CHINA yesterday expressed the hope for smooth progress in negotiations on free trade zone with Japan and South Korea.
The 15th round of negotiations on China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Zone is being held in Tokyo from Tuesday to today, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said yesterday, expecting positive results that will lay a solid foundation for a comprehensive, high-level and mutually beneficial agreement.
Since the seventh China-Japan-South Korea leaders’ meeting in May, cooperation among the three countries has steadily advanced and has shown a good momentum of development, Lu said.
China, Japan and South Korea have firmly stood for free trade and actively promoted regional economic integration. This round of FTZ negotiations shows the common resolve of the three countries to maintain the multilateral trading system and oppose protectionism and unilateralism, he added.
Noting this year marks the 20th anniversary of the China-Japan-South Korea cooperation, Lu said the three countries are facing new development opportunities.
As the chairman of China-Japan-South Korea cooperation in 2019, China is willing to work with Japan and South Korea to successfully hold a series of important meetings and activities including the leaders’ meeting, open a new chapter in cooperation of the three countries at a new historical starting point, and open up a new dimension in East Asian cooperation, said the spokesman.
CHINA’S Ministry of Commerce will push forward the formation of more replicable practices in the country’s free trade zones, a ministry spokesman said yesterday.
“Currently, the ministry has sorted out a new batch of experiences from pilot FTZs, which will be released to the public at a proper time,” spokesman Gao Feng said at a press conference.
Since the first pilot FTZ was established in Shanghai in 2013, China has set up 12 pilot FTZs nationwide, resulting in a total of 153 successful practices that have been replicated in other parts of the country.
Such practices have played a positive role in lightening the corporate burden, stimulating the vitality of market entities, optimizing the business environment and sharing the benefits from reform and opening-up, Gao said.
The ministry is also working with Shanghai on the planning for a new area of the Shanghai FTZ, he added.
THE US stock market has closely followed developments of China-US trade talks, and investors and traders have priced in the fact that the dispute would be cracked step by step, veteran analysts have said.
However, although Wall Street rallies on “each little bit of headway” the two sides make, “we’ve come to grip with the fact that this is not going to be over in one day,” cautioned Matthew Cheslock, a veteran trader at the New York Stock Exchange.
Since last year, US-China trade issues have been a key influencer on the three major US indexes, with investors keeping a close eye on the world’s two largest economies.
“With all the discussions about what is moving the market, the China story ... is one of the most significant things affecting the market over the last year,” said Peter Tuchman, a senior trader at Quattro Securities.
He noted that individual stocks that have big Chinese exposure, such as US industrial manufacturing giant Caterpillar, are the so-called “big market movers,” which respond instantly to news regarding China-US trade talks. For example, US stocks extended gains last week, buoyed by investor optimism thanks to fresh progress made in the ninth round of US-China trade talks in Washington.
The two sides have discussed the agreement text on a series of subjects and achieved new progress, and decided to continue consultations through various effective means.
“Over the last six months, we’ve seen the market go up and down all around the information that we get. How much tariffs are gonna be?” said Tuchman. “How are things going to go forward?”
To many Wall Street observers, market participants are optimistic on the outlook for China-US bilateral talks, but also aware of the obvious uncertainty, which calls for caution.
“I think there’s going to be enough anticipation about people expecting a positive result. That’s why the markets have acted like they will,” said Cheslock, who is with Virtu Financial, a US high-frequency trading firm.
“But it’s not gonna happen in one day,” he added. “We’re gonna get this (in) little bits and pieces. But it’s important that they keep discussing and keep getting this negotiation done.”
Such cautious optimism was echoed by Mark Otto, an experienced trader at US electronic market maker GTS. “The market is telling us that it anticipates a positive outcome from the trade negotiations between China and the US,” he said. “There’s possibility that extended timelines would be needed regarding sensitive areas of discussion.”
Tuchman struck a more cautious tone, saying that the narrative on China-US trade talks have changed many times since October, making it hard to predict what is being etched in stone. “The discussion and the narrative with the White House that we have now are very indecisive,” he said. “So the discussion changes on a day-to-day basis, and the market responds accordingly.”
In a March report titled “The impact of the 2018 trade war on US prices and welfare,” economists from Columbia University, Princeton University and the New York Federal Reserve found that US consumers have borne the brunt. “The full incidence of the tariff falls on domestic consumers, with a reduction in US real income of US$1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018,” the economists said.
US consumer prices increased by the most in more than a year in March, but underlying inflation remained benign against the backdrop of slowing domestic and global economic growth.The Labor Department said yesterday its Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent, boosted by increases in the costs of food, gasoline and rents. That was the biggest advance since January 2018 and followed a 0.2 percent gain in February.In the 12 months through March, the CPI increased 1.9 percent. The CPI gained 1.5 percent in February, which was the smallest rise since September 2016. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the CPI climbing 0.3 percent in March and accelerating 1.8 percent year on year.Inflation has remained muted, with wage growth increasing moderately despite tightening labor market conditions. The tame inflation environment, together with slowing economic activity, support the Federal Reserve’s decision last month to suspend its three-year campaign to raise interest rates.The US central bank dropped projections for any rate hikes this year after increasing borrowing costs four times in 2018.Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI nudged up 0.1 percent, matching February’s gain.In the 12 months through March, the core CPI increased 2.0 percent, the smallest increase since February 2018. The core CPI rose 2.1 percent year on year in February.The Fed, which has a 2 percent inflation target, tracks a different measure, the core personal consumption expenditures price index, for monetary policy.The core PCE index increased 1.8 percent on a year-on-year basis in January after a rising 2.0 percent in December. It hit the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target in March last year for the first time since April 2012.The February and March PCE price data will be released on April 29. The February data was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on January 25.Energy prices jumped 3.5 percent in March, accounting for about 60 percent of the increase in the CPI last month, after gaining 0.4 percent in February. Gasoline prices surged 6.5 percent after rising 1.5 percent in February.Food prices gained 0.3 percent after accelerating 0.4 percent in February. Food consumed at home increased 0.4 percent. Consumers also paid more for rent. Owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, which is what a homeowner would pay to rent or receive from renting a home, increased 0.3 percent in March after a similar gain in February.Health-care costs rebounded 0.3 percent after slipping 0.2 percent in February. Apparel prices fell 1.9 percent, the biggest drop since January 1949, after two straight monthly gains. There were decreases in the price of used motor vehicles and trucks, airline fares and motor vehicle insurance.
Frenchman Guillaume Faury took over as CEO of European aerospace giant Airbus yesterday, looking to benefit from the current troubles of rival Boeing and limit potential disruption from Brexit and US President Donald Trump’s trade threats.The 51-year-old replaced Tom Enders, who is stepping down after five years leading the France-based group whose 129,000 employees manufacture airliners, helicopters and satellites.Enders oversaw further expansion of the group, but his rein was clouded by a recent decision to scrap the loss-making A380 super-jumbo range of planes as well as multiple probes into suspect payments.The German’s retirement package — worth 37 million euros (US$41 million) including pension and stocks — has sparked controversy in France and a pledge from the government that it will legislate to limit huge corporate payoffs.Faury will inherit a financially sound, highly profitable business with an order book of 7,350 passenger planes, which would be enough to keep factories running for a decade at current production rates.Analysts see Airbus as having an opportunity to profit from the booming airline market, particularly in Asia, and from the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX plane after two recent deadly crashes involving the popular new airliner.“They simply need to use this window of Boeing weakness to hoover up orders in Asia, if they can,” said aerospace analyst Neil Wilson at Markets.com, an online financial trading platform.According to industry body IATA, Asia will account for most of growth in the industry over the next 20 years, with more than half of the new passenger traffic coming from the region.But Faury will also have several tricky issues in his inbox, including handling the fall-out from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which threatens to disrupt the company’s long and complicated supply chains.“Brexit could well mean a complete rethink of long-term manufacturing strategy for Airbus and brave decisions may need to be made unless a satisfactory outcome can be agreed by UK and Brussels,” said independent aviation analyst Howard Wheeldon.The US is another source of worry after Trump lashed out again at the EU this week, vowing to impose fresh tariffs over Airbus subsidies.
A NEW market service center for high-tech companies in the Yangtze River Delta region officially started operations yesterday.The center, established in November in the Pudong New Area, is an incubator aimed at helping emerging tech startups in the region go public on a new local science and technology innovation board.Since its establishment, the center has organized talks and seminars to assess science and innovation enterprises in the delta, including their plans to go public.For those qualified to list on the new board, which has simpler requirements than the main exchange, the center offers a range of services related to listing, equity investment, financing, fundraising and risk management.So far, 57 companies have applied to list on the board, which has not set a launch date. The board will be managed by the Shanghai Stock Exchange.Twelve cities in the delta from Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces, as well as a number of legal and accounting firms, have signed agreements to participate in the center.
Chinese stocks closed mixed again yesterday with the three major indexes continuing to correct.The Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.07 percent to 3,241.93 points.The Shenzhen Component Index slipped 0.01 percent to finish at 10,435.08 points. The ChiNext fell 0.83 percent to 1,726.64 points.Turnover on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses rebounded moderately to 899 billion yuan (US$133.76 billion) from Tuesday’s 840 billion yuan.Consumption-related industries including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and liquor firms were among the day’s major gainers as the government cuts taxes and fees to boost consumer spending.Jiangsu Lianhuan Pharmaceutical Co, Hunan Jiudian Pharmaceutical Co and Chongqing Fuan Pharmaceutical Co were among the stocks that hit the 10 percent daily cap. Luzhou Laojiao and Kweichow Moutai Co jumped 5.23 percent and 4.75 percent — with the latter staying above 900 yuan for the third day.Automakers recorded the strongest performance, gaining 3.58 percent. Everbright Securities says market momentum is expected to remain at the current high level with optimism among investors continuing for some time.
