South America searches for answers after massive blackout

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Power returned to much of Argentina and two neighboring countries following a massive blackout that left tens of millions in the dark on Sunday.

Argentina’s grid “collapsed” around 7 a.m. (1100 GMT), leaving the entire country without power, Argentina’s Energy Secretariat said. The outage also cut electricity to much of neighboring Uruguay and swaths of Paraguay, and shut down YPF SA’s La Plata refinery, Argentina’s largest.

Power had returned to nearly 90 percent of Argentina by early on Sunday evening and to virtually all of Uruguay and Paraguay, officials in each country said.

Macri´s energy secretary, Gustavo Lopetegui, told reporters earlier in the day that the blackout started with a failure in the country´s “interconnection system,” known as SADI, but said the root cause of the outage remained unknown and that results of a full investigation would not be available for 10 to 15 days.

“There was a failure in the system, the kind that happens regularly in Argentina and other countries,” said Lopetegui, adding that “a chain of events that took place later … caused a total disruption.”

“This case is unprecedented and will be deeply investigated,” Macri said on social media.

The blackout comes amid a deepening economic crisis in Argentina that has plunged nearly a third of the country into poverty, pushed interest rates skyward and sent the peso tumbling against the dollar, prompting mass protests throughout the country.

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South Korea to take Japan off trusted export list

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South Korean protester
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Japan’s decision to change South Korea’s trade status drew protests

South Korea has said it will take Japan off its favoured trade partners’ list.

Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said Japan would be placed on a newly created restrictive trade list instead.

Long-running bilateral tensions were inflamed last year by South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation to Koreans over forced labour during World War Two.

The legal decisions drew condemnation from Japan, which argues the dispute was settled in 1965 when diplomatic ties were normalised between the neighbouring countries.

The two nations share a complicated history that includes Japanese colonial rule of Korea from 1910 until the defeat of Japan in 1945.

The trade spat, which includes curbs on tech supplies, has sparked fears over risks to the global electronics sector.

 

In July, Japan tightened rules on the export of materials crucial for South Korean tech manufacturers.

Those restrictions, on products needed to make display panels and memory chips, have worried Seoul over the risks to its already slowing economy.

Both countries have accused each other of inadequate export controls.

Japan will now be placed in a new category of countries that have not run their export control systems in line with international principles.

A senior South Korean trade ministry official, Park Tae-sung, accused Japan of inappropriate trade practices, but gave no details.

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