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Japan says Seoul decision to end intelligence pact was regrettable

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Japanese Minister of Defence Takeshi Iwaya said on Friday South Korea’s decision to end an intelligence-sharing pact was regrettable and showed it failed to appreciate the growing national security threat posed by North Korean missiles.

“North Korea’s repeated missile tests threaten national security and cooperating between Japan and South Korea and with the U.S. is crucial,” Iwaya told reporters. “We strongly urge them to make a wise decision.”

South Korea said on Thursday it was ending the intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, further straining ties between Seoul and Tokyo amid a dispute over South Koreans pressed into forced labour during Japan’s wartime occupation of Korea.

Ties between the East Asian neighbors were already at their lowest ebb in years before Seoul’s decision to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

The dispute has spilled over into trade, with Japan putting restrictions on exports of semiconductor materials to South Korea and removing it from a list of nations given preferential trading terms.

Under the GSOMIA, which had been due for automatic renewal on Saturday, the two countries shared information on the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

Scrapping the pact means Japan and South Korea may have to revert to sharing intelligence through the U.S. military.

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what’s the future of ads on social media?

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Much of the internet is funded by advertising, with Facebook making more than 98% of its $70 billion revenues in 2019 from advertising. But as some of its largest advertisers boycott the platform — part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign that aims to stamp out harmful content — what impact will that have on social media in the long run? CNBC’s Lucy Handley reports.

08:59

Mon, Aug 3 20205:00 PM EDT

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Lebanon government set to resign amid outrage over explosion: Minister

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Smoke rises after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020, in this picture obtained from a social media video.

Karim Sokhn | Instagram | Reuters

Lebanon’s prime minister was set on Monday to announce the resignation of his government, the health minister said, after a devastating explosion in Beirut that has stirred public outrage and spurred a string of ministers to step down.

The Aug. 4 port warehouse detonation of more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed at least 163 people, injured over 6,000 and destroyed swathes of the bustling Mediterranean capital, compounding months of political and economic meltdown.

The cabinet, formed in January with the backing of the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah group and its allies, met on Monday, with many ministers wanting to resign, according to ministerial and political sources.

Health Minister Hamad Hasan told Reuters that Prime Minister Hassan Diab would soon announce the resignation of the entire cabinet. Diab was set to deliver an address to the nation at 7:30 p.m. local time (1630 GMT), his office said.

For many ordinary Lebanese, the explosion was the last straw in a protracted crisis over the collapse of the economy, endemic corruption, waste and dysfunctional governance, and they have taken to the streets demanding root-and-branch change.

The information and environment ministers quit on Sunday as well as several lawmakers, and the justice minister followed them out the door on Monday.

Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni, a key negotiator with the IMF over a rescue plan to help Lebanon exit a financial crisis, prepared his resignation letter and brought it with him to the cabinet meeting, a source close to him and local media said.

Lebanon’s president had previously said explosive material was stored unsafely for years at the port. He later said the investigation would consider whether the cause was external interference as well as negligence or an accident.

Anti-government protests in the past two days have been the biggest since October, when angry demonstrations spread over an economic crisis rooted in pervasive graft, mismanagement and high-level unaccountability. Protesters accused the political elite of siphoning off state resources for their own benefit.

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Senators urge U.S. to remove tariffs on EU foods, beverages

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Bottles of French wine are displayed for sale in a liquor store on December 3, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia.

Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

A bipartisan group of 13 U.S. senators have asked the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) to remove 25% tariffs imposed in October 2019 on European Union food, wine and spirits, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The tariffs, in retaliation for EU subsidies on large aircraft, hit French wine, Italian cheese and single-malt Scotch whisky, as well as cookies, salami, yogurt, olives from France, EU-produced pork sausage and German coffee.

Seven Republican and six Democratic senators, including Robert Menendez, John Barrasso, Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Pat Toomey, Kyrsten Sinema and Cory Booker said in a letter to USTR Friday that American “restaurants, retailers, grocers, importers and distributors” are experiencing “severe economic hardship due to the increased cost of goods.”

The senators noted “demand for these goods has declined, leaving importers and distributors with months’ worth of product, much of it perishable, in storage and in transit with no clear end date for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

USTR did not immediately comment.

Last month, Europe’s Airbus said it would increase loan repayments to France and Spain in a “final” bid to reverse U.S. tariffs and jog the United States into settling a 16-year-old dispute over billions of dollars of aircraft subsidies.

The United States last year won World Trade Organization authorization to impose tariffs on up to $7.5 billion of EU goods.

The U.S. Distilled Spirits Council last month urged ending EU and U.S. beverage tariffs, saying drinks firms on both sides of the Atlantic “have suffered enough.”

The group noted Scotch Whisky imports by the United States fell nearly 33% between October 2019 and May 2020, a $378 million decline over the same period a year earlier.

The EU in a separate dispute imposed 25% tariffs  on all U.S. whiskey imports in June 2018. Since then, U.S. whiskey exports to the EU have fallen by 33%, or $300 million, the group said.

Trade groups are bracing for an escalation this autumn when the EU is expected to win WTO approval to retaliate with its own tariffs over subsidies for U.S. planemaker Boeing Co.

USTR announced in June it was considering imposing additional tariffs on products from many EU countries including gin, vodka, beer, sparkling wine and other whiskies.

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