Posts Tagged ‘agricultural products’

UK Pro-Brexit Crowd fears ‘biggest loss of sovereignty’ since 1973

July 11, 2018

Retaining benefits of single market will mean concessions on common rules

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and suit

Prime minister Edward Heath, centre, Geoffrey Rippon, left, and Alec Douglas-Home with the European Community accession treaty in 1972 © Getty

By Alex Barker in Brussels JULY 9, 2018 

Is Brexit Britain “truly headed for the status of colony”?

Boris Johnson’s incendiary claim in his resignation letter voiced the anguish of Brexiters who fear leaving the EU may erode Westminster’s decision-making power rather than restore it.

Theresa May’s plan for a softer Brexit would, in their eyes, entail the UK giving up more influence over the substance of some national laws than it did on joining the European Community in 1973.

It is a far cry from the “take back control” promises of the Brexit referendum. In the words of David Davis, the former minister in charge of negotiations, any return of sovereignty may merely be “illusory”.

Mrs May dismisses such claims, insisting her proposals for common rule book with the EU is limited to goods and agricultural products, involves no direct jurisdiction of European judges and, crucially, is dependent on the explicit and continuing consent of the UK parliament.

But to many in Brussels and Whitehall, the UK prime minister’s plan is just the start of a broader policy shift. To pass muster with EU leaders, her vision for Britain continuing to retain the benefits of the customs union and single market will inevitably require additional concessions on rule-taking, covering goods and services.

Sir Ivan Rogers, Mrs May’s former EU ambassador, said that, far from enhancing control, such a model would “result in the biggest loss of UK sovereignty since accession in 1973”.

The problem for Mrs May, he added, is that the main alternative of a Canada-style free trade agreement is one she “finally understands cannot deliver near frictionless trade” and that would carry serious economic costs. “She is therefore caught between two intolerable options,” Sir Ivan said.

What UK resignations mean for May and Brexit

Diplomats in Brussels have long been baffled by what they see as a false Westminster debate over control. For many smaller EU member states, pooling sovereignty in the EU in practice amplified their influence over common rules and common institutions.

Even if Britain broke free of Brussels’ regulatory orbit, EU officials confidently predict the sheer size of the EU market will mean British exporters routinely comply with EU-set standards.

“There is no such thing as a sovereign country any more,” said one EU government official handling Brexit. “It is an illusion the Brits are all chasing, but it has gone.” Another EU Brexit negotiator compared the British political drama to “tilting at windmills”.

Mrs May’s plan for goods is most similar to Norway’s current arrangements inside the European Economic Area. While Oslo is a separate legal jurisdiction from the EU, it accepts the EU’s body of law for the single market, and has institutions that interpret the rules in line with European Court of Justice rulings.

It has an option to reject new EU laws but has never done so for fear of being cut off from markets.

Stephen Weatherill, professor of law at Oxford university, noted that such an outcome for Britain would diminish its existing influence over decision making, exercised through participation in EU institutions and policymaking.

“Almost everybody before the referendum would have said a Norway-style deal is as bad as it gets,” he said. “It does not achieve the regulatory independence Brexiters want, and offers none of the influence [over the EU]. But we are where we are.”

Some veteran Brexiters such as Christopher Booker, a journalist, and Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament, have championed a Norway or Switzerland-style arrangement as a sensible stepping stone for Brexit Britain.

One potential issue is that Britain may not secure even the limited freedoms Norway enjoys.

One EU negotiator noted that Norway’s liberal option to diverge under the EEA agreement would probably never be granted to a big economy such as the UK. “British officials should look at the reality of how the EEA works,” said the official, referring to Oslo’s record of compliance. “Norway is Norway.”

Mr Davis pointed out that there would not only be an economic lock on Britain diverging — the loss of market access — but a political lock. A decision to reject EU laws on goods could trigger a backstop arrangement to prevent a hard border for Northern Ireland that many Tories would see as dividing the UK.

Ulf Sverdrup of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs notes that some of the biggest difficulties for the EEA have not been over policies but the arrangements to manage the relationship.

