Tag Archives: C&E Industry News Filter

Italian Government Prays About How to Revive the Post-Covid-19 Economy | Instant News


ROME – Amid the pandemic, one sign of normality is returning to Italy: political instability.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is struggling to avoid collapse after members of a small coalition threatened to withdraw vital support from parliament. The Viva Italia party, led by former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, has long been skeptical of Conte’s leadership and is increasing pressure on a range of issues, including how to reconstruct Italy’s economy hit after the pandemic.

If Renzi pulls out of the coalition, forcing Conte to step down, possible outcomes range from a new government with the same center-left leader to elections likely to be won by a rival center-right alliance.

Many observers expect Mr Conte to continue, albeit with a small party Mr Renzi has had more leverage. Whatever the outcome, the tussle suggests that Italy’s shocking political stability during the pandemic is coming to an end.

Mr. Conte, a little-known law professor who was elected to lead two rickety coalition governments in 2018 and 2019, has been an unexpectedly powerful prime minister since last year, when Italy became the first Western country hardest hit by Covid-19. His approval ratings rose as he worked with allies and opposition parties to arrange for the first nationwide lockdown, using stringent measures that were soon adopted around the world.

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Wyndham Destinations buys travel and entertainment from Meredith for $ 100 million | Instant News



Wyndham Destinations Inc. purchases Travel + Leisure publication from Meredith Corp. for $ 100 million, in a deal that would expand Wyndham’s business beyond its core vacation ownership business. In addition to its eponymous magazine, Travel + Leisure offers member-based travel services. Wyndham manages 230 timeshare resorts, with more than four million members in its lines of business. The combined company is said to have 18 resort, travel club and lifestyle travel brands. Meredith will continue to publish Travel + Leisure under a 30-year renewable license agreement, with Travel + Leisure staff remaining as Meredith employees, the companies said. Wyndham Destinations, which separated Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc. in 2018, plans to change its name to Travel + Leisure Co. and trade under the symbol “TNL” from mid-February. The aim of the merged company will be to expand its travel club business, offer new travel services and expand licensing agreements. .



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The CEO Behind KFC, Taco Bell Orders Fast-Food Growth To Go On | Instant News


David Gibbs just signed

Yum brand Inc.

YUM -0.87%

the first restaurant acquisition in years and is planning a convention for nearly 1,000 fast food franchisees worldwide when the pandemic cripples the global economy in March.

The sudden crisis threatens to wipe out most of the $ 17 billion that companies and franchisees make in annual dinner sales at all KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants in more than 150 countries. Mr. Gibbs, a 31-year Yum veteran who became CEO a year ago, went from advancing the company’s expansion strategy to competing with thousands of closed restaurants.

Since then, many large fast food companies mostly recovered from the early pandemic close, and Yum’s comparable US sales rose in the third quarter from a year ago. But Mr. Gibbs said he was rethinking how Yum – which has more than 50,000 restaurants, more than any other fast food chain – could serve and deliver more food to carry over the long term.

He’s planning a future where pre-ordering fried chicken online is routine, and Pizza Hut customers can get their orders placed in their suitcases without having to walk into the restaurant.

Meanwhile, hundreds of his US Pizza Hut locations, most of which do dine-in businesses, have permanently closed.

The 57-year-old Gibb spoke to The Wall Street Journal via video from Yum’s largely vacant office in Plano, Texas. Below is an edited excerpt.

WSJ: What mistakes did Yum make at the start of the pandemic and how do you learn from them?

Mr. Gibbs: If I look back before the pandemic, I wish we had moved faster for Pizza Hut to be more delivery, run business and less dependent on on-site dining. We’ve talked about it for years. Sometimes large organizations can become bureaucratic. But I think we may be impressed even with ourselves in how fast we’ve spun.


