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Pompeo warns Kazakhstan to be wary of Chinese investment, influence – Global News

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday pressed Kazakhstan to be wary of Chinese investment and influence, urging the Central Asian nation and others to join calls demanding an end to China’s repression of minorities.

Bringing a message similar to the one he has delivered repeatedly to other countries, Pompeo told Kazakh officials that the attractiveness of Chinese investment comes with a cost to sovereignty and may hurt, instead of help, the country’s long-term development.

“We fully support Kazakhstan’s freedom to choose to do business with whichever country it wants, but I am confident that countries get the best outcomes when they partner with American companies,” he said. “You get fair deals. You get job creation. You get transparency in contracts. You get companies that care about the environment and you get an unsurpassed commitment to quality work.”

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Pompeo was expected to make the same case in Uzbekistan, where he arrived late Sunday and went immediately into a meeting with religious leaders to discuss religious freedom. He planned to meet on Monday with Uzbek officials and hold security talks with the foreign ministers of the five Central Asian nations

Pompeo began his brief visit to Kazakhstan by meeting with ethnic Kazakhs whose families have gone missing or been detained in China’s widespread crackdown on Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in its western Xinjiang region.

“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation,” he said, thanking Kazakhstan for taking in those fleeing persecution. “The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for immediate end to this repression. We ask simply for them to provide safe refuge and asylum for those seeking to flee China. To protect dignity, just do what’s right.”

Pompeo also congratulated Kazakhstan on its repatriation of Islamic State fighters from Iraq and Syria. Kazakhstan has taken back nearly 600 fighters and family members detained in areas formerly controlled by the group.






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Pompeo plays down rift with Britain over Huawei


Pompeo plays down rift with Britain over Huawei

“I have and will continue to commend the Kazakhstani government for its leadership in repatriating foreign terrorists fighters and their families from Iraq and Syria,” he said.

“I hope this commitment to justice will inspire other nations to do the same.”

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Kazakhstan has come under some criticism for pressuring an activist who had campaigned for the release of ethnic Kazakhs in China. Threatened with a long prison sentence, the man signed an admission of guilt for inciting ethnic tensions.

Pompeo also urged Kazkh officials to continue reforms that would allow greater U.S. investment and said the two nations were discussion the possibility of opening direct passenger flights between the countries.


READ MORE:
Pompeo says British decision to allow Huawei in network won’t affect relationship

At a news conference with Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Pompeo praised Kazakhstan for its efforts to counter the spread of a new virus from China.

He said the United States is helping the country with expertise from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and providing laboratory equipment.

Kazakhstan’s “quick action to stop the spread of the virus has been incredibly impressive,” he said.

Kazakhstan is among the growing list of countries that have suspended travel links with China.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Pension funds suffer largest investment losses since 2008 financial crisis

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Canadian defined-benefit pension plans collectively suffered their largest losses since the 2008 financial crisis in 2022, recording a median decline in assets of 10.3 per cent despite a partial recovery in the final months of the year, according to a survey from Royal Bank of Canada RY-T.

Pension assets suffered heavy losses in the first two quarters of 2022 before starting to recover in the back half of the year. In the final quarter, pension assets returned 3.8 per cent, as measured by the RBC Investor and Treasury Services All Plan Universe, which serves as a benchmark for performance.

Pension plan investors were battered by unusually volatile markets driven by high inflation and rapidly rising interest rates, as both stocks and bonds returned losses, instead of helping offset each other as has often been the case in past market downturns. And although plans earned positive returns to finish the year, they are facing many of the same pressures in 2023.

“In the next few months, plan sponsors will need to be attentive to risk factors such as the economic impact of the central banks’ actions, ongoing geopolitical tensions and ongoing efforts to contain the COVID virus outbreak in certain emerging markets,” Niki Zaphiratos, managing director for asset owners at RBC I&TS, said in a news release.

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Canadian pension plans’ bond portfolios had median losses of 16.8 per cent in 2022 – the largest annual decline in more than 30 years – and also trailed the benchmark FTSE Canada Bond Index. The losses were driven by the drastic action central banks took to tame inflation by raising interest rates, with longer-duration bonds that are most sensitive to inflation accounting for some of the largest declines.