These involve the decision-making process, dispute settlement and the mechanism for revising common laws. “These are the hardest issues,” he said. “And they are not even covered yet in the UK paper.”

On a day of two resignations from the UK cabinet, Mr Sverdrup emphasised how important it was for Norway to build a wide consensus around its chosen model, which goes beyond one political party.

“Everybody embraced the agreement with the EU and that made it very stable,” he said. “Nobody really like it but it was the best they could find. All these kind of compromises tend to be very stinky.”



Chinese Media, Eager for Trade War With Trump, Says “Only Fools Build Walls”

June 16, 2018

Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

BBC News

Chinese media have mocked US President Donald Trump over plans to impose 25% tariffs on $50bn worth of Chinese goods, saying “wise men build bridges but fools build walls”.

Mr Trump announced the tariffs on Friday, accusing Beijing of intellectual copyright theft.

China retaliated, saying it would impose an additional 25% tariff on 659 US goods worth $50bn.

Stock markets fell after the announcements amid fear of a trade war.

The US had earlier warned that it will impose even more tariffs should China retaliate.

Mr Trump said the tariffs were “essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs.”

The Chinese product lines that have been hit range from aircraft tyres to turbines and commercial dishwashers.

State-controlled media made a concerted attack on the new US measures.

“Following the path of expanding and opening up is China’s best response to the trade dispute between China and the United States, and is also the responsibility that major countries should have to the world,” said an editorial in Xinhua news agency.

“The wise man builds bridges, the fool builds walls,” it commented.

Social media users were quick to make light of the comment, with many making reference to the Great Wall of China.

Presentational white space

Elsewhere official Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily condemned what it described as the US administration’s “obsession with playing the disgraceful role of global economic disruptor”.

The Global Times, meanwhile, said Mr Trump was disrupting the world order to appeal to voters who think he’s fighting for them.

However, the English-language China Daily said it hoped the worst could still be avoided.

“Given the frequent flip-flopping of the Donald Trump administration, it is still too early to conclude that a trade war will start,” it said.

The media response came as China announced tariffs on $34bn of US goods including agricultural products, cars and marine products which will also take effect from 6 July.

Tariffs on other US goods will be announced at a later date, Xinhua said.

Media captionHow hogs and Harleys became weapons in a looming trade war.

US tariffs that affect more than 800 Chinese products worth $34bn in annual trade are due to come into effect on 6 July.

The White House said it would consult on tariffs on the other $16bn of products, and would apply these later.

The US wants China to stop practices that allegedly encourage transfer of intellectual property – design and product ideas – to Chinese companies, such as requirements that foreign firms share ownership with local partners to access the Chinese market.

However, many economists and businesses in the US say the tariffs are likely to hurt some of the sectors the administration is trying to protect, which depend on China for parts or assembly.

The US announced plans for tariffs this spring, after an investigation into China’s intellectual property practices.

It published a draft list of about 1,300 Chinese products slated for tariffs in April. The list released on Friday is slightly shorter, incorporating feedback and criticism received in the ensuing weeks.

The plans have elicited a mixed political reaction, drawing praise from Democrats and opposition from Republicans, who typically favour free trade policies.

Goods impacted by tariffs

China offers to buy $70 bn of US goods, says official — But not fix any real trade problems

June 7, 2018

China has offered to buy $70 billion worth of US goods if Washington drops plans to impose tariffs in return, an official in President Donald Trump’s administration told AFP on Wednesday, confirming an earlier report.

© POOL/AFP/File | US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) chats with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, on June 3, 2018

Top Chinese economic advisor Liu He made the offer during weekend trade talks in Beijing with a US delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The new purchases would include soybeans, natural gas, crude oil and coal.

The Commerce Department on Wednesday told AFP no definitive agreement had been reached and no further information was available.

During a regular news briefing Thursday in Beijing, the Chinese commerce ministry confirmed the two sides had discussed detailed proposals during the trade negotiations.

“China and the US carried out in-depth and concrete discussions in some specific areas of trade cooperation, especially agricultural products and energy,” said Gao Feng, the ministry’s spokesman, when asked about the $70 billion figure.

“China is willing to expand imports from the US under the precondition of both sides walking towards each other,” Gao said.

US exports to China last year hit $130.4 billion, according to the Department. A $70 billion package of purchases would amount to a 53.8 percent increase.

For goods alone, the US trade deficit with China hit a record $375 billion last year, and the White House has demanded Beijing cut the imbalance by $200 billion.

“If the United States introduces trade sanctions including tariffs, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will be void,” China’s official news agency Xinhua said Sunday.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Liu personally explained to Ross the offer would be void in the event Washington imposed additional tariffs.

Trump had announced last week that the US was pressing ahead with plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports tied to the tech sector, which Washington says has benefitted from the alleged theft of US know-how and intellectual property.

Washington’s trade battles with China, Europe, Mexico and others are an effort to make those countries buy more US goods and force down the US trade deficit, which Trump sees as a job killer and threat to the American industrial base.


China vows to ‘fight back’ if US imposes tariffs — “Washington continues to act in an arbitrary and reckless manner.”

May 30, 2018

China on Wednesday warned Washington that it would take “resolute and forceful” measures if the Trump administration follows through with its threat to impose tariffs on Chinese goods – sparking the possibility of a trade war in the days before a visit by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, according to a report.

“We do not want a trade war, but we are not afraid of one. We will fight back,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, according to the Associated Press.

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

Beijing was responding to the White House announcement that it was planning on moving forward with imposing a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods after the two countries agreed earlier this month to continue trade negotiations.

“We urge the United States to keep its promise, and meet China halfway in the spirit of the joint statement,” Hua said, adding that Beijing would take “resolute and forceful” measures to protect its interests if Washington continues to act in an “arbitrary and reckless manner.”

“When it comes to international relations, every time a country does an about face and contradicts itself, it’s another blow to, and a squandering of, its reputation,”​ she said.

The escalating trade tensions could add a wrinkle to the talks Ross will have with Chinese officials during his visit this weekend when he tries to convince them to buy more US goods.

​The Trump administration said it was taking the action in the face of China’s unfair trade practices in an effort to lower the US’ $375 billion trade deficit with the country.

Earlier this month, members of the Trump administration – including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – met with Chinese officials in Beijing in an effort to avert a trade war between the world’s two largest economies over tariff threats.

After the discussions, Washington and Beijing agreed to address the trade imbalance and China said it would import more energy and agricultural products from the US.

Mnuchin went on “Fox News Sunday” on May 20 to proclaim: “We are putting the trade war on hold.”


Asian markets down as attention turns back to trade talks

May 15, 2018

Asian markets fell on Tuesday as trade moves back into view with China and the US holding more high-level talks this week, while oil prices edged higher as tensions in the Middle East simmer.

© AFP | Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is due in Washington for fresh talks aimed at heading off a trade war with the United States


A recent run-up in equities over the past week has also led to profit-taking with Hong Kong turning lower after six straight days of gains.

US markets rose again as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He — President Xi Jinping’s right-hand man on economic issues — headed to Washington on Tuesday for a new round of talks aimed at heading off a trade war between the economic giants.

There are hopes the two sides can hammer out an agreement to end a spat that has seen both sides threaten tariffs on billions of dollars of goods.

Donald Trump’s call to help get Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE “back into business fast” soothed nerves, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday he was exploring “alternative remedies” for the firm, which was in April banned from buying crucial US technology for seven years.

“China is reportedly close to removing tariffs on agricultural products in exchange for relief for ZTE,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA. “It helps explain why President Trump said he’d work with President Xi on this company.”

The talks come as US officials try to reach agreements with Canada and Mexico on revising their three-way trade pact, while EU steel tariff exemptions are due to end on June 1.

– ‘Hornet’s nest’ –

Hong Kong was 0.8 percent lower after racking up gains of more than five percent over the previous six sessions, while Tokyo ended the morning slightly down.

Shanghai was marginally down, while Sydney and Singapore each shed 0.4 percent, Seoul gave up 0.6 percent and Taipei dipped 0.2 percent.

