Posts Tagged ‘trade’

Helicopters hold live-fire drills in southeast China

April 19, 2018


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BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese combat helicopters conducted live-fire drills with missiles off the country’s southeast coast, state media said Thursday, without confirming whether the exercises took place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercise took place Wednesday and involved various types of helicopters that tested “all-weather operational capability of the air force at sea,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

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State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of helicopters firing missiles at distant objects in the water.

The reports did not say exactly where the exercises took place, but they occurred on the same day that China conducted live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing had announced the Taiwan Strait drills last week, further ramping up tensions following stark warnings against any independence moves by the self-ruled island, which China sees as its sovereign territory.

Vessels had been ordered to avoid a certain area off the Chinese mainland’s coast, triggering speculation that a flotilla spearheaded by China’s sole aircraft carrier would take part in the exercise.

But Taiwan’s defence ministry said Wednesday that the drills only involved land-based artillery conducting “routine” shooting practice, accusing Beijing of exaggerating its plans as a form of “verbal intimidation and sabre-rattling”.

The drills coincided with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Swaziland, one of Taipei’s few remaining international allies.

Beijing has stepped up military patrols around Taiwan and used diplomatic pressure to isolate it internationally since Tsai took office.

China sees the democratically-governed island as a renegade part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force.

Beijing has also been angered by Washington’s arms sales to Taipei, and China protested last month after President Donald Trump signed a bill allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 but maintains trade relations with the island.



Trump push for quick NAFTA deal slowed by persistent divide — Mexico needs for the U.S. to present a complete plan

April 19, 2018
  • U.S., Canada and Mexico differ on several major issues
  • Digging in for more technical talks after seven rounds
  • Sides say deal could be completed within weeks

President Donald Trump’s push for a quick resolution to NAFTA talks is being stymied by persistent differences among the U.S., Canada and Mexico over a handful of make-or-break issues.

After seven rounds of talks rotating between the three countries, negotiators have entered what they’ve called a permanent round in Washington and are expected to keep going until a deal is struck.

Digging in for more technical talks starting on Monday, they remain at loggerheads over regional content rules for automobiles and other sticking points, even as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said over the weekend that an agreement could be wrapped up in weeks.

A meeting between cabinet-level trade officials planned for last week to deal with the toughest issues was canceled when U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer skipped a regional summit in Peru. On Monday, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he spoke to his Canadian counterpart and plans to talk with Lighthizer on Tuesday about rescheduling their meeting for Thursday in Washington. He repeated his assessment that the nations may reach a deal in the coming weeks.

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Guarjardo speaks during the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 6, 2018.

Photographer: Sarah Pabst/Bloomberg

Guajardo said that it’s important for Lighthizer to look for solutions with Mexico and Canada so that he can turn his attention to China and tariff decisions.

“The faster that he resolves one of these various issues, the better,” Guajardo said.

While talks are continuing on less contentious topics such as the environment and financial services, they weren’t the catalysts that spurred Trump to call for a renegotiation of the decades-old trade deal in the first place. And on key topics — from cars to government procurement — the U.S. is sticking with demands that its partners consider untenable.

Although leaders of the countries say a deal could be completed within weeks, that won’t be possible if the sides remain as far apart on the most important points as they are now, according to people familiar with the talks.

“The only way that this thing gets done, frankly, is if Donald Trump capitulates,” Jerry Dias, head of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union representing auto workers, said Friday after meeting with Canada’s lead Nafta negotiator, Steve Verheul.

“Ultimately, he is going to have to find a way to claim a victory while backing off of a whole host of U.S. proposals. I don’t know how you do both,” Dias said.

Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for USTR, declined to comment.

Trump’s negotiating team is pushing for a deal by early May. That’s in order to meet U.S. timelines for having an agreement approved, at the latest, by the lame-duck congressional session following mid-term elections in November, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

While Mexico has a presidential election in July, the nation has fewer legal timing requirements, and a potential deal reached as late as August could probably be debated and voted on before the nation’s next Senate is seated in September. Mexico’s new president will take over in December; President Enrique Pena Nieto isn’t eligible for another term.

Other trade talks could potentially complicate the near-term schedule. Several Mexican negotiators will be in Brussels this week in a push to close an update of the nation’s 17-year-old free-trade agreement with the European Union, said two people familiar with the schedule.

