School, told DW. "So, unfortunately for Volkswagen, they're a year too late." Settlements the norm All three of the world's top automakers have now been subject to criminal investigations. GM was charged with concealing faulty ignition switches linked to 124 deaths. The world's third-largest automobile company settled with the Justice Department for $900 million. No individuals were charged with a crime. Toyota faced Justice Department scrutiny for withholding information about a sudden acceleration problem linked to fatalities. The world's second largest auto company settled with the government for $1.2 billion, but still faces some 400 wrongful death and injury lawsuits. Again, no individuals were charged. Now the world's top-selling car company, Volkswagen, potentially faces criminal charges for installing software to cheat diesel emissions tests . Though the emissions scandal has not been linked to any deaths, expert Peter Henning believes individuals at the company could very well face criminal charges. "This is intentional misconduct," Henning said. "This is so blatant. This has been going on for years. This was corporate a decision." "It's a perfect storm for Volkswagen," he continued. "The firm and the individuals don't have a lot of excuses, and you have a Department of Justice looking to go after individuals." Potential criminal penalties According to Samuel Buell, there's a range of charges individuals at Volkswagen could face depending on how the facts of the case pan out. Submitting false statements is a crime, and it's also illegal to defraud the United States government. There could also be charges for defrauding consumers who bought the diesel vehicles in question. Sentencing would likely be based on the damage done to consumers and the environment measured in monetary terms. According to Buell, if the damages reach tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars, individuals could face stiff prison sentences. "You could be looking at five or 10 years," said Buell, a law professor at Duke University. "It's important to know that there's no parole in our federal prison system. The sentences are real. When a judge says five or 10 years, that's basically what you get." But holding individuals accountable in the corporate context is difficult, according to Brandon Garrett, author of "Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations." Prosecutors have described difficulty in determining responsibility amidst complex corporate structures. "The complexity of organizations where many people work together with many levels of supervisors and consulting lawyers and other specialists can all make assigning blame a challenge if there is no 'smoking gun' type evidence," he said.

The auto industry is no stranger to legal trouble. Though companies normally reach financial settlements with US authorities, individuals at Volkswagen could face criminal charges. Spencer Kimball reports from Chicago. The timing couldn’t be worse for Volkswagen. Before the VW emissions scandal broke, the US Justice Department vowed in a memo to redouble its efforts to prosecute individuals in white ... Read More »

Reports: Porsche CEO to become new VW chief

The supervisory board of German carmaker Volkswagen is to pick Porsche chief Matthias Müller as its next CEO, media reports say. He's to replace Martin Winterkorn, who resigned over a falsified emission tests scandal. The head of sports carmaker Porsche, Matthias Müller, would be appointed as Volkswagen's new chief executive on Friday, Reuters and the German business daily "Handelsblatt" reported, citing "sources familiar with the matter." "Bloomberg" also carried a similar report earlier on Thursday. Müller would replace Martin Winterkorn , who resigned on Wednesday in the wake of a huge scandal over manipulated emissions tests in the US and elsewhere, affecting some 11 million vehicles. Reuters reported VW's supervisory board would offcially present the new man at the helm after a meeting on Friday. Tall order Müller is the VW Group's former head product strategist and earned more laurels while being in charge of Porsche. The 62-year-old had been seen as the main favorite for replacing Winterkorn. Born in Chemnitz in East Germany, he originally trained as a tool maker and then graduated in information technology. He'll be facing the daunting task of fully clearing up the company's current scandal and regaining the trust of consumers worldwide.

