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Beijing agrees to open up its market to US rating agencies, credit card companies and beef

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China has agreed to open up its market to US credit rating agencies and credit card companies as well as resume imports of US beef. The measures are part of a 10-point trade package designed to reset the trade relationship between the two countries. It was agreed at a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Donald Trump in April, and is a sign that Mr Trump has softened his approach to Beijing after threatening to hit it with punitive tariffs during his election campaign last year. 

The announcement came as China was under a security lockdown ahead of a “New Silk Road” summit that has attracted 29 national leaders from four continents, including the US. They will discuss Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which calls for building infrastructure links to bind China more closely with central and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. According to one executive, China aims to nearly triple rail freight shipments to and from Europe alone by 2020. (FT, Economist, Reuters, NAR)

In the news

Trump contradictions 
Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s acting director, contradicted Donald Trump over the firing of James Comey, denying the ousted chief had lost the support of employees. He also insisted the FBI’s Russia probe would not be knocked off course, telling the Senate intelligence committee that the probe into alleged collusion between Moscow and the Trump election campaign was “highly significant”. Questions over Mr Comey’s firing refuse to go away, with Democrats accusing Mr Trump of trying to obstruct investigators. (FT, Politico)

$500m for secretive London software developer Improbable, a UK virtual simulation start-up, is raising $502m from Japan’s SoftBank in a deal that will value the business at more than $1bn and mark the largest-ever venture financing round for a private British company. (FT)

Gender disparity on Asian boards
 Women hold just one in eight seats — that's less than 13 per cent — on the boards of Asia’s largest public companies, a level that puts them behind peers in Europe and North America — where women make up (a still low) 30 and 20 per cent of boards respectively. In Africa women hold 14.4 per cent of board seats at the 300 largest listed companies. (FT)

UN chief warns on SomaliaThe fate of the east African country “hangs in the balance” as it faces famine and a virulent Islamist insurgency, António Guterres warned. (FT)

No more Zika
Brazil announces that its Zika virus emergency is over. The number of cases dropped 95 per cent between January and April compared with the same period a year ago, officials said. (BBC) 

Expanding the electronics ban US Homeland Security officials met with major US airlines and a trade group to discuss the impact of expanding a ban on large electronic gadgets on planes to include flights from some European airports. No announcement was made but airlines are concerned about the challenges of checking large numbers of devices. (Reuters)

Test your knowledge of this week’s news with the FirstFT quiz. What share of the vote did Emmanuel Macron win in the French election? 

The day ahead

G7 finance ministers meet
The officials, along with central bank governors, will meet in southern Italy. Issues to be covered will include the relationship between inequality and economic growth, international taxation and financial regulation, and the role global security has to play as a public good. One thing they won’t talk about: trade, which they’ve left to the heads of government given the US creep towards protectionism. (FT)

What we’re reading

Making cities more child friendly A majority of humans (including children) live in urban areas but the domination of automobiles has made city streets polluted and less safe for kids. Bike lanes, shared cars, Ubers and eventually driverless vehicles mean that fewer urbanites need to own cars, freeing up parking spaces that can be used to make streets happier, greener, safer, healthier and more communal. (FT)

Cod's complicated comeback North Sea stocks of the popular fish have gone from dangerously low to relatively abundant, thanks to sustained efforts by the EU and Scottish fishermen. But Brexit means hard-fought fishing agreements could be torn up — to the detriment of the cod themselves. (FT)

How streaming destroyed the pop chart Just a handful of artists dominate the pop charts thanks to hard-nosed manipulation of music streaming and a system that rewards actuarial analysis. Some industry insiders say streaming’s early promise of an electronic utopia has turned into a dystopian nightmare that undermines creativity. (Times) 

Clerics on the wane Forty years ago turban-clad clerics from Iran’s holy city of Qom helped secure the vote for the new Islamic republic in a referendum. Now, as they fan out around the country ahead of next week’s presidential election, their influence appears to be shrinking in the face of new technology and a changing society. (FT) 

The chess match that started a data revolution When Garry Kasparov, the chess grandmaster, lost to an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue in May 1997, little did he know that he was ushering in the age of big data. The processing that Deep Blue relied on is now found in nearly every corner of our lives, from the financial systems that dominate the economy to online dating apps. (The Conversation)

Video of the day

Lula and the ‘trial of the century’ Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has testified against corruption charges, in a case seen as one of the most important to arise from the three-year probe into Petrobras, known as Lava Jato. (FT)

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