WTO out of gas: Global powers vie for control over stuck vehicle

TOKYO — When Roberto Azevedo announced his intent to resign as director-general of the World Trade Organization a year early, he may have felt relieved as the novel coronavirus pandemic ravaged economies.

The 62-year-old Brazilian career diplomat seemed noticeably at ease when he made the bombshell announcement via video link on May 14.

The Geneva-based organization has long championed free trade. Azevedo will step down from the top post at the end of August without serving out his four-year term.

One senior WTO official close to the head said that though Azevedo had held things together despite wanting to resign,

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Sony to take full control of financial unit for $3.7bn

TOKYO — Sony will turn listed subsidiary Sony Financial Holdings into a wholly owned unit for 400 billion yen ($3.73 billion) as it follows global tech giants Alibaba Group Holding and Apple in turning to finance as a stable profit generator that performs even during crises like the current pandemic, Nikkei has learned.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment group intends to combine its artificial intelligence and other technologies with the expertise of Sony Financial, which has a bank as well as life and casualty insurers under its umbrella.

Low share prices due to the coronavirus-triggered economic downturn convinced Sony to

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Hong Kong legislature erupts in clashes over key committee control

HONG KONG — A meeting in Hong Kong’s legislature on Friday descended into physical clashes among lawmakers, as members from opposing parties fought for the chairman role of a key committee that will determine whether important bills, including a controversial national anthem law, can be passed before the current legislative term ends in July.

The Legislative Council House Committee meeting saw lawmakers pushing and scuffling with each other, and several pro-democracy lawmakers were evicted from the meeting venue by security guards.

A Democratic Party lawmaker was injured in the skirmishes and carried away by ambulance.

The showdown comes as Beijing’s

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Samsung chief rules out children inheriting control of chaebol

SEOUL — Samsung Electronics chief said on Wednesday that his children will not inherit control of the world’s largest smartphone maker, vowing not to “cause controversies over succession anymore” at the tech conglomerate.

“I will not bequeath corporate control to my children. I have had this in mind for a long time, but have been reluctant to reveal it,” Lee said at an abruptly scheduled press conference. “I will not abuse loopholes in the law in relation to the succession of corporate control, or do anything that can be criticized ethically.”

The announcement comes as Lee, 51, is under investigation

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