Guajardo plans to join them later in the week, and is expected to remain there next week, when Pena Nieto arrives in Germany for Hannover Messe, an industry show where Mexico is the chosen partner country this year. Mexican negotiators are aiming to announce the close of that agreement with the EU during Pena Nieto’s visit, the people said.

Deepening ties with the EU is part of Mexico’s push to diversify from the U.S., which was the destination for 72 percent of the nation’s $435 billion in exports last year.

Schedulers are attempting to arrange this week’s Nafta talks around the Mexican negotiators who are departing Washington for Belgium. Topics on the agenda include labor guidelines, financial services and agriculture, according to two people familiar with the plans.

Content rule

Talks last week included a focus on content rules for cars, where the U.S. is pushing for more regional content and higher salaries for Mexican factory workers. Progress has been clouded by the lack of a paper proposal from the U.S. — its suggestions continue to be debated verbally without any clear text, according to the people.

And on the key topic of autos, the impasse that’s existed over regional content since the initial U.S. proposal was presented in October still stands, although the U.S. softened its position by dropping a demand for specific American content. Recent adjustments in the U.S. proposal go in the right direction, but “the devil is in the details,” and Mexico needs for the U.S. to present a complete plan, Guajardo said Monday.

The differences in positions contrast with the upbeat public statements by the top officials in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, who’ve expressed optimism recently about the process.

Moody’s: Michigan among most at risk in NAFTA termination

“I’ll leave this summit very hopeful that we are very close to a renegotiated Nafta,” Pence told reporters at the Summit of the Americas in Lima.

After the meeting with Pence, Trudeau said the “positive momentum” included the thorny issue of U.S. demands around automobile production. “We would like to see a renegotiated deal land sooner rather than later,” he said.


As US-China Trade War Looms, China Threatens Taiwan and Ups Live Fire Military Exercises

April 19, 2018

Image result for Chinese H-6K bombers, Photos

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has conducted live-fire military drills along its southeast coast after increasingly stern warnings by Beijing for neighboring Taiwan to toe the line, but the exercises were more low key than had been flagged in state media.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was taking place on China’s southeast coast.

While it did not provide an exact location, the report said the drills had attracted much attention in Taiwan and that they took place from 8 a.m. until midnight, giving the same time frame for the previously announced exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles. The widely read Global Times tabloid said last week amphibious landing operations and long-distance attacks were likely to be simulated.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said on Thursday the drills – which it described as routine and small scale – as well as the Chinese air force fly-by amounted to “military intimidation”.

“Our determination to defend the country’s sovereign dignity will never give in to any threat or inducement of force,” it said.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China’s hostility toward Taiwan has grown since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won a presidential election on the island in 2016.

China fears she wants to push for the island’s formal independence. Tsai says she is committed to peace and maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, but will defend Taiwan’s security.

Setting aside the tension with China, Tsai began a visit to the southern African nation of Swaziland on Wednesday, one of only 20 countries which maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Clare Jim and Judy Peng Loh in TAIPEI; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Robert Birsel


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China targets US, EU, Singapore with rubber trade case — “We hope the US will not underestimate China’s resolve.” — Sorghum imports from the US also called for dumping by China

April 19, 2018


© AFP/File | China announces it will impose temporary anti-dumping measures on synthetic rubber imported from the United States, the European Union and Singapore
BEIJING (AFP) – China announced on Thursday it would impose temporary anti-dumping measures on synthetic rubber imported from the United States, the European Union and Singapore.The case could stoke the simmering tit-for-tat trade tiff between Beijing and Washington, with each side having made threats of more duties on billions of dollars worth of goods.

China’s commerce ministry repeated that the two sides were not negotiating on the issue — appearing to contradict US President Donald Trump’s claim last week that the two sides were having “great discussions” on trade.

“The two sides have not conducted any bilateral negotiations on the US’s section 301 investigation or the US’s proposed list of Chinese products to tax,” ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a regular press briefing.

The US section 301 investigation focuses on what Washington describes as Beijing’s intellectual property breaches, including a failure to respect foreign patent holders.

When asked if China had underestimated the Trump administration’s resolve on trade, Gao shot back: “We hope the US will not underestimate China’s resolve.”

He warned that Beijing would fight back against any “erroneous scheme” by the US that would attempt to “contain China’s development and force China to yield”.

“On the surface the US’s actions are targeting China, but actually it is harming itself,” Gao said.

