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Why UK lawmakers hated the Brexit deal

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Cash said it was “inconceivable” to allow Northern Ireland to be governed separately from the U.K. but it’s not only Brexiteers that were unhappy with May’s Brexit deal. Remainer and pro-Scottish independence politician Nicola Sturgeon, the head of the Scottish National Party, tweeted that the deal’s defeat was “entirely predictable” and that the government had been “pandering to Brexit extremists” and had spent too much time “trying to appease” the ERG and DUP.

MP Tom Brake, a member of the staunchly “Remainer” Liberal Democrats and the party’s Brexit spokesman, told CNBC Tuesday evening that the deal “offended” him.

“(The withdrawal agreement) does not satisfy anything like a majority of MPs. I find it offends me because it doesn’t give us that close relationship with the EU that I would like, and in fact I would like us to stay in the EU, but it also offends hard Brexiteers who really don’t want any relationship with the EU at all.”

Richard Burgon, a member of the opposition Labour party, said that a way out of the parliamentary impasse was for the prime minister to look at his party’s suggestion that the U.K. remains in a permanent customs union with the EU.

“Parliament can make it clear again and again to the prime minister that a Brexit deal is possible that commands the support of the majority of the House of Commons but not on the basis that she’s pushing it,” he told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick Tuesday evening.



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Amazon is reportedly working on wearables that can read your emotions

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Luke MacGregor | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon is working on a voice-activated wearable capable of reading human emotions, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

The e-commerce giant’s hardware research and development group Lab126 and the voice software team behind Alexa are collaborating on the device, the news outlet reported, citing internal documents and a person familiar.

It’s described internally as a health and wellness product, Bloomberg said, signaling another big leap by a major tech company into health. Amazon has previously indicated its interest in the sector with its $753 million deal to buy the online pharmacy PillPack.

The report said the device would come equipped with a microphone to listen into a user’s voice and detect their emotional state. It added that it wasn’t clear how far along the project, code-named Dylan, was or if it would ever become a commercial product.

Amazon declined to comment on the report.

You can read the full report on Amazon’s health-focused wearable here.

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Chinese experts’ latest message as trade talks stall: US needs China

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A Chinese flag is seen in front of containers at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, an automated cargo wharf, in Shanghai on April 9, 2018.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

Even though China’s domestic media is rallying the country’s population with messages of standing firm against American “bullying,” Chinese government-aligned experts are stressing to an overseas audience that the U.S. will need to negotiate.

The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a trade dispute for more than a year. Both sides appeared to be making progress until early this month when U.S. President Donald Trump raised tariffs on some Chinese goods — and Beijing retaliated with its own increase to levies.

Now, there have been no announcements about the next round of talks, and markets await some signal about the future of the trade war that’s roiled stocks over the last year. Throughout this current lull, China’s state-run newspapers and television channels have taken an increasingly anti-American tone. Still, the country’s expert class is emphasizing what the U.S. has to gain from cooperating with Beijing.

“In the next 20 to 30 years, the U.S. shouldn’t miss out on this opportunity and lose the China market,” Wei Jianguo, a former vice minister at China’s Ministry of Commerce, told CNBC in an interview Wednesday. He is now vice chairman and deputy executive officer at Beijing-based think tank China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

Personally, I think, as long as there is negotiation, then there will be results.

Wei Jianguo

a former vice minister at China’s Ministry of Commerce

“I believe Americans should grasp this opportunity. This big economic system will give America more material benefits, including employment, including products, including product exports, including revenues,” Wei said, according to Mandarin-language remarks translated by CNBC.

“Personally, I think, as long as there is negotiation, then there will be results,” he said.

On the same day, two speakers addressing foreign reporters at a small press event organized by the government’s main information office echoed some of Wei’s sentiments.

“My personal view is that, from the perspective of U.S. businesses, if the trade war continues, it will … have a negative impact on what was a good relationship between U.S. and Chinese businesses,” said Li Yong, deputy director of the expert committee at the China Association of International Trade, which falls under the Commerce Ministry’s direct leadership. “At the end of the day, the image and influence U.S. businesses have developed over the long term will (be affected). It’s a pity.”

The other speaker, Zhang Yansheng, head researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, also emphasized that Beijing would like to keep negotiating with the U.S. It could even be a years-long process that cycles through negotiation and fights, he said.

