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The U.S. and Britain end their aircraft subsidy dispute, mirroring an E.U. deal.

Daily Business Briefing

June 17, 2021, 8:01 a.m. ET

June 17, 2021, 8:01 a.m. ET

Credit…Doug Mills/

The United States and Britain have agreed to end a long-running trade spat over aircraft subsidies, and not impose certain retaliatory tariffs for five years, the nations announced on Thursday.

The tariffs related to a 17-year dispute between the United States and the European Union over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus, and over much of that time, Britain was a member of the bloc. The agreement mirrors one reached between the United States and European Union on Tuesday.

The pact announced on Thursday also said the two nations would work together to “address the challenge posed by nonmarket economies, such as China” in the civil aircraft sector. China has built a state-sponsored aerospace manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, to compete with Boeing and Airbus.

Britain and the United States agreed to explore a coordinated approach to screen investments in the aircraft industry financed by China and other nonmarket economies. These investments could lead to “appropriation of critical technologies,” and potential national security risks, a joint statement published by the British government on Thursday said. The two countries also plan to cooperate on an approach to screen investments by British or U.S. companies in China, like joint ventures and the development of production facilities.

Last week, President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain revived the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter to signal their eagerness to work together on major issues including climate change, cybersecurity and autocratic governments such as China.

The agreement to end of the aircraft dispute “strengthens our special relationship and builds on the revitalized Atlantic Charter, which affirms our ongoing commitment to sustaining and defending our enduring values against new and old challenges,” the joint statement said.

In March, the United States suspended retaliatory tariffs against Britain for four months to work out a longer-term solution to the aircraft dispute. This would support British producers in several industries, but especially Scotch whisky, which faced a 25 percent tariff in the United States.

Britain had already suspended its own retaliatory tariffs in January, after it left the European Union’s single market and customs union. This decision essentially separated Britain from the dispute between the European Union and the United States, as the British government was trying to smooth over its relationship with the new Biden administration, with the eventual goal of securing a free-trade agreement.

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Move over, Nyan Cat. Mattel is the latest creator to jump on the hottest craze in cryptocurrency as it puts its first digital art featuring its Hot Wheels vehicles up for sale.

On Tuesday, the toymaker will offer three pieces of digital art in the form of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, for auction on its Mattel Creations website as part of its Hot Wheels NFT Garage Series. The one-of-a-kind works will feature classic cars from its archive: Twin Mill, Boneshaker and Deora II.

The auction will run for a week, and in another first for Mattel, the winner will be allowed to pay in the Ethereum, a cryptocurrency.

The company said it was planning NFT auctions for its other toy brands. “Mattel is creating a new way for innovation and artistry to converge in the toy space and will continue to express its brands in the NFT format,” it said in a statement.

The move is part of an evolution of physical toys as collectible art, Richard Dickson, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said in an interview.

“Part of our effort to make Mattel relevant is to make sure that our brands are timeless and timely,” he said. “We need to be on top of current conversations.”

NFTs rely on blockchain technology, similar to the computer code that makes many cryptocurrencies possible. They have become popular in the art world because they allow artists to have more control over their works by selling limited-edition digital goods directly to consumers. But critics say the market could crash if cryptocurrencies tumble.

With its announcement, Mattel joins other unlikely creators in selling NFTs, including the National Basketball Association, “Disaster Girl” and even .

Commonwealth Bank was one of the businesses affected.
Credit…Loren Elliott/Reuters

The websites for several major corporations in Australia and beyond briefly stopped working for many users on Thursday, in what analysts said was a glitch caused by service disruptions at a hosting platform based in the United States.

The outage was the second failure in the past two weeks that appeared to demonstrate widespread dependence on a handful of companies that maintain the plumbing underpinning the global internet.

The disruptions on Thursday affected several Australian banks, the airline Virgin Australia and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, among other companies. There were also reports of service outages at the websites of companies in Germany, India and elsewhere.

Just as those websites failed, the website Downdetector.com, which tracks internet disruptions, said that user reports showed a spike in “possible problems” at Akamai, a service provider based in Massachusetts. Downdetector.com said the reports began to spike around 12:10 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday and began to taper off about an hour later.

Cybersecurity experts in Australia wrote on social media that the disruptions at Akamai appeared to be the cause of the website failures. The company said in a brief statement that it was “aware of the issue” and working to restore services.

In Australia, the outage affected online and mobile banking services at three major banks — ANZ, Commonwealth, and Westpac — as well as smaller banks, including ME and Macquarie. Residents complained on social media of being stuck in supermarket checkouts with no way to pay for groceries or being stranded at gas stations and unable to pay for fuel.

Westpac said in a statement that some its services had been affected by “an issue today with a third party provider,” while ANZ said it had been hit by “an incident related to an external provider.” Commonwealth Bank said it had been affected by a “tech outage.”

The country’s other major bank, National Australia Bank, said that its services had not been affected.

Australia’s post office said that an “external outage” had affected some of its services.

Virgin Australia said in a statement that it was “one of many organizations to experience an outage with the Akamai content delivery system today, and we are working with them to ensure that necessary measures are taken to prevent these outages from reoccurring.”

By about 2 a.m. Eastern time in the United States, or late Thursday afternoon in Australia, a few Australian banks said that their services were back online.