Venezuela’s oil output sank to a new long-term low last month due to US sanctions and blackouts, the country told OPEC, deepening the impact of a global production curb and further tightening supplies.Supply cuts by OPEC and partners led by Russia, plus involuntary reductions in Venezuela and Iran, have helped drive a 32 percent rally in crude prices this year, prompting pressure from US President Donald Trump for the group to ease its market-supporting efforts. In a monthly report released yesterday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said Venezuela told the group that it pumped 960,000 barrels per day in March, a drop of almost 500,000 bpd from February.The figures could add to a debate within the so-called OPEC+ group of producers on whether to maintain oil supply cuts beyond June.A Russian official indicated this week Moscow wanted to pump more, although OPEC has been saying the curbs must remain.OPEC, Russia and other non-member producers are reducing output by 1.2 million bpd for six months from January 1. The producers are due to meet on June 25-26 to decide whether to extend the reduction.One of the key Russian officials to foster the pact with OPEC, Kirill Dmitriev, signalled on Monday that Russia wanted to raise output when it meets OPEC in June because of improving market conditions and falling stockpiles. OPEC+ returned to supply cuts in 2019 out of concern that slowing economic growth and demand would lead to a new supply glut. OPEC’s report lowered its estimate of global growth in demand by 30,000 bpd to 1.21 million bpd, citing a slowdown in developed economies.In a development that will ease OPEC concern about a new supply glut, the report also said oil inventories in developed economies fell in February,.
Volkswagen AG is exploring purchasing a big stake in its Chinese electric vehicle joint venture partner, JAC Motors, and has tapped Goldman Sachs as an adviser on the plan, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.The move by VW, the largest foreign automaker in China, to buy into Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motors) is the latest by foreign automakers to boost ownership in the world’s biggest car market since China relaxed rules last year.Rival German automaker BMW agreed in October to buy control of its main joint venture in the country for 3.6 billion euros (US$4.05 billion). And Daimler AG also plans to increase its stake in local partner BAIC Motor.The stake purchase shows that JAC would be a key player in VW’s big global bet on EVs and on strong Chinese demand for such vehicles. VW plans to shift a large part of its planned EV production in China to JAC if it ends up getting control of JAC, said one of the sources.Foreigners were previously prevented from controlling any Chinese automaker or joint venture. China last year removed such caps for firms making fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Limits on commercial vehicle makers ease in 2020 and by 2022 for the wider car market.VW, which has a market capitalization of nearly US$85 billion, does not currently own shares in Shanghai-listed JAC, which has a market value of more than US$1.7 billion, according to Refinitiv data.The German car giant’s plans are at an early stage but it is keen to take a big stake, said three of the people. Two of them said it will seek to buy shares from JAC’s major shareholders, which, Refinitiv data showed, are mainly state-backed firms owning over 40 percent.JAC’s parent, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holding, holds a 24 percent stake and is fully controlled by the local government.“We are carefully watching what the implications are for our business and for our joint venture partners,” VW said.“In this regard we will explore all possible options together with all stakeholders to secure long-term success in China.”JAC and its parent didn’t respond to requests for comment. Goldman declined to comment. The sources declined to be identified as the matter was confidential.JAC is trading at a price-to-book ratio of 0.93, which means VW would have to pay a premium for shares since JAC’s state shareholders cannot sell shares for less than their book value.The Chinese automaker’s shares jumped and hit the daily 10 percent maximum increase limit yesterday. VW shares were slightly lower in early trading.“The news shows the bargaining power of companies like JAC and BAIC is stronger, and Volkswagen’s and Daimler’s determination to cooperate with Chinese partners in the long-term is also firm,” said Patrick Yuan, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Jefferies.Wolfsburg-based VW delivered 4.21 million cars on Chinese mainland and Hong Kong last year.It has operated in China for decades. Besides JAC, it has joint ventures with state-owned FAW Group and SAIC Motor.
French retailer Carrefour is teaming up with Gome Retail Holdings in a deal that will see the latter open “shops-within-shops” in more than 200 Carrefour hypermarkets in China by the end of July, according to a joint statement.Gome’s offerings in Carrefour stores will include bestselling home appliances, smart devices and other consumer electronics.Thierry Garnier, president of Carrefour Asia, told reporters yesterday that the partnership is expected to enhance its new business and the company will continue to experiment with innovations for the local market.“We will keep an open mindset and will be seeking more collaborators in areas where other players have more capability and expertise while we stay focused on the food and fresh goods categories,” he said. Gome will specialize in big-ticket appliance and consumer electronics, logistics and customer services while Carrefour will add in product promotion and marketing.
Two out of three hotel websites inadvertently leak guests’ booking details and personal data to third-party sites, including advertisers and analytics companies, according to Symantec Corp.The study released yesterday, which looked at more than 1,500 hotel websites in 54 countries and regions that ranged from two-star to five-star properties, comes several months after Marriott International disclosed one of the worst data breaches in history. Marriott was not included in the study.Compromised personal information includes full names, e-mail addresses, credit card details and passport numbers that could be used by cybercriminals who are increasingly interested in the movements of influential business professionals and government employees.“While it’s no secret that advertisers are tracking users’ browsing habits, in this case the information shared could allow these third-party services to log into a reservation, view personal details and even cancel the booking altogether,” said Candid Wueest, the primary researcher on the study.The research showed compromises usually occur when a hotel site sends confirmation e-mails with a link that has direct booking information. The reference code attached to the link could be shared with more than 30 different service providers, including social networks, search engines and advertising and analytics services.Wueest said 25 percent of data privacy officers at the affected hotel sites did not reply within six weeks when notified of the issue, and those who did took an average of 10 days.
Let’s say, an older man suddenly feels dizzy in a Shanghai stadium. His vital signs are automatically reported to a medical organization and, if necessary, the stadium’s management can locate him and ask for an ambulance to be dispatched. While being transported, the patient’s medical data can be accessed and a real-time video activated through next-generation mobile networks. Surgical facilities can be set up, and the patient’s family is involved online in any decision-making.This is the medical care of the future, as envisioned by Shanghai General Hospital and China Mobile, which recently announced a partnership on the new technology.“Patient information transmission and communication betweem ambulance doctor and hospital can be seamlessly conducted on 5G,” said Zheng Xingdong, president of Shanghai General Hospital.China’s first 5G trial was held at the end of last month in Shanghai. It has 1 gigabyte broadband, among the fastest Internet in the world. The next-generation mobile technology offers 20 to 50 times mobile Internet access. Shanghai has accelerated its pace of development and testing of 5G services covering medical, industrial, manufacturing and entertainment applications. According to the hospital and Shanghai Mobile, 5G may be the deciding factor between life and death. The duo has announced plans to establish a 5G technology-based treatment center.The faster connection is “gold time” in emergency medical treatment. For example, a patient’s heart and brain could be forever damaged by more than an 8-minute lapse in treatment of urgent cerebral-cardio vascular diseases like stroke and heart attack.The new technology can greatly improve the efficacy of first aid, in-hospital services and follow-up treatment management. In addition to saving time and providing timely data, 5G also can streamline the use of artificial intelligence and augmented reality technologies in hospitals, the partners said. In a stadium in the Hongkou District last month, Shanghai Vice Mayor Wu Qing made the first 5G video call. The city’s trial is also testing various 5G applications, from industry and sports to those who help government authorities carry out their work.After the trial, the city will roll out 10,000 5G stations in some industrial zones and other trial areas, when China begins issuing 5G licenses. The vastly faster speed it brings is expected to be a dramatic boost for industry and consumers — for everything from health care and manufacturing to smart driving, high-definition streaming and urban management, according to the Shanghai Economic and Informatization Commission. By 2021, Shanghai is forecast to have 30,000 5G stations, with the commission as the local industry regulator.5G brings a totally new meaning for ultra-high-definition video transmission, with a high speed and mobility features. It brings market opportunities to firms like the Shanghai Uhdvision Technology Co, a local startup producing HD video cameras and related software. The company has upgraded technologies and products to make devices that support 5G networks, said Zhao Weishi, general manager of Uhdvision.Shanghai will support 100 5G-related innovation companies such as Uhdvision to boost the development and ecosystem of the new technology, said the commission.Various 5G applications are being demonstrated in Shanghai, covering electronics manufacturing and urban management. Consumers will one day have access to the network with their current SIM card and number. But they will have to buy new 5G phones, which are expected to stimulate the saturated smartphone market in China. The new 5G medical center will connect 40 hospitals in the Yangtze River Delta for long-distance surgery education services, said the local hospital.
Rising consumer credit in China has increased the number of credit cards in circulation and also nudged up the bad loan ratio in the sector. Nationwide, China had an aggregate 686 million cards in use, including credit cards and debit cards. That figure rose nearly 17 percent last year, according to the People’s Bank of China, the nation’s central bank. Statistically, there was one bank card for every two people in China.The Agricultural Bank of China topped the list of newly issued credit cards, with 18 million last year. That ranked it first among the nation’s 13 listed major banks that have so far published their annual reports, said the MaDai Institute, a Shanghai-based wealth management research body. The report covered China’s top six state-owned lenders and seven joint-stock commercial banks. China CITIC Bank, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and several other institutions reported credit card issuance exceeding 1 million in 2018, the report said.In terms of cumulative numbers, the Big Four lenders dominated the market. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had 151 million cards issued at the end of 2018, followed by China Construction Bank with 121 million. Bank of China had 110 million cards, and Agricultural Bank 103 million. China Merchants Bank, a pioneer in the credit card business and Ping An Bank, which is betting big on the lucrative segment, said their credit cards in circulation stood at 84.3 million and 51.5 million, respectively. The research firm noted that smaller competitors, such as Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, China Everbright Bank and China CITIC Bank, are catching up fast, with their businesses growing at over 30 percent year on year. In terms of credit-card transactions, Shenzhen-based China Merchants Bank, which specializes in retail banking, came in first, with its credit-card holders charging 379 million yuan (US$56.4 million), followed by Bank of Communications at 307 million yuan. Booming with risksMeanwhile, the overdraft balance of credit cards of both the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank exceeded 600 billion yuan. China Merchants Bank and Bank of Communications both exceeded 500 billion yuan, according to the MaDai Institute’s study. For many of the banks, the overdraft balance accounted for more than 30 percent of loans extended to individuals. At two Beijing-based joint-stock banks, China Everbright Bank’s balance accounted for 38 percent of loans, while China Minsheng Bank came in at 32 percent.China Zheshang Bank, which ranked last in terms of card issuance and overdraft balance, recorded a much faster expansion rate than the other banks. The Hangzhou-based lender’s credit-card usage jumped 176 percent last year, while its overdraft balance rose 165 percent. A central bank report said the overall credit extended through bank cards jumped by nearly a quarter last year to 15.4 trillion yuan.However, the booming credit card sector is not without risks. Excessive credit limits and consumers borrowing from multiple sources contributed to a soaring non-performing loan rate.China Minsheng Bank’s credit card bad loan ratio rose to 2.15 percent in 2018, while CITIC Bank’s rose to 1.85 and Pudong Bank’s increased to 1.81 percent.The MaDai Institute said the rising bad loan ratio didn’t just happen overnight. Some joint-stock banks, it noted, have adopted aggressive development strategies in the past two years in an effort to grab a larger share of the market.As risk-control policies loosened, customers with poorer credit records gained access to credit cards. To address the problem, some banks have pared back lines of credit and tightened limits on riskier cardholders. Several established players have slowed their rate of expansion. One of them, the Industrial and Commercial Bank, added only 8 million new credit cards in 2018.The MaDai Institute predicted that China’s credit card market will continue to expand this year, but at a slower pace. To keep credit-card business sustainable, the report advises banks to strengthen use of financial technologies and improve operational efficiency.