The anti-dumping measures on rubber come after an initial investigation by China’s commerce ministry found evidence the countries were dumping the halo-isobutene-isoprene rubber.

Importers were directed to place deposits with China’s customs department ranging in amount from 26 percent to 66.5 percent of the goods’ cost — to be applied against the imposed tariffs if the ministry finds dumping in its final ruling.

The dumping did “substantial damage” to China’s domestic industry, the commerce ministry said in a statement.

The US and Singapore are China’s main foreign sources of the synthetic rubber, with imports from the two countries respectively totalling $153 million and $115 million last year.

It follows a similar case from Tuesday when China decided to slap provisional anti-dumping duties on imports of US sorghum.


BBC News

China imposes anti-dumping deposits on US sorghum

A sorghum field Elm Flat, TexasImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe top three sorghum producing states in the US are Kansas, Texas and Colorado

China has announced a hefty anti-dumping move against US sorghum imports, as a multi-billion dollar tit-for-tat trade spat between the two nations continues.

China said US importers would have to pay a temporary 178.6% deposit on the value of their imports from Wednesday.

China initiated its investigation into US sorghum imports in February.

US growers were “deeply disappointed” with the findings and are considering legal action in response.

Sorghum is a grain used primarily to feed livestock, but it is also used to create ethanol, or drinking alcohol.

The US is the world’s leading producer of sorghum, and is the largest supplier of sorghum to China. China uses its sorghum imports to feed its farm animals, and in its spirits industry.

Analysts said the temporary anti-dumping deposit imposed by China, which comes ahead of a possible anti-dumping tariff on the product, was quite high and that some US shipments in the future could be cancelled as a result.

China’s announcement follows months of trade tariffs – and threats of tariffs – imposed by the US and China on each other.

The US claims that China has unfair intellectual property practices, such as those that have allegedly pressurised US companies into sharing technology with Chinese firms when doing business in the country.

US President Donald Trump is primarily using big trade threats aimed at China as a way to make it stop what he calls “illicit trade practices”.

In a move that was expected to appease the US, China said this week it would allow full foreign ownership of car firms by 2022, changing the rules that require global carmakers to work through state-owned partners.

Beijing meanwhile continues to claim that the US is dumping products at cheaper-than-market prices into China, which is hurting Chinese farmers and manufacturers. It also says the US it is unfairly punishing it with tariffs, and has continued to say it is not afraid of a trade war.

Separately, as tensions continue to rage between the two trading giants, the US said this week it was imposing a seven-year ban on US firms selling parts to China’s big phone maker, ZTE.

The United States Trade Representative has said it will review China’s move on US sorghum and will consider taking it to the World Trade Organization.

Behind the sorghum development

Hogs are raised on the farm of Gordon and Jeanine Lockie April 28, 2009 in Elma, IowaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionChinese farmers may suffer in the long run from China’s latest move as they rely on imported sorghum as feedstock for their animals

China’s investigation into its sorghum industry, launched in February, has found that US firms have been selling sorghum into China at below market prices, which is a practice known as dumping.

China has said that the market share of American sorghum jumped from 8% in 2013 to 61% in 2016 and that the price of imported sorghum from the US had edged down from $289.61 per tonne in 2013 to $214.78 per tonne in 2016.

“Due to the flood of cheap imports, Chinese industry has been damaged in terms of production and financial condition,” China’s Ministry of Commerce told reporters in February.

But industry groups in the US said American sorghum was not being dumped in China, and that their sorghum producers and exporters had not caused any injury to China’s sorghum industry.

“[This] decision in China reflects a broader trade fight in which US sorghum farmers are the victim, not the cause,” the US industry group National Sorghum Producers said.

“And US sorghum farmers should not be paying the price for this larger fight.”

Few winners in a trade war

Some analysts have said China’s latest move was in response to controversial tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels.

Others have said the timing of the investigation was a coincidence and that the new deposit tax was not officially related to any specific measure, but simply about sorghum being dumped into the Chinese market.

“China does seem to have sufficient cause to launch an investigation given [its figures on sorghum imports from the US],” Deborah Elms from the Asian Trade Centre told the BBC.

But she also warned that both sides could be hurt by China’s latest move.

“US farmers will be hurt in the short term, as my understanding is that these crops are largely planted for export to China,” Ms Elms said.

