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The Latest: Dutch Leader Warns of North-south Divide in EU

The Latest: Dutch Leader Warns of North-south Divide in EU

Thursday, 24 January 2019 05:40 AM

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The Latest on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (all times local):

11:30 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned of a growing divide between north and south in the European Union if Italy is seen as violating the budget rules that govern the euro currency.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Rutte said people in his country are asking him why the Netherlands is implementing measures to abide by budget rules when others are not.

He said the dispute over Italy's budget is "creating distrust between north and south."

Though the Italian government has softened its position slightly after the EU threatened it with legal action, its deficit is still higher than the EU had wanted initially to reduce Italy's overall debt.

Poland's premier, Mateusz Morawiecki, agreed that the EU "should apply the same standards for different member states" but said that Italy is not being treated in the same manner that France was previously. France's relatively high deficit over the past few years was widely seen as being tolerated by the EU.

11:15 a.m.

The head of the World Trade Organization warned that the global economy would plunge into the "Dark Ages" without free trade.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said: If "the WTO and the global trading system is out of the picture, we're in for the Dark Ages, I guarantee you that."

U.S. President Donald Trump has disrupted the post-World War II trend toward ever-freer world trade, imposing taxes on foreign steel, aluminum and hundreds of Chinese imports.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom warned of "threats" to free trade. In a clear reference to Trump's America, she said: "We have countries who are acting on their own, disregarding global rules and undermining the global trading system."

But she said the momentum toward freer trade hasn't stopped, noting that 11 Pacific Rim countries went ahead with a regional trade pact even after Trump withdrew from the deal in 2017 and that the EU has recently negotiated trade agreements with Japan, Canada and other countries.

10:15 a.m.

The fallout from developments in Venezuela and uncertainty over Britain's exit from the European Union are set to be key points of discussions Thursday at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos.

Following two days when much of the debate has centered on issues related to global trade, particularly the dispute between the United States and China, and climate change, the world's political and business elites are digesting what's going on in Venezuela, after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

Brexit will also feature heavily, with British ministers due to address the Forum on Thursday, including Treasury chief Philip Hammond. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is also due to appear before a panel as is World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo.

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The Latest on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (all times local):11:30 p.m.Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned of a growing divide between north and south in the European Union if Italy is seen as violating the budget rules that govern the euro...
APFN,EU,Davos,The Latest
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2019-40-24
Thursday, 24 January 2019 05:40 AM
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