Chinese stocks closed mixed yesterday with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index falling for a second day, but Shenzhen rising.The index dipped 0.16 percent to 3,239.66 points after touching an intraday low of 3,215.70. The Shenzhen Component Index rose 0.82 percent to 10,436.62 points. The ChiNext finished 0.09 percent higher at 1,741.17 points.Turnover for Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses shrank to around 840 billion yuan (US$125 billion) from Monday’s 1.07 trillion yuan.Hotels, catering and telecommunications outperformed all other sectors to lead the day’s gainers on the Shanghai bourse, both gaining 2.2 percent.Xi’an Catering Co jumped 5.67 percent to 6.71 yuan, Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels Development Co gained 2.91 percent to close at 29.67 yuan, and Nanjing Panda Electronics Co surged by the daily 10 percent cap to 12.95 yuan. In contrast, chemical product makers, which were among Monday’s biggest winners, fell 2.08 percent.Real estate developers also registered a strong performance with a 1.9 percent overall increase. China Vanke Co, a leading home builder, jumped 6.15 percent to 33.48 yuan and China Fortune Land Development Co surged 8.73 percent to 34.14 yuan. Liquor-maker Kweichow Moutai finished above 900 yuan for a second day.While brokerage firms remain generally upbeat, Minsheng Securities analyst Yang Liu advised investors to look at banks, construction companies, petrochemical firms and automakers.
A DEFIANT Carlos Ghosn accused “backstabbing” former colleagues of conspiring to oust him as Nissan chairman and threatening the Japanese automaker’s future, in a video marking his first public address since his arrest last year.Prosecutors took the highly unusual step of re-arresting Ghosn last Thursday on fresh allegations that he used company funds to enrich himself by US$5 million. The once-feted executive, who had been out on US$9 million bail for 30 days, recorded the video the day before he went back to jail.In the video, shown to reporters by his lawyers in Tokyo, the former Nissan Motor Co chairman said he was the victim of selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between the automaker and French partner Renault.“This is not about greed or dictatorship, this is about a plot, this is about a conspiracy, this is about a backstabbing,” Ghosn said. “I am innocent of all the charges that have been brought against me,” he said, without explaining.Wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt, Ghosn sat at a desk as he looked into the camera and spoke in a calm voice. His hair appeared grayer and his face thinner than before his arrest in November.The video, and comments by his lawyer Junichiro Hironaka alleging harsh treatment by prosecutors against Ghosn and his wife, Carole, cast Ghosn as the victim of internal rivalries and a Japanese judicial system bent on forcing a confession.The seven-minute clip was, however, edited by his legal team to remove the names of people Ghosn accused of treachery due to legal concerns.The conspiracy, Ghosn said, was born out of fear that he would bring Nissan closer to Renault, also its top shareholder.“There was fear that the next step of the alliance in terms of convergence and in terms of moving toward a merger, would in a certain way threaten some people or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan,” he said.Ghosn also took aim at Nissan’s current management, blaming them for three profit warnings and a domestic scandal involving improper vehicle inspections since his departure as CEO in 2017.
The global number of ultra-wealthy people is predicted to increase by 22 percent to nearly 250,000 by 2023, with Asian markets seeing the third-largest growth, according to an annual wealth report released yesterday by global property consultancy Knight Frank.“Despite softening momentum in the region’s economy, growth prospects in Asia remain favorable in the medium term,” said Nicholas Holt, head of research for Asia-Pacific at Knight Frank. “While China’s economy is expected to slow, emerging markets such as India and the Philippines will deliver some of the strongest growth over the coming years.”In particular, India will lead with a 39 percent rise in the number of ultra-high-net-wealth individuals over the next five years. The Philippines is forecast to grow 38 percent and the Chinese mainland 35 percent.Ultra-high-net-worth individuals are those with US$30 million or more in net assets, excluding their main home.While the forecast for long-term wealth creation remains positive, the super-rich in the region seem less optimistic about growing their wealth in 2019 compared with their global counterparts.Factors including the uncertainty around US-China trade tensions, China’s economic slowdown and Brexit are dampening their sentiment for the next 12 months, said the report, citing a survey interviewing 600 private bankers and wealth advisers in the world.
The International Monetary Fund yesterday cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2019 and warned growth could slow further due to trade tensions and a potentially disorderly British exit from the European Union.In its third downgrade since October, the global lender said some major economies, including China and Germany, might need to take short-term action to prop up growth.The global lender said it still expects that a sharp slowdown in Europe and some emerging market economies will give way to a general re-acceleration in the second half of 2019.“However, the possibility of further downward revisions is high, and the balance of risks remains skewed to the downside.”The Fund said in its World Economic Outlook report for the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington this week.The global economy will likely grow 3.3 percent this year, its slowest expansion since 2016, the IMF said in a forecast that cut 0.2 percentage point from its January outlook.The projected growth rate for next year was unchanged at 3.6 percent.More than two-thirds of the expected slowdown in 2019 owes to trouble in rich nations.“In this context, avoiding policy missteps that could harm economic activity should be the main priority,” the IMF said.One potential misstep lies in Britain’s indecision over how to leave the European Union. Despite looming deadlines, London hasn’t decided how it will try to shield its economy during the exit process. The IMF’s new forecast assumes an orderly Brexit but the Fund said a chaotic process could shave more than 0.2 percentage points from global growth in 2019.The IMF said the Bank of England should be “cautious” on interest rate policy, an apparent tip to wait before hiking.Europe’s economic growth is already slowing substantially and it accounted for much of the reduction in the global growth forecast.Germany’s outlook suffered from weaker demand for its exports, softer consumer spending and new emissions standards which have depressed car sales.Germany may have to quickly turn to fiscal stimulus measures, the IMF said, also calling on the European Central Bank to keep stimulating the regional economy. The IMF also cut Japan’s growth outlook following a string of natural disasters.The US economy, while seen outperforming other rich nations, also got a downgrade on signs that a fiscal stimulus fueled by tax cuts was producing less activity than previously expected.The IMF said it supported the US Federal Reserve’s decision to pause its rate-hiking cycle, which the global lender said would support the US and world economies this year by easing financial conditions. The IMF raised its forecast for US growth in 2020 by a tenth of a percentage point to 1.9 percent.The Fund said it was slightly boosting its outlook for Chinese growth this year — to 6.3 percent — in part because it had expected an escalation in US-China trade tensions which did not materialize.
Orders for Saudi Aramco’s debut international bond topped US$100 billion yesterday, a record-breaking vote of market confidence for the oil giant which has faced investor concerns about government influence over the company.State-owned Aramco is expected to raise more than US$10 billion from the deal.The bond issue is seen as a gauge of potential investor interest in the Saudi company’s eventual initial public offering.Before the six-part bond deal was marketed on Monday, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said initial indications of interest for the paper were over US$30 billion.Demand appeared to be the largest ever for emerging markets bonds, fund managers said, surpassing orderbook value of more than US$52 billion for Qatar’s US$12 billion deal last year, US$67 billion for Saudi Arabia’s inaugural issue in 2016 and US$69 billion orders for Argentina’s US$16.5 billion trade that year.“Purely on figures, it is a fantastic credit,” said Damien Buchet, CIO of the EM Total Return Strategy, Finisterre Capital.“The thing is, they are part of Saudi Arabia, they are a government arm.“For equity investors this is always going to be an issue, more so than for bond investors.”The Aramco bond has attracted interest from a wide range of investors, as the oil producer’s vast profits would put its debt rating — if unconstrained by its sovereign links — in the same league as independent oil majors such as Exxon Mobil and Shell.But for some investors, Riyadh’s control over the oil giant is an issue as its state ownership means decisions will ultimately be for the benefit of the government rather than investors.“Aramco is more transparent, has stronger credit metrics and is on an improving ESG (environmental, social and governance) trajectory whereas the government is more complex,” said Mohieddine Kronfol, chief investment officer of Global Sukuk and MENA Fixed Income at Franklin Templeton Investments.