“In the longer run, Chinese farmers may suffer as they rely on these imported products as feedstock for their animals. They can shift to other sources, but this will take time and presumably cost more,” she continued.

“In a trade war, there are often few winners. The winners, in this case, are likely to be producers of alternative feedstock in other countries like Canada or Vietnam.”

Qualcomm’s $44 Billion Purchase of NXP Has ‘Hard to Resolve’ Issues: China

April 19, 2018

It marks Beijing’s first public comments about its review of the pending deal since U.S.-China trade tensions ramped up

Qualcomm Centriq branding on a motherboard on display.
Qualcomm Centriq branding on a motherboard on display. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

BEIJING—China’s Commerce Ministry said a preliminary review of Qualcomm Inc.’sQCOM -0.22% $44 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors NXPI -0.15% has found “issues that are hard to resolve.”

A spokesman for the ministry, which is China’s main antitrust regulator, said the review is still going on. Initially, the review has turned up “related issues that are hard to resolve, making it difficult eliminate a negative impact,” the spokesman, Gao Feng, said Thursday.

China is the last major government yet to approve the pending deal between the San Diego-based Qualcomm, a major supplier of smartphone chips, and NXP, a Dutch semiconductor maker.

The Tech Arms Race Driving the U.S.-China Trade Dispute

“Made in China 2025” is Beijing’s industrial plan to dominate high-tech industries including robotics, aerospace and computer chips. The Trump administration argues China is using the plan to give its tech companies unfair advantage over foreign rivals. But what is it exactly?

Mr. Gao’s comments are the Chinese government’s first public remarks about the review since Beijing and Washington began engaging in tit-for-tat threats of a trade war. In a sign of Beijing’s displeasure, the Commerce Ministry slowed its review of the deal in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Qualcomm resubmitted its application to the Commerce Ministry earlier this week ahead of a Tuesday deadline, two people familiar with the matter said. The move effectively resets a timetable for a decision and gives Chinese regulators another 180 days to review the deal, people familiar with the procedure said.

Mr. Gao said the ministry has asked Qualcomm to refile its application.

Qualcomm has received approvals for the deal, widely seen as critical for its growth plans, from eight out of the nine antitrust regulators around the globe.


China has reservations about Qualcomm’s $44 billion deal for NXP — Qualcomm could get Hammered in Trump-China trade war

April 19, 2018

Apr 19, 2018 2:49 a.m. ET

Review finds ‘issues that are hard to resolve’

Bloomberg News
Qualcomm has been pursuing rival chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV for months.


BEIJING — China’s Commerce Ministry said a preliminary review of Qualcomm Inc.’s $44 billion purchase of NXP Semiconductors has found “issues that are hard to resolve.”

A spokesman for the ministry, which is China’s main antitrust regulator, said the review is still going on. Initially, the review has turned up “related issues that are hard to resolve, making it difficult eliminate a negative impact,” the spokesman, Gao Feng, said Thursday.

China is the last major government yet to approve the pending deal between the San Diego-based Qualcomm QCOM, -0.22%  , a major supplier of smartphone chips, and NXP NXPI, -0.15%  , a Dutch semiconductor maker.

Gao’s comments are the Chinese government’s first public remarks about the review since Beijing and Washington began engaging in tit-for-tat threats of a trade war. In a sign of Beijing’s displeasure, the Commerce Ministry slowed its review of the deal in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.

An expanded version of this report appears on


Qualcomm May Be Collateral Damage in a U.S.-China Trade War

Qualcomm offices in San Diego. An escalating trade battle over whether China or the United States will dominate the technologies of the future is threatening the company’s business and its growth.Credit Frank Duenzl/Deutsche Presse-Agentur, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A looming trade war between the United States and China has put Qualcomm, one of America’s largest technology companies, squarely in the middle of the battlefield.

A major supplier in both China and the United States, the San Diego-based chip maker has long managed to play the trading relationship between the world’s two largest economies to its advantage. But an escalating trade battle over which country will dominate the technologies of the future is now threatening Qualcomm’s business and its growth.

On Monday, Qualcomm lost the ability to export semiconductors to one of its biggest customers after the United States banned Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corporation from purchasing American technology for seven years.

In China, Qualcomm’s plan to acquire NXP Semiconductors, a critical part of its growth strategy, has been stalled by a prolonged antitrust review, a move critics see as Chinese retaliation for President Trump’s aggressive trade moves.

