China wows the world with commerce, trade leaps over 70 years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS)

 

China wows the world with commerce, trade leaps over 70 years: official

SHINE

70 Years On

China has made solid development in commerce and trade during the past seven decades, impressing the world with investment, consumption and foreign trade hikes.

China is now the world’s second-largest consumer market, with its retail sales of consumer goods at around 38 trillion yuan (US$5.4 trillion) in 2018, up from 27.7 billion yuan in 1952, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan told a press conference Sunday.

Compared to US$1.13 billion in 1950, China’s foreign trade volume in 2018 topped the world at a whopping US$4.6 trillion, among which US$2 trillion came from imports, said Zhong.

As an increasingly favorable destination for foreign investment, China came in second in the world with US$138.3 billion in foreign direct investment in 2018, with 960,000 foreign-invested companies by the end of last year.

China’s outbound direct investment also snowballed over the past decades to rank second worldwide at US$143 billion in 2018, contributing to the economic growth of local communities around the world, Zhong said.

Trump Orders U.S. Companies Out Of China?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

BIARRITZ, France — President Trump asserted on Saturday that he has the authority to make good on his threat to force all American businesses to leave China, citing a national security law that has been used mainly to target terrorists, drug traffickers and pariah states like Iran, Syria and North Korea.

As he arrived in France for the annual meeting of the Group of 7 powers, Mr. Trump posted a message on Twitter citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 — a law meant to enable a president to isolate criminal regimes but not intended to be used to cut off economic ties with a major trading partner because of a disagreement over tariffs.

“For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Case closed!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!

35.2K people are talking about this

The president’s tweet could further unsettle American companies that still conduct an enormous amount of business with China amid a trade war that has already strained ties. Stock markets fell sharply on Friday after Mr. Trump first raised the prospect of cutting off trade altogether.

The threat came after the Chinese government said it would raise tariffs on American goods in retaliation for the latest levies imposed by Mr. Trump on $300 billion in Chinese imports. Mr. Trump vowed hours later to raise tariffs further.

Under the weight of Mr. Trump’s tariff war, China has already fallen from America’s largest trading partner last year to the third largest this year.

China’s commerce ministry issued a strongly worded statement on Saturday evening warning the United States to turn back from ever-escalating confrontation, but it did not threaten any new trade measures.

“This unilateral and bullying trade protectionism and extreme pressure violate the consensus of the heads of state of China and the United States, violate the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, seriously undermine the multilateral trading system and the normal international trade order,” the Chinese statement said.

China warned that the United States would suffer as a result.

“The Chinese side strongly urges the U.S. side not to misjudge the situation, not to underestimate the determination of the Chinese people, and immediately stop the wrong approach, otherwise all consequences will be borne by the U.S.,” the statement added.

In raising the possibility of forcing American businesses to pull out of China on Friday, Mr. Trump framed it not as a request but as an order he had already issued.

Image
Credit Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” he wrote on Twitter, adding, “We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them.”

In fact, aides said, no order has been drawn up nor was it clear that he would attempt to do so. Instead, it could be the latest negotiating tactic by a president who favors drastic threats without always following through on them in hopes of forcing partners to make concessions.

Andy Mok, a trade and geopolitics analyst at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, said that the Chinese government was coolly assessing the latest American actions.

“In negotiations, and especially in high-stakes negotiations, the side that reacts emotionally generally is the side that does not do well,” he said. “The U.S. side is approaching this from a more emotional side, while China is more calm and calculating.”

Mr. Trump’s threat to invoke the 1977 act to force companies to leave China would be his most recent unorthodox use of authorities that Congress delegated to the presidency for exigent circumstances.

The president previously threatened to use emergency powers to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, unless the Mexican government did more to stop migrants from illegally entering the United States. He backed off after Mexico promised to take tougher action.

His effort to use emergency powers could also be challenged in court, given the restrictions surrounding when it can be invoked.

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act says that if the president decides that circumstances abroad have created “any unusual and extraordinary threat” to “the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States,” the president can declare a “national emergency.” This triggers special authority for the leader to regulate “any transactions in foreign exchange” by Americans.

The law was passed to define and restrain presidential power, which until then had been seen by critics as interpreted too expansively. It has served ever since as the main source of authority for presidents to sanction other countries or individuals in response to specific national security threats, such as the Iranian hostage crisis that began in 1979.