The United States wants to put tariffs on US$11.2 billion worth of EU goods — from airplanes to Gouda cheese and olives — to offset what it says are unfair European subsidies for plane maker Airbus.While the size of the tariffs is small compared with the hundreds of billions the US and China are taxing amid their trade tensions, it suggests a breakdown in talks with the European Union over trade at a time when the economy is already slowing sharply.The US and EU have been negotiating since last year about how to avoid tariffs that US President Donald Trump has wanted to impose to reduce a trade deficit with countries like Germany. But experts warn that tariffs lead to higher consumer prices in countries that impose them and can hurt overall economic growth.The US Trade Representative’s office released late Monday a list of EU products it would tax in anticipation of a ruling by the World Trade Organization this summer.The US in 2004 complained to the WTO, which sets the rules for trade and settles disputes, that the EU was providing unfair support to Airbus. The WTO ruled in May last year that the EU had in fact provided some illegal subsidies to Airbus, hurting US manufacturer Boeing.The US expects the WTO will say this northern summer that it can take countermeasures to offset the EU subsidies. It will now start a consultation with industry representatives on the list of EU goods it wants to tax so that it can have a ready list.“The EU has taken advantage of the US on trade for many years. It will soon stop!” Trump tweeted yesterday.The US move, while following international trade rules, appears to reflect broader US frustration at the slow pace of talks on trade with the EU.Trump in June last year imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum from the EU in a move that seems aimed at helping the US industry but has also raised costs for many businesses that import these products.The EU responded with tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros (US$3.4 billion) of US steel, agricultural and other products, from Harley Davidson bikes to orange juice.The US and the EU have since July been in talks to scale back the tariffs, with Trump holding out the bigger threat of slapping tariffs on European cars — a huge industry in the region — should the negotiations not yield a result. US officials have repeatedly expressed frustration at the slow pace of the talks.The EU responded yesterday to the US’ latest call for new tariffs by noting that it was based on its own estimate, not anything it had been awarded by the WTO. It also said the EU is preparing its own retaliation based on a separate WTO case, in which Boeing was found to have received illegal support from the state of Washington. It did not say how big that retaliation might be.The US attempt to tax Airbus jets comes just as Boeing is facing challenges over the global grounding of its 737 MAX.
Market observers are seeing more upside than expected in China’s economy with more signs of stabilizing in the first quarter and the consumption driver revving up.While official data including trade and inflation of March are yet to be released for this week, market sentiment has already been buoyed by positive indicators that are playing down concerns over uncertainties in the world’s second-largest economy.Snapshots of the January-February period pointed to a pickup in investment, stable consumer spending and optimized industrial structure, and more obvious recovery has been identified in March with steady factory and service sector activities.Consumption, a locomotive of China’s economic growth, is picked by many analysts as one of the bright spots of recovering fundamentals.Swiss global financial services company UBS said China’s consumption may stay more resilient than forecast as tax cuts, credit easing and confidence improving help to offset the not-so-strong headwinds of labor market weakness and property slowdown.“Personal income tax cuts and value-added tax cuts should be positive for consumption,” UBS economist Wang Tao said. “PIT cuts are expected to be over 300 billion yuan (US$44.6 billion) in 2019.”“Some of the VAT cuts should be passed through to consumers as final goods prices are lowered, and this can help encourage more demand,” he said. “Moreover, import tariffs and VAT have been lowered, including that for cross-border-e-commerce businesses, to reduce the price for domestic consumers.”The UBS said the improvement in domestic demand may have underpinned China’s import growth, predicting an improvement in import growth for March despite a high base last year.Investment banking firm CICC also believes there are reasons to become incrementally more optimistic on overall consumption growth in China, especially compared with last year.A marked downturn in retail sales may have spooked some market watchers, but worries for a continuous slowdown could be overblown.“Leading indicators point to a potential stabilization of nominal growth in China, which is supportive to overall discretionary consumption growth,” the CICC said.
The global Purchasing Managers’ Index for the manufacturing sector inched up in March, lifted by robust manufacturing activities in China and the United States, an official report said.The reading came in at 51.7 in March, up 0.2 points from February, according to data released by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing.Asia’s manufacturing PMI reversed a six-month downward trend to stand at 50.5, with the data for China rising 1.3 points to 50.5 in March, mainly due to growing orders and production.Meanwhile, the PMI index for America picked up 0.6 points to 54.5, boosted by the continued rally of US manufacturing activities.Australia and Africa both saw their manufacturing activity expand at a slower pace — 51 and 50.7. But the PMI reading for Europe suffered a four-month losing streak and fell below the 50-point boom-bust line to 49.9, extending intensified downward pressure.The global economy will be unlikely to see a rapid decline, partly as major economies are slowing their pace of raising interest rates.
China will lower the tax rates on a range of goods brought or mailed by individuals into the country, including food, medicines, textiles and information technology products, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council announced yesterday.From today, the tax on inbound articles included on the No. 1 taxable item list, which includes books, computers, food, furniture and medicines, will be reduced to 13 percent from the previous 15 percent, the commission said in an online statement.Some medicines subject to a 3-percent import value-added tax, including anti-cancer drugs and medicines for rare diseases, will enjoy favorable tax rate. The rate on No. 2 items, including some sporting goods, textiles and electronic appliances, will be cut to 20 percent from 25 percent. The move was aimed at expanding imports and boosting domestic consumption.
Korean Air’s chairman, whose leadership included scandals such as his daughter’s infamous incident of “nut rage,” has died due to illness, the company said yesterday.Cho Yang-ho had been indicted on multiple charges, including embezzlement and tax evasion, and his death came two weeks after shareholders voted to remove the 70-year-old from the company’s board over a series of scandals surrounding his family. Cho’s death will likely force a court to dismiss his criminal case.The company said in a statement that Cho died at a hospital in Los Angeles but did not specify his illness or provide other details. Cho had remained chairman, which is a non-board role, even after shareholders ousted him from the board. He had expressed his intent to continue participating in management.A senior Korean Air executive said Cho had been receiving treatment for an unspecified lung illness since late last year and that his condition “worsened rapidly” following the shareholder vote, apparently because of shock and stress. The executive didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.Korean Air’s corporate flag and the South Korean flag were flown half-staff at the company’s headquarters in downtown Seoul.Cho’s eldest daughter, Cho Hyun-ah, formerly the head of the airline’s cabin service, received worldwide notoriety in 2014 after she ordered a Korean Air flight to return to New York because she was angry that the crew served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate.
Shanghai’s consumers and investors are increasingly confident about the city’s economy, buoyed by authorities’ focus on development and cuts in taxes and fees, a new survey shows.The Index of Consumer Confidence in Shanghai grew 4.8 points from the fourth quarter of 2018 to 124.5 points in the January-March period this year, according to the survey released yesterday by the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. That was up 6.3 points from a year earlier.The Index of Investor Confidence bounced back strongly, reversing five quarters of falls.It grew 11.89 points from the fourth quarter to 113.12 points for the first quarter of this year. But it remained flat on a yearly basis. An index reading above 100 indicates optimism, while one below 100 points to pessimism.The increasing consumer confidence in Shanghai’s economy was attributed to Shanghai’s Two Sessions held in January 2019 — the second meeting of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee and the second session of the 15th Shanghai People’s Congress — during which the city’s authorities focused on promoting the steady development of the economy, said Xu Guoxiang, director of the university’s Applied Statistics Research Center.The government also began cutting taxes and fees from the start of this year, reducing the burden on companies and putting more money into consumers’ pockets, boosting consumer expectations on income and higher purchase intentions, Xu said.A capital market rally also lifted consumer confidence.
New home sales fell in Shanghai during the first week of April, partly due to the three-day Qingming holiday, the latest market figures show.The area of new residential properties sales, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, fell 32.6 percent to around 168,000 square meters during the seven days to Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in their latest weekly analysis.“Last week’s withdrawal was unsurprising as sales figures usually jump at the month-end as developers gear up to boost performances, while the Qingming break also left some buyers on the sideline,” said Lu Wenxi, Centaline’s senior research manager.“We expect the momentum to continue to pick up over the next couple of weeks with outlying districts remaining popular among buyers.”The Pudong New Area and Fengxian and Qingpu districts registered robust sales last week, selling about 24,000 square meters, 22,000 square meters and 17,000 square meters of new homes. Xuhui District registered more than 10,000 square meters of new houses, a figure considered quite high for a downtown area.Citywide, new homes sold for an average of 56,554 yuan (US$8,412) per square meter, representing a week-on-week increase of 2 percent.In the top 10 in terms of transaction area, three projects cost between 80,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan per square meter. Six commanded less than 60,000 yuan per square meter, including one asking for less than 21,000 yuan per square meter.A COFCO project in Fengxian emerged as the most sought-after development after selling 12,047 square meters, or 126 units, of new homes for an average price of 35,067 yuan per square meter.It was followed by a luxury residential project in Xuhui, which unloaded 7,138 square meters, or 21 units, for an average of 94,846 yuan per square meter.A total of 108,000 square meters of new housing hit the market last week, representing a week-over-week dive of 39.5 percent, according to the Centaline data.Over the Qingming holiday, which began last Friday, sales totaled around 52,000 square meters, a considerable increase from the roughly 20,000 square meters sold in Shanghai during the same period last year.
Chinese stocks retreated yesterday as the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index snapped a five-day winning streak.The Shanghai index shed 0.05 percent to close at 3,244.81 points after an intraday low of 3,210.52 points, and the smaller Shenzhen Component Index fell 0.61 percent to 10,351.87 points. The ChiNext, China’s Nasdaq-style growth enterprises board, fell 2.12 percent to 1,739.66 points.Steelmakers and chemical product makers were among the day’s major winners, gaining 4.64 percent and 3.38 percent. Companies hitting the 10 percent daily cap included Liuzhou Iron and Steel Co, Hunan Valin Steel Co, Danhua Technology and Anhui Liuguo Chemical Co.Kweichow Moutai Co closed above 900 yuan (US$134) for the first time following the release of better-than-expected first-quarter results. The liquor company said in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Friday that profit attributable to shareholders jumped about 30 percent year on year in the first three months. Its shares rose 4.07 percent to close at a record 900.2 yuan after hitting an intraday high of 908.
CHINA has unveiled a guideline to facilitate the sound development of small and medium-sized enterprises.
As a major impetus for economic and social development, SMEs make contributions to increasing employment, improving people’s livelihood, and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.
