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Economy

Italian olive oil industry under pressure

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ROME: Helping curb the rising tide of non-Italian olive oil sold as an Italian product is proving to be a slippery matter, according to a new report from Coldiretti, Italy’s national farmers’ union.
Laws exist to guarantee the quality of Italian olive oil, one of the country’s most traditional products and one of its main exports.
But a report from Coldiretti said they are inadequate to the task of protecting the country’s olive oil makers and guaranteeing high-quality oil for consumers.
The report said that around two of every three bottles of olive oil sold in Italy contained at least some oil produced outside Italy, but that was rarely indicated on labels.
Often, Coldiretti said, olive oil labels feature the Italian flag, images of famous Italian monuments, or the distinctive outline of the country’s boot-shaped borders. Those images create the impression the oil was produced in Italy, where production standards and the quality of the olives are higher.
The biggest producers of the counterfeit olive oil are Spain and Greece, the report said. Oil from Tunisia is also on the rise, making it the largest country of origin for fake Italian olive oil outside the European Union.
Ettore Prandini, Coldiretti’s president, told Xinhua Italy should work toward setting up controls to guarantee the origin and quality of oil being sold as from Italy. He said there are objective tests that examine the smell, color, density and chemical breakdown of oils that can be used.
“As things stand now, consumers suffer from an inferior product and the Italian olive oil industry is hurt even more because producers who make a high-quality and labor-intensive product are facing unfair competition,” Prandini said.
Compounding the problem is the weather, which last year reduced domestic olive oil production by more than a third, near the lowest production level on record. Coldiretti has called for the government to take steps to protect the industry, including guarantees for minimum prices.
Meanwhile, Italia Olivicola, a consortium of olive growers, said that rules that limit olive production end up hurting oil makers and should be made more flexible to give farmers a way to combat poor production years.
“We need serious action aimed at allowing olive growers to increase production and adapt to increasingly frequent seasonal issues,” Gennaro Sicolo, Olivicola’s president, said in an interview.
The current law features fines for producers who use deceptive labels for their olive oil, and oil in specific areas protected by DOP rules (the initials stand for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Designation of Origin, a quality guarantee) must pass through stricter quality controls. DOP olive oil protection areas are some of the best known, including Apulia, Liguria, Sicily, and Umbria.
But DOP oil represents less than five percent of the country’s overall production of oil.
“The thing Italian olive oil makers need most is strict and enforced labeling laws that include some indication of the origin and purity of the oil,” Nino Pascale, an agronomist and a former president of Slow Food, told Xinhua. “Without it, the olive oil industry will suffer damage that it will be difficult to recover from.”

 

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Asia

Markets uncertain ahead of US-China trade talks

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Stocks falter on Brexit US-China tensions

