Airbus ordered to pay $127m to settle Taiwan missile dispute

Airbus is the latest arms company to reach a settlement over disputes arising from one of France’s biggest ever arms sales. (Reuters)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Airbus ordered to pay $127m to settle Taiwan missile dispute

PARIS: Airbus said on Saturday it had been ordered to pay €104 million ($127 million) in fines over a missile sale to Taiwan in 1992, the latest French arms company to reach a settlement over disputes arising from one of France’s biggest ever arms sales.
The scandal around French arms sales to the island in the early 1990s was one of a series of cases that underpinned accusations of widespread corruption during the final years of late French President Francois Mitterrand.
Airbus said in a statement that its subsidiary behind the missile contract, Matra Defense, was “reviewing the award before evaluating the next steps to take.”
The arbitration fine comes three months after Dassault Aviation, radar supplier Thales and engine maker Safran said they had been fined a combined €227 million ($276.80 million) in Taiwan to settle the 25-year-old dispute over the wrongful use of commissions in the sale of 60 Mirage fighters to the island.
“This was a commercial dispute and not a corruption allegation,” said an Airbus spokesman.
In a separate case, Airbus said it was in talks with Munich prosecutors that could lead to the termination of their investigation into alleged corruption in the sale of Eurofighter combat jets to Austria in 2003.
That investigation is one of several corruption cases still facing Europe’s largest aerospace company.
Airbus did not mention the status of a parallel Austrian investigation into the same arms deal.
The company and individuals including CEO Tom Enders are being investigated in Vienna over industrial deals that were built into the Eurofighter sale and have denied any wrongdoing.
Separately, Airbus faces UK and French investigations into the use of middlemen in commercial airliner sales.


Young Iraqis use innovation to make a living in oil-rich south

Updated 28 min 50 sec ago
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Young Iraqis use innovation to make a living in oil-rich south

  • The job market for Iraqi youths has become starkly different in the post-Saddam Hussein era
  • In the decade which followed the US invasion and the dictator’s ouster in 2003, authorities continued to increase state hirings — with a heavy dose of nepotism

BASRA: From a roving cafe to scrap metal sculptures, young Iraqis unable to tap into the country’s oil wealth are having to find creative ways to make a living.
While their parents generally went straight into public sector jobs after graduation, the job market for Iraqi youths has become starkly different in the post-Saddam Hussein era.
In the decade which followed the US invasion and the dictator’s ouster in 2003, authorities continued to increase state hirings — with a heavy dose of nepotism.
But now, as 26-year-old Karrar Alaa discovered, there are no more guarantees.
Three years ago, he was counting on his business degree leading to a public sector job in the southern port city of Basra.
But tired of waiting, he has turned entrepreneur.
After gathering up all of his savings and borrowing money from relatives, Alaa invested in a car and transformed it into a coffee shop on wheels.
“It’s the first of its kind in Basra. I got the idea from a video shot in Europe and posted on Facebook,” he told AFP.
The “Coffee 2 Go” car has a giant plastic cup mounted on the roof, while an image of a cup of cappuccino and coffee beans is emblazoned on the body.
An initial investment of $20,000 has led to daily earnings of around 150,000 dinars, or $120, from cups of coffee made in a machine installed in the car boot.
Mashreq Jabbar earns similar sums from his little bookshop squeezed into a corridor of a Basra fashion mall.
“Renting a shop costs $6,000 a month; I only pay $2,500 for my hallway,” said the slim 26-year-old, as he tidied shelves of school books, romantic novels and poetry collections.
The geology graduate had also hoped to get a job as a public official, confident that his degree would make him employable in the local oil industry.
But even though the sector accounts for 89 percent of the state budget and 99 percent of Iraq’s export revenues, it provides only one percent of jobs as the majority of posts are filled by foreigners.
The lack of opportunities is nationwide; from the capital Baghdad to second city Mosul in the north, and from the agricultural east to the western desert.
It is not uncommon to find engineers working as taxi drivers, or sandwich stalls manned by literature graduates in a country of avid readers.
Officially, 10.8 percent of Iraqis are jobless, while youth unemployment is twice as high in a country where 60 percent of the population are aged under 24.
A mushrooming number of private universities — with Baghdad boasting around 30 — has made the situation even worse among graduates.
The private sector which emerged after Saddam’s rule has failed to fill the employment gap, with many young Iraqis holding out for the coveted public sector posts.
“The common view is that there’s no choice but to work in the public sector,” said Ahmed Abdel Hassan, an economics professor at the University of Basra.
“Young people who go to work in the private sector say it’s a temporary move before getting a post in the public sector,” he said.
Even Basra’s entrepreneurs see the benefits, with Alaa noting the social security and pension perks, while Jabbar pointed to civil servants’ guaranteed salaries.
Many of those holding out for a state job, however, are left unable to move out of their parents’ house.
Omar Abdallah, 28, had pinned his hopes on getting a teaching job at the end of his studies in fine art.
Iraq once had a high-quality and free education system, but that was left in tatters following the international embargo of the 1990s after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.
Having failed to land a job and with no capital to start a business of his own, Abdallah began collecting scrap metal.
“I could only count on myself and my talent,” he said at his family home, where one room serves as both his workshop and exhibition space.
Abdallah has transformed old bicycle chains into scorpions, cutlery into dragonflies and used nuts and bolts to make motorbike models.
In a good month he can sell half a dozen sculptures, charging between $200 and $250 apiece.
“People love my sculptures,” he said proudly. “They tell me: ‘How did you manage to make something so beautiful out of rubbish?’“