Boeing has announced it would cut the production schedule of its 737 aircraft line following the two recent crashes that have seen the 737 MAX grounded worldwide.The aerospace giant plans to trim production to 42 planes per month, down from 52, starting from mid-April.Boeing also announced it was establishing an advisory panel to review its company-wide policies for designing and developing planes.The Federal Aviation Administration earlier last week said more work was needed before the aerospace giant could even submit a proposed fix to an issue that is believed to be a factor in the disasters. Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg described the production cut as temporary.And it said it would not affect current employment levels for the 737 and related programs.“We are coordinating closely with our customers as we work through plans to mitigate the impact of this adjustment,” Muilenburg said in a statement.“We will also work directly with our suppliers on their production plans to minimize operational disruption and financial impact of the production rate change.”Boeing has continued to manufacture 737s since the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash killed 157 people, the second deadly crash in five months after an October 2018 Lion Air crash killed 189 people in Indonesia. But, Boeing has been unable to make deliveries of the planes to customers, a key stoppage that will dent revenues. Boeing is scheduled to report first-quarter results on April 24.On Thursday, an initial report by the Ethiopia Transport Ministry found the crew of the doomed plane repeatedly followed procedures recommended by Boeing, confirming concerns about the flight control system on the plane, especially its anti-stall system suspected of being a factor in the crashes.Boeing said the new advisory panel will be led by retired US Navy Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, former vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The wife of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has left Japan and flown to Paris to appeal to the French government to do more to help him.Japanese prosecutors arrested Ghosn for a fourth time on Thursday on suspicion he had tried to enrich himself at the automaker’s expense, in another dramatic twist that his lawyers said was an attempt to muzzle him.“I think the French government should do more for him. I don’t think he’s had enough support and he’s calling for assistance. As a French citizen, it should be a right,” Carole Ghosn told the Financial Times in an interview before boarding a flight out of Japan.Carlos Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, has denied charges against him and also called on the French government for help.France, which holds a 15 percent stake in Nissan’s alliance partner Renault, said it was monitoring the situation.“We fully exercise consular protection. The French ambassador is in regular contact,” an official from French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said yesterday.“The wife of Carlos Ghosn has been received by the (Elysee) Secretary General during his (Ghosn) previous incarceration.”A different personCarole Ghosn said her husband’s previous 108-day imprisonment had left him “a different person” and that normal life under bail conditions had been impossible.Tokyo prosecutors, Ghosn’s lawyer and his spokesperson were not immediately available for comment.Public broadcaster NHK said yesterday that prosecutors suspected Ghosn siphoned off payments through a company where his wife is an executive to purchase a yacht and a boat.The prosecutors asked her to meet them for voluntary questioning as an unsworn witness, but the request was turned down, which prompted them to ask judges to question her on their behalf, the broadcaster said.Such a request gives judges the power to question on a mandatory basis witnesses who refuse to testify, according to NHK.Ghosn’s lead lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said on Thursday that prosecutors confiscated Ghosn’s mobile phone, documents, notebooks and diaries, along with his wife’s passport and mobile phone.The FT said prosecutors had confiscated his wife’s Lebanese passport in a dawn raid on their apartment in central Tokyo on Thursday morning, but did not discover her US passport.Under Japanese law, prosecutors will be able to hold Ghosn for up to 22 days without charging him. The fresh arrest opens up the possibility he will be questioned again without his lawyer, as is the norm in Japan.
Chen Jiuxiao puts on virtual reality goggles and is immediately transported to a snow-covered ski slope, down which she slaloms without ever leaving Shanghai.“I felt weightless skiing down the mountain,” Chen, 25, gushed after re-emerging in the material world. “The scenery around me was so authentic.”Chen, a hospitality worker, said she ventured into one of Shanghai’s VR arcades due to word of mouth from her tech-savvy friends.China had an estimated 3,000 VR arcades in 2016, and the market was forecast to grow 13-fold between then and 2021 to about 5.25 billion yuan (US$782 million), according to a joint report by iResearch Consulting Group and Greenlight Insights.Add in the profits to be made from headsets, equipment, games and other products, and it’s little wonder that augmented reality and virtual reality industries are excited about China. “Chinese growth in the next five years could see it dominate AR/VR long-term — and not by a small margin,” Silicon Valley consultancy Digi-Capital said in a report last year.“China has the potential to take more than US$1 of every US$5 spent” in the industry globally by 2022.One key factor is China’s government. Tens of millions of Chinese have become obsessive players of mobile video games, causing concern that China was raising a generation of myopic youngsters addicted to battle games.Authorities imposed curbs last year on the number of new game releases and playing time for youths, rattling the industry and shaving billions off the market value of big players including gaming giant Tencent.But the government is pushing hard for China to become a world leader in next-generation technologies including artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. VR has been lumped into that favored class, benefitting from a slew of preferential policies.Chen Wei, manager of Shanghai VR arcade Machouse, said VR was likely to avoid the fate of mobile video games in China.He cites the relatively high cost of arcade play up to 70 yuan or more for a 15-minute game — and of setting up home systems.“It’s hard for minors to get addicted,” he said.The nascent VR games industry suffers from a shortage of high-quality games, however. At Shanghai’s VR+ Amusement Park, a new game lands only once every three months, officials there said.Firms such as Tencent remain hesitant to dive into the arcade scene until the sector reaches critical mass, analysts say.But the company, along with fellow Chinese giants Alibaba and Baidu, is investing in virtual online shopping and VR entertainment, all of which could trickle down into gaming.Already several towns and cities in China have declared themselves incubator zones that are integrating VR into research, manufacturing, education and other spheres, luring in capital.Seekers VR, based in the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province with a franchised chain of 200 arcades in more than 70 cities across China, is working with the Wenzhou government to establish a college focused on educating students about VR and using the technology in lessons.“There is no dominant competitor in the VR industry since it is so immature, and we will bring more and more opportunities,” said Seekers VR’s CEO Belle Chen.The wide-scale adoption in China of ultra-fast 5G networks is expected to further boost VR development, and foster growth in areas such as education and training, said the Shanghai arcade Machouse’s manager Chen Wei.“There is no better way to learn skills, and at a lower cost, than VR. Even though VR is still educating users about what it is, it could explode someday,” he said.
China’s foreign exchange reserves rose for a fifth straight month in March, with the increase exceeding expectations, as growing optimism about the prospects for a US-China trade deal offset concerns over slowing economic growth.Chinese reserves, the world’s largest, rose by nearly US$9 billion in March to US$3.099 trillion, its highest since August last year, central bank data showed yesterday.Economists polled by Reuters had expected reserves in the world’s second-largest economy would rise US$5 billion to US$3.095 trillion.“The US dollar index strengthened slightly in March due to China-US trade talks, the revised policy outlooks of central banks in Europe and America as well as uncertainty over Brexit,” China’s forex regulator said after the data release.“China’s forex reserves expanded marginally.”The State Administration of Foreign Exchange added that with the economy expected to maintain reasonable growth and improved flexibility in the yuan exchange rate, the country’s forex reserves will remain stable.The yuan fell 5.3 percent against the dollar last year as trade relations with the United States deteriorated and the Chinese economy slowed. But it has rebounded over 2 percent so far in 2019 on hopes Washington and Beijing will reach an agreement to end their trade tension.In March, the yuan fell 0.3 percent against the dollar due to the strength of the greenback. The dollar was up 1 percent against a basket of major currencies.US and Chinese negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks on Friday and were scheduled to resume discussions this week to try to secure a pact that would end a tit-for-tat tariff battle that has roiled global markets.But the outlook for the dollar is expected to remain soft after the Federal Reserve last month abandoned projections for further interest rate hikes this year on signs of an economic slowdown in the United States.Assuming continued dollar weakness and progress in trade talks, the yuan will likely hold on to its recent gains and appreciate modestly over the coming year, according to analysts in a new Reuters poll.US President Donald Trump said on Thursday a trade deal could be announced in the next four weeks.But the US trade office said on Saturday that significant work remains to be done.The value of China’s gold reserves fell slightly to US$78.525 billion from US$79.498 billion at the end of February.For much of last year, global investors worried about the risk of capital flight from China as the economy cooled.More recently, with the dollar on the backfoot, attention has turned to how much upward pressure Chinese policy-makers will be comfortable with, as foreign inflows into the country’s financial markets look set to boost the currency.Chinese stocks have rallied more than 20 percent this year on trade deal hopes, while some Chinese bonds were added on April 1 to the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, one of the most widely tracked fixed income benchmarks.
More than six months after the United States, Mexico and Canada agreed a new deal to govern more than US$1 trillion in regional trade, the chances of the countries ratifying the pact this year are receding.The three countries struck the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement on September 30, ending a year of difficult negotiations after US President Donald Trump demanded the preceding trade pact be renegotiated or scrapped.But the deal has not ended trade tensions in North America. If ratification is delayed much longer, it could become hostage to electoral politics.The United States has its next presidential contest in 2020, and Canada holds a federal election in October.The delay means businesses are still uncertain about the framework that will govern future investments in the region.“The USMCA is in trouble,” said Andres Rozental, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister for North America.Although he believed the deal would ultimately be approved, Rozental said opposition from US Democrats and unions to labor provisions in the deal, as well as bickering over tariffs, made its passage in the next few months highly unlikely.Canada’s Parliament must also ratify the treaty and officials say the timetable is very tight. Current legislators only have a few weeks work left before the start of the summer recess in June, and members of the new Parliament would have little chance to address ratification until 2020.
Climate marchers have handed in a lawsuit to Shell’s headquarters in the Netherlands aimed at forcing the oil giant to meet targets in the Paris accord.Dozens of chanting activists went to the Anglo-Dutch firm’s base in The Hague on Friday, where they delivered a summons with a court date set for April 17.Shell greeted the protesters with coffee from an electric drinks van. It said that while it “shares concerns about the climate” it “believes in a solution outside the courtroom.”“This is a unique case,” said Roger Cox, lawyer for Dutch climate group Milieudefensie. “We are taking Shell to court because it’s not keeping to the aims of the Paris climate agreements. This way, we are trying to prevent huge damage.”The environmental groups say about 17,200 people have registered as co-complainants in the case, which Cox said would be the first of its kind.Other groups involved in the case include ActionAid Netherlands, Both Ends, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace NL and Young Friends of the Earth NL.The protesters carried banners with slogans such as “We Shell overcome — eventually” and red posters saying “Shell is as green as this poster.”They also mounted a giant version of the summons with the signatures of the thousands of plaintiffs at Shell’s headquarters near the city center.Shell Netherlands CEO Marjan van Loon addressed the protesters outside the building, saying that fighting climate change was a “team sport,” the company said in a Twitter post with a photo.“I would like to answer every finger, whether it is an index finger or a middle finger, with an outstretched hand,” it quoted her as saying. In a summary of the 250-page document handed over to Shell, the groups said that under Dutch law Shell was unlawfully endangering peoples’ lives by not acting to prevent global warming.“Internal and external documents show that Shell has known about climate change at least since the 1950s and has been aware of its large-scale and serious consequences at least since 1986,” it said.“Although Shell knew, it has not taken any serious steps to minimize its share in climate change,” the document added.
