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Donald Trump’s companies have sought visas to import at least 1,100 workers

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Donald Trump’s companies have sought visas to import at least 1,100 workers
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET:Donald Trump is staking his run for U.S. president in part on a vow to protect American
jobs. But this month, one of his companies, the elite Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Florida, applied to import 70 foreign workers to serve as cooks, wait staff and cleaners.

A Reuters analysis of U.S. government data reveals that this is business as usual in the New York property magnate’s empire.

Trump owns companies that have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor data reviewed by Reuters. Most of the applications were approved, the data show.

Nine companies majority-owned by Trump have sought to bring in foreign waitresses, cooks, vineyard workers and other laborers on temporary work-visa programs administered by the Labor Department.

The candidate’s foreign talent hunt included applications for an assistant golf-course superintendent, an assistant hotel manager and a banquet manager.

Two of his companies, Trump Model Management and Trump Management Group LLC, have sought visas for nearly 250 foreign fashion models, the records show.

Trump’s presidential campaign and a lawyer for them businessman declined to comment. The Mar-a-Lago Club could not be reached for comment.

The analysis of Trump’s history of actively importing foreign workers comes as he has emerged as an early front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination in the November 2016 presidential election. Trump has positioned himself as a champion of American workers whose livelihoods are threatened by
illegal foreign laborers and the offshoring of U.S. jobs.

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God every created,” he said in announcing his candidacy on June 16. “I will bring back our jobs from China, Mexico and other places. I will bring back jobs and our money.”

Trump generated both notoriety and buzz by singling out Mexican immigrants in the United States. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said in the speech. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

In a speech on July 11, Trump distinguished between those working legally and illegally in the United States, saying thousands of “legal” Mexicans – “incredible people” – have worked for him over the years.

The Labor Department records don’t specify the nationality of the foreign workers sought by companies. But Trump could be bringing many Mexican workers into the United States.

Reuters examined records of applications for three categories of temporary work visas – the H-2A, H-2B and H-1B programs – submitted by employers to the Labor Department.

A CONTROVERSIAL VISA PROGRAM

The temporary work visa program through which Trump’s companies have sought the greatest numbers of workers, H-2B, brings in mostly workers from Mexico. Mexicans made up more than 80 percent of the 104,993 admissions to the United States on H-2B visas in 2013. The Trump companies have sought at least 850 H-2B visa workers.

The H-2B program, which receives little government oversight, is used by companies in sectors ranging from, hospitality to forestry to hire foreign workers for temporary jobs. Companies must prove that the jobs are seasonal – and that they tried and failed to hire Americans.

U.S. government watchdogs have criticized the H-2B and H-2A programs over the years for failing to protect foreign and American workers alike.

In 2003, the Labor Department Inspector General said: “Abuses of these programs may result in economic harm to American workers and businesses, exploitation of foreign workers, and security risks associated with aliens who are admitted to this country by fraudulent means.”

This year, the Government Accountability Office published a report saying that workers in the country on H-2A and H-2B visas have experienced abuse, including being charged illegal recruiting fees, substandard housing and low pay.

The Mar-a-Lago, a luxury resort in Palm Beach, Florida, has sought the most foreign workers of the nine Trump businesses: 787 workers since 2006, according to the data.

This month, the resort filed paperwork seeking to bring in 70 foreign workers later this year on H-2B visas to serve as maids, cooks and wait staff, according to paperwork known as “job orders” published on the Labor Department’s web site.

In addition to the resort and the modeling agencies, the Trump-owned companies identified in the Reuters analysis were Jupiter Golf Club, Lamington Farm Club LLC, Trump Miami Resorts Management LLC, Trump National Golf Club LLC, Trump Payroll Chicago LLC and Trump Vineyard Estates LLC.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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Business

Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP

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Singapore’s population contracts along with its GDP | The Thaiger

The little south east Asian island nation of Singapore, which has always punched way above its weight, with the fourth largest economy, but the biggest GDP per capita in the region, is getting smaller. Both its economy and population. The population of the Republic of Singapore is shrinking for the first time since 2003. Border closures and, mostly, job losses, are forcing 10s of 1000s of foreign workers back to their home countries.