As of March 1, presidents had declared 54 national emergencies under the law, of which 29 were still active, according to the Congressional Research Service. Among others, presidents have used it to target international terrorists, drug kingpins, human rights abusers, cyber attackers, illegal arms proliferators, and multinational criminal organizations.

Presidents relied on the law’s authority when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, when Serbia sent troops into Kosovo in 1998 and when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Among the countries targeted at various points over the years have been international outliers like North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Congo and Venezuela.

Seeking to use it in a trade dispute with a country like China would be a drastic departure from its history. But Mr. Trump could make the argument that China’s theft of intellectual property constitutes a national security threat akin to cyber attacks or other nonviolent attacks on American sovereignty.

Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Mr. Trump came to office criticizing President Barack Obama for abusing his executive authority but has himself asserted new and creative ways of taking action that his predecessors never used.

Among other things, he invoked a related national emergency law to finance parts of his proposed wall along the Mexican border even though Congress explicitly refused to authorize the money. So far, Mr. Trump has successfully rebuffed legal challenges to that decision.

Speaking with reporters before leaving Washington for France, Mr. Trump made clear how much of a priority his trade war with China has become for his presidency.

“This is more important than anything else that we’re working on, just about,” he said.

But he brushed off the stock market drop in reaction to his statements on Friday, saying he was “not at all” responsible and, besides, the markets had gone up substantially since he took office.

“So don’t talk to me about 600 points,” he said, minimizing the drop in the Dow Jones industrial average.

Mr. Trump’s meetings in Biarritz could be tense given the economic uncertainty and his many policy differences with his global counterparts. The American president has become such a dissenter from the international consensus that President Emmanuel Macron of France, the host, has decided even not to bother trying to craft a single joint statement for the first time in the history of the summit.

“This is another G7 summit which will be a difficult test of unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Union, told reporters in Brussels.

“There is still no certainty whether the group will be able to find common solutions, and the global challenges are today really serious, or whether to focus on senseless disputes among each other.”

He warned against further economic conflict.

“Trade deals and the reform of the W.T.O. are better than trade wars,” he said, referring to the World Trade Organization. “Trade wars will lead to recession while trade deals will boost the economy.”

After landing in Biarritz, Mr. Trump had lunch with Mr. Macron and the two put on a friendly show for reporters.

“We will be allies, friends,” Mr. Macron said.

Mr. Trump insisted that he and Mr. Macron “actually have a lot in common” and “have been friends a long time.”

“Once in a while we go at it just a little bit,” he added, “not very much.”

Reporting was contributed by Michael D. Shear from Biarritz, Keith Bradsher from Shanghai and Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt.

China stops buying US farm products

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China stops buying US farm products

Shine

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday that Chinese companies have stopped buying US agricultural products, and that China will not rule out imposing import tariffs on US farm products that were bought after August 3.

“Related Chinese companies have suspended purchases of US agricultural products,” the ministry said in an online statement posted shortly after midnight in Beijing on Tuesday.

The statement said China hoped the United States would keep its promises and create the “necessary conditions” for bilateral cooperation.

US President Donald Trump said last Thursday that China had not fulfilled a promise to buy large volumes of US farm products and vowed to impose new tariffs on around US$300 billion of Chinese goods, abruptly ending the China-US trade truce.

In response to the US accusations, an official with the China’s top economic planning agency said “such accusations are groundless.”

Cong Liang, secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, said from the conclusion of the Osaka meeting to the end of July, a total of 2.27 million tons of US soybeans were newly shipped to China, and another 2 million tons of soybeans are expected to be loaded in August.

Since July 19, Chinese companies have made inquiries about purchasing US soybeans, sorghum, wheat, corn, cotton, dairy products, hay, ethyl alcohol, soybean oil, wine, beer, fresh and processed fruits and other agricultural products.

By the evening of August 2, a number of deals had been concluded, including 130,000 tons of soybeans, 120,000 tons of sorghum, 60,000 tons of wheat and 40,000 tons of pork and pork products, Cong said.

“China and the United States are highly complementary in the agricultural sector and the trade of agricultural products is in line with the mutual interests of both sides,” said Cong.

Cong said the reason that some US products, including ethyl alcohol and corn, failed to clinch a deal in the Chinese market is because their prices are less competitive.

“We hope the United States will do more to clear obstacles and create conditions for China’s purchase of US agricultural products,” said Cong.

Shopping in Australia, while in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC NEWS NETWORK AND THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Shopping in Australia, while in China

  • 24 October 2016
  • From the section Business
Media caption Phil Mercer reports from Sydney on the booming business of “freelance exporting”

In Sydney, a multi-million dollar export industry starts with a simple trip to the shops.

Laden with plastic bags that are almost too heavy to carry, we meet Rika Wenjing, a 24-year-old accountancy graduate from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

She labours with tins of infant food, supplements and skin lotions from a discount chemist to sell to customers back home in China.

Rika has worked part-time for the past two years as a daigou, a freelance retail consultant.

Rika Wenjing in a vineyardImage copyright RIKA WENJING
Image caption  Wenjing started working as a daigou while she was a student

She is glued to her phone and tablet, using the messaging app WeChat to build a network of 300 clients who aren’t afraid to pay premium prices for trustworthy Australian goods.

“In the beginning I just had my friends and my aunty to buy baby formula or unique brands from Australia, like Ugg boots. Then I wanted to build a platform to show more products to them,” she told the BBC. “I don’t want just to earn money, I want to provide products to my friends.”

A display of ugg bootsImage copyright  IMAGES
Image caption  boots are popular with Chinese shoppers

In Australia, it’s estimated there are 40,000 daigou, which means “on behalf of” in Mandarin.

The online shopping agents are almost exclusively from mainland China, and are young migrants or international students looking for flexible ways to help cover their rent and university fees.

The epicentre of the trade is in Sydney, a city with a growing Chinese community and frequent direct flights to China, which makes doing business quicker and smoother.

Earlier this year, Beijing tightened regulations on cross-border online shopping, but there is still money to be made, especially in baby milk formula, known as “white gold”.
Shoppers in China cannot always find the brands of baby milk formula they want locally

In 2008, at least half a dozen children died and as many as 300,000 fell ill in China after consuming milk products contaminated by melamine, a chemical used in plastics and adhesives. Since then, imported milk has become highly prized by sections of China’s affluent and health-conscious middle classes.

“Everyone cannot buy the good quality or the reliable formula in China, so they want to buy from Australia. Maybe it is more expensive, they don’t care [about] the price but they do care about the quality,” Rika explains.

At the height of a boom last year in demand in China for milk formula, a buying surge from daigou attracted criticism in sections of the Australian media for leaving domestic shoppers empty-handed. As demand peaked last year some shops limited the amount of formula customers could buy

Daigou came to prominence in Europe by shipping luxury goods such as Gucci handbags to China. In Australia, the trade revolves around everyday items including food, beauty products, wine and clothes.

“There are smaller daigou, so mum doing a home business and ship the product to China. There are also those which open up their own shop and try to do a bigger-scale business,” says Benjamin Sun, the co-founder of Think China, a digital marketing company in Sydney.

“Some of the daigou… establish their own logistics, own e-commerce website and try to formally distribute the products. It is all about trust, that is what daigou is doing – building trust between their clients. They are small but they are a lot of people. If you add them together, they are huge.”

Benjamin SunImage copyright BENJAMIN SUN
Image caption Benjamin Sun says the work of a daigou is all about building trust with clients

Daigou typically charge premiums of about 50% above the retail price in Australia. But even allowing for transport fees, buyers in China invariably pay much less for the same product in a local shop – assuming it is available.

The industry with its home-spun roots does have its challenges. Customers must be convinced the goods they receive are genuine, and not fake, and that the supplier is reliable.

Consultants often live stream their visits to supermarkets and chemists to prove the authenticity of the goods they send. It is an industry founded on trust.

In the Sydney suburb of Yagoona, Bob Sun, originally from the city of Dalian but now studying accountancy at Macquarie University, is renting a warehouse with three Chinese friends for their expanding business.

They pack their products – again mostly milk powder, vitamins and skin creams – with Australian magazines to help prove their provenance.

“The income from daigou is reasonable compared to other working opportunities like working in a restaurant and that sort of thing. The profit is really enough to cover your rent. It is easy to do that,” the 24-year-old student told the BBC.

“The biggest reason for me to do daigou is to not work in some company or to work in a restaurant. It is flexible.”

These freelance exporters have created thousands of trading routes both small and big into China, a market that can be almost impenetrable for some Australian companies, and others from New Zealand. Increasingly firms are collaborating with specialist consultants to harness their contacts and expertise.

“We think daigou are good for both the local economy… and they are very good for our business,” says Peter Nathan, chief executive of A2 Milk, a New Zealand baby formula manufacturer that also operates in Australia.

“We clearly believe they are a positive force and it’s fair to say that it is something we are accessing.”