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Thailand's consumer confidence drops to 9-month low in June

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Thailand's consumer confidence drops to 9-month low in June

Bangkok, July 11 (IANS) Thailand’s consumer confidence fell for the fourth consecutive month in June, hitting the lowest level in nine months, due to concerns over a slowing economy growth and political uncertainty, a survey showed on Thursday.

According to the survey of 2,243 respondents conducted by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the consumer confidence index dropped to 58.9 last month from 60.5 in May as all components of the index decreased.

Consumers were worried about high living costs, mainly owing to rising fuel prices amid a sluggish economic recovery, said the President of the university Thanavath Phonvichai, reports Xinhua news agency.

Political uncertainty stemming from a court case that seeks to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin from office might impact the implementation of the government’s stimulus measures, including its flagship cash handout scheme through a digital wallet, Thanavath told a news conference.

However, the acceleration of budget disbursements and public investments could restore economic growth and consumer confidence in the third quarter of this year, he noted.

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–IANS

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UN envoy says Yemen rival parties agreed to de-escalate economic crisis

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UN envoy says Yemen rival parties agreed to de-escalate economic crisis

UN envoy says Yemen rival parties agreed to de-escalate economic crisis

Sanaa, July 23 (IANS) The Yemeni government and the Houthi group agreed to end the banking dispute and resume flights from Houthi-held capital Sanaa, in a deal mediated by Saudi Arabia, the UN envoy for Yemen said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Yemeni government and the Houthi group informed a day earlier the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, that they agreed to de-escalate on these matters, said the statement, adding Grundberg appreciated the Saudi facilitating role in the deal.

The two sides agreed on “canceling all the recent decisions and procedures against banks by both sides, resuming Yemenia Airways’ flights between Sanaa and Jordan and increasing the number of flights to three daily flights, and operating flights to Cairo and India daily or as needed,” it noted.

“Grundberg stressed the need for the parties to collaborate towards an economy that benefits all Yemenis and supports the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire and the resumption of an inclusive political process,” it added, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Houthi top negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam confirmed the deal, considering it as a significant breakthrough, Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported.

Last month, the Yemeni government withdrew its license and stopped operations of six banks in the Houthi-held Sanaa after they refused to relocate to Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital.

It also suspended flights from and to Sanaa airport after the Houthi group seized three passenger planes of Yemenia Airways, the natural carrier of Yemen, to press the government to increase the number of flights from Sanaa to Jordan.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Houthis seized control of much of northern Yemen, forcing the internationally recognized government out of the capital Sanaa.

–IANS

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Estonia's new government takes office

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Estonia's new government takes office

Estonia's new government takes office

Tallinn, July 23 (IANS) The members of Estonia’s new government, led by Kristen Michal, took the oath of office in front of the parliament on Tuesday.

The oath started at 10 am local time (0700 GMT) with the cabinet members reading aloud and signing the oath, Xinhua news agency reported.

Estonian President Alar Karis approved the composition of the new government on Monday.

The new government was formed by the ruling coalition composed of the Reform Party, the Social Democratic Party and Eesti 200.

–IANS

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Sydney Airport records 6.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic

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Sydney Airport records 6.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic

Sydney Airport records 6.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic

Sydney, July 23 (IANS) Australia’s Sydney Airport has seen 9.7 million travelers passing through its terminals in the second quarter (Q2) of this year, representing a 6.4-per cent increase from the same period last year, but still falling short of its pre-Covid levels.

Released on Tuesday, the latest report suggested that 3.8 million passengers traveled through the international terminal in the second quarter, rising 12.1 per cent year-on-year and reaching a 94.3-percent recovery rate compared to Q2 2019.

Domestic and regional traffic rose 3 percent from the same period last year, with 6 million passengers coming through the domestic terminals. It also marked a 90.5-percent recovery rate on Q2 2019.

According to Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Scott Charlton, the seat capacity growth across the markets of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam led to strong international passenger volumes.

“This was underpinned by increased frequencies including Thai Airways adding a second daily service to Bangkok, Jetstar putting on a new, three-weekly service to Osaka and VietJet Air adding a twice-weekly service to Hanoi,” he said, Xinhua news agency reported.

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As for the domestic front, Charlton touched upon “a lag relative to international” with higher airfares, a lack of capacity, and a downturn in discretionary business travel affecting demand.

Charlton revealed that the airport is focusing on the government’s implementation of the Harris Review Recommendations to optimize its reliability and passenger service.

“Airservices Australia had a ‘ground delay protocol’ in place due to weather on 41 out of 91 days during Q2. We know that on each day we are on ground delay, we see on average a 21-percent increase in cancellations. Over time, that adds up to a lot of canceled flights that could have potentially been avoided with a recovery mechanism,” said Charlton.

“Last Friday’s global technology outage is another good example. It took some airlines a number of days to recover their schedules, and perhaps the impact wouldn’t have been as severe with a recovery mechanism, which is why we are looking forward to working with the government to implement it as soon as possible,” he added.

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–IANS

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Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

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Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

Washington, July 23 (IANS) US Vice-President Kamala Harris has secured the support of the majority of Democratic delegates who will formally elect her as the party’s nominee for president at the convention in August as the Trump campaign prepared to hold her responsible for the “border invasion” and J.D. Vance slammed the Democratic party ticket switch as a threat to democracy in his first solo speech as the Republican nominee for Vice-President.

