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US Tech Giants Plan to Move Production out of China: Report

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at the recent G20 meeting in Osaka to allow US companies to sell products to Chinese tech giant Huawei

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

In yet another fall-out of the ongoing US-China trade war, tech giants like HP Inc, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are considering to move “substantial production capacity out of China”, threatening the country’s position as the world’s technology powerhouse.

According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review on Thursday, HP and Dell who make notebooks in the Chinese cities of Chongqing and Kunshan are both looking to move up to 30 per cent of their laptop production out of the country.

Microsoft may move some Xbox gaming console production while Amazon could shift production of its Kindles and Echo speakers.

“Other PC makers like Lenovo Group, Acer and Asustek are also exploring production outside of China,” said the report.

The new US tariffs would hike local taxes on laptops, smartphones and game consoles, adding significant costs for the companies that would eventually be passed on to the consumers.

“Multiple sources said the situation was still too uncertain, while rising costs in China were also prompting manufacturers to examine alternatives,” the report added.

Apple is already mulling the option to move up to 30 per cent of its smartphone production from China.

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A delivery person pushes a cart full of Amazon boxes in New York City, U.S., Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

China currently is the world’s biggest producer of PCs as well as smartphones.

Foxconn Technology and Inventec have already moved some production out of China to other countries like Taiwan and Mexico, said the Nikkei report.

Amazon and Nintendo are reportedly exploring Vietnam as an alternative, while Microsoft is eyeing Thailand as well as Indonesia.

Although US President Donald Trump says that talks with China to end the ongoing trade war have “already begun,” the road ahead is full of thorns.

Also Read: Facebook, WhatsApp Now Back in Action After Global Outage

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at the recent G20 meeting in Osaka to allow US companies to sell products to Chinese tech giant Huawei.

In the run-up to his meeting with Xi, the US President had threatened to impose tariffs of between 10-25 per cent on some $325 billion worth of Chinese imports, sabre-rattling that had alarmed the international markets and many companies, who feared rising prices for some of the products US consumers buy most often.

The agreement with Xi implies that those tariff hikes are off the table for now, but the US is keeping its tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods in place and Beijing is maintaining its retaliatory tariffs on $110 billion worth of US imports, Efe news reported. (IANS)

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Fatal Drug Overdoses Decline in US; First Drop in Two Decades

The trend was driven by a steep decline in deaths linked to prescription painkillers

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FILE - A billboard advertising treatment for opioid addiction stands in Dickson, Tenn., June 7, 2017. VOA

Fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. declined by 5.1 percent in 2018, according to preliminary official data released Wednesday, the first drop in two decades. The trend was driven by a steep decline in deaths linked to prescription painkillers.

“The latest provisional data on overdose deaths show that America’s united efforts to curb opioid use disorder and addiction are working,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, though he cautioned the epidemic would not be stopped overnight.

The total number of estimated deaths dropped to 68,557 in 2018 against 72,224 the year before, according to the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But that number is still far higher than the 16,849 overdose deaths in 1999, a figure that rose every year until 2017, with a particularly sharp increase seen from 2014 to 2017.

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Laura Levine prepares to dispense drugs at Vocal NY, an organization that works with addicts, where she is the health educator and coordinator for the opioid reversal drug Narcan, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, March 15, 2019. VOA

Deaths attributed to natural and semisynthetic opioids, such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone, which are prescribed as painkillers, saw a drop from 14,926 to 12,757, or 14.5 percent.

That was the steepest drop for any category of drug, though deaths linked to synthetic opioids excluding methadone (drugs like tramadol and fentanyl) continued to rise sharply, while cocaine deaths also increased slightly.

Overprescription

The U.S. opioid epidemic is rooted in decades of overprescription of addictive painkillers. The crisis is responsible for about 400,000 deaths involving prescription or illicit opioids, including high-profile victims such as pop icon Prince and rocker Tom Petty.

But there are some signs the tide is beginning to turn.

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Bottles of several opioid based medication at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. VOA

In recent months, federal and state authorities have taken on drug giants in court for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines or for deceptive marketing that downplayed the risks of addiction.

ALSO READ: Researchers: The Herb kratom to Treat Pain and Opioid Addiction Not Safe for Use

The overall opioid prescribing rate peaked in 2012 at 81 prescriptions for every 100 Americans and had dropped to 58 by 2017, according to data suggesting that health care providers have become more cautious.

But the amount of opioids prescribed per person is still around three times higher than it was in 1999, according to the CDC, which uses a unit called morphine milligram equivalents (MME) to account for differences in drug type and strength. (VOA)