Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership deal signed; Lloyds Bank cutting 1,755 jobs; UAE seeks minister below 25 years

1 Trans-Pacific Partnership deal signed (BBC) The Trans Pacific Partnership, one of the biggest multinational trade deals ever, has been signed by ministers from its 12 member nations in New Zealand. The ceremony in Auckland brings the huge trade pact, which has been five years in the making, another step towards to becoming a reality.

But the TPP continues to face opposition. The 12 nations account for some 40% of the world's economy - they now have two years to ratify or reject the pact. The TPP involves the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

Those against the deal, particularly some Americans, fear it could mean jobs will move from the US to developing countries. However, US President Barack Obama said the agreement was a new type of trade deal "that puts American workers first".

The trade deal looks to facilitate investment between 12 countries across the Pacific Rim, which together account for about 40% of the global economy. The US-led initiative is a key part of Mr Obama's so-called pivot to Asia but has proved to be a controversial issue ahead of the US elections in November. US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the deal could add $100bn a year to US growth.

2 Lloyds Bank cutting 1,755 jobs (Jill Treanor & Sean Farrell in The Guardian) Lloyds Banking Group is cutting 1,755 jobs and closing 29 branches as part of a plan by its chief executive, António Horta-Osório, to cut costs as he prepares the bank for privatisation.

Staff at Britain’s biggest retail bank were told about the job losses, which cover large parts of the group, on Wednesday, but union officials said they hoped that the reductions could be achieved by voluntary means. The bank said it would add 170 new jobs in retail and commercial banking and in its legal team, taking the net figure for job losses to about 1,585.

Horta-Osório is continuing with the cost reduction programme even though the chancellor, George Osborne, has admitted that he cannot press on with a sale of the government’s remaining Lloyds shares to the public because of market turmoil, which has knocked the bank’s share price.

The posts that are being axed are part of the 9,000 job cuts announced by Horta-Osório in 2014, when he said that a need to “digitise” the business would also result in the closure of 200 branches. According to officials at the Accord union, which has 23,000 members, about 60% of those cuts have now been announced.

Lloyds, which operates under a number of brands, will close 19 Lloyds, seven Bank of Scotland and three Halifax branches in June. The bank employs about 77,000 people and has more than 2,000 branches.

3 UAE seeks minister below 25 years (Khaleej Times) Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has called for a young Emirati to represent the country's youth as a cabinet minister. In a series of tweets, Shaikh Mohammed asked that universities nominate men and women under the age of 25 for the position.

"I would like to choose a young person under the age of 25 to represent our youth, their issues and ambitions as a UAE government minister," he tweeted. Shaikh Mohammed noted that the large number of young people in the Arab World means that they deserve representation in the decision-making process.

 "Our young country was built by the hands and achievements of youth. Youth is our strength and speed and is our treasure for the future," he added. The decision quickly became a hot topic on social media, and rapidly topped the UAE's 'trending' list.

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