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ANALYSIS – Clinton takes bigger role in China ties

Hillary

ANALYSIS – Clinton takes bigger role in China ties

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hired envoys to tackle most tough foreign policy issues, but one priority she kept is China as Washington seeks Beijing’s help on challenges from North Korea to Iran.

Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner co-host two days of “strategic and economic” talks with top Chinese officials this week — meetings traditionally handled by the Treasury under the former Bush administration.

Sidelined recently by an elbow injury, Clinton also wants to reassert herself as a key player amid reports she is playing a lesser role in crafting foreign policy for President Barack Obama, her rival in last year’s Democratic presidential race.

Officials say Clinton — whose first foreign trip was to China — wants improved relations with Beijing to be a signature issue, with plans to broaden the previous focus from largely economic ties to a more “comprehensive” relationship.

“Over the past few years, the dialogue tended to shift significantly towards the economic and financial side,” said Clinton’s spokesman, P.J. Crowley.

“I think it (Clinton’s new role) reflects a return to a really broad range of issues, rather than a fairly narrow set that might have been the focus of the agenda over the past couple of years.”

The goal of the talks on Monday and Tuesday in Washington is to set a framework for the Obama administration’s agenda with the Chinese government — which is sending nearly all of its key officials for sessions.

“When you look at the U.S.-China relationship, it is kind of overweight on economics and light on security and foreign policy cooperation,” said Drew Thompson, director of China Studies at the Nixon Center.

Aside from stabilizing the shaky global economy, another focus of this week’s talks will be climate change and clean energy, an area Clinton earmarked as a diplomatic priority with Beijing and where some experts expect the most movement.


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H1N1 swine flu virus – Flu threat to economy mostly in the mind for now

2009-07-30T183133Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNP_1_India-414327-1-pic0

H1N1 swine flu virus – Flu threat to economy mostly in the mind for now

One of the few certainties about the H1N1 swine flu virus is that it would have to turn much deadlier than it seems right now to cause a major drop in global economic output.

A renewed rash of media headlines suggests the virus, the subject of a World Health Organisation (WHO) pandemic alert since June 11, could deliver the next big blow to the global economy. But there is no reason to take that for granted and experience shows the impact could just as easily be limited.

The fear factor on its own could reduce travel, tourism and leisure, but that demand-side decline could also be short-lived even if it is sharp, and followed by a sizeable rebound, as the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong in 2006 suggests.

Warwick McKibbin, the Australian designer of one widely cited simulation model, says the potential loss ranges from 0.8 percentage points of global GDP in his ‘mild scenario’ to 12.4 percent of GDP in the most extreme case of a virus more deadly than the Spanish flu of 1918-19, which killed 40-50 million.

The mild scenario is the most plausible right now, he says, given the WHO tally of 816 deaths for 134,503 confirmed cases.

“It’s a little bit worse but not a lot worse than a regular influenza cycle,” McKibbin, director of the Centre of Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at the Australian National University, said.

Even if a panic-driven drop in consumption did slow the pace of recovery from the current recession, the hit would probably be too small to derail it, as long as it is just a scare, says Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit bank.

“I can however imagine a worst case scenario where the panic is so intense and widespread that people avoid all crowded places for an extended period,” he says. “But I think in most plausible scenarios this (hit to the economy) would be temporary and contained.”


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Reliance ADAG, DreamWorks close to $825 mln film financing deal

in.reuters.com

Reliance ADAG, DreamWorks close to $825 mln film financing deal

LOS ANGELES – july 16 – Director Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios could receive $825 million in film financing to begin producing movies starting this year, Reliance ADA Group which is involved in deal talks said on Wednesday.

The Indian conglomerate is in talks with DreamWorks Studios partners Stacey Snider and Spielberg in New York, and the $825 million figure has emerged from those talks as a possible funding slate for DreamWorks Studios.

The deal between the two companies, which announced a plan to work together last year, has not been finalized.

But the ongoing negotiations over financing come after DreamWorks Studios said in February that the Walt Disney Co would distribute its films.

Under the terms of the deal, which could allow DreamWorks to make five to six films a year, Reliance would match whatever financing DreamWorks can get from a syndication of banks.

The $825 million funding slate announced by Reliance would break down as $325 million from the Indian conglomerate, $325 million from the banks and $175 million from Disney.

But the total amount could change if DreamWorks raises more from banks. That would increase the matching equity investment from Reliance, which has agreed to provide up to $550 million.

The deal between Reliance and DreamWorks was initially valued at $1.2 billion, but Amit Khanna, chairman of Reliance Big Entertainment, a division of Reliance ADA Group, said that much money is not needed now.

“If so required, we will raise the money at a later stage through a balance of debt and equity,” Khanna told Reuters.

With the downturn in the global economy, DreamWorks had trouble securing financing from banks in recent months.

“This venture with Reliance opens a new door to our future,” Spielberg said in a statement.

“Their visionary step has given us a new set of dreams to work toward,” he said.

The newly created DreamWorks Studios is a production unit separate from listed DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.

Under the deal, Disney would market and distribute the studio’s films around the world, except in India where Reliance would retain distribution rights, Reliance said.

No date was given for when Reliance and DreamWorks Studios expect to close their deal.

DreamWorks has looked for funding since last year, after cutting ties with Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures.

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