Connect with us

World

Kim Jong Un meets South Korean officials for the first time

Published

on

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met senior South Korean government officials for the first time and said it is his “firm will to vigorously advance” inter-Korean ties and pursue reunification, the North’s official news agency said on Tuesday.

A 10-member South Korean delegation led by National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong travelled to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Monday in hopes of encouraging North Korea and the United States to talk to one another.

Washington and Pyongyang have been at loggerheads for months over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes, with U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un trading insults and threatening war.

Tensions between the two Koreas eased during the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea, where President Moon Jae-In hosted a high-level North Korean delegation. Kim Jong Un invited Moon to North Korea for a summit, which Moon said the two sides should work towards.

“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae In for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, (Kim Jong Un) exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said of the meeting.

The agency did not provide details on what that agreement was but an official from the presidential Blue House in Seoul said it partially addressed the summit offer made by the North.

North Korea has been developing nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the United States but Pyongyang and Washington both say they want a diplomatic solution.

EASE MILITARY TENSIONS

Seoul’s delegation met Kim Jong Un, his sister Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s wife and other officials on Monday, said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the South’s presidential office.

Kim Yo Jong attended the Winter Olympics opening ceremony last month.

The delegation will wrap up a two-day trip to Pyongyang later on Tuesday after another meeting with North Korean officials, the spokesman said.

Blue House officials could not confirm whether Kim Jong Un would be present at Tuesday’s meeting. Chung said in Seoul before leaving on Monday his team would deliver the South Korean president’s wish to bring about denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and permanent peace.

Kim Jong Un gave orders for “practical steps” regarding the letter from Moon that was delivered to him by the delegation, KCNA said without elaborating.

“He also made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange,” the report said.

Both North Korea and the United States have said they are open to talks but the U.S. position has been that dialogue must be aimed at North Korea’s denuclearisation, something Pyongyang has rejected.

The Pentagon nevertheless said it was “cautiously optimistic” about the North-South talks, which resumed in January for the first time in two years.

North Korea has vowed never to give up what it calls an essential deterrent against U.S. hostility.

Pyongyang has not carried out any nuclear or missile tests since November. The Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, 38 North, said satellite images from last week indicated North Korea’s main nuclear reactor may be operating, meaning that it had resumed production of plutonium, presumably for its nuclear weapons programme.

Steam plumes were observed from the reactor in images from Feb. 17 and 28 and that such vapour plumes had “generally been a useful indicator of reactor operations”, 38 North said in a report on Monday.

However, the report said no cooling water discharges had been observed. That could mean the plumes were unrelated to reactor operations, or that the discharge pipeline had been extended into the nearby river in an attempt to disguise activity.

“The presence of ice melt on the river supports the conclusion that the reactor is indeed operating and that the outfall pipeline has been extended,” it said.

Source link

World

Property group Alliance Global aims to become more sustainable

Published

on

A combination of a delicate natural environment and increasing poverty is encouraging the son of a billionaire business founder to improve their company’s sustainable and social efforts.

Property group Alliance Global is based in the Philippines, which — being an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands — is particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, as CEO Kevin Tan described.

“We’re located in a very unique and rather precarious geographic location,” Tan said. “Every year, we experience several calamities, ranging from simple tropical depressions to typhoons to even prolonged droughts and dry spells … In recent years, we have actually seen these occurrences happen more frequently, and with a much higher ferocity,” he added.

Founded by Tan’s father Andrew Tan in 1993, Alliance Global operates in real estate, hospitality and food, with assets including casino and hotel complex Resorts World Manila, and the world’s largest brandy distiller, Emperador. It is also the main McDonald’s franchise holder in the Philippines, via its Golden Arches Development Corporation.

Alongside this, the country has a poverty problem: The World Bank estimates that there will have been 2 million more poor Filipinos in 2020 than there were in 2018 due to the coronavirus pandemic, per a June report — the country has a total population of 108 million.

And according to Tan, a shifting population is also putting pressure on resources. “(There is an) uneven sort of distribution of population growth towards the urban centers versus the rural centers of our country. And … it poses several challenges — among them is really this unequal distribution of economic opportunities,” he said.