China will start building about 15 national logistics hubs this year in its bid to build a nationwide network.In principle, the national logistics hubs will be built on existing logistics hubs which have a sound infrastructure, strong market demand and huge growth potential, according to an implementation plan released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Transport.The two ministries will determine the locations of the first batch of national logistics hubs based on the demand of the development under national strategies like the Yangtze River economic belt and local government plans.China aims to build about 30 national logistics hubs by 2020, and 150 by 2025, when the ratio of total logistics expenses to GDP will be reduced to about 12 percent.Logistics was worth 283.1 trillion yuan (US42.1 trillion) in 2018, up 6.4 percent year on year — 14.8 percent of GDP.
CHINA’S manufacturing activity edged down in December, official data showed yesterday, but largely maintained momentum despite curbs on heavy industry aimed at taming the country’s chronic air pollution.
The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a gauge of factory conditions, stood at 51.6 last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said, compared to 51.8 in November.
Anything above 50 is considered growth, while under 50 points to contraction.
China has curbed activity in heavy industries in the northeast to reduce surplus capacity and the heavy smog that typically blankets the region in late autumn and winter.
The index in December is on par with the annual average, still pointing to a strong resilience in China’s growth, according to NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe.
Sub-indexes for production and new orders came in at 54 and 53.4, respectively. However, the sub-index of raw material inventory stood at 48 in December, down 0.4 percentage points from November, indicating continuously decreasing raw material inventory in the manufacturing sector.
China’s manufacturing PMI has been in positive territory for 17 months in a row.
The data also showed that the country’s non-manufacturing sector expanded faster in December, with non-manufacturing PMI at 55 in December, up from 54.8 in November.
The service sector continued steady growth, with business activity index standing at 53.4 in December.
“Early indicators for December show China’s economy pushing into 2018 with growth steady, if unspectacular,” said Tom Orlik, Bloomberg chief Asia economist, as “the official purchasing managers’ indexes show the manufacturing sector slowing slightly and non-manufacturing sector picking up.”
“Growth remains remarkably robust, underpinned by resurgent global demand, stimulus-boosted infrastructure spending, and a deleveraging program that remains more honored in the breach than the observance.”
CHINA has launched a 50-day nationwide campaign to promote the firm implementation of the government’s tax and fee reduction policies, as businesses report they are more positive about the future.
The campaign is an extension of the country’s annual April program to elaborate on its taxation policies. The State Taxation Administration and its local branches organize activities, including seminars, online interviews and roadside shows.
Wang Jun, head of the administration, said enterprises will benefit from policies to reduce taxes and social insurance contributions.
Wang urged relevant authorities to map out roadmaps and timetables to implement the tax and fee reduction policies.
The country vowed to reduce the tax burden and social insurance contributions of enterprises by nearly 2 trillion yuan (US$298 billion) this year, according to a government work report released last month.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are more upbeat as a result of the government’s sustained efforts to lower the corporate burden.
“The implementation of larger scales of tax and fee cuts help improve enterprise profits, alleviate capital pressure and solidify our confidence in business development,” said Dai Jishuang, chairman of Shenyang Blower Works Group Corp.
On Monday, the country started to reduce the current value-added tax rate of 16 percent for manufacturing and other industries to 13 percent.
From May 1, the government will also cut the share of enterprise contributions to urban workers’ basic old-age insurance from 20 percent to 16 percent.
The new VAT cut policy will save 23.11 million yuan for the Shenyang Blower Works Group in 2019, according to Dai.
For China Delixi Holding Group, this year’s tax cuts will amount to 111 million yuan.
“This will enable us to invest more in scientific research and development, promoting the enterprise’s competence,” said Hu Chengzhong, chairman of the board of directors.
Bai Jingming, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences, said: “A universal tax cut will greatly ease the tax burden of companies in purchasing fixed assets like machinery equipment and save costs for equipment manufacturers, resulting in more room for investment.”
The massive corporate tax cuts this year showcased the central government’s efforts to inject more energy into economic development and to make sure market entities receive benefits, which will help stabilize market expectations of the economy, according to Bai.
Bai believes the move will unleash the Chinese people’s unlimited potential for innovation and creation, and boost the country’s high-quality development.
Chen Yanshun, chairman of the executive committee and CEO of BOE Technology Group Co, said: “The nationwide tax-cut policy is a guarantee of innovation-driven development.”
The tax-cut policy will help the BOE Technology Group lower VAT expenditure by 3.7 billion yuan this year, according to Chen.
“The BOE Technology Group will put the tax-cut bonus into scientific research and development, and make a greater contribution to the country’s strategic emerging industries,” said Chen.
The major target of such tax cuts in 2019 would be small and micro companies, which provide the majority of jobs, Bai said.
Policy-makers attach great importance to employment because it is an area that directly affects everyday life and determines the health and prospects of the economy.
CHINA’S economy will continue to grow above 6 percent this year and next in line with the Chinese government’s growth target of 6-6.5 percent, the Asian Development Bank said in a report released yesterday.
The latest Asian Development Outlook 2019, ADB’s flagship economic report, said China’s economy is forecast to grow 6.3 percent in 2019 and 6.1 percent in 2020.
GROWTH in developing Asia could slow for a second straight year in 2019 and lose further momentum in 2020, the Asian Deve2lopment Bank said yesterday, warning of economic risks from China-US trade tensions and a potentially disorderly Brexit.
Developing Asia, which groups 45 economies in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to grow 5.7 percent this year, the ADB said in its Asian Development Outlook report, slowing from a projected 5.9 percent expansion in 2018 and 6.2 percent growth in 2017. The 2019 forecast represents a slight downgrade from its December forecast of 5.8 percent. For 2020, the region is forecast to grow 5.6 percent, which would be the slowest since 2001.
CHINA will take measures to reduce government-levied charges and operating service charges in order to further lessen the burden on businesses and individuals.
The personal postal articles tax rates will be lowered to expand imports and boost consumption, a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided yesterday.
Tokyo prosecutors are considering pressing a fresh charge on former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, local media said yesterday, which would be the latest twist in the auto tycoon’s dramatic downfall.Investigators are eyeing a possible aggravated breach of trust charge related to at least US$32 million in Nissan funds transferred to a distributor in Oman, according to local news agency Jiji Press.Some of the money is believed to have been used to buy a luxury boat allegedly used by Ghosn and his family, according to a source familiar with the matter.If Tokyo prosecutors move forward with the case, it would be the fourth criminal charge against the 65-year-old former high-flying auto executive, who denies all allegations.Ghosn said yesterday on his Twitter account that “I’m getting ready to tell the truth about what’s happening.”He has kept silent, publicly, since his release on bail last month after nearly four months of detention.Ghosn already faces three charges of financial misconduct over allegations he under-reported his compensation and sought to transfer personal losses to Nissan’s books.Tokyo district prosecutors are discussing the case with more senior colleagues before deciding whether to proceed, Japanese media said.If prosecutors were to file new charges, it would not necessarily mean Ghosn returns to the detention center where he spent more than three months before winning bail on March 6, according to a local lawyer.“The prosecutor can hit Ghosn with new charges without sending him back to prison. Prosecutors would need to again justify a detention by saying he was a flight risk and could destroy evidence and the chances seem fairly slim,” said the lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous.The news came after it emerged that lawyers for Renault — Nissan’s parent company that Ghosn also led — have handed over documents to prosecutors showing “millions of euros” in payments to the firm’s distributors in Oman.An internal probe by Nissan, which is cooperating with prosecutors, has found Ghosn had approved over US$30 million in payments to a distributor in Oman, a person familiar with the matter said.Some of this money ended up in personal accounts, or used for purchases and investments by Ghosn, mainly to buy a yacht and make investments via his son’s firm. In a bolt from the blue that rocked Japan and the business world, Ghosn was arrested on November 19 when prosecutors stormed his private jet.
Germany’s Daimler AG has opened a new Mercedes factory in Russia, part of a 250-million-euro (US$281 million) investment it says will create 1,000 jobs.CEO Dieter Zetsche said yesterday the Moscow-area plant will produce Mercedes sedans and SUVs for the local market, and is part of a strategy to move production closer to customers.The opening was attended by German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who also was meeting President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials on a two-day visit. Ministry spokeswoman Annika Einhorn said the trip aimed to address “opportunities and challenges for German business in Russia.”Germany stressed the visit didn’t signal a return to business as usual. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said Germany’s position on sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine hasn’t changed.
The board of French carmaker Renault moved to scrap ousted boss Carlos Ghosn’s pension worth around 770,000 euros (US$865,000) annually.Directors also recommended that shareholders block a further 224,000 euros in Ghosn’s variable pay for 2018, two sources said, following a meeting that also approved governance changes reducing the size of the board to 18 members from 20.
Britain’s vital service sector shrank in March for the first time in almost three years, with activity slammed by Brexit turmoil and flat economic growth, a key survey showed yesterday.The Purchasing Managers’ Index for services fell from 51.3 in February to 48.9 in March, according to IHS Markit, which compiles the data.That was the lowest level since July 2016, which was one month after Britons voted in favour of leaving the European Union.The figure below 50 in the index indicates that the services sector, which accounts for some 80 percent of British gross domestic product, is in contraction.“A drop in service sector activity indicates that UK GDP contracted in March, with the economy stalling over the first quarter as a whole and at risk of sliding into a deepening downturn in coming months,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.The sector is widely regarded as the engine of the British economy — and any weakness can therefore slam the brakes on growth. Britain’s economy had already struggled in the fourth quarter of last year, with anaemic economic growth of just 0.2 percent.“Both the services and construction sectors are now in decline and manufacturing is only expanding because of emergency stockpiling ahead of Brexit,” said Williamson, adding that underlying picture of demand is even worse than the numbers suggest.“Service sector order books have contracted at the steepest rate since the height of the global financial crisis in 2009 so far this year, with companies reporting that Brexit uncertainty has dampened demand.”
