- Gerard Araud, French ambassador to the United States, told reporters he is concerned about the possibility of a trade war between the US and Europe over the auto sector.
- The embassy has released a new study showing the benefits of trade cooperation between the United States and France.
- “There is an obsession by the president on trade about cars,” Araud said. “Every time he’s talking about trade with the Europeans, he’s talking about BMW or Mercedes.”
An important engine of US economic growth is also a key sticking point in trade negotiations with Europe under the administration of Donald Trump: the auto sector.
Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to Washington, believes the US and Europe would be better served working together to contain what he sees as unfair Chinese trade practices, rather than bickering with one another.
During his state visit in April, French President Emmanuel Macron “basically told President Trump, ‘we are facing a common problem with China, you’re right to raise the issue,'” Araud told reporters during a briefing at his official residence in Washington.
“It’s true that trade with China is not always fair, especially because of issues around intellectual property, but also the problem of access to markets and public procurement. So the idea was, Macron told Trump, you know, we should work together.
“The reaction of Trump was ‘No way, the European Union is worse than China‘” on trade.
US-EU trade worries reached fever pitch ahead of EU President Jean-Claude Juncker’s visit to the United States, but a last minute deal on specific sectors like natural gas and medical services helped avoid a full-on tit-for-tat trade war.
Still, a lot remains unresolved, in part because the US is juggling several negotiations at once, including the North American Free-Trade Agreement, which is crucial to the auto industry, as well as a new round of wide-ranging tariffs on Chinese goods.
“The cars will be certainly a sort of test case in the coming weeks and months on this European-American relationship — if the Americans go back to this idea of tariffs on cars or not,” Araud said. Any substantive talks “will take months to negotiate, and we are not sure that the president — your president — has the patience to wait for it.”
“So the coming months will be critical to whether we have a virtuous negotiation starting between the US and Europe and we forget the threats the tariffs and the trade war, or whether we go back to a trade war with the Europeans.”
The ambassador and his team were touting a new report called “France and the United States: A deep and mutually beneficial relationship.” As the title suggests, the analysis is an effort to show the benefits of the trade connections between the two countries as a way to counter US protectionist momentum in US politics, and the findings have been shared with relevant US senators and governors.
“This report is a protection maybe against protectionism,” said Renaud Lassus, the ambassador’s chief economic adviser. “This is a demonstration that, state by state, you see the connection between both sides of the Atlantic. And this is a demonstration that if tariffs or sanctions were to be applied on French companies this would be detrimental to a lot of US communities.”
The report finds that in 2017, “France was the largest source of job creation through foreign direct investment in the United States,” making French firms the third largest foreign employers in the country.
Still, ultimately, it’s Trump himself who needs to be convinced. And that seems like a tall order.
“There is an obsession by the president on trade about cars,” Araud said. “Every time he’s talking about trade with the Europeans, he’s talking about BMW or Mercedes.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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