The White House, which has already threatened tariffs on more than $150 billion in Chinese goods, is preparing new restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States and could limit American partnerships with Chinese firms abroad. Such a move could place further restraints on American companies with advanced technology, like Qualcomm, General Electric and Boeing, as they seek to form overseas partnerships. It would also likely incite more retaliation from the Chinese. On Tuesday, the administration advanced a new rule that would limit the ability of Chinese telecommunications companies, including Huawei, one of Qualcomm’s competitors and a customer, to sell their products in America.

Qualcomm’s situation illustrates the perils of trying to punish a major trading partner that has become a crucial link in supply chains stretching across the globe. By targeting foreign players with ties to their own markets, the United States and China are putting their own economic futures at risk. The question is whether the Trump administration will balk at paying that price — or see its goal of punishing China for unfair trade practices as more important than any collateral damage that could ensue.

“They’re obviously really caught in the middle,” Andrew Gilholm, the director of analysis for greater China at Control Risks, said of Qualcomm. “The demands the Chinese government has on them, and the demands coming from the U.S. side, at some point might become irreconcilable.”

An NXP Semiconductors chip, center, for an iPhone. In China, Qualcomm’s plan to acquire the company has been stalled by an antitrust review, a move critics see as retaliation for President Trump’s aggressive trade moves.CreditBrent Lewin/Bloomberg

The cold war that is emerging between the United States and China is increasingly centered on the kind of advanced computer chips that Qualcomm produces. The company’s chips are now common in smartphones, but they also serve as the basis of next-generation 5G systems, vast networks of sensors that may soon govern the function of everything from autonomous vehicles to smart power grids and manufacturing systems. Qualcomm is locked in competition with China’s Huawei for dominance of this new industry.

The emergence of this technology means that, for the Trump administration, national security is no longer confined to airplanes, tanks and weapons systems. Since these chips allow companies to collect vast amounts of information, control critical infrastructure and know the location of people and objects in real time, foreign ownership could pose an unprecedented security threat.

The administration’s focus on Qualcomm’s technology may be partially of the company’s own making. Earlier this year, the company asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which evaluates foreign acquisitions for national security threats, to intervene as it faced a hostile takeover attempt by Singapore-based Broadcom.

The Trump administration, already interested in the security implications of 5G technology, embraced the idea and made clear that the United States’ success was tied to Qualcomm’s. “China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover,” a United States Treasury official wrote in a letter to the companies. In March, Mr. Trump scuttled Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for Qualcomm, citing security concerns.

The administration is now considering giving regulators even more power to block Chinese investments by issuing an executive order modeled on a congressional bill on reviewing mergers for national security threats, people briefed on the discussions said. Those reviews would most likely apply to certain “critical sectors” that China uses its industrial policy to support — including semiconductors, aerospace and artificial intelligence.

Daniel H. Rosen, a partner at the research firm Rhodium Group, said policymakers worldwide are just now discovering that using foreign technology creates vulnerabilities that have outpaced governments’ ability to manage them.

“This is not just a China-U.S. phenomenon, but a matter of things which just a few years ago we thought were relatively benign now being weaponized in ways that we haven’t anticipated,” he said.

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David Davis looks to seize Brexit initiative from Michel Barnier

April 19, 2018

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David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier © Reuters

Move to set agenda by early publication of plans for future UK-EU relationship

James Blitz and George Parker

David Davis, the UK Brexit secretary, is urging prime minister Theresa May to get ahead of the EU by publishing detailed proposals for the future UK-EU relationship “as soon as possible” rather than waiting for Brussels to lay down its terms.

Mr Davis’s allies have discussed Britain producing a document of more than 50 pages — possibly as early as next month — setting out detailed plans on issues such as a future customs relationship, financial services and regulation.

Until now, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has always been the first to produce drafts of the legal texts that need to be negotiated in the Brexit negotiations, effectively setting the agenda for talks.

UK and EU officials met in Brussels on Wednesday to hold preliminary talks on the future relationship, with a view to drawing up a political declaration by October.

Mrs May’s allies confirmed that there had been “early-stage” discussions on producing a report on the British negotiating position ahead of the June European Council meeting, and that Mr Davis wanted the paper to be as detailed as possible.

