India’s Leaders Must Decide Between Growth and Protectionism

After negotiating a trade pact with Mexico and Canada, President Donald Trump has turned his attention toward trade policy with India. In characteristic Trump fashion, he mixed insults, praise and bravado in his opening salvo.

“India, which is the tariff king—they called us, and they say, ‘We want to start negotiations immediately.’ … They said, ‘No, we want to keep your President happy.’ Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that nice? It’s true. They have to keep us happy because they understand that we’re wise to what’s been happening,” Trump said.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor, confirmed with reporters Thursday at the White House that trade discussions have started with India, a “very valuable ally.” Lower-level U.S. officials and India’s trade ministry  have been haggling for weeks over tariffs on a range of products. India, which did not receive a waiver from Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs, has deferred retaliatory tariffs until Nov. 2.

Amid that backdrop, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi faces a critical test Monday, when the Reserve Bank of India plans to begin enforcing a data localization mandate. The regulation scheme, strongly opposed by many global financial institutions as a non-tariff barrier to trade, will require financial firms providing services in India to house their data within the country’s borders.

Ultimately, Indian leaders must decide if they want to promote open trade and economic growth or pursue this protectionist path. Global payment firms such as MasterCard, Visa and PayPal have urged the RBI to delay the diktat to allow more time to comply, but recent news reports indicate Modi’s government remains steadfast. Many U.S.-based firms such as Google and Amazon have signaled they will comply with the regulation, loathe to lose market share in a country of 1.3 billion people—78 percent of adults have a bank account, which covers 99 percent of households.

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How Bloomberg Embeds Green Warriors in Blue-State Governments

A New York University School of Law program funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg is placing lawyers in the offices of Democratic state attorneys general and paying them to prosecute energy companies and challenge Trump administration policies on energy and the environment.

Nine states and Washington, D.C., including New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, are participating in the multimillion-dollar program funded by the media magnate and ex-New York City mayor, who re-registered as a Democrat this week amid expectations of a run for president in 2020.

The 14 current fellows in the program report to the attorneys general, but they are paid by NYU’s Bloomberg-funded State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. State AG offices hire these trained lawyers – not students but seasoned professionals with years of experience – as special assistant attorneys general. Under terms of the arrangement, the fellows work solely to advance progressive environmental policy at a time when Democratic state attorneys general have investigated and sued ExxonMobil and other energy companies over alleged damages due to climate change.

Although many government agencies have employees funded by outside sources, critics say using special interest money for targeted government action is inappropriate. Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who wrote a report on the NYU center, said the fellowships come with specific strings attached. “[AG] offices must agree to use prosecutors to ‘advance progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions,’” Horner said.

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Report: Amazon Falls Short on Gender Equity

A new report from the Free & Fair Markets Initiative (FFMI) examines female employees’ experiences at Amazon — which touts itself as a corporate leader in diversity and inclusion. The group’s analysis of government, corporate and legal records, “Amazon’s Unfair Deal of the Day: Undercutting Women,” was released today.

The report details several civil employment lawsuits filed by women who worked at Amazon alleging discrimination and unlawful firing after taking leave protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It also finds that 78 percent of senior leadership roles at Amazon are occupied by men, and that administrative support is the only division where women represent a majority. Further, of the 10 people who report to CEO Jeff Bezos, only one — Beth Galetti, the head of human resources — is a woman.

These findings come amid a larger conversation among policymakers in Washington, D.C., state lawmakers and Silicon Valley companies about what steps — if any — major tech firms should take to increase the number of women in leadership positions. Experts say that while Amazon’s record on gender equality is comparable to its peers in the tech sector, the company’s rhetoric on gender equity doesn’t match the reality of its business practices.

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