Lufthansa: German airline not open to Qatar investment

Lufthansa needs to limit ownership by shareholders from non-European Union member states to 49 percent to preserve its aviation licenses. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Lufthansa: German airline not open to Qatar investment

  • The Gulf carrier has been seeking to boost collaborations
  • ‘We did not have Lufthansa privatized in Germany to have it nationalized in Qatar’

FRANKFURT: Lufthansa responded coldly on Monday to a report that rival Qatar Airways was interested in taking a stake in or collaborating with the German airline.
The Gulf carrier, which holds minority stakes in airlines including IAG, Cathay Pacific, and China Southern Airlines, has been seeking to boost collaborations.
Its chief executive Akbar Al-Baker was quoted by German news agency dpa on Sunday as saying he was interested in investing in Lufthansa to seize business opportunities in Europe’s biggest economy.
“We did not have Lufthansa privatized in Germany to have it nationalized in Qatar,” a Lufthansa spokesman said.
Initially, Qatar Airways would also look into a partnership with Lufthansa to ramp up air transport services and tourism in Germany, Al-Baker told dpa in Doha on the sidelines of a visit of the premier of regional state Lower Saxony to Qatar.
State-owned Qatar Airways declined to comment.
Lufthansa needs to limit ownership by shareholders from non-European Union member states to 49 percent to preserve its aviation licenses.
Its CEO Carsten Spohr has repeatedly criticized Gulf rivals such as Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways of receiving what he describes as unfair state subsidies.
Dpa also quoted the Qatar Airways CEO as saying the carrier’s membership of the Oneworld airline alliance would not stand in the way of a pact with Lufthansa, which is part of rival Star Alliance.
“We have said several time that we will leave OneWorld,” he told dpa.
Al-Baker said in October that while considering a withdrawal a final decision had not been made.
He also said then his airline would consider lifting its 10 percent stake in Chilean carrier LATAM Airlines Group SA if the opportunity came up.
Last month Qatar signed a codeshare agreement with top Indian airline IndiGo, winning more access to the fast-growing Indian market.


Mexico objects to labor enforcement provision in North American trade deal

Updated 15 December 2019

Mexico objects to labor enforcement provision in North American trade deal

  • Mexico produced more stringent rules on labor rights aimed at reducing Mexico’s low-wage advantage
  • US House of Representatives proposes the designation of up to five US experts who would monitor compliance with local labor reform in Mexico

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s deputy foreign minister, Jesus Seade, said on Saturday he sent a letter to the top US trade official expressing surprise and concern over a labor enforcement provision proposed by a US congressional committee in the new North American trade deal.
Top officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States on Tuesday signed a fresh overhaul of a quarter-century-old deal, aiming to improve enforcement of worker rights and hold down prices for biologic drugs by eliminating a patent provision.
How labor disputes are handled in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal was one of the last sticking points in the negotiations between the three countries to overhaul the agreement.
Intense negotiations over the past week among US Democrats, the administration of Republican US President Donald Trump, and Mexico produced more stringent rules on labor rights aimed at reducing Mexico’s low-wage advantage.
However, an annex for the implementation of the treaty that was presented on Friday in the US House of Representatives proposes the designation of up to five US experts who would monitor compliance with local labor reform in Mexico.
“This provision, the result of political decisions by Congress and the Administration in the United States, was not, for obvious reasons, consulted with Mexico,” Seade wrote in the letter. “And, of course, we disagree.”
USMCA was signed more than a year ago to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but Democrats controlling the US House of Representatives insisted on major changes to labor and environmental enforcement before voting.
The letter, released on Saturday, is dated Friday and addressed to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Seade said he would travel to Washington on Sunday to raise the issues directly with Lighthizer and lawmakers.
“Unlike the rest of the provisions that are clearly within the internal scope of the United States, the provision referred to does have effects with respect to our country and therefore, should have been consulted,” Seade wrote.
Both Canada and the US House Ways and Means Committee said the deal included a mechanism for verification of compliance with union rights at the factory level in Mexico by independent labor experts.
Some Mexican business groups bemoaned a lack of clarity and conflicting information on how the rules would actually be enforced under the deal, the first text of which became public only on Wednesday.