The Philippines’ environmental and economic issues spurred Alliance Global to identify two goals: becoming carbon neutral by 2035 and creating 5 million jobs, either directly or indirectly, by the same date. “We decided we wanted to be … better corporate citizens,” Tan said. However, the pandemic meant that the firm extended its deadline for both from 2030. “Nothing could have prepared us for this. I have to admit, yes, of course we had to step back a bit, because we were on survivor mode for the most part of last year and even until today, we’ve had to recalibrate our entire business model. We’ve had to … reduce our costs,” Tan explained.

Alliance Global’s Emperador is the world’s largest brandy distiller.

Jay Directo | AFP | Getty Images

The firm’s net income reduced by 62% year-over-year to 10.3 billion pesos ($216 million) in 2020, although several of its businesses recovered during the fourth quarter. McDonald’s revenue went up 36% compared with the previous quarter, while liquor sales at Emperador rose 42% over the same period.

Making its alcohol operations more environmentally-friendly has been a focus for Alliance Global: At Emperador the firm uses biogas created from the distilling process to fuel its boilers. In turn, the boilers produce steam, which powers turbines and creates electricity. Around 30% of the company’s distillery operations are powered this way, while vineyards producing grapes for its Fundador brandy in Spain use a process called deficit irrigation, where only the areas that need water are given it.

When it comes to economic development, Tan said the company’s Megaworld “township” residential and office complexes are creating jobs. He singled out Iloilo, a development on the Philippines’ Panay Island, where there is a focus on business process outsourcing (BPO), a practice where firms contract some of their operations to external suppliers. Such BPO companies are growing — and they need office space, Tan said. “Traditionally, the BPO sector was dominated by health care, travel, and financial services. Because of the pandemic, new industries have been introduced to outsourcing, for example logistics, technology, and e-commerce,” he explained.

Alliance Global is also looking to reduce waste in its developments. “We collect all the plastics from all of our developments, from all of our communities, we put them together and … cement factories, they take this plastic and use it as fuel,” Tan said.

Tan claimed the firm now looks at a “triple” bottom line. “Profitability is obviously still very important … But when we look at things now, we look at … not just having a singular bottom line, but having a triple bottom line, and that now includes, of course, environmental sustainability, as well as our social impact.”

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Tesla will accept bitcoin when miners use clean energy

Published

on

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla.

Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Sunday said the company will resume bitcoin transactions once it confirms there is reasonable clean energy usage by miners.

“When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing bitcoin transactions.”

Musk was reacting to comments from Magda Wierzycka, CEO of South African asset manager Sygnia, who said that Musk’s tweets on bitcoin prices were “market manipulation” and should have triggered an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tesla revealed in an SEC filing in February that it purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and said it would begin accepting bitcoin as a payment method for its products.

However, the electric-car maker halted car purchases with bitcoin in mid-May due to concerns over how cryptocurrency mining, which requires banks of powerful computers, contributes to climate change.

Read more about cryptocurrencies from CNBC Pro

“We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk said in May.

On Sunday, Musk disputed Wierzycka’s allegations of market manipulation, explaining, “Tesla sold roughly 10% of its bitcoin holdings “to confirm BTC could be liquidated easily without moving market,” he said. During the first quarter, Tesla sold $272 million worth of “digital assets,” which helped it reduce operating losses by $101 million, the company revealed in its earnings statement.

Musk’s comments on social media about cryptocurrency often send prices soaring or plummeting, but appeared to have little immediate effect Sunday. Overall, bitcoin prices rose about 8% during the day.



Source link

Continue Reading

World

Markets in Australia, mainland China and Hong Kong closed

Published

on

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Monday morning trade, with multiple major markets in the region closed for holidays.

In Japan, Nikkei 225 rose 0.45% in early trade while the Topix index gained 0.25%. South Korea’s Kospi dipped fractionally.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.13% lower.

Looking ahead, Japan’s industrial production data for April is expected at 12:30 p.m. HK/SIN on Monday.

Markets in Australia, mainland China and Hong Kong are closed on Monday for holidays.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.504 following a recent climb past the 90.3 level.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.73 per dollar, weaker than levels below 109.5 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7703 after falling from above $0.774 late last week.

Oil prices were little changed in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up fractionally at $72.73 per barrel. U.S. crude futures hovered above the flatline, trading at $70.92 per barrel.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Japan: Industrial production data for April at 12:30 p.m. HK/SIN

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending