Trade Wars: China’s 2019 To-Do list includes tackling spat with US

The U.S. president is increasingly eager to strike a deal with China in an effort to perk up financial markets that have slumped on concerns over the trade war, according to people familiar with internal White House deliberations.

China’s 2019 To-Do list includes tackling spat with US (Reuters)

China will work to tackle trade friction with the U.S. this year, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said in an interview with Chinese state media that followed three days of talks between the nations and perked up troubled financial markets.

The Ministry of Commerce, which has set trade negotiations as one of its priorities in 2019, will push talks forward and boost cooperation with U.S. states, cities, business communities and non-governmental groups in order to promote a stable bilateral trade relationship, the state news service Xinhua reported, citing an interview Zhong granted to it and a number of other Chinese agencies.

Talks between mid-level U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing concluded on Wednesday. The negotiations were extended for a day, which added to optimism fueled by recent tweets from President Donald Trump that the two sides are making progress toward an agreement.

U.S. and Chinese stocks have advanced in the early days of 2019 on fresh hope for a breakthrough in the showdown between the world’s two largest economies. There are about seven weeks before the U.S.-imposed deadline for a deal, after which Trump may order a resumption of tariff hikes on imports from China.

Washington Talks
The U.S. president is increasingly eager to strike a deal with China in an effort to perk up financial markets that have slumped on concerns over the trade war, according to people familiar with internal White House deliberations.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a key economic adviser to China’s President Xi Jinping, is set to visit Washington late this month for further trade talks, people familiar with the plans said on Friday. Liu would meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the people said.

Separately, Zhong told Xinhua that China’s goods consumption grew by around 9.1 percent in 2018 to 38 trillion yuan ($5.6 trillion) and inbound foreign direct investment increased by 3 percent last year to $135 billion.

Other priorities for the ministry this year include expanding market access for foreign capital. Such work includes shortening the so-called negative list nationwide, including for free-trade pilot zones, and provides for allowing foreign investors to set up 100 percent-owned companies in more industries. It also entails efforts to open up service sectors more, he said.

The ministry will also focus on hosting the second international import expo and promote the construction of more free-trade pilot zones as well as experimenting with free-trade ports, Zhong said.


US, China Vow Cooperation On Diplomatic Anniversary Amid Trade War: Report

US, China Vow Cooperation On Diplomatic Anniversary Amid Trade War: Report

Beijing: The presidents of China and the US have exchanged messages vowing to boost cooperation despite a bruising trade war on the 40th anniversary of the countries’ diplomatic relations, Chinese state media reported.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington soared in 2018 over trade disputes, although US President Donald Trump has frozen the latest planned tariff hike and on Saturday reported “big progress” after a call with his counterpart Xi Jinping.

In the messages sent Tuesday, Xi underlined the importance of working with the US “to advance China-US relations featuring coordination, cooperation and stability”, state news agency Xinhua reported.

According to Xinhua, Trump praised the last four decades of diplomacy between China and the US, hailing his “solid friendship” with the Chinese leader.

Washington and Beijing imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of goods in total two-way trade last year, locking them in a conflict that has begun to eat into profits and contributed to stock market plunges.

Trump initiated the trade war because of complaints over unfair Chinese trade practices — concerns shared by the European Union, Japan and others.

Since the two leaders agreed on a truce on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, however, there have been small signs of progress — and an absence of new threats from Trump.

China and the US established diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979, with Washington pledging to maintain only non-official ties with Taiwan.

In the same year, late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, often credited with China’s “Reform and Opening” policy which led to its economic transformation, met US president Jimmy Carter in the United States.

Ties have improved dramatically from their Cold War nadir, though the two countries have since weathered ups and downs over a number of issues including Taiwan, human rights, and trade.

In December, China’s major state-owned grain stockpiler said it had resumed buying US soybeans, and Beijing announced it would suspend extra tariffs on US-made cars and auto parts starting January 1.


Sensex Plunges Nearly 500 Points, Nifty Sinks Below 10,750: 10 Things To Know

Sensex Plunges Nearly 500 Points, Nifty Sinks Below 10,750: 10 Things To KnowDomestic stock markets declined on Wednesday with the S&P BSE Sensex losing as much as 498.62 points in afternoon amid weak cues from Asian peers. The Nifty50 barometer of the National Stock Exchange declined 161.05 points to 10,749.05. A sharp decline in the rupee, PMI data indicating a slowdown in manufacturing activity and weak monthly sales impacted trading sentiment, according to analysts. Most sectoral indices traded in the negative, led by auto and metal stocks.
Here are 10 things to know:
  1. At 2:19 pm, the Sensex traded at 35,796.11, down 458.46 points or 1.26 per cent from the previous close, and the Nifty was at 10,758.10, down 152 points or 1.39 per cent.
  2. Top losers on the 50-scrip index were Eicher Motors, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, JSW Steel, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, trading between 4:01 and 7:84 per cent lower. Heavyweights HDFC, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank and Reliance Industries contributed the most to the losses on the 30-scrip benchmark index.
  3. The Nifty Auto was down 3.10 per cent at that time. “Majority of auto stocks are under pressure due to the weak sales figures,” said Ritesh Ashar, chief strategy officer, KIFS Trade Capital.
  4. Eicher Motors shares dipped as much as 7.82 per cent during the session. Eicher Motors on Tuesday reported a 13 per cent decline in total sales to 58,278 units in December 2018, according to a regulatory filing. Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) shares dropped as much as 4.4 per cent, a day after the automobile major reported  1 per cent rise in total sales in December 2018.
  5. “The market is feeling the hit owing to the frail global dynamics and weak Asian cues,” said Mr Ashar. Asian shares turned tail on the first trading day of the New Year as disappointing manufacturing data from China added to fears that economic momentum in the country was slowing.
  6. Analysts expect the markets to move sideways in next few sessions. Trading volumes are expected to be low during the week, as worldwide financial markets were closed on the New Year Day, said Hemang Jani, head, advisory, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas.
  7. The uncertainty might continue for a couple of trading sessions, however the IT sector could get a boost due to a strengthening dollar, according to Mr Ashar of KIFS Trade Capital.
  8. A private survey, meanwhile, showed manufacturing activity expanding at a slower pace in December compared to the previous month. The Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by IHS Markit, declined to 53.2 in December, below November’s 54.0 reading and a poll median of 53.6 by news agency Reuters.
  9. In its bid to support troubled small- and medium-sized companies, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday said it would allow commercial banks to restructure loans to such companies in default but standard category under certain conditions. The decision was taken at the central bank’s board meeting in November.
  10. The rupee fell by 27 paise against the dollar to 69.70, amid strengthening of the greenback overseas. (With inputs from agencies)


India’s Retaliatory Tariffs To Hit US Exports Worth $ 900 Millon: Report

India's Retaliatory Tariffs To Hit US Exports Worth $ 900 Millon: ReportWashington: 

India’s proposed retaliatory tariffs against US agricultural products including apples, almonds and lentils will have an adverse impact on American exports worth nearly $ 900 million, according to the latest Congressional report.

India last year announced higher import duties on many US products like apples, almonds, walnuts, chickpeas and lentils in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items, a move that sparked fears of a global trade war.

However, India is the only major country which has been continuously postponed the implementation of the retaliatory tariffs despite announcing it more than six months ago.

In October last year, Trump described India as a “tariff king” as he reiterated his allegations that New Delhi has a high tariff rate on various American products.

India’s proposed retaliatory tariffs is far less than that by China on more than 800 American agricultural products which accounted for approximately $ 20.6 billion in exports to the US in 2017.

China is followed by Canada ($ 2.6 billion), Mexico ($ 2.5 billion), the European Union ($ 1 billion) and Turkey ($ 250 million) in slapping retaliatory tariffs on the agricultural products from the US.

Countries have imposed tariffs on American agricultural products to retaliate against actions the Trump administration took in March, 2018 to protect US steel and aluminum producers and in response to Chinese intellectual property rights and technology policies.

Since then, over 800 US food and agricultural products have been subject to retaliatory tariffs from China, the EU, Turkey, Canada and Mexico, the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its report ‘Profiles and Effects of Retaliatory Tariffs on US Agricultural Exports’.

The CRS, an independent research wing of Congress, regularly prepares reports on various issues for the lawmakers to take informed decisions.

US exports of those products to the retaliating countries totaled $ 26.9 billion in 2017, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) export data.

It all started on March 23, 2018, when the Trump administration applied a 25 per cent tariff to all US steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff to all US aluminum imports, citing an investigation that showed national security concerns.

“Canada, China, Mexico, the EU and Turkey retaliated with tariffs on imports of US agricultural and food products and other goods.

“India has proposed retaliatory tariffs on US apples, almonds, walnuts, chickpeas and lentils, but it has delayed implementation pending ongoing negotiations with the Trump administration,” said the CRS.

Reports of CRS are prepared by independent experts for the lawmakers to make informed decisions and are not an official position of the US Congress.

