Business Briefs – August 12, 2019

U.S.-China Trade War Leaves Europe as Collateral Damage

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Europe’s economy is being knocked off course by the trade conflict between the U.S. and China. The bill for damages from the U.S-China collision could be painfully high, starting this week if growth figures show Europe’s economic motor, Germany, is stalled or shrinking. If the trade wars escalate to include higher U.S. tariffs on cars made in Europe, the picture could look even worse.

Many Employees Feel Devalued Even in Booming Job Market

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A trend has become evident in the American workplace a full decade after the recession ended: The economy keeps growing. Unemployment is at a half-century low. Yet many people feel their jobs aren’t as good as they used to be, that their work has been devalued by employers who increasingly prioritize customers and shareholders.

Hong Kong Airport Protest Shutdown Tarnishes Business Image

HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong authorities scrapped all flights after the airport was swamped by pro-democracy protesters, in a fresh escalation that risks tarnishing the city’s business-friendly image. The protest was a rare instance of the movement having a direct impact on business travel and tourism — mainstays of the Asian business center’s economy — and is making foreign investors think twice.

South Korea to Remove Japan From Preferred Trade List

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea is removing Japan from a list of nations receiving preferential treatment in trade in an apparent countermeasure to Tokyo’s recent decision to downgrade Seoul’s trade status. South Korean Trade Minister Sung Yun-mo said the government was removing Japan from the country’s 29-country “white list” because it has failed to uphold international principles while managing its export controls on sensitive materials.

Airline, Luxury Brands Follow China’s Lead on Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) – The chief executive of Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways says there will be “disciplinary consequences” for employees involved in “illegal protests” after China’s civil aviation authority imposed restrictive measures on the airline amid ongoing pro-democracy rallies. Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg warned in an internal memo to employees that the company has a “zero tolerance approach to illegal activities.” The airline joined a slate of businesses that have appeased China in recent days.

Saudi Aramco Readies for IPO With Deal With India’s Reliance

NEW DELHI (AP) – Oil giant Saudi Aramco is buying 20% of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries’ oil and chemicals business for about $15 billion. The deal gives Aramco heft and diversity ahead of a long-awaited IPO. For India, the deal amounts to one of the country’s largest foreign direct investments.

Rite Aid Picks Former Insurance Executive As New CEO

NEW YORK (AP) – Rite Aid has chosen a former insurance executive to replace long-time CEO John Standley to try to right the struggling drugstore chain. The company said Monday that Heyward Donigan will take over immediately for Standley, who’s been CEO since 2010. Donigan takes over a company that runs nearly 2,500 drugstores and lost $99.7 million in the first quarter. Rite Aid’s board approved a reverse stock split this year to lift plummeting share prices and keep them on the New York Stock Exchange.

Venezuela’s Moribund Economy Shows a Pulse Amid Sanctions

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Errol Irausquin is carving out a profitable niche with his burgeoning Fat Panda restaurant business in Venezuela’s capital, despite an economic collapse that has driven millions from their crumbling homeland.

Capitalizing on his success selling from a food truck, Irausquin brought his Asian-influenced menu to a new restaurant featuring spicy sandwiches that drip down customers’ arms in an upscale corner of Caracas. A second location is coming soon — the sign of a little froth amid Venezuela’s otherwise economic nightmare.

He’s not alone. In seeming defiance of the doomsday predictions from Washington about the economy’s impending implosion, a number of trendy restaurants and shops packed with imported consumer goods, from Froot Loops to iPhones, have popped up in the last few months across Caracas.

Driving the resurgence is President Nicolas Maduro’s decision in May — little appreciated at the time — to loosen rigid currency controls in place for 16 years.