The supervisory board of German carmaker Volkswagen is to pick Porsche chief Matthias Müller as its next CEO, media reports say. He’s to replace Martin Winterkorn, who resigned over a falsified emission tests scandal. The head of sports carmaker Porsche, Matthias Müller, would be appointed as Volkswagen’s new chief executive on Friday, Reuters and the German business daily “Handelsblatt” reported, ... Read More »

VW’s Winterkorn promises to fully clear up emissions scandal

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn has said he deeply regrets the current emissions cheating scandal surrounding the German carmaker. He said everything was being done to fully clear up the case as quickly as possible. In a video statement on the corporate website, Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn on Tuesday said he was "terribly sorry" for the emissions cheating scandal that had rocked the German auto maker. Winterkorn emphasized the scam "contradicted everything that Volkswagen stands for." "I formally apologize to our customers, the authorities and to the public in general for this misconduct," he said in the online video. The CEO promised that the scandal would be fully investigated, adding that all facts needed to be put on the table as quickly as possible and with the greatest possible degree of transparency. Heads to roll? Winterkorn provided no hint as to whether he'd step down from his post as a result of the scandal. He said it would be an error if the "huge mistakes of a few people were seen as a reason to place the honest work of 600,000 people under blanket suspicion; that's why I'm asking for your trust as we continue on our way. Workers' representatives on VW's supervisory board had reportedly pushed for heads to roll. "We can assure you that we will do everything possible to ensure the matter is cleared up quickly and that personnel consequences are drawn," Works Council chief Bernd Osterloh told employees on Tuesday. On Tuesday, it emerged that the emissions fixing could be a global problem - not just one in the US - with as many as 11 million cars from the Volkswagen AG family potentially affected. The cases revolve around diesel-powered models. VW's share price, already reeling from a difficult day's trade on Monday, was down almost 20 percent on Tuesday at around 106 euros ($118) per share. In March this year, the same stocks were selling for more than 250 euros each.

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn has said he deeply regrets the current emissions cheating scandal surrounding the German carmaker. He said everything was being done to fully clear up the case as quickly as possible. In a video statement on the corporate website, Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn on Tuesday said he was “terribly sorry” for the emissions cheating scandal that ... Read More »

Crisis could spread for VW beyond US

Volkswagen troubles could spread to important Chinese and European markets, as share prices tumble and the German auto giant faces hefty fines. As Volkswagen stocks plummeted after it admitted to rigging U.S. emissions tests, the auto giant could face further investigations in Europe and the important Chinese market where sales slipped earlier this year, say analysts. Volkswagen lowered its yearly sales forecast in July following weakened demand in China, where the German automaker delivers more than 40 percent of its vehicles. The latest revelations that it fitted some diesel cars in the US with software that gave false emissions data could be a further hit for the group in an "extremely important" market, Sven-Michael Werner, an attorney specializing in the automotive sector at the Bird & Bird's law firm in Shanghai. "I'm sure the Chinese regulators are looking into the matter in the US very closely and at whether similar instances would have occurred here," Werner told DW. "That's the typical pattern with overseas compliance issues. They will probably look at it unofficially at first and if they find anything there would be a formal investigation," said Werner, although, he added diesel cars are much less popular in China compared to other markets. US environment regulators ordered the German auto giant to recall nearly 500,000 diesel cars, including the VW Golf, when it emerged it used in-car software that met clean-air standards during testing but not during real-world driving conditions. The company could also face up to $18 billion (16 billion euros) in fines and its stocks tumbled more than 2o percent on Monday morning at the Frankfurt stock exchange. Diesel: Popular in Europe Diesel cars are immensely popular in the European Union where carmakers have been touting it as efficient and relatively clean fuel following improvements in quality over the past few years. In 2013, 53 percent of all newly registered cars in the EU had diesel-powered engines, while the diesel VW Golf has been the most popular car model in Europe for a number of years, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). But now the German government is also calling on carmakers for information to ascertain whether they were involved in falsifying car emissions data. "We expect from manufacturers reliable information so that the Federal Motor Transport Authority or KBA can investigate whether similar manipulation has taken place in Germany or in Europe," a spokesman for the environment ministry, Andreas Kuebler, told reporters on Monday. German rivals Daimler and BMW said the accusations directed at VW did not apply to them. Still analysts say it remains unclear whether other automakers had broken the rules. The scandal could also do untold damage to Germany's reputation as a leading car-making economy. "This has to be taken exceptionally seriously," Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, a professor at Duisburg-Essen University, said. "This impacts the entire German automotive sector." US: Further struggles In the first half of 2015, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota as the world's largest automaker. Despite reaching that long-standing goal, the group has struggled in the US market where its strategy has been to promote its "clean diesel technology" as being better for the environment. In 2013, the VW America launched its "newest, most fuel efficient, TDI Clean Diesel engine" to power the 2015 Golf, Beetle, Passat and Jetta - all of which have been part of the U.S. recall – underlining its diesel strategy there. VW car sales have slipped in the North American market over the past few years, with diesel vehicles making up around a quarter of sales in the US. Ingo Speich, a fund manager at Union Investment, which owns about 0.4 percent of VW shares, said he expected the crisis to spread for the carmaker that makes vehicles from budget Seats and Skodas to luxury Bentleys and Lamborghinis. "The market is anticipating more than just the U.S. issue. We have to admit that just looking at the facts there is a huge loss of trust in management. That is the main issue," he said.