In its report dated December 31, the CRS sad in response to the tariffs the Trump administration levied on US imports of steel and aluminum from India earlier this year, India has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on a handful of US agricultural and food products. The date for imposing these tariffs has been pushed back several times, and they are currently set to become effective on January 31, 2019.

“US exports of the targeted products were valued at USD 857 million in 2017, comprising 54 per cent of the $ 1.8 billion of total US agricultural exports to India. US almond growers, in particular, could feel the effects of India’s threatened tariffs should they enter into force,” said the CRS, a copy of which was obtained by PTI.

India ranked third as a destination for US apple exports in 2017, purchasing $ 97 million of US apples, or 10 per cent of the total exports.

“The Indian government proposes to apply a 30 per cent retaliatory tariff on imports of US apples on January 31, 2019,” the CRS said. Comparatively, US apple exports to Mexico and China are now subject to additional retaliatory tariffs of 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, raising the total tariff rates to 20 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

The Trump administration has taken measures to ease the downside effects of the retaliatory tariffs on farmers and ranchers through a $ 12 billion trade aid package.

Under the initiative, USDA has committed to making direct payments to farmers of selected commodities subject to the tariffs, as well as buying up surplus quantities of some commodities and providing funding for additional trade promotion efforts.


On New Year Day, India, Pakistan Trade Fire On LoC In Poonch District

On New Year Day, India, Pakistan Trade Fire On LoC In Poonch District

In 2018, there have been more than 1,400 ceasefire violations on the LoC and International Border. (File)


Jammu: The Indian and Pakistan armies traded fire on the Line of Control (LoC) today in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, officials said.

Defence sources said Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing at Indian positions in the morning.

“Pakistani firing began early this morning in Khari Karmara area of the LoC. Indian positions retaliated strongly. No casualty or damage was reported on our side,” a source said.



In Meghalaya Hills Where Mine Collapsed, Illegal Coal Trade Continues

Some villagers at East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya have been visiting a rat-hole mine every day for over three weeks after 15 men disappeared when water flooded the illegal mine in the district on December 13. Three men among the group of migrant workers trapped in the mine’s dark labyrinth are from their village.

The villagers say they are worried about the men as well as the attention this incident has drawn. For thousands of villagers in these parts, illegal rat-hole mining that involves digging into the side of hills and then burrowing tunnels to reach a coal seam is the only source of income.

“We have been mining coal for three decades. We have only done this. This is the only source of income and with no options, we didn’t care about environment laws or death,” said a middle-aged miner who came to see the progress of the rescue operation at the mine. “Many such incidents have happened in the past. Miners got buried and became skeletons,” he told NDTV, asking not to be named.

The “mining mafia” is quite strong in East Jaintia Hills, he said.

On day 19, a joint search and rescue operation involving the Navy, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Coal India Ltd and the Odisha Fire Service is running against time in looking for survivors, amid concerns that foul smell inside the mine reported by NDRF divers last week could be of decomposed bodies.


The NGT banned coal mining in Meghalaya in 2014

The incident also raises serious questions about unchecked coal mining in Meghalaya right under the government’s nose even after the National Green Tribunal banned it in 2014, environment activists and scientists say.

Freshly cut blocks of coal being carried on the back of open trucks are often seen running on the state’s highways.

NDTV found that some freshly cut coal stocks were being loaded onto trucks from a new rat-hole mine in the same district where the rescue operations are going on. Across East Jaintia Hills, cranes and freshly mined coal left behind by miners are a common sight. The area is dotted with palatial bungalows of local coal barons.

Activists say the powerful coal mafia is taking advantage of a concession the NGT made of allowing old coal already extracted before 2014 to be transported.

“In 2014, the coal lobby and the state government appealed to the NGT that they should be allowed to transport 600 tonnes of already extracted coal. These are freshly cut coal,” said Hasina Kharbhih, an environment activist from state capital Shillong whose non-profit Impulse NGO Network petitioned the NGT along with the the Dimasa Students Union Dima Hasao disrtrict committee against rat-hole mining.

Meghalaya has an estimated 5,000 illegal rat-hole mines, mostly in East Jaintia hills. After coal mining was banned in 2014, there was a slowdown in economic activities by 70 per cent.

With few migrant labourers left in the area, traders say their businesses have been hit as well. “What would migrants do? They have to live, so they go for illegal mining, get some money,” said Manoj Kumar Mishra, a Bihar resident who has been selling cloth at Khleriat, the headquarters of East Jaintia Hills, since 1995. He said coal mining was rampant between 2002 and 2014.

The Meghalaya government has admitted it failed to check illegal coal mining despite the NGT’s ban.