EU to launch free trade negotiations with Japan
EU trade ministers agreed on Thursday to start negotiations to create a free-trade area with Japan, overcoming resistance from European carmakers who fear a deal might damage their industry. “We have a deal,” said an EU official close to the negotiations. An accord between Europe and Japan would bring together two trading partners responsible for a third of global economic output and could create 400,000 jobs in Europe alone. France and Italy have been worried about the impact on their carmakers.
Obama, Romney to meet at White House
President Barack Obama will host his former political rival Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House on Thursday, their first meeting since the election. Obama promised in his victory speech earlier this month to engage with Romney following their bitter campaign and consider the Republican’s ideas. “In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Gov Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward,” Obama said at the time. Obama aides said they reached out to Romney’s team shortly before Thanksgiving to start working on a date for the meeting. The two men will meet in the White House’s private dining room, with no press coverage expected.
Mitsubishi Heavy, Hitachi to join power businesses
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi are to combine their thermal power businesses to compete against overseas rivals Siemens and General Electric, which are winning deals even in the Japanese firms’ backyard. The deal, in which Mitsubishi Heavy will take 65% in a new company, also revives Hitachi’s efforts to absorb some of its local rival’s infrastructure business to give it the scale to expand beyond a stagnant home market. The announcement comes more than a year after the two firms called off talks to merge their infrastructure businesses. Talks to combine the thermal power businesses began late this summer. The new company, with Hitachi taking the remaining 35%, will bring together the two firms’ gas turbine and other fossil-fuel power generation equipment businesses, and will be completed by January 2014.
First Chinese co abandons ailing B-share market
A marine firm delisted from China’s ailing B-share market on Thursday, the first company to ever do so, in a step that regulators hope could lead to the winding down of a once-vibrant market that is now an illiquid and speculative backwater. China International Marine Containers (Group) (CIMC),