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Disney boss warns Trump on trade and migration

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The head of Disney has warned against a US trade war with China and called for a “fair and just” immigration policy in an apparent broadside against Donald Trump.

Bob Iger’s said that, the company behind Mickey Mouse, and owner of the Star Wars franchise, at odds with the White House.

Mr Iger is a member of the new President’s business advisory council, though he did not attend its first meeting last week, saying it clashed with a Disney board meeting.

Mr Trump has threatened to levy tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese goods – risking a trade war with the world’s second biggest economy, the like of which the IMF has already warned could derail global growth.

Mr Iger said that China was a key market for its films, theme parks and consumer products.

He added: “An all-out trade war with China would be damaging I think to Disney’s business and to business in general and something I think we have to be really careful about.”

The chief executive was also apparently critical of the new administration’s travel ban – which affects immigration to the US from seven mainly Muslim nations and the country’s refugee programme.

Mr Iger stressed the importance to the US of its “openness to the people of the world”.

He said: “I firmly believe that we cannot shut our borders to immigrants.

“I think a fair and just immigration policy is good for our country and good for our society.”

Mr Trump’s travel ban has already attracted the ire of Silicon Valley bosses – including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – who are supporting a legal challenge.

Mr Iger was speaking as Disney published results for the three months to the end of December showing a surprise drop in revenue, though profits were better than expected.

The results pointed to the growing importance of its operations in China, where its Shanghai Disney Resort opened last summer and has already seen more than seven million visitors.

 

24 Hours Across Africa

Elizabeth Warren, targets prospective plan to stop ‘looting’ of U.S. companies

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U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren on Thursday called for an overhaul of the private-equity industry as part of a new proposal targeting Wall Street.

“We need to shut down the Wall Street giveaways and rein in the financial industry so it stops sucking money out of the rest of the economy,” Warren said in a post on Medium.com announcing her proposal.

Warren and a group of Democrats also filed legislation on Thursday to implement the policy that the Massachusetts senator proposed through her campaign.

Warren, a relentless critic of the financial industry for much of her career, is one of more than two dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.

She has distinguished herself in the crowded field by releasing reams of policy proposals.

The legislation, titled the Stop Wall Street Looting Act was filed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who also is running for president, is a co-sponsor with Warren but no Republicans joined in sponsoring the bill.

The proposal was greeted with opposition from industry and business groups, who would undoubtedly fight efforts to enact the legislation.

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24 Hours Across Africa

EU to probe Amazon over use of merchant data

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Amazon became the target of an antitrust investigation by the European Union on Wednesday over its use of merchants’ data, underlining the increasing regulatory scrutiny about how tech companies exploit customers’ information.

The European Commission has been seeking feedback from retailers and manufacturers since September into Amazon’s dual role as a marketplace for merchants and acting as a competitor following complaints from traders about Amazon’s practices.

The Commission said its investigation would focus on Amazon’s standard agreements with marketplace sellers and its use of data in choosing winners of the “buy box”, which allows consumers to add items from a specific retailer directly to their shopping carts.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who can fine companies up to 10% of their global turnover, said the issue was crucial as more and more Europeans shop online.

“E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behavior,” she said.

Amazon said it would cooperate fully with the EU investigation. The company reached a deal with Germany’s antitrust authority on Wednesday to overhaul its terms of service for third-party merchants.

Under its terms of service for Europe here set out on its website, merchants grant Amazon “royalty-free” rights to use in a range of ways their materials, such as technology, trademarks, content and product information.

“There have been concerns around the world that competition authorities have failed to appreciate the market power that comes from ownership of data,” he said.

In Amazon’s case, he said the Commission needed to show “the standard agreements with retailers were anti-competitive in somehow allowing Amazon to use the data to manipulate market outcomes, or that Amazon had in some way abused its dominance.”

The Commission had been struggling to define the market in which Amazon operates in order to identify where the competitive harm could have been, sources said.

This would not be Amazon’s first run-in with the Commission. Two years ago, it was told to pay back taxes of about 250 million euros ($280 million) to Luxembourg because of illegal tax benefits. That same year it settled with the regulator over its distribution deals with e-book publishers in Europe.

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