“ I didn’t know that normal appearance was exactly like before the pandemic. Consumers may be more aware of cleanliness in restaurants, and we are looking for new ways to provide a safe environment. ‘


– David Gibbs, CEO of Yum Brands

WSJ: Drive-through has helped many fast food chains stay busy during a pandemic. How does that affect your development plans?

Mr. Gibbs: We’re working on a design that has multiple drive-throughs. The Australian business began building several test units with five drive-throughs in one building.

But the other part of the story is the roadside execution. You see it not only in the restaurant industry, but also in retail. This is good because of our peak drive-through constraints. No matter how hard you ride, you can still fit only X cars in a row.

WSJ: Should the front line workers get food and restaurant early access to vaccines?

Mr. Gibbs: We are very excited about this vaccine. When it’s my turn, I’ll be in line to get it. We hope all our employees get it. But we do know that there are others, such as frontline healthcare workers, who are ahead of us in the queue.

“We support the national minimum wage, and we will work under the minimum wage set by the government,” said Gibbs.


Photo:

Trevor Paulhus for The Wall Street Journal

WSJ: Once a vaccine is more universally available, will you ask employees to get it or have your franchisor consider it?

Mr. Gibbs: We are studying the matter right now and haven’t made any decisions yet. It is important to remember that 98% of our stores are run by these franchisees. So it’s more complex than we just mandating that every store needs to get a vaccine.

WSJ: Even when vaccines start rolling out, it’s unclear when life will begin to return to normal. When did you anticipate this to happen in fast food?

Mr. Gibbs: I didn’t know that normal appearance was exactly like before the pandemic. Consumers may be more aware of cleanliness in restaurants, and we are looking for new ways to provide a safe environment.

WSJ: What management actions have you taken that will survive the pandemic?

Mr. Gibbs: One of the biggest lessons I learned is the power of authentic communication versus the formal written memos someone might send. We bring together various groups of franchisees, corporate teams from around the world in video calls. We get hundreds of questions via the chat function – real time, without filters. We learn from that.

WSJ: Do you support a $ 15 minimum wage at the federal level and for your employer and franchisees?

Mr. Gibbs: We support the national minimum wage, and we will work under whatever minimum wage the government makes.

Mr. Gibbs said he hoped Yum “had moved faster for Pizza Hut to be more than a delivery, running business” when the pandemic hit.


Photo:

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

WSJ: How do you expect the dynamics between the CEO and the White House to shift in the new government?

Mr. Gibbs: We are excited to work with the Biden government and share their goal of building back better especially on the economy and fighting inequality. We have been in more than a hundred countries around the world for decades – we have operated in any political environment.

WSJ: The pandemic’s theme is menu simplification, but some customers say Taco Bell went too far in removing options. Were you surprised by the commotion when Taco Bell removed Mexican Pizza?

Mr. Gibbs: I’ve never been surprised by the passion our customers – especially Taco Bell – have for our iconic products. We can always bring back the Mexican Pizza at some point if the request is there.

WSJ: What is your pandemic tranquillizer?

Mr. Gibbs: I often pass through Taco Bell drive-throughs. We introduced grilled cheese burritos during a pandemic, and that’s the definition of a product that was so coveted for me and my college son.

Write to Heather Haddon at [email protected]

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More Wine Tariffs Applied in France and Germany by the US | Instant News


WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has said it will target more French and German wines and spirits at 25% tariffs starting January 12, in the latest escalation in a tit-for-tat tariff war related to a long-running dispute over subsidies for commercial jet airliners.

Among the new levies, the US will for the first time impose a 25% levy on wine from France and Germany in excess of the 14% alcohol it had previously exempted, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The US has seen this surge in high alcoholic wines, typically from Spain and France, after wine with alcohol of 14% or less the tariff is charged last year.

“Especially with what is happening in light of the pandemic, with the closure of restaurants and refineries, this is not the right time to enter an industry that is already facing economic impact,” Christine LoCascio, head of public policy for the US Council’s Distilled Spirits, said Thursday.

