By Dialogo August 04, 2010 South American presidents agreed Tuesday on mechanisms to promote trade and finance millions of dollars in infrastructure investments, seeking a more significant role for the region on the global stage. At a summit in the Andean province of San Juan, in Argentina, the presidents of the Mercosur countries approved a Common Customs Code and the elimination of double collection of the Common External Tariff (AEC) starting on 1 January 2012, in addition to a free-trade treaty with Egypt. “All this is going to allow this region, South America, to play more than a significant part in the concert of international politics in the twenty-first century, where new actors, new protagonists can already be glimpsed,” said the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández. The meeting was attended by the heads of state of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, full members of the Mercosur customs union, and those of its associate members, Chile and Bolivia. Argentina holds Mercosur’s half-yearly presidency and will turn over coordination of the block to Brazil, in the last six months of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration. At the meeting, nine infrastructure projects were approved, for a cost of 795 million dollars, 650 million of which will be financed by Mercosur’s so-called convergence funds. The resources will be destined entirely for firms and suppliers from the block. The projects include paving roads and building an electrical transmission line in Paraguay, connecting the electrical grids of Brazil and Uruguay, and building a sewer system in a city on the Brazilian-Paraguayan border. Lula said that during the six months in which he will act as Mercosur president, he will make an effort to conclude long-pending negotiations with the European Union for a trade treaty between the two blocks.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that the Tokyo Olympics may not take place next year unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.His comment has come as the Japanese capital city’s governor requested an extension of Japan’s state of emergency. The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government last month postponed the Games until July 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis.With the epidemic’s worldwide infection rate climbing and experts suggesting a vaccine is a long way off, doubts have been raised about the chances of holding the huge event next year.Abe said in response to an opposition lawmaker: “We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely.“It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.”Abe staked part of his legacy as Japan’s longest-serving premier on holding the Games and was hoping for a boom in tourism and consumer spending. Japan gathered some $3 billion in domestic sponsorship, an Olympic record, and spent close to $13 billion on preparations.The prime minister said on Wednesday that the Olympics “must be held in a way that shows (that) the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.”He went on to caution that Japan should “brace for a protracted battle”.Tokyo confirmed 47 new infections on Wednesday, private broadcaster Nippon Television reported.The national tally stands at 13,895 infections, including 413 deaths, national broadcaster NHK said. That tally is still low compared to other countries.However, critics say Japan is not doing enough testing to reveal the scope of a problem that has driven some hospitals to the brink.Reflecting that view, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike told reporters that the situation in the Japanese capital remained “difficult”.He called on Abe’s cabinet to extend the nationwide emergency, which is due to end on May 6.RelatedPosts COVID-19: NCAA to revoke erring airlines licence over non-compliance FRSC to Schools: We’ll arrest, prosecute drivers who flout COVID-19 rules Sanwo-Olu: We’re committed to fulfilling promises to Lagosians Abe’s comments echoed statements made by other senior Japanese officials this week.Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori had told Nikkan Sports on Tuesday that the Games would be “scrapped” if they could not take place in 2021.Also on Tuesday, the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), Yoshitake Yokokura, told a news briefing that “unless an effective vaccine is developed, I expect hosting the Olympics will be difficult”.Reuters/NAN.Tags: CoronavirusCOVID-19IOCJapanolympicsPrime Minister Shinzo AbeTokyo Olympics
Video: What LeBron James said about Jacob Blake … ‘Black people in America are scared’ With the clock ticking on the NBA’s much-anticipated and unprecedented restart later this month at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, Silver fielded questions Tuesday from Adam Lashinsky, the executive editor of Fortune during the Fortune Brainstorm Health virtual conference.The commissioner expressed cautious confidence that the mitigating efforts that will be put in place to protect players in Orlando — the commissioner resisted calling it a “bubble,” because it won’t be a hermetically sealed environment — will work.The NBA has planned a 22-team, eight-game wrap-up to the regular season, to be followed potentially by play-in tournament for the eighth seed and then, the playoffs. It all starts July 30, when the Lakers and Clippers will meet for the fourth time this strange season.“When we set it up down this path, in terms of coming back and in Orlando, Florida was not experiencing case levels that the rate they are now; and Orange County, where Orlando is, was not,” said Silver, alluding to an escalating coronavirus tally that’s led to 213,794 positive results in the state, or nearly 1 out of 100 people. There have been 14,506 positive tests reported in Orange County.“On the other hand, we designed this campus environment so that we could be as protected as possible from the environment around us. So, on paper and dealing with our experts, it should work. But we shall see. There will be more positive tests among NBA players. Of that Commissioner Adam Silver is relatively certain.It’s how many and when they occur that will make the difference.“That’s more a representation of what’s happening around the country … virtually none of them were in Florida at the time that testing began,” said Silver, referring to the announcement last week that 25 of 351 players tested for the coronarvirus between June 23 and July 2.“And so, we won’t be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players that test positive. What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive, or we would have any positive tests, we know we would have an issue.” For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory “I’m confident, based on the positive cases we’re seeing from our players in the general public around the country that it will be safer on campus than off this campus, in part because we’re going to be doing daily testing. And, incidentally, when our players are not playing — which is the vast majority of the time they’re there — they will be observing physical distancing and wearing masks.“So it’s a very protected environment. But again, this virus has humbled many. I’m not going to express any higher level confidence than with the protocols (in place) we hope it works as we designed it.”Silver said he plans to make an appearance on campus, but he insisted that wouldn’t increase the risk factors for anyone involved because he will be tested before coming onto the grounds and will remain “very far away” from players, referees and others who’ll be most vulnerable.He also said advances in the understanding of the coronavirus since March will help the NBA deal with potential positive tests.“We do have the ability to trace, of course, to try to understand where that positive case came from,” Silver said. “We can actually analyze the virus itself and try to track whether, if there’s more than one case, if it’s in essence the same virus, (if) the same genetic variation of the virus that is passed from one player to another, or if two people on the campus have gotten it independently. So those are all things that we’re looking at.“Certainly,” he added, “if we had any sort of significant spread at all within our campus we would be shut down again.”The league is working on determining exactly what would constitute “significant spread,” Silver said.Related Articles On Mamba Night, the Lakers make short work of Blazers to take 3-1 series lead Silver also said he couldn’t offer a figure for how much money the league has lost because of the coronavirus this season — which began, remember, with a political high-stakes rift with China stemming from Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.That fallout might have cost the NBA as much as $400 million, Silver has suggested. But the pandemic’s cost? Too soon to tell, he said.“Depending what happens this summer, that’ll have a big impact on what our ultimate revenues are for the season, no matter what, the losses will be significant,” Silver said. “And as you might imagine, creating this campus environment in Orlando bringing 22 teams there, keeping them there potentially for months, is enormously expensive and not a model that could continue to operate in. It was a recognition that these are extraordinary times and it would be meaningful if we could find a way to play NBA basketball under these circumstances.“So from a net standpoint, we will lose a lot of money this season, I think there’s no question about it.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Photos: Lakers defeat Trail Blazers in Game 4 of first-round playoff series Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and other NBA stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant