The Italian side looks forward to enhancing cooperati

tion with China on jointly building the Belt and Road, She said.

Noting that the history of Italy-China exchanges for the past 50 years has been a history of dia

logue and friendship, the speaker said the Italian Senate is willing to facilitate exchanges between the two cou

ntries’ legislative institutions, and continue to make contributions to deepening Italy-China friendly cooperation.

Xi arrived in Rome Thursday for a state visit to Italy, the first stop of his three-nation Europe tour, which will also take him to Monaco and France.

hinese authorities have unveiled detailed measures to implement valu

e-added tax reform, a key step to boost market vitality and stabilize economic growth.

Starting April 1 this year, the 16 percent VAT rate that applies to manufa

cturing and other sectors will be lowered to 13 percent, while the rate for construction, tran

sport and other sectors will be reduced from 10 percent to 9 percent, said a joint statement released on Th

ursday by the Ministry of Finance, State Taxation Administration and the General Administration of Customs.

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Our moves to cut tax on this occasion aim at an accommo

dative effect to strengthen the basis for sustained growth while also considering the need to ensu

re fiscal sustainability. It is a major decision taken at the macro policy level in support of the efforts to en

sure stable economic growth, employment, and structural adjustments,” Li said in the report.

Value-added tax-a major type of corporate tax der

ived from the sale of goods and services-reductions will benefit most of the companies, said Yang We

iyong, an associate professor at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics.

“The VAT reductions can effectively lighten the tax burden of en

terprises, thereby increasing the investment by ent

erprises, boosting demand and improving the economic structure,” Yang added.

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donate blood at a donation point after a deadly chemical fact

The blast occurred on Thursday at the Chenjiagang Industrial Park in t

he city of Yancheng, in Jiangsu province, and the fire was brought under control on Friday.

Meng’s union has been offering free food and drinking water to those donating blood since the center was set up Thursday.

Gao Shuibao, a volunteer at the local Red Cross society, estimated at least 280 people do

nated their blood on Thursday and the number stood at more than 200 on Friday morning.

Zhang Yinlong, whose home is about 20 kilometers away from the donation point, had come in for the fourth time on Friday to give blood.

“I came at 5 pm yesterday, but only found an extremely long line. I went back home and

came back again at about 8 pm, but had to give it up after waiting for two hours,” said the 38-year-old.

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All the devices were judged to be viable, and the package

  sent to Heathrow Airport burst into flames after being opened by staff. Nobody was injured by the devices and no arrests have been made.

  The packages were posted with Irish stamps and had return addresses in Dublin, prompting Irish police to join the investigation. The packages were all A4-size

d white postal bags containing yellow padded bags, which were capable of igniting when opened.

  Police Scotland confirmed that a controlled explosion was carried out on the p

ackage found at the University of Glasgow on March 6 as a precautionary measure.

  The Metropolitan Police and Police Scotland said in a joint statem

ent that the devices “bore similarities” to past packages “linked to dissident groups asso

ciated with Northern Ireland related terrorism,” and that “officers were already looking at this as a line of enquiry.”

  The devices did not cause any injuries or damage.

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With the Israeli elections approaching and Netanyahu da

  amaged by a pending indictment stemming from a corruption investigatio

n, it became increasingly clear that Trump would look to bolster one of his closest international partners.

  Netanyahu in recent weeks had begun to renew his push for the US to recognize the Go

lan Heights as part of Israel. Earlier this month, he brought US ambassador to Israel David Friedman and

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to the Israeli-occupied territory, touting its strategic imp

ortance. Graham, a close ally of the President’s, promised Netanyahu he would personally lobby Trump to deliver.

  The Israeli ambassador’s visit was a precursor to Trump’s announcement on Thursday, a sen

ior administration official told CNN. The Golan Heights recognition had been in the works for sev

eral weeks, the official said, and culminated in a series of meetings between the President and his senior staff this week.