Singapore’s overall population dropped by nearly 20,000 people, or 0.3% of the population at the endow 2019, to 5.69 million people.

There’s been a sharp drop in expats, down 2% to 1.64 million, and a smaller drop in permanent residents. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a number of citizens to return from overseas, swelling the numbers of locals slightly.

The annual report of Singapore’s demographics notes that the transitions are nearly entirely due to the coronavirus outbreak. The report also says that there has already been an economic decline officially estimated between 5%-7% for 2020.

“These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions. The government has been raising barriers for foreign hiring to preserve jobs for locals.”

Singapore’s non-resident population has surged 200% over the last 2 decades, fuelling mega population growth in the city-state with one of the world’s lowest birth rates. If not for the influx of foreigners, Singapore would have been recording a net drop in population.

The rise of Singapore’s middle class, and the ‘trend’ to hire domestic help, has caused an influx of low-paid migrants to act as nannies, maids, cleaners, drivers and construction workers. Many of these have either voluntarily headed back to their countries, mostly the Philippines, or been sacked.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser notes that the decline in non-resident population is mostly due to the departure of work permit holders, who take up jobs which Singaporeans avoid in the first place. He says the trend probably signals some sectors of the economy are not doing well.

“The issue of foreigners in our midst cannot be addressed simply by cutting down their numbers, without negative consequences for our economy.”

Meanwhile, Japan says it has made an agreement with SE Nations Singapore and Brunei to reopen their borders for newly arriving expats from next Wednesday and and other long-term residents from October 8.

Those eligible to travel will be allowed in on condition they self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19.

Brunei and Singapore join 7 other ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and Thailand, with the new travel bubble with Japan. Japan still has a ban in place for the entry of travellers from 159 countries and regions. Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the government is seriously considering how to restart travel back to Japan, both for business and tourism.

“We see the resumption of new entries (of foreigners) to Japan as an extremely important issue.”

Japan already allows short-term business travellers from Singapore to enter the country without doing quarantine, on condition they take a test before they travel to Japan, then another when they arrive, can provide an itinerary of their stay and take preventative steps to actively socially distance during their visit.

SOURCE: trip.sg

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World

Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50%

Caitlin Ashworth

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50% | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Alexander Popov

The richest people in the world, who make up just 1% of the population, are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. A study shows that the “1 percenters” make up twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the world. Some say the poor are the least responsible for climate change, but have to deal with most of the negative consequences.

In a 25 year study led by Oxfam, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute found that wealthy countries were responsible for using up nearly a third of the Earth’s carbon budget. The study was conducted from 1990 to 2015, when annual emissions grew by 60%.

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

63 million people made up the richest 1% of the world. Since 1990, they have been responsible for 9% of the ‘carbon budget’. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can go into the air before temperature rises to catastrophic levels. 3.1 billion people make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The carbon emissions growth rate of the rich 1% was 3 times more than the poorest half of the world.

There’s not just an economic inequality between the rich and the poor, according to the head of policy, advocacy and research, Tim Gore. He told AFP the research shows the world’s “carbon inequality.”

“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction …But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption … And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible.”

Carbon emissions have decreased since the pandemic. But just a few months doesn’t take away the damage that has been done for years. Temperatures are still on track to rise several degrees this century. Although the 2015 Paris climate deal was set to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, emissions have continued to increase.

“It’s clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity… It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and fixing the climate crisis.”

Some say the global economy needs to prioritise “green growth.” If not, the decrease in pollution during the pandemic will have a very small and insignificant overall impact on climate change. Some say carbon emissions affect the poorest nations the most who don’t have enough resources to fight natural disasters possibly brought on by the rising temperatures, like wildfires and droughts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP

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