Shanghai shares hit a 14-month high yesterday, closing above 3,200 points led by the transport and free trade sectors and after four days of gains.The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.2 percent but turnover dipped to 442.6 billion yuan (US$65.1 billion).The China Securities Regulatory Commission might lift restrictions on refinancing by listed companies, the 21st Century Business Herald reported, citing unnamed sources.At least a dozen brokerages jumped on the news, including Haitong Securities and Sinolink Securities, amid hopes these steps would boost income.Stocks related to the Shanghai free trade zone and breweries were also among the brightest performers.COSCO Shipping Development Co and COSCO Shipping Holdings Co both jumped by the daily limit of 10 percent.Centaline Securities wrote in a research note that breaking through the 3,100 points threshold has given new momentum for the index to climb higher.But it remains cautiously optimistic about the market performance.Galaxy Securities also suggests investors add brokerages, bluechip financial shares and property stocks to their portfolios.
China’s wealthy families remain optimistic about the country’s economy despite the slowdown in growth, and confident the government’s policies on public finance, foreign exchange and employment will pay off, a new survey shows. The Bank of Communications’ bimonthly Climate Index of China’s Wealth released yesterday came in flat from two months earlier at 138 points.A reading above 100 means China’s wealthy families show more optimism.One below 100 indicates a deterioration in sentiment.The world’s second-largest economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, but the growth is expected to slow to around 6.3 percent in 2019 from 6.6 percent in 2018. The economy is facing more downward pressure this year with slowing consumption growth and a lack of momentum for further effective investment.The authorities are implementing a series of macro policies — from fiscal to monetary and employment — to help create the right conditions for steady economic growth, BoCom said.The economic climate sub-index fell 2 points to 137. The sub-index for investment intention also dipped 1 point to 123, while that for income growth edged up 1 point to 154.The government has elevated its employment-first policy to the status of a macro policy for the first time to increase society-wide attention on boosting employment.With supportive policies, BoCom expects sustained improvement in employment.The rise in the sub-index for income growth was led by higher income from investments. During the research from March 4 to 19, the Shanghai Composite Index rose strongly.Also, the value of the dollar plunged amid weak economic data in the United States, leading to a two-week rise in gold prices. International oil prices continued to soar as well to the highest level since November 2018.The investment intention sub-index also dipped due to lower investment intentions for real estate, in spite of the rising intention to invest in other assets including stocks and funds.Beijng, Shanghai and Shenzhen posted rises of 1 to 2 points in the Climate Index.
FORTY-FOUR high-tech companies have been accepted for listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s new technology innovation board, the bourse said yesterday.Businesses range from software and information services to computers, communications and biomedicine. The new technology innovation board, announced in November by President Xi Jinping, is expected to start trading in the middle of the year. It represents a new era for the Chinese capital market.Among those accepted are Shanghai-based Medicilon Inc and Espressif Systems.Medicilon is a contract research organization, which provides one-stop integrated services including biology, chemistry for global pharmaceutical clients. Espressif Systems is a chip designer.
Metro China says it is talking with potential investors from the retail or tech sectors about possible investment or partnerships.“We want to bring in partners that can accelerate our growth in China and contribute to further strengthen our strategy in online-to-offline and corporate sourcing,” Metro China President Claude Sarrailh told reporters yesterday.He did not give details.Metro aims to open at least eight new stores in China in the next two years — four of this year.Its China sales added 2.7 percent in the fiscal year ended September, and corporate customers accounted for 40 percent of sales. By integrating its online presence with physical stores, the company would be joining a notable trend among local and multinational retailers as they face increasing pressure from digital competitors.RT Mart is working with Alibaba to deliver fresh food for the e-commerce giant's retail shoppers, and Tencent and Yonghui Superstores Co hold a minority stake in French retailer Carrefour’s China unit.Catering business targeting canteens, restaurants, welfare and gifting for corporate clients has been a focus for Metro Group’s global business, and Sarrailh said the company also hopes to localize its operations by introducing new models and technology partners. “Our business is healthy and more profitable than our retail counterparts here and we want to accelerate our business model,” he said.
GLOBAL trade growth is expected to be lower in 2019 than it was last year, the World Trade Organization forecast yesterday, citing widespread “tensions” and economic uncertainty.
The WTO had in its preliminary estimates predicted a 3.7 percent expansion of trade for this year, but has revised that down to 2.6 percent, marking a decline on the 3 percent growth recorded in 2018.
Cathay Pacific’s purchase of rival HK Express was an inevitable plunge into the no-frills market as the premier marque belatedly faces the reality that it can no longer ignore the budget sector.Asia’s biggest international carrier has historically eschewed the low-cost sector, even as the region’s rising middle class has fueled an unprecedented boom in air travel and demand for cheaper routes.But last week it finally bit the bullet, announcing it was buying HK Express for US$600 million from the debt-laden Chinese conglomerate HNA Group.The move allows Cathay to take over the city’s only budget carrier and gifts it much needed slots at one of the world’s busiest transport hubs — prompting many to ask why it had taken the airline so long to make such a move.Analysts say Cathay’s reluctance to embrace the budget model was a result of its conservative way of thinking, in much the same way Nintendo was dragged kicking and screaming into the mobile gaming market after years of weak earnings.But it is not too late for the airline, they say.“It’s more like catching up rather than changing the landscape,” Jackson Wong, said analyst at Huarong International Securities, adding that Cathay realized it had to “face reality” that the budget market was something it needed to embrace.Asia Pacific is now the world’s largest market for low-cost carriers, accounting for nearly 600 million seats in 2018, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation.And thanks to the region’s booming middle classes, seat capacity has quadrupled over the past decade.During that time Cathay resisted moving into the low end of the market, even as their rivals did the opposite — Singapore Airlines formed Tigerair in 2003 and Qantas followed up with Jetstar Asia.Now Asia’s skies are littered with budget carriers: Air Asia, Scoot, Nok Air, IndiGo, Lion Air, VietJet, and the list keeps growing.For a while Cathay’s intransigence worked, it remained an avowedly premier — and profitable — brand.But as the regional budget scene grew, airlines in China and the Middle East began competing on longer haul flights and the more luxury frills Cathay offered.By March 2017 Cathay reported its first annual net loss in eight years and announced a three-year overhaul to cut costs and improve efficiency.Under new chief executive officer Rupert Hogg the move appears to have paid off. Last month the airline announced it had swung back into the black after two years of losses.Brendan Sobie, chief analyst at CAPA, said HK Express was too good an opportunity to pass up.“It’s in their home market, they have to look at it, and quite frankly they’d be silly not to do it,” he said.Sobie said structural constraints and limited airport slots made it difficult for Cathay to establish a separate low-cost carrier, which was why it had said it would not think about a no-frills carrier until Hong Kong airport’s third runway opens in 2024.He said the lack of space at home was also a limitation for competitors, making the move into the sector less urgent for Cathay, which had opposed budget airline Jetstar’s application to operate in Hong Kong in 2015.But the purchase was not a financial “slam dunk” for Cathay, Sobie warned, given the small margins of budget airlines in the region and the fact that HK Express reported a net loss of US$18 million in 2018, according to Cathay.
Czech-American economist Jan Svejnar has been studying economic transformations in various developing countries including China since the 1980s. Economic adviser to Vaclav Havel, the first post-revolution president of the Czech Republic, he mounted his own presidential campaign in 2008.Svejnar has visited China frequently since 1982. As director of the Center on Global Economic Governance and professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, he visited Shanghai for a two-day economic forum co-hosted by the center last week.During his trip, Shanghai Daily asked about his plans to run for president, outlook for world economy, views on Brexit and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.Q: What is your outlook for Brexit, its short-term and long-term effects on Britain and the European Union?A: The amazing thing is that British politicians are now stuck in a situation of not knowing where it’s heading. It is such that we don’t know which way the government and parliament is going.If it is not negotiated, we have to take that into account.In the short run, there could be further devaluations of the British pound. We will see exports and international trade generally affected negatively, and therefore the rate of growth will be slowing down.On the European side, there will be a shock as well. Britain is the main trading partner with the EU, and that goes both ways, so some countries in particular will be affected. The economic effect will not be as sizable as that of Britain, because the EU economy is larger and more diverse.Already some businesses have moved to the continent and there will be some more.In the long run, Britain will still have the continent as its main trading partner. If it has the trading partner with tariff, with protectionist measures, apparently the amount of trade will be less. Some will be directed toward the United States and Commonwealth countries. It will be compensated in the long run to a significant degree.Q: Italy just signed a New Silk Road agreement with China, leading to some debates in Europe and the US. Why is that and what’s your outlook of such deals in the long run?A: There are two main views.One is that it is good to attract foreign investment to Europe. Growth in European countries is slowing down. As we speak now, Italy is already in recession. One of the deals signed was in the port of Trieste. It was an important port in Europe for many years, and hasn’t done very well these years. It reminds of many of China’s deals with the Port of Athens (Piraeus) a few years back.The other view is not on the economic effect, but concerns about China’s global ambition, considerations of whether the operating companies are privately or state-owned, and etc. These are the same concerns raised with the Port of Athens, and the economic effects of that port are always showing such as jobs created.I think this debate is just starting and will go on for many years.Q: There seems to be conflicting views on the outlook for the global economy. Some economists are bullish about growth in major economies, while others suggest we might hit another crisis. Which one should I believe?A: There are two parts of this outlook. We have seen a very strong growth of global economy in the last two years.Brazil came out of recession. China grew at 6.6 percent last year, and expectation for this year is between 6 to 6.5 percent. It’s considerable for an economy of this size. The US grew at 3 percent last year, which is also great for its type of economy. It will be slower this year, expected to be around 2 percent as the benefits of tax cuts wear out, but that is still quite good.On the other hand, we start seeing slower growth in Europe. Germany is slowing down. Italy is growing at a negative rate. It has never come back to the per capital GDP level in 2007. Some countries never recovered fully from the great crisis in 2008.The expectation is bad. When expectation is bad, it may cause bad results.Q: You just finished the economic forum in Beijing, what was it like? What were the hot topics at the forum?A: It is the fourth year of the forum, with the title “China and the West.” We deliberately schedule it after the National People’s Congress and before the China Development Forum, so that we can bring key academics, policy-makers and business people together in between the two conferences.We have one public session, but most are closed-door sessions held under Chatham House Rule, so everyone is very open about the issues that concern them. This year, we discussed many issues, new economic policies, access to markets, international trade, cooperation and competition, innovation and technology, etc.Q: The new Foreign Investment Law is just out, what do you think of it?A: It is a very important step. We have heard from Chinese policy-makers about further opening up. I think this law is on the right track of that.Q: What were the main factors for you to run for the Czech Republic’s presidency in 2008? Will you consider running again?A: At the time, there were many different views on how the country would develop, such as integration with the European Union, and I wanted to bring a broader perspective to the discussions.It was a big challenge for me because I had no experience in such campaigns. And whether I will run again? Well, never say never, but I’m not actively campaigning now.