However, there were gains in Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

Concerns about the already tinderbox Middle East helped put upward pressure on oil prices, with deadly clashes in Gaza during the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem coming less than a week after Trump ripped up the Iran nuclear deal.

“In general, the market is wholly focused on the hornet’s nest in the Middle East that is an accident waiting to happen,” Innes added.

Both main crude contracts are are at highs not seen since November 2014, with economic uncertainty in major producer Venezuela also playing a key role.

The increase in oil prices is helping fan inflation expectations in the United States, which has given fuel to talk that the Federal Reserve will lift interest rates three more times this year

While the dollar was flat against its main peers it was sharply up against most high-yielding currencies including the South Korean won, Mexican peso and Indonesian rupiah.

– Key figures around 0300 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 22,862.79 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.8 percent at 31,292.54

Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 3,173.77

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1934 from $1.1931 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3565 from $1.3556

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.75 yen from 109.65 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 11 cents at $71.07

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 15 cents at $78.38 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 24,899.41 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,710.98 (close)

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “cautiously optimistic” on progress between China and US on trade

April 7, 2018

The US treasury chief said in an interview that he believes further negotiations can end the tit-for-tat tariff row. Beijing, however, was not so positive in its outlook.

Steve Mnuchin

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that the US was in “communication” with China in order to avoid a trade war over tariffs. The statement came just hours after Beijing promised to “counterattack with great strength” any attempt by President Donald Trump to impose a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will be able to work this out,” Mnuchin told US broadcaster CNBC.

“Right now we have initiated a plan. The tariffs will take some period of time to go into effect. There will be public comment, while we’re in the period before the tariffs go on. We’ll continue to have discussions,” he said. “The president wants reciprocal trade.”

White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow said that the trade dispute could be resolved in a matter of months, but added that Trump’s threat to impose even stricter tariffs was not a bluff.

Bejing: No room for negotiation

Earlier on Friday, President Trump had alluded to the possibility of raising US tariffs on an additional $100 billion (€81 billion) of Chinese goods, on top of the $50 billion already announced.

China retaliated by imposing its own tariffs on US products like pork, apples, soy beans and other agricultural products — hitting hard at Trump’s base of supporters, but also risking hurting its only import-reliant industries.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng took a much darker tone than Mnuchin and Ludlow in his own press conference on Friday, saying “if the US side announces the list of products for $100 billion in tariffs, the Chinese side has fully prepared and will without hesitation counterattack with great strength.”

“Under these circumstances, the two sides cannot possibly conduct any negotiations about this issue.”

US stocks tumbled over the rumblings of a trade war, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 650 points and the value of the dollar weakening against a slew of other currencies.

es/bw (AP, AFP)


(Contains links to previous articles)

US: Corruption in Philippines remains among barriers to trade

April 1, 2018
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) – April 2, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — Corruption continues to be a major headache for the United States when it comes to doing trade with the Philippines, a new report by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) shows.

In its 2018 National Trade Estimate Report of Foreign Trade Barriers, the USTR said corruption remains a “pervasive” issue in the Philippines, which the US intends to continue urging the country to address.

“National and local government agencies, particularly Bureau of Customs, are beset with various corruption issues,” the US agency said.

Similar to its 2017 report, the USTR again highlighted the concern expressed by both foreign and domestic investors about “the propensity of Philippine courts and regulators to stray beyond matters of legal interpretation into policymaking, as well as the lack of transparency in judicial and regulatory processes.”

“Investors have also raised concerns about courts being influenced by bribery and improperly issuing temporary restraining orders to impede legitimate commerce,” the USTR said.

“Reports of corruption and irregularities in customs processing persist, including undue and costly delays, irregularities in the valuation process, 100-percent inspection and testing of some products, and customs officials seeking the payment of unrecorded facilitation fees,” the agency added.

Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, the USTR said it would build upon enforcement efforts and break down foreign trade barriers for American exporters.

The report classifies foreign trade barriers into 10 different categories, which cover government-imposed measures and policies that restrict, prevent, or impede the international exchange of goods and services.