Yet for pension plans, there was a silver lining to rapid interest-rate increases, which caused future liabilities to fall. As a result, more pension plans finished 2022 in surplus, meaning their assets were greater than their liabilities. And higher yields from fixed-income securities could also give pension plan investment managers more options to reduce risk-taking in their portfolios over the coming year.

Stocks also suffered, rather than acting as a counterweight to falling bond prices. Foreign equities returned 9.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, but closed the year down 11.3 per cent, according to RBC I&TS. And Canadian equities returned 6.3 per cent in the final quarter of the year, bringing their annual loss to a comparatively modest 3.6 per cent. In general, value stocks performed better than higher-risk growth stocks in the quarter.

The last time pension assets declined so sharply was in 2008, when Canadian defined-benefit pension assets posted a median loss of 15.9 per cent.

Defined-benefit pension plans pay fixed benefits for as long as a beneficiary lives based on their contributions and years of service.

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Intel Cuts Pay Across Company to Preserve Cash for Investment

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(Bloomberg) — Intel Corp., struggling with a rapid drop in revenue and earnings, is cutting management pay across the company to cope with a shaky economy and preserve cash for an ambitious turnaround plan.

Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger is taking a 25% cut to his base salary, the chipmaker said Tuesday. His executive leadership team will see their pay packets decreased by 15%. Senior managers will take a 10% reduction, and the compensation for mid-level managers will be cut by 5%.

“As we continue to navigate macroeconomic headwinds and work to reduce costs across the company, we’ve made several adjustments to our 2023 employee compensation and rewards programs,” Intel said in a statement. “These changes are designed to impact our executive population more significantly and will help support the investments and overall workforce needed to accelerate our transformation and achieve our long-term strategy.”

The move follows a gloomy outlook from Intel last week, when the company predicted one of the worst quarters in its more than 50-year history. Stiffer competition and a sharp slowdown in personal-computer demand has wiped out profits and eaten into Intel’s cash reserves. At the same time, Gelsinger wants to invest in the company’s future. He’s two years into a turnaround effort aimed at restoring Intel’s technological leadership in the $580 billion chip industry.

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Gelsinger will keep using cash to reward shareholders, meanwhile. Intel said last week that it remains committed to offering a competitive dividend. Analysts have speculated that the company may lower its payout to cope with the slowdown.

Under Gelsinger’s plan, the company is looking to introduce new production technology at an unprecedented pace. It will also build new plants in Europe and the US and try to win orders from other chipmakers as an outsourced manufacturer. That move will put Intel in direct competition with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co., two Asian companies that have passed it in the rankings of chipmakers by size and capabilities.

Intel isn’t the only big company trimming executive pay. Apple Inc., one of the few tech giants to forgo major layoffs, is cutting the pay of CEO Tim Cook by more than 40% to $49 million for 2023. Some high-profile finance firms have made similar moves, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon seeing his 2022 compensation trimmed by about 30% to $25 million.

Intel is taking other steps to rein in expenses. That includes headcount reductions and slower spending on new plants — part of an effort to save $3 billion annually. That figure will swell to much as $10 billion a year by the end of 2025, the company has said.

Intel, which informed staff of the latest cutbacks earlier Tuesday, is also reducing the match it offers to pension contributions. The Santa Clara, California-based company thanked employees for their patience and commitment.

Hourly workers and employees below the seventh tier in the company’s system won’t be affected.

(Updates with spending plans and earnings report starting in fourth paragraph.)

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Lithium Americas stock rises on GM’s $650 million equity investment

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Lithium Americas Corp.
LAC,
+13.19%

stock was up 9.2% in premarket trading Tuesday after it said General Motors Co.
GM,
+8.14%

agreed to invest $650 million in the company to help develop Nevada’s Thacker Pass mine, the largest known lithium source in the U.S. Lithium Americas said the project would create 1,000 jobs in construction and 500 in operations. It would produce lithium for up to 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) a year. Lithium from Thacker Pass will be used in GM’s proprietary batteries for its EVs. “Direct sourcing critical EV raw materials and components from suppliers in North America and free-trade-agreement countries helps make our supply chain more secure, helps us manage cell costs, and creates jobs,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. Thacker Pass is scheduled to go into operation in the second half of 2026, the companies said.

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