U.S. woos Asia with plan to rival China

BANGKOK — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the U.S. is investing and trading more in Asia as it rolls out an American plan to support “sustainable” projects in Asia.

The plan announced at a U.S. business conference in Bangkok is meant to rival China’s own multibillion dollar “Belt and Road” infrastructure program.

Xi pledges steps to open Chinese markets

SHANGHAI — President Xi Jinping has promised gradual steps to open Chinese markets but offered no new initiatives to ease trade tensions with Washington and Europe.

He spoke at the opening of an import expo meant to showcase the Chinese market. Beijing has cut tariffs and eased other import restrictions but none of the steps directly addresses complaints by the U.S., Europe and others about technology policies and other irritants that sparked a tariff war with Washington.

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers advertised fewer open jobs in September compared with the previous month, but the number of available positions remains high by historic standards.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers listed 7 million jobs, down from 7.3 million in August. Job openings peaked at 7.6 million last November and have slowly declined since.

Overall hiring increased in September while the number of Americans quitting their jobs fell.

The number of unemployed workers has also fallen in the past several months, leaving 1.2 open jobs, on average, for every unemployed person.

EU hopes U.S. will rethink climate pact

BRUSSELS — The European Union has voiced regret at the U.S. government’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and expressed hopes that one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters will backpedal on its decision and rejoin.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said that the global deal signed in 2015 remains “the most important international agreement on climate change.” ”

EU’s Barnier warns of tough UK trade deal

LISBON, Portugal — EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the talks on a free trade deal with the U.K. once the country has left the bloc might well be as tough as the Brexit talks over the past years.

Barnier told the Web Summit in Lisbon that already by next summer it will be clear if the transition period to agree on future relations will have to be extended. There are fears that Britain will transform into a low-regulation economy that would undercut stringent EU standards.

Justice Dept. targets contracting fraud

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is forming a special group of prosecutors and watchdogs from several agencies to fight bid-rigging, price fixing and other fraud that hurts competition in federal government contracting.

Officials say the new effort against collusion in government procurement aims to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in contracting. They noted that last year the federal government spent more than $550 billion, or about 40% of all non-mandated spending, on contracts for goods and services.

The Associated Press

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