But publishing a detailed account of Britain’s plan for a future relationship could upset a fragile cabinet truce on Europe, as there are still tensions among ministers over exactly how close the UK should stay to the EU after Brexit.

“The more general it is, the easier it would be to get through cabinet,” said one person close to the discussions. “There is obviously some tension around how much detail we can agree.”

Olly Robbins, the lead official in Brexit talks, has pointed out that the EU expects detailed negotiations on a trade deal to take place after the UK leaves the EU next March, during the “implementation period”, regardless of whether Britain tries to force the pace.

However, Mrs May and Mr Davis have decided that Britain should try to secure as much detail in October as possible, rather than deliberately keeping the deal vague, so as to secure maximum agreement within the Tory party and satisfy Whitehall officials.

“The big decision has been taken,” said one senior government figure. “We want to secure a detailed agreement on the future relationship in October, otherwise how will we get it through parliament?”

Mr Davis has argued that Eurosceptic Tory MPs will not sign off on the EU withdrawal treaty — including an exit bill of £39bn — unless they know what they are being offered by Brussels in terms of a long-term trade deal.

Dominic Grieve, a leading pro-European Tory MP, said this week that he agreed that parliament would need a detailed statement in October before it holds its “meaningful vote” on the exit deal.

Bob Neill, another pro-EU Tory, said Mr Davis was right to push for a detailed policy statement. “It would be good for business and for the public generally. It’s important that we are not seen to be forever reactive.”

See also:

Brexit: first talks on future UK relationship with EU begin

Four more rounds of negotiations have been pencilled in ahead of a crunch EU summit in June, when European leaders will next assess Brexit. Two rounds are planned for May and two in June, with the aim of working through a long list of unresolved issues on the divorce, including Ireland and an outline text of the future relationship.

The EU is undecided about how much detail should go into the text on the future relationship before Brexit day in March 2019. Germany is pushing for a detailed, legally precise text to avoid surprises during the post-Brexit trade talks, but Scandinavian and Benelux countries prefer to keep the document vague to give the UK maximum room to change its mind.

EU officials are watching the passage of Brexit legislation in the UK closely, paying special attention to an amendment on staying in the customs union. “Should they decide to say in the customs union, I don’t see why the EU would say this is not feasible,” said a senior official, adding that the EU took no view on the hotly contested issue of whether there should be a referendum on the final deal. “We are all pretty agnostic on that, because these are all domestic issues to be settled,” the source said. “It is only natural to take a clear look at the future before you jump into the abyss.”

How Trump’s Tariffs Are Squeezing His Farmer Support Base — “It’s just kicking us while we are down.”

April 19, 2018

Farmers helped carry President Donald Trump to White House.

But as the former businessman threatens to unleash a global trade war, the same farmers are now forced to come to terms with how up to $150 billion in proposed tariffs on Chinese goods, and subsequent backlash from the Middle Kingdom, could hurt their livelihood.

“Things out here right now are tough already. We are already barely making ends meet,” says Daren Niemeyer, a 49-year-old farmer in Nebraska who voted for Trump in 2016, when asked about his thoughts of the trade war tensions between China and the U.S.. “It’s just kicking us while we are down.”

It’s a tense time for U.S. farmers, who could be in for rocky times as the U.S. and China heat up talks of tariffs. On Tuesday, China’s Commerce Ministry ramped up the trade dispute, saying it would impose a temporary 178.6% anti-dumping duty on U.S. sorghum imports. Those charges, which are also thought to be in retaliation to Trump’s proposed tariffs, are expected to hit on Wednesday.

That’s on top of existing tariff proposals. Among other agricultural goods, Niemeyer grows soybeans and beef cows—two of the 106 U.S. products China said in early April would be subject to a 25% tariff. If those taxes come to pass, Niemeyer thinks China will seek soybeans elsewhere in the world, leading to a glut in supply.

For the Nebraskan farmer, it’s a worrying thought. His income would fall at a time when funds are already tight on the farm. Earlier this year, an all-important piece of machinery used to harvest grain crops on Niemeyer’s farm—the combine—broke. Rather than replacing the combine with an upgrade, Niemeyer downgraded to fit a smaller budget: The broken 2008 model was replaced with a 2005 combine.

Soon, Niemeyer may also have to replace his 21-year-old tractor—but with the threat of a trade war with the country’s biggest soybean customer, “it might need to hold on for at least another few more years,” he said.

For 58-year-old Wanda Patsche, a hog and soybean farmer in Southern Minnesota, the daily uncertainty is troubling.

“I’m just really discouraged by what I hear,” she said, adding that she had been optimistic about the new administration and what it could do for the agriculture sector. “But with the NAFTA thing one day, and then things are going good. And then the next day you wake up, and you hear we’re going to put tariffs on Chinese goods. Oh my goodness. It’s like we’re a ping pong ball.”

Patcsche is still hopeful that the commander-in-chief is doing as many say he must be—negotiating in order to get a better deal on intellectual goods with China. But for now, the trade war talks, alongside Trump’s regular tweets about potentially ramping up proposed tariffs, has made it more difficult for her to operate. Patcsche is now in the process of pricing her soybeans to be harvested later this year and in 2019—but prices continue to fluctuate in part due to trade war fears. So she keeps a constant eye on the market. If she sells her soybeans at the wrong time, she could reap in less than expected.

“We are just being put through a lot of drama to get to that point,” says Patsche. “When you hear that rhetoric. It just gives us a lot of uncertainty. It makes it more stressful.We hope the tariffs are short lived. ”

The products chosen by Bejing were no random choices. It sought to hit where it hurt the most—Trump’s voting bas—in retaliation of a proposed $50 billion worth of tariffs the White House announced in March.

For his part, Trump has argued that the tensions between China and the U.S. won’t devolve into a full blown trade war. Instead, he says he is negotiating better trade terms with China, and pushing Chinese officials to protect foreign companies’ intellectual property rights. The proposed tariffs, he says, are just leverage.

Nevertheless, it’s a source of frustration for farmers who say they are caught in the middle of a fight not about them. While the trade deficit in the U.S. has irritated the U.S. president, farmers point to agriculture as one of the industries where the U.S. has consistently posted a surplus of exports, totaling about $20 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s not to say the farmers think a trade war is imminent—or that they have lost faith in Trump.

“The tariffs are concerning, but at the same time, I want to look long term. I want to be sustainable 10 to 15 years from now,” said John Canary, a 34-year-old farmer in Indiana.

Certainly, China may turn to other soybean-producing countries such as Brazil, where it is already paying a higher price. But at least in the near term, those countries may not be able to handle the demand—in turn buying from the U.S. producers.

But what is for certain: Such tariffs will be painful for the economy of both China and the U.S.

“The annual loss in U.S. economic well-being would range between $1.7 billion and $3.3 billion,” Wally Tyner, Purdue University Agricultural Economics Professor, noted in a study. “Chinese economic well-being also falls if they impose a tariff, in some cases as much or more than for the U.S. The reason for that is that soybean imports are very important to their domestic economy.”

Moreover, it’s hard to say that the trade war dispute will end quietly or without more uncertainty for the farmers. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been consolidating his power recently, reason to believe the leader will seek to display strength, says Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for Economics. For farmers, that could mean more of the fear-inducing rhetoric between the two nations that has kept the price of goods such as hogs and soybeans rocky in recent weeks.

When asked whether he would vote for Trump again during the 2020 elections, Niemeyer pauses—and then clarifies that while he voted for Trump, he was not 100% behind the candidate—but thought him better than the alternatives.

“I can’t say one way or the other—we’ll have to look at what the evil looks like, I guess,” he said.

And as for Trump—his report card is being written as he tweets.

“He billed himself he was a great negotiator,” Niemeyer said. “Now, we will see.”

See also:

Across Midwest, Farmers Warn of G.O.P. Losses Over Trump’s Trade Policy


In new sign of trade battle, China slaps U.S. sorghum producers with 179 percent deposit

April 18, 2018

By  April 17, 2018

China is slapping a huge import charge on a crop that it accuses American farmers of dumping on its markets.

China’s Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that customs officers will charge importers a fee of about 179% on US sorghum after an investigation found the shipments were unfairly subsidizedand damaging Chinese producers.

 Image result for sorghum

Sorghum is a grain that is used to feed livestock and make a liquor that’s very popular with Chinese drinkers.

China is the largest buyer of American sorghum products. Its imports of the crop were worth about $960 million last year, according to Chinese customs data.

The move is likely to stoke fears of a trade war between the United States and China. Tensions have risen sharply since the start of 2018, with both governments announcing plans to slap tariffs on major imports.

China announced that it would investigate alleged dumping of American sorghum back in February.