In terms of technical barriers to trade, the US continues to press the Philippine government to remove unjustified requirements that treat frozen meat differently from fresh meat.

The US also seeks to ensure that the Department of Agriculture’s requirement that importers should obtain a sanitary and phytosanitary permit prior to shipment of any agricultural product and to transmit the permit to the exporter, will not hamper trade.

For intellectual property rights protection, the report said US rights holders have expressed concerns about the continued availability of pirated and counterfeit goods in the Philippines, the Department of Justice’s slow investigation of IPR-related cases, and judicial inexperience in handling IPR enforcement cases, both civil and criminal.

The USTR also cited the significant restrictions on foreign investment in the country as a barrier to investment.

But the USTR recognized the government’s efforts through Memorandum Order No. 16 issued by President Duterte in November 2017 directing the National Economic and Development Authority and member agencies to “take immediate steps to lift or ease existing restrictions on foreign participation” in certain investment areas, including certain professional services, construction, retail trade enterprises and domestic market enterprises.

The USTR also deepens its focus on barriers to digital trade, which is seen as a critical element of US competitiveness and a key source of innovation and growth.

“The Philippines requires government agencies to procure cloud computing services from the Government Cloud, a cloud infrastructure set up by the Department of Information and Communications Technology. These restrictions could prevent Philippine government agencies from accessing best-in-class cloud services,” the report said.

“In 2017, the Land Franchising and Regulatory Board prohibited service providers from activating new drivers on their platforms and making those drivers available to provide trips. Other regulations have put maximum limits on dynamic pricing and minimum limits on driver hours. Together, these restrictions limit the value that these services are able to provide to consumers, and undermine the competitiveness of these services vis-a-vis local alternatives,” it added.



China, Europe Slam Trump’s Tariffs as U.S. Metalworkers Cheer

March 9, 2018

Beijing pledges to take ‘effective measures’ in response to tariffs, while some allies hold out hope

A worker manipulates coils of steel at Xiwang Special Steel in eastern China's Shandong province. China has said it "firmly opposes" U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs.
A worker manipulates coils of steel at Xiwang Special Steel in eastern China’s Shandong province. China has said it “firmly opposes” U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs. PHOTO: /ASSOCIATED PRESS

China and Europe lashed out against new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, while officials and executives from several American allies caught in the crossfire reacted more cautiously, embracing what the White House promised would be some flexibility in implementation.

American metalworkers cheered the tariffs for promising to breathe new life into their industry. Dan Simmons, president of United Steelworkers Local 1899 for Granite City, Ill., said the tariffs “will allow us to compete.” United Steel Corp. has said it would restart a local furnace this week, ahead of the tariffs.

That enthusiasm was tempered by warnings from American manufacturers that fear the cost of foreign steel will go up. “We are disappointed that the president has decided to move forward with tariffs on steel and aluminum,” said Eric Fanning, chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association. American farmers said they fear the tariffs could provoke China to retaliate with trade barriers on agricultural goods like soybeans. Last year, China bought $14 billion worth of soybeans from the U.S.

“We have seen that Brazil and Argentina are happy to take our place in the Chinese marketplace,” said Lynn Rohrscheib, chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Growers.

Underscoring that fear, Beijing—the main target of Washington’s move—responded forcefully Friday to the tariffs. The country’s commerce ministry promised to “take effective measures to protect China’s rights.” Chinese metal-industry trade groups called on Beijing to retaliate against U.S. imports—from stainless steel and electronics to coal and farm products.

The impact of the U.S. tariffs on Chinese steelmakers is ultimately expected to be small, analysts say. While China produces half of the world’s steel, the vast majority isn’t exported, and shipments to the U.S. have waned since Washington imposed stiff penalties on Chinese steel products.

U.S. steel industry leaders charge that real imports of Chinese steel are far higher because they come through third parties such as South Korea, which imports and refines cheap Chinese steel for re-export. Washington promised it would sanction steel and aluminum from around the world—including from allies—to slow that flow.

Late Thursday, President Donald Trump made good on that threat, ordering tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum, due to take effect later this month. But Washington provided enough wiggle room that some allies and steel industry executives held out hope they might avoid being targeted in the end.