The tone stands in contrast to state-run media, whose Chinese-language reports in the last two weeks have promoted the country’s ability to defy pressure from the U.S. For the last several days, the national broadcaster CCTV has also been airing anti-U.S. movies set during the Korean War.

On Wednesday, the prime time evening report featured Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit earlier in the week to the province of Jiangxi. The Chinese leader’s remarks during the visit about rare earth elements as an “important strategic resource” and a “new Long March “ signaled to many that Beijing is resolved not to bend to American demands.

Who needs a deal?

At Wednesday’s news conference, Li said China is in a position where it can’t appease American demands.

“Originally, we believed that in the U.S.-China economic trade relationship … we could mutually cooperate and rely on each other,” he said in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation. “But now we need to revisit this.”

Analysts generally agree that, right now, Beijing still depends heavily on the U.S. as an export market. Last year, China was the largest supplier of goods to the U.S. at $539.5 billion, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Meanwhile, China is trying to transform its economy into one driven by consumption rather than manufacturing. The country hosted its first import expo last fall in an effort to bill itself and its hundreds of millions of consumers as a buyer of the world’s products.

“China needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs China,” said Jacob Shapiro, director of analysis at online publication Geopolitical Futures.

Still, he added that “it’s weird to use the language of ‘need'” because “obviously the U.S. would like to have access to the Chinese market.”

Many foreign companies also want to tap the massive Chinese market. But complaints about unfair treatment compared with local businesses, the forced transfer of technology and a lack of intellectual property protection have become major sticking points in the latest trade dispute with the U.S.

China has been removing ownership restrictions in some industries such as financial services and autos. This March, Beijing also rushed to pass a new foreign investment law that officially prohibits forced technology transfer and increases the protection of intellectual property rights. In June, the government is also set to release an expanded set of industries to which foreign businesses can have access.

“I believe that in China’s reform and opening up, this year will see the most intense promulgation of new government policies, the biggest year, the biggest strength, and the most documents,” Wei said. “Why? Because we have realized we need to ‘accelerate’ (progress in this area).”

Some have hoped the trade tensions would push Beijing toward important changes to the structure of its economy. China’s official GDP growth last year came in at the slowest pace since 1990 and the rate is expected to fall further this year.

It will likely take far more time and effort to change American sentiment on China, however. The latest economic data show a healthy U.S. economy.

As it now stands, the only U.S.-China agreement that appears on the immediate horizon is whether Trump and Xi will meet at a G-20 meeting in late June.

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China says trade talks can’t continue unless US addresses actions

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and members of Chinese delegation attend a working dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 1, 2018. 

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

The latest U.S. actions on trade are preventing negotiations with Beijing from proceeding, China’s Commerce Ministry said Thursday.

“If the U.S. would like to keep on negotiating it should, with sincerity, adjust its wrong actions. Only then can talks continue,” Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said Thursday in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation.

He did not mention any U.S. actions specifically, but it’s been a tense couple of weeks between the world’s two-largest economies. President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced earlier this month that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25% from 10% on May 10. In the last two weeks, his administration also put Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that prevents it from buying from American companies without U.S. government permission.

Google said Sunday it would cut ties with Huawei in order to comply with the order. But after the U.S. temporarily eased some restrictions on trade for the telecom and smartphone company, Google said Tuesday it plans to work with Huawei over the next 90 days.

“The U.S. … crackdown on Chinese companies not only seriously damages the normal commercial cooperation between both countries, but it also forms a great threat to the security of the global industrial and supply chain,” Gao said. “China is firmly opposed to this. We will closely monitor developments and make adequate preparations.”

U.S Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC’s Ylan Mui on Wednesday that a trip to Beijing has not been planned. Trump has said he plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in late June at the G-20 meeting in Japan.

When asked Thursday whether Xi would meet Trump then, Gao referred reporters to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nearly three-fourths of respondents to a joint survey by the American Chambers of Commerce in Shanghai and Beijing said the latest round of U.S. tariffs and planned counter-tariffs from China are negatively affecting their businesses. Some respondents also noted increased scrutiny by customs authorities and other bureaucratic challenges.

Gao said Thursday that all foreign companies in China will be protected by the Chinese government. Regarding the issues some foreign companies raised, he said that China is working to address them and improve the business environment.

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