Washington imposed a 25% tariff on wines from France, Spain, Germany and the UK in October 2019 in retaliation for subsidies they made to European aircraft manufacturers.

Airbus

SE, arguing they were hurt

Boeing Together.

Other items that will be subject to the new tariffs are premium cognacs priced at $ 38 per liter and up, and some aircraft-building parts, both from France and Germany. High alcoholic wines from Spain and England are not added to the latest list.

USTR said in its regulatory filing that the additional tariffs targeted products from France and Germany because the two countries had provided the largest levels of subsidies that were incompatible with WTO rules.

The US and EU have long been at odds over what each claims are unfair government subsidies to commercial aircraft manufacturers: Airbus in Europe and Boeing in the US

A battle has recently occurred over tit-for-tat tariffs on consumer products.


“These tariffs are destroying US restaurants and small businesses at the worst of times.”


– Ben Aneff, US Wine Trade Alliance

In October 2019, the US imposed tariffs on $ 7.5 billion worth of products for wine, cheese and other products from Europe. In retaliation, the European Union announced tariffs last month on $ 4 billion worth of US products, including Boeing jets, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco.

USTR said Wednesday in a press release that the latest additions to its tariff list came as the US made adjustments after the two sides used different reference periods for trade data to determine which products the tariffs would cover.

USTR said that while the US used data for the previous calendar year, the EU was using a period in which trade was drastically reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That allows Europe to impose tariffs on “substantially more product” than it could do under the calendar year method, the USTR said. After the EU refused to change its approach, USTR said it decided to change its own reference period and add more products. The additions will not change the total value of the $ 7.5 billion worth of products subject to tariffs, USTR said.

An EU spokesman said the choice of reference period for EU tariff measures was based on the latest available trade data in line with long-standing WTO practices. The spokesman said Washington was “unilaterally disrupting” ongoing bilateral negotiations to find a resolution to the plane dispute.

“The European Union will engage with the new US administration as soon as possible to continue these negotiations and find a lasting solution to the dispute,” he said.

The escalation in the tariff fight highlights challenges in trade relations between the US and the EU, even as European officials call for improving ties under the upcoming administration. The digital tax imposed on US technology companies by France has been a significant cause of tension. European Union signing of an investment agreement with China This week has attracted attention among US trade officials as they seek European cooperation against China.

The tariff impact is very significant. Wine imports from France fell 54% in the first five months of 2020 from a year earlier, while those from Germany fell 42%, according to the US Wine Trade Alliance.

“These tariffs are destroying US restaurants and small businesses at the worst of times,” Ben Aneff, group president. “This underscores how important it is for President-elect Biden to immediately lift restaurant tariffs, and find ways to more effectively influence the EU while reducing damage to businesses at home.”

Write to Yuka Hayashi on [email protected]

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China’s Apple App Store is Lowering the Game Under Pressure | Instant News


Apple Inc.

AAPL 2.85%

is booting thousands of video game applications from its platforms in China as the government presses more on such content, illustrating the technology giant’s vulnerability to expressing pressure on its business.

The iPhone maker this month warned Chinese developers that a new wave of paid gaming apps risks being removed from its app stores, according to a memo seen by The Wall Street Journal, after the company removed thousands of such apps earlier this year.

The Chinese government four years ago began requiring videogames to be licensed before release, but developers can meet those requirements at Apple’s app store. Apple hasn’t said why that loophole exists or why the company started closing it this year. Foreign software developers lamented the changes, citing difficulties getting approval in China for their games.

The app store cleanup comes as China steps up efforts to control its internet, tightens content controls and censorship, including a request that Tripadvisor and more than 100 other apps be removed from Apple stores in the country. China’s Cyberspace Administration called the app illegal without explaining the violations Tripadvisor or other apps had committed, most of which were from Chinese developers. Tripadvisor declined to comment.

China’s Cyberspace Administration, which regulates cybersecurity, and the National Radio and Television Administration, which approves video games, did not respond to requests for comment.