The U.S. excluded Canada and Mexico, contingent on negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement. Washington said other allies might win exemptions depending on negotiations in coming weeks and months.

European Union officials said early Friday they were continuing to prepare a World Trade Organization challenge to the U.S. move, as well as $3.5 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on things like American agricultural products, bourbon and blue jeans.

“We will continue to prepare our countermeasures technically—we hope we don’t need to use them,” said Jyrki Katainen, a vice president at the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. But Brussels also appeared ready to allow time to push for its own exemption. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is slated to meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Saturday.

“We have claimed all the time that Europe is certainly not a threat to American internal security, so we expect to be excluded,” Ms. Malmstrom said Friday.

South Korea’s trade, industry and energy minister, Paik Ungyu, said the country would continue the diplomatic push and had been offered some hope by Mr. Trump’s comment that some U.S. allies could still be spared the tariffs.

In Tokyo, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the country would review the actions in light of WTO rules, but it didn’t directly threaten retaliation—a sign that Japan is hoping to avoid inflaming conflict with its most important ally.

There was some relief, too, among foreign metal executives that the White House showed some flexibility at the last minute.

“It feels like the administration has listened to numerous voices that expressed concern about a broader tariff approach,” said Jean-Marc Germain, chief executive of Constellium NV, an Amsterdam-based maker of semifinished aluminum products.

Write to Wayne Ma at, William Horobin at and Doug Cameron at

EU Proposes Retaliatory Tariff of 25% Against U.S. Goods — Retaliatory list includes jeans, cosmetics, bourbon, boats

March 6, 2018


By Viktoria Dendrinou and Jonathan Stearns

 Updated on 
  • Tit-for-tat tariffs of 25% to hit $3.5 billion of U.S. goods
  • Retaliatory list includes jeans, cosmetics, bourbon, boats

Image result for Scott Thiel, photos, bloomberg

“The market is now trying to decide whether Trump is actually going to go through with it”: BlackRock’s Scott Thiel.

The European Union intends to target 2.8 billion euros ($3.5 billion) of U.S. goods ranging from T-shirts and whiskey to motorcycles should President Donald Trump go ahead with his plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel.

 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses and suit
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The EU aims to apply a tit-for-tat levy on a range of consumer, agricultural and steel goods imported from the U.S., according to a list drawn up by the European Commission and obtained by Bloomberg News. The commission, the EU’s executive arm, discussed the measures with representatives of the bloc’s governments at a meeting on Monday evening in Brussels.

The EU’s retaliatory list targets imports from the U.S. of shirts, jeans, cosmetics, other consumer goods, motorbikes and pleasure boats worth around 1 billion euros; orange juice, bourbon whiskey, corn and other agricultural products totaling 951 million euros; and steel and other industrial products valued at 854 million euros.

 Image result for steel mill, interior, photos

Trump’s vow to curb U.S. imports of foreign steel has sparked opposition within his Republican Party and is based on a national-security argument that the EU dismisses. The White House threat risks provoking retaliation across the globe and a slew of complaints to the World Trade Organization, which has never ruled on a dispute involving trade restrictions justified on national-security grounds.

Growing Concerns

Europe has expressed growing concerns about Trump’s protectionist stance on international trade. The list of U.S. goods on which the EU intends to apply its own 25 percent tariff sends a political message to Washington about the potential domestic economic costs of making good on the president’s threat.

Image result for Harley-Davidson, plant, wisconsin, photos

Paul Ryan, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, comes from the same state — Wisconsin — where motorbike maker Harley-Davidson Inc. is based. Earlier this week, Ryan said he was “extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war” and urged Trump to drop his steel-tariff plan.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his leadership team are due to discuss the retaliation proposal at a meeting on Wednesday. The commission is also weighing filing a complaint to the WTO against the U.S. and introducing “safeguard” measures to prevent steel shipments from other parts of the world to America from being diverted to the European market and flooding it.

