There were no prizes for guessing who admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, was talking about at the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea when he said that “some nations” view freedom of the seas as “up for grabs” and “claim territorial water rights that are inconsistent”. China lays claim to most of the South China Sea, where it has been busy building a series of artificial islands covered with military facilities, and it has rejected US criticism, saying that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the waters. The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, all of whom have their own claims, beg to differ. For his part Swift added: “We will continue to exercise freedom of the seas for all nations because we know from painful past experience that to shirk this responsibility and obligation puts us much more at risk than any one nation’s maritime interests.”
When the OECD began its initiative against tax avoidance by large multinationals two years ago, most company CFOs were convinced that the project would eventually be kicked into the long grass. Each state has a different opinion on the subject and an agreement was deemed impossible. But on Monday the organisation unveiled a comprehensive catalogue of 15 guidelines it believes will close key international tax loopholes. The aim is to ensure that companies pay tax to the state in which their profits are made. The announcement has caused consternation in Switzerland, which benefits greatly from the shifting of profits across national borders. But it has also sparked feelings of resentment with the Swiss, as demonstrated by Peter A Fischer’s leader column in yesterday’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung: “It is clear that behind the [initiative] are both the desire from high-tax nations and developing economies to increase their tax incomes and also their aversion to the idea of tax competition.”
Japan’s planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hasn’t gone smoothly, to put it mildly. There is still no back-up design for the National Stadium after architect Zaha Hadid’s proposal was scrapped for being too expensive to build. There is no sports minister to replace Hakubun Shimomura who resigned over the stadium brouhaha. And there is no Olympics logo after the original one was dropped amid allegations of plagiarism. With last week’s unveiling of a new sports agency, the government hopes to shift attention back to the core of what the games are supposed to be about. Daichi Suzuki, head of the agency and a former Olympic swimmer, describes his job as improving the performance of Japan’s Olympic hopefuls and more broadly promoting the health benefits of sports. A positive start for Suzuki but the critics won’t be quiet for long if the government can’t decide on a stadium and logo soon.
While Air France is in a bit of trouble these days, struggling to compete with its global rivals, captain Karl Lagerfeld had no such problems with his genius pop-up airport inside The Grand Palais yesterday. Chanel’s terminal was much more glam than Orly and Charles de Gaulle. After checking-in, celebrities and editors were guided to their seats by handsome cabin crew dressed in tweed. With a stack of Chanel luggage trolleys standing by, the security check was easy and the music by Michel Gaubert was a far better soundtrack than that heard in a classic lounge. On the catwalk, the models held quilted hand luggage and sported sunglasses that looked like eye-masks. More airport motifs came thick and fast: cashmere jogging bottoms with a miniature plane print; a departure board printed on silks; and a pilot in a double-breasted uniform wheeling his flight trolley through departures. And at the end of the show, Karl the pilot came out to say hello. Air France should be taking notes.
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