Tech: Walmart and Google go shopping
Walmart and Google are teaming up to take on Amazon, said Anne D’Innocenzio in the Associated Press. Beginning in September, shoppers will be able to order hundreds of thousands of Walmart products on Google Express with the voice-activated Google Assistant, the tech giant’s answer to Amazon’s artificially intelligent helper, Alexa. The effort is Google’s “biggest retail partnership,” as well as the first time Walmart has offered its own products on an outside site. Executives say data from both companies will be used to make voice-activated shopping more efficient. “People can shout out generic items like milk, bread, and cheese, and Google Assistant will know exactly the brands and the size that the user wants.”
“Google and Walmart are testing the notion that an enemy’s enemy is a friend,” said Daisuke Wakabayashi and Michael Corkery in The New York Times. Both companies are under siege from Amazon. The e-commerce giant is a major threat to brickand- mortar retailers like Walmart, but now “more people are starting web searches for products they might buy on Amazon instead of Google.” The partnership is also a bet on the future of online shopping. With 20 percent of smartphone searches now conducted by voice, Walmart and Google expect that voice-based shopping isn’t far behind.
Trade: Divisions apparent at NAFTA talks
The renegotiation of NAFTA got off to a “rocky start” last week, said Binyamin Appelbaum in The New York Times. Opening-round talks have revealed early divisions between U.S. trade officials and their counterparts from Mexico and Canada, including over a proposal to require vehicles produced in North America to contain more U.S.-made auto parts. Officials have agreed to an aggressive schedule of talks aimed at striking a deal by early 2018. But President Trump suggested this week that a new pact may be impossible. “I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point,” Trump said at a Phoenix rally.
Washington: Carl Icahn out as Trump adviser
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is stepping down from his role as a special adviser to President Trump amid questions about potential conflicts of interest, said Tom DiChristopher and Everett Rosenfeld in CNBC.com. Icahn, who had been tapped to advise the White House on regulatory issues, announced his departure last week, just before The New Yorker published an article detailing Icahn’s attempts to get a federal environmental rule scrapped because it was affecting one of his energy investments. In an open letter to Trump, Icahn said he was resigning to avoid “partisan bickering.”
China: New Balance wins trademark case
Shoemaker New Balance just won “a rare trademark victory for a West ern company in China,” said Tom Han cock in the Financial Times. A Chinese court this week ordered three domestic shoemakers—including one known in En glish as “New Boom”—to stop copying the Amer i can footwear company’s slanting N logo, awarding New Bal ance $1.5 million in damages. West ern brands have been making headway in Chi nese courts after years of unsuccessful trademark battles. Last year, Michael Jor dan successfully stopped a Chi nese sportswear company from using his name on its apparel.
Pharma: Mylan pays $465M to settle EpiPen claims
Mylan has finalized a deal to pay $465 million to settle claims that it overcharged the government for EpiPens, said Nate Raymond in Reuters.com. The agreement ends the Justice Department’s investigation into the pharmaceutical giant, which was accused of misclassifying its EpiPen emergency allergy medication as a generic product to avoid paying higher rebates to state Medicaid programs. Some members of Congress criticized the deal for being too small, with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) saying it “shortchanges the taxpayers.”