— With assistance by Esteban Duarte

Xi’s economic adviser arrives in DC to avert trade chill

February 27, 2018
Image may contain: 2 people, closeup
Shawn Donnan in Washington and Tom Mitchell in Beijing 

One of Xi Jinping’s top economic advisers will be coming to Washington on Tuesday bearing promises of accelerating economic reforms in an effort to forestall a possible trade war with the US.

But Liu He, a politburo member who is set to assume responsibility for economic affairs next month, is likely to meet a frosty reception from a Trump administration preparing for a trade crackdown on China and increasingly sceptical of the value of economic dialogue with Beijing.

Mr Liu took a similar reform message to the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year at which he promised a series of “reform and opening surprises” that would exceed “international expectations”.

Among the measures Chinese officials are quietly touting is the further liberalisation of the banking, services and manufacturing industries and a significant loosening of foreign shareholding limits.

Chinese officials confirmed on Monday that Mr Liu would be in the US for discussions on trade and the economic relationship until Saturday.

People with knowledge of the situation said that Mr Liu was expected to meet President Donald Trump, and was scheduled to meet senior US officials including Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser, trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary. Mr Liu will also meet a group of top US businesspeople at a roundtable event.

The promises of reforms out of China have been made for a long time . . . and we haven’t seen China ready to embrace those reforms in any meaningful way

Mr Trump has made it clear that he feels the same way but he sees the US’s trade deficit with China as an impediment to better relations.

“We’ve developed a great relationship with China, other than the fact that they’ve been killing us on trade for the last long period of time — killing us, absolutely killing the United States on trade,” Mr Trump told reporters on Friday. “As much as I like and respect — really respect — President Xi, we have to straighten out the trade imbalance.”

His administration, which includes longtime China hawks such as Mr Lighthizer, is now expected to roll out a series of actions in the coming months that some fear could provoke a trade war with Beijing. Those include proposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports and an investigation into China’s intellectual property practices that is widely expected to lead to tariffs and investment measures.

The fear among some in the US agricultural and business community is that those measures could lead to retaliation by Beijing against companies operating in China or imports of agricultural products such as US soyabeans, which last year were worth some $14bn.

Mr Liu is considered one of China’s most able and ascendant economic emissaries.

At the annual session of China’s parliament, which opens on March 5, Mr Liu will replace Ma Kai as vice-premier with responsibility for financial and economic affairs, according to two people briefed on the upcoming leadership changes. Unlike Mr Ma, a conservative apparatchik who spent his entire career in China, Mr Liu studied at Seton Hall University and Harvard in the 1990s and speaks fluent English.

In addition to his financial and economic portfolio, people close to Chinese policymaking circles say that Mr Liu will also play a key role in Sino-US relations, potentially replacing Wang Yang as head of China’s team for its “strategic and economic dialogue” meetings with the Trump administration.

Despite Mr Liu’s reputation as both a reformer and one of Mr Xi’s most trusted economic advisers, the two men have delivered on very few of the bold economic and financial reform measures outlined by Beijing five years ago.

Mr Liu will be meeting with Trump administration officials like Mr Lighthizer who are increasingly sceptical of dialogue with Beijing and are dismissive of past attempts at diplomacy.

The administration last year quietly suspended the annual Comprehensive Economic Dialogue with China.

In a report to Congress last month Mr Lighthizer declared that the US had “erred” in allowing China to join the World Trade Organization. “Since China’s accession to the WTO, the United States has repeatedly attempted to work with China,” his staff wrote in that report. “These bilateral efforts largely have been unsuccessful — not because of failures by US policymakers, but because Chinese policymakers were not interested in moving toward a true market economy.”

Robert Holleyman, who oversaw trade discussions with China as deputy US trade representative in the Obama administration, said Mr Liu would likely face an uphill battle in his visit to Washington this week.

“The promises of reforms out of China have been made for a long time . . . and we haven’t seen China ready to embrace those reforms in any meaningful way,” he said. “I would be surprised if the Trump administration would accept that without having the Chinese actually deliver.”

Additional reporting by Sam Fleming in Washington and Lucy Hornby in Beijing