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In China, shorgum s often used to make liquors..

Related: How much ammo does China have for a trade war?

“Sorghum is a good target for a trade dispute since it would have a major financial impact on the US,” Loren Puette, director at ChinaAg, an agricultural research firm, told CNN at the time.

Squeezing the sorghum trade could also hurt America’s rural economy — particularly in states like Kansas — where President Donald Trump has a lot of support.

The Commerce Ministry said its ruling was preliminary, and that the charges — which take effect on Wednesday — were temporary. It said it would announce a final decision in the sorghum probe at a later date.

Related: US hits Chinese smartphone maker ZTE with export ban

Grain sorghum production at Wilder Farms on August 20, 2013 in Navasota, Texas.

China has already said it plans to hit US sorghum imports with tariffs of 25% as part of retaliatory sanctions on $50 billion of US goods unveiled earlier this month. There is currently no timetable for the introduction of those tariffs.

The Chinese government has also threatened a 25% tariff on soybeans, a much more significant crop for US farmers. China was the largest buyer of US soybeans last year, gobbling up $12.3 billion worth of imports.

— CNN’s Steven Jiang contributed to this report.


CNN Money

See also The Washington Post:

Donald Trump ends his brief flirtation with TPP — Flip-flop on Twitter

April 18, 2018

US president’s second U-turn on Pacific trade adds to pressure on Japan’s Shinzo Abe

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing

Flip-flop: Shinzo Abe (left) will not be happy with Donald Trump’s rejection onTwitter of the Japanese prime minister’s invitation to the US to rejoin the TPP. The two leaders met with their wives in Florida on Tuesday © Reuters

Shawn Donnan in Washington

Donald Trump brought a quick end to his latest flirtation with rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, turning to Twitter late on Tuesday after a dinner with Japan’s Shinzo Abe to reject Tokyo’s invitation for him to rejoin.

“While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States,” he tweeted. “Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.”

The president’s social media announcement came at the end of the first day of a two-day summit with Mr Abe at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida. Earlier, the two leaders exchanged pleasantries during an appearance in front of reporters. They are expected to play golf on Wednesday and continue talks on issues including North Korea and trade.

Mr Trump pulled the US out of the TPP on his first full working day in office last January after campaigning against it during his 2016 run to the presidency.

But he last week raised the possibility of rejoining for the second time this year during a meeting with politicians from agricultural states that have been pushing him to avoid starting a trade war with China and to consider re-entering the TPP. Earlier this year he also raised the idea of joining the TPP during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Mr Trump has already given Mr Abe an important victory at the summit by saying he will raise the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang. But Mr Trump’s decision to rule out the TPP, ahead of the second day of talks on trade, is bad news for the Japanese prime minister.

Japan is reluctant to enter bilateral trade talks, suspecting Washington will demand greater concessions than Tokyo gave in the TPP, with little on offer in return. Mr Abe, who prizes his relationship with the president, had hoped to channel Mr Trump’s demands on trade into talks about a return to the TPP. A blunt demand to start bilateral talks instead would place him in a difficult position.

The manoeuvres on the TPP have come as Mr Trump is embroiled in an increasingly tense trade stand-off with China, which was never included in the TPP. US officials have been working on a $100bn list of further tariffs designed to increase the pressure on Beijing. The US and China have each already announced $50bn lists for imports they would target for tariffs.

The 11 remaining members of the TPP led by Japan earlier this year signed the deal into existence. They suspended intellectual property and other contentious provisions sought by the Obama administration when it negotiated the pact when they did so. They have also, however, signalled that they would be open to the US rejoining.

But several TPP members, including Japan, have also indicated in recent days that they would not be open to a major renegotiation of the pact, something the US president had said he would seek.

Why Mr Trump mentioned South Korea is unclear. It is not a member of the TPP, though it has long been seen as a likely candidate to join what many in Washington still see as an important strategic bloc that the Obama administration had viewed as an economic bulwark against a rising China.

Mr Trump has argued since taking office that the US is better served by bilateral trade agreements. But he has yet to launch any such negotiations and Japan is among the countries that have so far resisted his administration’s approaches.

Japan also was pointedly not included in a list of US allies excluded from steel and aluminium tariffs that Mr Trump imposed last month even though the president said he was open to doing so for countries like Japan with which the US has security agreements.

Additional reporting by Robin Harding in Tokyo