Volkswagen troubles could spread to important Chinese and European markets, as share prices tumble and the German auto giant faces hefty fines. As Volkswagen stocks plummeted after it admitted to rigging U.S. emissions tests, the auto giant could face further investigations in Europe and the important Chinese market where sales slipped earlier this year, say analysts. Volkswagen lowered its yearly ... Read More »

VW CEO under pressure as stock crashes

Shares in German carmaker Volkswagen have nosedived after it admitted to rigging US emissions tests. VW has halted all sales of diesel vehicles there and calls are mounting for CEO Winterkorn to resign. Shares in German auto giant Volkswagen (VW) fell more than 20 percent in morning trading at the Frankfurt stock exchange on Monday in reaction to revelations that some of its diesel cars in the United States had been fitted with software that gave false emissions data. In a statement on Sunday, the carmaker had said that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) had "detected manipulations that violate American environmental standards" while testing VW diesel cars. Chief executive Martin Winterkorn issued an apology and said he had ordered an external investigation into the matter. "The board of management takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public," Winterkorn said. Sales stop Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Group has ordered its dealers in the United States to halt all sales of the latest diesel models of its Volkswagen and Audi brands. The EPA said on Friday the software in these models deceived regulators measuring toxic emissions. Cynthia Giles, an enforcement officer at the EPA, said the cars in question "contained software that turns off emissions controls when driving normally and turns them on when the car is undergoing an emissions test". On the road, the cars were emitting as much as 40 times the level of pollutants allowed under clean air rules, Giles added. Volkswagen could face civil penalties of $37,500 (33,100 euros) for each vehicle not in compliance with federal clean air rules. Some 482,000 four-cylinder VW and Audi diesel cars sold since 2008 are involved in the allegations. If each car involved is found to be in noncompliance, the penalty could amount to $18 billion, an EPA official confirmed during a telephone conference on Friday. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said the German carmaker would fully cooperate with US regulators, and added that the company would "not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules of law." Calls for the CEO to resign According to Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, automobile expert with Germany's Duisburg-Essen University, the chief executive is part of VW's problem and not the solution. He assumes Winterkorn must have known about the manipulations. "This component has received official clearance for all markets from the VW Development Department. The head of this department is Martin Winterkorn," Dudenhöffer told DW. "VW's board of directors needs to go on the offensive during a meeting scheduled for Friday to stem the fallout of the scandal. But this can only be achieved without CEO Winterkorn, I believe," he added. Bärbel Höhn, the head of the German parliament's environment commission, also said she thinks the deceptive software device couldn't have been installed without the CEO's approval. Höhn, a member of the environmentalist Greens Party, added she wouldn't be surprised if other carmakers are also found to have resorted to manipulations to meet tightened emissions standards in the United States and Europe.

Shares in German carmaker Volkswagen have nosedived after it admitted to rigging US emissions tests. VW has halted all sales of diesel vehicles there and calls are mounting for CEO Winterkorn to resign. Shares in German auto giant Volkswagen (VW) fell more than 20 percent in morning trading at the Frankfurt stock exchange on Monday in reaction to revelations that ... Read More »