LONDON: Global markets parted ways Wednesday as investors were more cautious about the chances of success in China-US trade talks, and looked for direction from the ECB.
The overall mood remained wary, with a rally that has characterized the start of the year stuttering due to slower Chinese economic activity, a softer global outlook, Brexit issues and the US government shutdown, which shows no sign of ending soon. “The markets appear to be trading a bit cautious ahead of tomorrow’s monetary policy decision from the European Central Bank (ECB) and as US/China trade worries are flaring up,” the Charles Schwab brokerage said.
US investors sold shares Tuesday after the Financial Times and CNBC said Washington had rejected Beijing’s offer of preparatory discussions ahead of the next round of high-level negotiations. Wednesday saw a sliver of respite as Wall Street opened just in the black, the Dow Jones adding 1 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.6 percent.  “We are continuing to see caution in the markets on Wednesday, with reports a day earlier regarding trade talks between the US and China only aiding that,” said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.
“Reports that preparatory talks between the US and China ahead of a meeting at the end of the month had been canceled put a slight dampener on the mood … at a time when we’re already seeing some profit taking.” Although the White House denied the reports, observers said they highlighted how fragile the negotiations were. The reports also came a day after Bloomberg News said the two sides were struggling to reach agreement on the crucial matter of intellectual property, a key source of US anger. Hopes that China and the US were on the right track have helped rally global markets in January following a torrid performance in 2018.
But data showing China’s economy grew at its weakest pace in three decades added to fears it is heading for a hard landing, while Xi Jinping also showed signs of worrying about the effects of a slowdown in a speech to top provincial leaders this week. “Investors obviously are still a little bit edgy and therefore we would expect periods of volatility to continue,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide Funds Group. “As the headlines continue to get more nerve-wracking with regards to a global slowdown and trade wars and government shutdowns, it’s easy to spook investors, but we think those are temporary versus permanent.”
Adding to concerns was confirmation that the US plans to seek the extradition from Canada of a top executive with Chinese telecom giant Huawei before the end of January. Despite the pervading uncertainty, Frankfurt and Paris joined Wall Street in posting small gains in intraday trades, but London was down 0.5 percent with little immediate sign of Brexit-related gloom lifting. Hong Kong ended flat having swung back and forth through the day, while Shanghai closed 0.1 percent higher and Tokyo ended slightly down. Oil prices advanced after taking a hit Tuesday on lingering worries about the effect of a slowdown in the global economy, and particularly China, on demand.

 

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Economy

Fin. Supp. Bill, 2019 termed business-friendly

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Mall road to remain closed on 6th Sept

RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Wednesday declared Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill of 2019 as ‘business-friendly.’
Talking to the Media, President RCCI Malik Shahid Saleem said despite economic crunch and a number of domestic and international challenges on different fronts, the government has announced business and people-friendly bill but it should be implemented in letter and spirit from January instead of 1st July 2019.
He said waiving off withholding tax on bank transactions for tax filers is a welcoming step of the government and it would give relief to small traders.
The President expressed hope that reduction on agriculture loans from 49% to 20% would benefit the farmers and traders related to agri sector. He lauded the exemption of small businesses from submitting withholding tax returns every month that will provide mentally relief to traders.
The business community also hailed other steps announced by the Finance Minister Asad Umer like Introduction of interest-free revolving credit of Rs5 billion (qarz-i-husna),lifting ban on purchase of vehicles for non-filers for locally manufactured cars up till 1300CC capacity,reduction of fixed tax on marriage halls from Rs20000 to Rs5,000,exemption of duties on Investment in solar panels and wind turbines for five years and removal of gas infrastructure development Cess from fertilizer production.

 

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Economy

HCCI hails economy reforms package

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HYDERABAD: The President Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) Muhammad Saleem Shaikh Wednesday termed the economic reforms package announced by the Federal Finance Minister Asad Umer as positive adding that the incentives which he announced could strengthen the economy if the same would be implemented in letter and spirit.
In his reaction on the speech of Federal Finance Minister in National Assembly, HCCI President said that 50 percent reduction in small medium enterprises, industrial and agriculture sectors of the country and allocation of Rs. 5 billion for housing schemes would not only improve the economy but it would also be beneficial for common men of the country.
He said that five years tax exemption in special economic zones would bring a new era of industrial development and reduction of taxes on newspapers industry would also benefit the newspapers industry of the country.
He said that abolition of withholding tax on bank deposits was also a better decision however, the government should also review the reduction of imports which could decrease the quantum of taxes.
The former Senior Vice President HCCI Turab Ali Khoja, however, expressed his concern regarding overcoming the shortfall of Rs. 170 billion in revenue collection adding that details regarding the imposition of more taxes are still not ascertained.
He was of the opinion that common men would not get benefit with a reduction of tax on marriage halls.
The former Vice President HCCI Ziauddin Qureshi termed the reduction of taxes upon filers a right decision and emphasized that the government should provide maximum incentives of SMEs so that doors of employment for jobless people could be opened with rapid development of this sector.

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