Last week, several major websites, including those of the British government, , CNN, The Financial Times and The Guardian, were briefly inaccessible. Many of the affected sites appeared to have been restored after a little less than an hour.

That outage was connected to Fastly, a provider of cloud computing services used by businesses around the world to operate their websites. Fastly, which is based in San Francisco, later said the problem had been identified and was being fixed.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article and an accompanying photograph incorrectly listed one company among others affected by the outage. National Australia Bank’s operations were not affected.

The Department of Justice filed a civil suit on Wednesday to block the proposed merger of Aon and Willis Towers Watson, arguing that combining two of the Big Three insurance brokers would create an anticompetitive “behemoth.”

Many observers thought the government would allow the deal. Regulators in Europe, where both companies also operate, had indicated that they were likely to approve the merger, which would create the world’s largest insurance brokerage.

The $30 billion transaction would “eliminate substantial head-to-head competition and likely lead to higher prices and less innovation,” the Justice Department’s complaint says. It says the companies dominate markets for risk and reinsurance brokering, health and pension benefits brokering, actuarial services for employer benefit programs, and private exchanges that offer retiree benefits.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement, “Today’s action demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to stopping harmful consolidation and preserving competition that directly and indirectly benefits Americans across the country.”

In a joint statement, the companies said the department’s assessment “reflects a lack of understanding of our business, the clients we serve and the marketplaces in which we operate.” They said they remained committed to the deal and were working with regulators internationally to make it happen.

The companies had tried to assuage the competition concerns of American regulators by selling off some of their businesses. The efforts came too late, however, and fell “way short,” said Richard Powers, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. The proposed divestitures involved only a small fraction of their businesses and a “handful of employees” and didn’t leave the companies free of entanglements, he said.

The government said the companies were aware they already operated in an oligopoly, adding in a statement: “If permitted to merge, Aon and Willis Towers Watson could use their increased leverage to raise prices and reduce the quality of products relied on by thousands of American businesses — and their customers, employees and retirees.”

The Justice Department worked on the case with regulators from around the world, including in Europe. A senior department official noted that the markets in Europe were different, especially the health benefits and pensions systems, and that the outcomes of the European merger reviews could be different.

Both companies are incorporated in Ireland, with headquarters in London. Aon has around 50,000 employees and offices in about 120 countries, including over 100 offices in the United States. It reported revenue of more than $11 billion last year.

Willis Towers Watson employs about 45,000 people in more than 80 countries, including over 80 offices in the United States. It reported revenue of more than $9 billion in 2020.

The action on Wednesday was the Biden administration’s first challenge to a potential merger. Coming on the heels of President Biden’s naming Lina Khan, a vocal critic of anticompetitive consolidation, as chair of Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, it is a sign the administration will act on trustbusting promises made on the campaign trail.

  • Hundreds of Southwest Airlines flights were delayed or canceled again on Wednesday as the company sought to resolve disruptions from earlier in the week amid a pickup in summer travel. The headaches began on Monday night, when a problem with a weather data supplier prevented the airline from safely flying planes. On Tuesday, the airline suffered its own technological problems, resulting in half of its flights that day being delayed and many being canceled, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. Spillover from that episode caused Wednesday’s problems, the airline said. About 10 percent of Southwest’s flights were canceled and another 19 percent were delayed by midafternoon, according to FlightAware.

  • A group of union employees at The New Yorker and two other publications, Ars Technica and Pitchfork, has reached a deal with their parent company, Condé Nast. The deal includes base pay of $55,000 for employees at all three unions, rising to $60,000 by April 2023. Under the agreement, many employees at the three publications will receive wage increases of at least 10 percent, the unions said in a statement. The agreement includes a cap on increases for health care costs and defined working hours. Last week, The New Yorker Union unveiled a website including the statement that it was “on the verge of a strike.”

“Do you guys understand who Xi Jinping is?” Doug Guthrie said he told Apple leaders.
Credit…Erin Kirkland for

Apple, more than any other company, has been vulnerable to the harder line that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has taken.

As a result, over the past several years, Apple has made compromises in China that undercut the values its executives have put at the center of its brand. To placate authorities and keep its global business running, Apple has put its Chinese customers’ data at risk and aided the Chinese government’s vast censorship operation, reported last month.

In 2014, Apple hired Doug Guthrie to teach its managers and advise executives about China. He also conducted research, and his first project was the company’s supply chain, Jack Nicas reports for .

When he started at Apple, Mr. Guthrie said, China’s new leader was looking for ways to use his influence over American companies in the country. In 2014, China’s so-called dispatch labor law went into effect, limiting the share of temporary workers in a company’s work force to 10 percent. From Day 1, Apple and its suppliers were in violation.

Apple executives were concerned and confused, Mr. Guthrie said. They knew the company couldn’t comply because it needed the extra workers to meet periods of intense demand, such as the holidays.

“‘This is the point. You are supposed to be out of compliance,’” he said he told them. “‘Not so they can shut you down, but so you’ll figure out what they want you to do and figure out how to do it.’”

Mr. Guthrie began giving his lecture on Apple’s risk in China around that time. Its extreme reliance on the country left it with little leverage to resist.



The U.S. and Britain end their aircraft subsidy dispute, mirroring an E.U. deal. Source link The U.S. and Britain end their aircraft subsidy dispute, mirroring an E.U. deal.

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