US accuses Volkswagen of evading clean air standards

US regulators have called German carmaker Volkswagen out for intentionally violating clean air standards. If the allegations are true, the Wolfsburg-based company could face billions of dollars in fines. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday accused Volkswagen of deliberately circumventing clean air rules on nearly 500,000 diesel cars, by using software that evades the agency's emissions standards. The feature, known as a "defeat device," detects when the car's emissions are being tested and turns on full emissions control systems only then. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, the EPA said. This could result in cars releasing as much as 40 times more emissions allowed under clean air rules meant to ensure public health is protected," Cynthia Giles, an EPA enforcement officer, told reporters in a teleconference. Public threat "Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health," she said. Prior to issuing the violation notice, the EPA said it worked with the California Air Resources Board and would continue to investigate "these very serious matters." If the allegations turn out to be true, Volkswagen could face penalties of up to $18 billion (15.8 billion euros). The German automaker said it is cooperating in the investigation. The recall affects about 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the US since 2009.

US regulators have called German carmaker Volkswagen out for intentionally violating clean air standards. If the allegations are true, the Wolfsburg-based company could face billions of dollars in fines. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday accused Volkswagen of deliberately circumventing clean air rules on nearly 500,000 diesel cars, by using software that evades the agency’s emissions standards. The ... Read More »

Merkel wants car industry’s support for refugees

Opening the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged the domestic auto industry to offer vocational training and jobs for refugees. She said their integration required everyone's support. German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her Thursday visit to the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt to urge domestic carmakers to intensify their efforts to help as many refugees as possible. "We are an attractive country," Merkel said. "Many refugees expect us to help them with the integration process." The Chancellor called on carmakers to provide internships, vocational training and jobs for refugees while thanking companies for the endeavors already undertaken in this direction. Merkel said she was confident the integration of refugees would be successful in a nation boasting a robust labor market and high employment. Risky technologies? In her address to auto makers attending this year's IAA, Merkel also praised the companies' efforts towards autonomous driving, but warned that secure data transmission and data protection were vital issues for consumers. She told the German VDA auto industry association that she was determined to continue her commitment to free trade agreements with Canada, the US and Japan. Merkel also touched on the sensitive issue of e-mobility, aware of the fact that the German government's plan to get 1 million e-cars onto German roads by 2020 might not come off in view of lackluster consumer demand. She told carmakers in the country that Berlin would reach a decision still this year on what additional incentives the government was willing to provide to boost production and demand for electric cars.

Opening the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged the domestic auto industry to offer vocational training and jobs for refugees. She said their integration required everyone’s support. German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her Thursday visit to the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt to urge domestic carmakers to intensify their efforts to help as many refugees ... Read More »

World’s biggest brewers to merge?

Beer and soft drink maker Anheuser-Busch InBev wants to take over rival SABMiller from the UK. Should the deal come about, the two companies would control no less than a third of the global beer market. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's biggest beer maker, approached rival SABMiller about a takeover, the two companies confirmed Wednesday. A merged group would have a combined market value of around $270 billion (240 billion euros), based on current prices. It would combine AB InBev's dominance of Latin America with SABMiller's strong presence in Africa, both fast-growing markets, as well as strengthen their position in Asia. Britain-based SABMiller, the world's No. 2 brewer, said on Wednesday that it had been informed by its bigger Belgian rival that it intended to make a takeover bid, but it did not have any further information about the terms. "The board of SABMiller will review and respond as appropriate to any proposal which might be made," it said. "There can be no certainty that an offer will be made or as to the terms on which any offer might be made." AB InBev responded by confirming its approach to SABMiller's board. "AB InBev's intention is to work with SABMiller's board toward a recommended transaction." Shares in SAB, which owns such brands as Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell, were up more than 20 percent. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, saw its shares jump 7 percent before trading was suspended. Big Brewers slicing up the global market There has been speculation of such a mega-merger for years, with the global beer market being increasingly dominated by big multinationals. One key area of concern to regulators would be the combined group's market share in the United States, where AB InBev controls almost half the market and SABMiller's joint venture with Molson Coors just under 30 percent.

Beer and soft drink maker Anheuser-Busch InBev wants to take over rival SABMiller from the UK. Should the deal come about, the two companies would control no less than a third of the global beer market. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest beer maker, approached rival SABMiller about a takeover, the two companies confirmed Wednesday. A merged group would have a ... Read More »

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