  US officials have offered no explanation as to w

hy Trump decided to take this step now, rather than wait until after Israel’s April 9 elections.

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Xi added that he is glad that US President Donald Trump

also voiced his support for bilateral exchanges and cooperation in education during their meeting at the G20 Summit in Argentina in December.

The rising level of education has been a major contributor to

China’s rapid development in its 40 years of reform and opening-up, he said.

China remains committed to advancing the modernization of its education, making

itself an education powerhouse and developing education that people are satisfied with, he added.

During this process, China is willing to conduct broader exchanges and cooper

ation with education and research institutions including Harvard University, he said.

Bacow, who last year became the 29th president of Harvard U

niversity, said he is glad to make China his first overseas stop since his inauguration.

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talian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he may sig

  a series of memorandums of understanding on Belt and Road infrastructure investments during Xi’s upcoming visit to Italy, Reuters reported. If the

y are signed, Italy would be the first one of the Group of Seven industrialized nations to participate in the BRI.

  Speaking at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Vice-Foreign Mi

nister Wang Chao said the country appreciates Italy’s active involvement in the BRI.

  ”We believe the signing of relevant cooperation documents conforms to the common interests of both countries,” Wa

ng said, adding that Belt and Road cooperation aims to generate mutually beneficial and win-win results.

  Regarding skepticism about the BRI, Wang said practice will prove that the initia

tive will have positive effects on countries’ economic development and bilateral cooperation.

  He added that the infrastructure investment of Chinese companies in Europe is purely business practice and will ab

ide by market rules and business principles on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and transparency.

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Taxpayers whose main business is postal services, telecom

postal services, telecommunications, modern services or consu

mer services will receive 10 percent additional input VAT deduction before the end of 2021.

An increase in the overpaid VAT following this round of tax cuts will be refunded.

“The planned VAT cuts must be delivered as soon as possible,” Li said.

“Their implementation must be closely monitored to ensure that tax burdens are meaningfully reduced

in the major industries and lowered to various extents in some industries. All industries will see their taxes go down, not up.

“In case of an increased tax burden due to inadequate deducti

ons in certain individual industries, the government will work out targeted solutions,” he added.

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In the Government Work Report, Li said that the govern

ment’s moves to cut taxes on this occasion aim at an accommo

dative effect to strengthen the basis for sustained growth while also considering the need to ens

ure fiscal sustainability. It is also a major measure to lighten the burden on businesses and boost market dynamism.

Participants at Wednesday’s meeting also decided on adjustments to the export tax rebate rates of certain goods and services and

to the tax deduction rate of purchases of farm produce. They decided to increase transfer payments to local gov

ernments, focusing on supporting the central and western regions and counties and prefectures experiencing difficulties.

“The share that goes to enterprises in the national income distribution ne

eds to be increased to boost market vitality. This will

help keep employment stable, expand tax sources and make public finance sustainable.” Li said.

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Theresa May asks EU for Brexit delayIn his press conference, Don

the President of the European Council, made it clear that the EU would only

approve a delay to the Brexit process if the House of Commons approves the Withdra

wal Agreement signed by Theresa May last year. That suggests a third “meaningful vote” must be held in Parliament next week.

another vote. Earlier this week he ruled that the government could not hold repeated votes on the same issue without substantive changes.

The government will hope that Tusk’s statement will be sufficient to satisfy Bercow’s demand.

After that, there’s the question of persuading MPs to support the deal.

Theresa May lost her first meaningful vote by a historic margin of 230 in January, and lost her second last week by 149.

May faces an uphill challenge to pass the deal a third time – 75 MPs will have to change their mind

s. The Prime Minister will hope that the looming and clear threat of no deal will force opposition MPs to support her deal.

The trouble is, there’s a small group of hardcore Brexit-supporting MPs o

n her own side who would be happy to see the UK crash out without a deal – a clean bre

ak from the EU with no complications. Quite how she persuades them to get onside is unclear.

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