In China, Apple’s app store surveillance highlights the delicate balance that the Cupertino, California-based company must strike when it comes to reaching Chinese consumers while also navigating official demand.

Earlier this month, Apple notified developers in a memo that premium games and those with in-app purchases had until December 31 to submit proof of government licenses.

“Only a fraction of these games can actually get a license, as far as we know,” said Rich Bishop, chief executive of ChinaInApp, which is working with Western companies to get their applications into China.

Trade tensions between China and the US and other countries made it more difficult to obtain licenses, he said.

Apple had 272,000 games on the China App Store last year, according to Sensor Tower, a company that tracks the app business globally. For 2020, there were at least 94,000 deletions from Chinese stores, far more than the 25,000 game apps that were removed last year.

While the full extent of software cleanup remains unclear, revenue growth from gaming at Apple’s Chinese stores appears to have slowed even as the segment has picked up speed globally. Sensor Tower estimates gaming revenue in China this year through November will increase by 14% to $ 13 billion. That compares to a 21% increase in China over the same range in 2019 and a 26% increase globally this year.

Apple’s app store has been attracting attention in various parts of the world. The company faces accusations from its competitors about anti-competitive behavior – which Apple has disputed – and regulatory oversight in the US and Europe.


“The veil of secrecy surrounding why they deleted this information is what causes him even more concern.”


– Katie Paul, from the Campaign for Accountability

Critics have questioned Apple’s decision to comply with some of China’s demands, saying they run counter to Chief Executive Tim Cook’s wish to defend freedom of expression, privacy and human rights.

New research from the Campaign for Accountability, an advocacy group in Washington, DC, identifies more than 3,000 apps that don’t exist in the China App Store but appear in other countries. The group, whose main supporters include David Magerman, the George Soros Open Society Foundation and Philanthropy Craig Newmark, have campaigned against big tech companies like Google and Apple.

Nearly a third of the apps not on the Chinese Apple store relate to what advocacy groups consider to be “human rights” topics, such as Tibetan Buddhism, protests in Hong Kong and gay or transgender rights or themes, while 5% deal with pornography or gambling. Another big part is games.

“If it’s going to be subject to political pressure, companies have to explain why and what they will do to lose if they don’t do that,” said Katie Paul, director of the campaign’s Technology Transparency Project. “The veil of secrecy surrounding why they deleted this information is what causes him even more concern.”

He acknowledged that the differences in Apple’s offering in China could come in part from developers censoring themselves, knowing their chances of approval in the country.

Apple faced rebukes from two sides: from Chinese state media for not doing enough to filter out prohibited content, and complaints from outside mainland China that it was subject to state censorship. The company says it complies with local laws.

In a statement Monday, Apple reiterated that its app stores are subject to local rules and sometimes field requests to remove certain apps.

“Apple studies this request carefully every time we receive it, and we often argue and disagree with these requests,” said a company spokesman. “Although the final decision is sometimes against our will, we are confident that our customers will be well served while we are in the country by providing them with access to products that promote self-expression with world-class privacy protection.”

Apple, as well as Google, deleted applications related to Hong Kong’s anti-government protests, including a crowdsourced map service that tracks police activity. The People’s Daily newspaper, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, called the application “poisonous software.”

Apple said map apps violate local guidelines and laws, and Mr. Cook defended the company’s actions in a memo to staff, noting the difficulties involved. “National and international debates will outlive the rest of us, and while important, they do not regulate facts,” he wrote. “We believe this decision will best protect our users.”

In its latest disclosure report, Apple said it received 103 requests from Chinese authorities last year to remove 399 apps for lawlessness, most of which were related to pornography and illegal content. Apple said it honored most of those requests, withdrawing 381 apps. In addition, Apple said in response to a government request, it removed 129 apps in that period in China for so-called platform violations, such as illegal gambling.

Write to Higgins Team at [email protected]

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