US bypasses WTO, and LSE-Deutsche Börse deal in jeopardy

White House exploring alternatives to trade-dispute system Washington helped establish

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The Trump administration is exploring alternatives to taking trade disputes to the World Trade Organisation. That would amount to the first step away from a system that Washington helped to establish more than two decades ago. Donald Trump described the WTO as a “disaster” on the campaign trail and has already pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with Japan and 10 other countries. A member of the Trump trade transition team has told journalists that the organisation “does not work for us”.

The WTO was established in 1995 and has become the pre-eminent venue for resolving trade disputes between member countries. Proponents say it has helped prevent destructive trade wars. A report by the World Bank last week warned that threats to unwind trade agreements are casting a shadow over the world economy. Fears that the US could rethink trade agreements has prompted German business leaders to prepare a campaign in the US to push the benefits of free trade. (FT)

In the news

Oscars error There was chaos at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. A mix-up with envelopes meant that La La Land was announced as the winner of best picture. The producers and cast were accepting the award when it emerged that the real winner was the film Moonlight. Accountancy firm PwC, which has been responsible for counting the votes for 80 years, has apologised for handing the wrong envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Here is the full list of winners. (FT, BBC)

LSE-Deutsche Börse deal The planned €29bn merger between the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse is at risk of collapse. The UK exchange said late on Sunday it would not be able to meet a new condition proposed by antitrust regulators in Brussels — the sale of its stake in MTS, a fix-income trading platform. An LSE-Deutsche Börse merger would create a financial markets behemoth competing with the likes of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and ICE in the US, as well as the Hong Kong stock exchange in Asia. But fears over such a deal have scuppered two previous attempts at a tie-up. (FT, Guardian)

Indian phone fraud? Mohit Goel, the founder of the world’s cheapest smartphone, has been arrested over allegations of fraud. Millions of Indians ordered the entrepreneur’s Freedom 251 handset, which sold for $3.70, but many orders have been left unfilled. (FT)

Slain Navy seal’s father demands investigation Bill Owens, whose son was killed in the January anti-terror raid in Yemen that also left at least 29 civilians dead, blasted the Trump administration for what he called a “stupid mission” and refused to meet Donald Trump when his son’s body arrived home. The raid was the first big military action of Mr Trump’s presidency and critics have charged that it was hastily executed. Mr Owens, also a veteran, has demanded an investigation. (Miami Herald, BBC)

Nokia nostalgia Nokia’s iconic 3310 mobile phone handset is to be relaunched 17 years after its debut by Finnish start-up HMD Global. The 3310 was the first mass-market mobile and the revamped version will be sold as a “feature phone”. Although it has limited internet facilities, HMD hopes nostalgia, as well as a long battery life and small pricetag will be selling points. (BBC)

It’s a big day for

Greece The return on Monday of EU and IMF bailout monitors to Athens may come as a big relief to many Greeks, but uncertainty reigns. (FT)

Donald Trump The US president meets with US state governors in discussions expected to focus on key infrastructure projects. (Reuters)

China-US relations China’s top diplomat, state councillor Yang Jiechi, visits the US, the most senior Chinese official to do so since President Donald Trump took office. (Reuters)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

Food for thought

Keeping China’s interests safe Protecting China’s ever-expanding commercial interests and the more than 1m Chinese living abroad has led to shifts in the country’s traditionally cautious foreign policy — and boosted the country’s nascent private security industry. (FT)

Trump’s banquet for the 1 per cent Mr Trump was supposed to be leading a revolt against America’s elite, writes Edward Luce. But in practice he is “laying out a banquet for their delectation”, with the biggest winners being Wall Street titans, Big Oil and the defence industry. (FT) 

The degree that runs Britain The UK’s political life is dominated by Oxford university’s philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) programme — the degree of choice for members of the country’s political, economic and media establishment. But is it responsible for an out-of-touch elite? (Guardian)

What happens if you stick your head in a particle accelerator? The scenario seems like the start of a bad Marvel comic, but it happens to shed light on our intuitions about radiation, the vulnerability of the human body and the very nature of matter. This scientist survived the experience and found out. (Atlantic)

Japan’s digital pop idols For a growing number of Japanese, the ultimate pop idol is made not of flesh and bone — but pixels. (NAR)

Death can bring your career to life Part of the reason people trundle along in the same jobs is because it is easier to keep doing them than to stop. The brutality of death is a disrupter of habit — it stops the living in their tracks, writes the FT’s Lucy Kellaway. (FT)

Video of the day

The week ahead The FT flags up some of the big stories of the coming week, including Donald Trump’s joint sessions address, EU trade talks and WPP full-year results.

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