Harris surpassed the mark of 1,976 delegates needed to win the nomination reflecting the overwhelming support she is getting from the Democratic party, which is rapidly coalescing around her candidacy from the level of leaders down to the rank and file members.

She has no challengers so far.

The party plans to lock up the process through virtual polling before the start of the convention on August 19.

“When I announced my campaign for President, I said I intended to go out and earn this nomination,” Harris said in a statement late Monday.

“Tonight, I am proud to have secured the broad support needed to become our party’s nominee, and as a daughter of California, I am proud that my home state’s delegation helped put our campaign over the top. I look forward to formally accepting the nomination soon.”

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She added: “Over the next few months, I will be travelling across the country talking to Americans about everything that is on the line. I fully intend to unite our party, unite our nation, and defeat Donald Trump in November.”

Although the presidential election takes place on November 4, early polling is scheduled to start in September, just a few weeks after the four-day Democratic convention closes in Chicago, Illinois on August 22. Democratic voters tend to vote early either through in-person voting at early booths or through mail and drop boxes. Republicans have historically voted on election day, but that is changing.

The Democratic party has been galvanised by Harris’ elevation to the top of the ticket and the cloud of doom that hung over the party since Biden’s disastrous performance in the first presidential debate against former President Donald Trump had lifted, giving way to new energy. Donations are pouring in with the Harris campaign reporting raising an unprecedented $81 million in the first 24 hours since Harris became the nominee.

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Harris’s ascendancy has been watched closely by the Trump campaign, which would have preferred a weakened Biden. In a memo to campaign staff, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, who are running the Trump campaign, said: “Just as Donald Trump fired Joe Biden, he will demonstrate to the world he can fire Dangerously liberal Kamala as well.”

The campaign will tie her to the Biden administration’s failures, chiefly the surge of undocumented migrants coming through the southern border.

“Border Czar Kamala Harris owns the border invasion, which has resulted in nearly 100 terrorists roaming the United States, hundreds of thousands of American dead due to Fentanyl, a child trafficking epidemic resulting in killings and kidnappings, a spread of a new type of crime, a crime directly linked to Harris’ own beliefs, and backed by her actions, released migrants who prey and kill innocent Americans,” LaCivita and Wiles said in the memo.

Vance, the Vice-President candidate, made his solo debut at an election rally in home state Ohio. “Now history will remember Joe Biden as not just a quitter, which he is, but one of the worst Presidents of the United States of America,” he said, adding, “But my friends, Kamala Harris is a million times worse and everybody knows it.”

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He also accused Harris of hiding from public Biden’s health, a claim first advanced by Trump. Vance also slammed the Democratic party for switching its nominee for president midstream. “That is not how it works. That is a threat to democracy, not the Republican Party, which is fighting for democracy every single day,” Vance said from the auditorium of his high school in his hometown Middletown, Ohio.

“This is not OK.”

–IANS

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EAM Jaishankar to attend key ASEAN, Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting

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EAM Jaishankar to attend key ASEAN, Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting

EAM Jaishankar to attend key ASEAN, Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is expected to hold significant discussions with his counterparts from several Southeast nations besides foreign ministers of Australia, Japan and the United States, over the next few days at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ gathering in the Laotian capital of Vientiane and the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo.

The EAM will be in Laos from July 25-27 to participate in the Foreign Ministers’ Meetings under the ASEAN framework in the format of ASEAN-India, East Asia Summit(EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

The 57th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) will be attended by over 1000 delegates, including foreign ministers and representatives from 31 countries.

ASEAN countries remain an important pillar of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and key partner of its Indo-Pacific Vision underlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) vision.

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As many as 25 ministerial meetings are being hosted by Laos in its capacity as 2024 ASEAN Chair under the theme of ‘ASEAN: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience’ from July 22 to 27.

“The visit underlines India’s deep engagement with and the importance India attaches to the ASEAN-centred regional architecture, our strong commitment to ASEAN unity, ASEAN centrality, the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and taking forward the ASEAN-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is of particular significance that this year marks a decade of India’s Act East Policy which was announced by Prime Minister at the 9th East Asia Summit in 2014,” it added.

In Vientiane, EAM Jaishankar will not only be holding bilateral meetings with Saleumxay Kommasith, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Laos, but also with his counterparts from other countries on the margins of the ASEAN-related meetings.

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The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, UK Foreign Secretary David Lammy and foreign ministers of several other countries will also be in Vientiane for the Asean meetings.

From Laos, the EAM will travel to Tokyo to participate in the next meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers’ on July 29 along with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, and the United States.

“The Ministers will take forward discussions held during the last meeting in New York in September 2023 and exchange views on developments in the Indo-Pacific region, and review progress on Quad initiatives and working groups,” the MEA stated.

“The Ministers would discuss regional and international issues, and guide future collaboration to achieve the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region by addressing contemporary priorities of the region through delivery of public goods,” it ministry detailed.

During the Tokyo visit, EAM Jaishankar is also scheduled to hold discussions with his Japanese counterpart Yoko Kamikawa to further strengthen the growing partnership between the two countries.

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–IANS

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