As Shanghai strives to become a major global city and a world leader in green energy, natural gas will play an increasingly important role, Mayor Ying Yong said yesterday.“We will make full use of resources and markets from both abroad and at home to frame a more diverse energy structure,” Ying said on the opening day of the 19th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas.National Energy Administration chief Zhang Jianhua told the conference that China was now one of the most vibrant LNG markets in the world, but said the industry needed to consolidate.LNG has the potential to become Asia’s dominant energy source as the region moves away from coal, but Zhang and other speakers said the sector must work together to fend off challenges from other fossil fuels and renewables.“For a long time, LNG was constrained by the high cost of its storage and transport. A global LNG market has yet to form and the pricing mechanism does not reflect fundamentals yet,” Ying said.“The LNG industry needs to work together to reduce costs and improve its competitiveness against other fuels.”Mike Wirth, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation, one of the world’s largest LNG suppliers, told Shanghai Daily: “LNG will be an important fuel in China as part of its mixed economy growth, We intend to have partnerships and relationships with many people in China and be part of the country’s energy future.“There is no realistic achievable plan to address the climate change problem that doesn’t involve natural gas.”Qatar’s energy minister and president and CEO of Qatar Petroleum, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, told Shanghai Daily that demand for gas will continue to grow amid rising environmental and climate change concerns and widespread global moves toward more abundant, cleaner and cost-effective fuels.The tiny Gulf state is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and has almost 15 percent of the world’s known reserves. The country provides 22 percent of China’s gas imports over the past decade.China is the world’s second-largest importer of LNG, buying in 53.78 million tons last year for US$26.5 billion — almost double what it paid for 38 million tons in 2017.Jim Muschalik, manager of global market development at ExxonMobil, told Shanghai Daily China’s policies could be a solid reference for other countries.“All you have to do is look at China in terms of the success gas can bring to the environment,” said Muschalik. “China has shown great leadership shifting from coal to more gas which brings clearer air and a blue sky.”The country is also expanding its LNG import and distribution infrastructure.The ministry of transport plans to quadruple the country’s import capacity from its 21 terminals within the next two decades. The country’s coastal cities are a strong example of growing demand.
China’s hunger for natural gas is booming and is expected to pass 400 billion cubic meters by 2022 as the country presses ahead with its “Blue Sky” initiative.Natural gas consumption surged 18.1 percent to 280.3 billion cubic meters last year, according to the National Development and Reform Commission — making China the largest consumer behind the United States and Russia.The Blue Sky initiative is a switch from coal to a range of low-carbon energy sources, such as LNG, to meet its energy needs.And its efforts to protect the environment have significantly reduced the levels of smog and pollution that have clouded the country’s skies for years.The government has launched policies to enhance infrastructure and connectivity of pipelines, and supported the building of a system for gas production, supply, storage and distribution. And it recently approved a company to create a national natural gas pipeline network.“This move marks an important step in the reform of the country’s natural gas market,” Li Yalan, chairperson of the board of Beijing Gas Group, who has been named president of the International Gas Union for 2021-2024, said at yesterday’s plenary forum “New LNG Markets” during the 19th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas. “And it will surely speed up the development of the industry in China.”Li said natural gas has the greatest potential of all fossil fuels.“In 2030, natural gas will become the second-largest source of energy following oil. Before 2040, the share of natural gas in the global energy mix will increase to 27 percent.”
Apple Inc and other consumer brands lowered prices for their products in China this week as a cut in the country’s value-added tax fell.Price tags for products on Apple’s China website were lowered on Monday morning — when the VAT fell to 13 percent from 16 percent — including a discount of up to 500 yuan (US$74.44) for some of its latest iPhone models.Suggested retail prices for brands including LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and Kering’s Gucci were also cut by around 3 percent, according to local media reports.It follows announcements last month from car brands BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz, which said prices for several car models would drop following the tax changes.China said in March that it would cut taxes and fees for all companies by nearly 2 trillion yuan in 2019, with the manufacturing, transportation and construction sectors set to benefit as it looks to stimulate a slowing economy.The world’s second-largest economy is growing at its weakest pace in almost three decades amid lower domestic demand and a trade war with the United States. Several Chinese electronics retailers lowered prices for iPhones in January.
New housing sales in Shanghai rose to their highest in 30 weeks last week amid strong activity in major outlying areas, the latest market figures show.The area of new residential properties sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, jumped 46.7 percent to around 248,000 square meters during the seven days to Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said yesterday in its latest weekly survey.“As expected, transactions increased considerably during the last week of March as real estate developers geared up to improve their performance for both the month and the first quarter,” said Lu Wenxi, Centaline’s senior research manager in the latest summary. “Notably, four housing developments managed to register weekly sales of more than 100 units, something that hasn’t been seen over the past six months and is clearly evidence of a solidly improving market sentiment,” Lu said.Songjiang District was the top performer, with sales hitting 48,000 square meters, compared with about 18,000 the previous week. Fengxian District and the Pudong New Area followed, with 37,000 square meters and 32,000 square meters. Baoshan and Qingpu districts also exceeded 20,000 square meters each.Citywide, new homes sold for an average 55,449 yuan (US$8,261) per square meter — a week-on-week rise of 8.8 percent. In the top 10 by area, three projects cost more than 80,000 yuan per square meter, with one development in downtown Laoximen in Huangpu District selling for an average of almost 130,000 yuan per square meter.The remaining seven projects all brought less than 60,000 yuan per square meter, including one below 30,000 yuan per square meter.A Gemdale development in Songjiang was the most sought-after, selling 18,044 square meters, or 168 apartments, at an average 39,614 yuan per square meter.It was trailed by a COFCO project in Fengxian, with 17,464 square meters, or 182 units, for an average 36,145 yuan per square meter.A total of 179,000 square meters of new housing, mostly in outlying districts such as Songjiang and Baoshan, hit the market, a week-on-week drop of 22 percent.Last week’s robust sales also helped lift the overall performance of March, which saw new home transactions more than double from February, a separate Centaline report showed.A total of 632,000 square meters of new housing were sold around the city last month at an average price of 54,184 yuan per square meter, up 106.5 percent and down 8.5 percent respectively from a month earlier.Meanwhile, new home supply, most of it falling within the range of 30,000 yuan and 60,000 yuan per square meter, almost tripled to 788,000 square meters, a monthly surge of 194 percent.
US consumer spending hit the brakes in February, with retail sales sinking unexpectedly in the middle of the year’s first quarter, official data showed yesterday.However, the decline followed upward revisions to sales in January, allowing some hopes for a recovery after a bleak December.The weaker-than-expected sales could weigh on growth at the start of 2019, which economists expect will be sharply slower than in previous quarters.Total retail sales fell 0.2 percent from January to a seasonally adjusted US$506 billion. Economists had expected a 0.2 percent increase.This still left February retail sales 2.2 percent higher year on year.Officials also caution that the monthly results are subject to broad margins of error and can be revised significantly.Auto sales were a bright spot for the month, masking a steep pull-back in sales of electronics, building materials, groceries and clothing. But excluding autos, sales fell an even steeper 0.4 percent.Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics cautioned against reading too much into the weak numbers, saying worker pay was still rising strongly.“These are not conditions in which spending slows indefinitely, so we expect a much better second quarter once the transition from last year’s binge is over,” he said in a research not to clients.
China’s first globally oriented credit-and-rating tool, which utilizes data from more than 300 million organizations and provides English-language support, has debuted in Shanghai.The online tool, Qixinbao, which was developed by Shanghai-based CC Intelligence and 3ACredit, targets a credit-and-rating market valued at more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.49 billion) annually.Qixinbao supports English and Chinese and offers credit-rating and data services for global firms.The credit-and-rating market is not only massive in terms of value, it is also important to China’s social and trade development, said Michael Zhen, founder and CEO of CC Intelligence.CC Intelligence now has 700 million users worldwide.
China’s manufacturing activity grew for the first time in four months in March with quicker rises in output and overall new work, according to a private report released yesterday, which also showed the fastest growth in eight months.The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures the manufacturing sector and is weighted toward private companies, came in at 50.8 in March, rebounding 0.9 percentage points from the previous month, Caixin magazine and research firm Markit said.A reading above 50 signals growth while one below 50 means contraction.The Caixin PMI is a private survey focusing on smaller businesses and offers a first glimpse into the operating environment. It is closely watched as an alternative to the official PMI.The official PMI for March released on Sunday was 50.5, compared with 49.2 in February.Although consistent with only a marginal pace of improvement, the Caixin index was the highest since July.“Overall, with a more relaxed financing environment, government efforts to bail out the private sector and positive progress in Sino-US trade talks, the situation across the manufacturing sector recovered in March, and the employment situation improved greatly,” said Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group.Manufacturing production rose for the second month in a row in March. Although modest, the rate of increase was the quickest seen since last August, which was supported by a stronger rise in total new work. The activity index includes such measures beyond actual production as new orders.The sub-index for new orders climbed to its highest level in four months, and the gauge for new export orders returned to expansionary territory, showing that both domestic and external demand rebounded moderately, the report said.Staffing levels at goods producers increased in March — the first expansion since October 2013. Some firms said they were hiring additional workers to support more production and new business. Hiring also coincided with sustained signs of stretched capacity at manufacturers, as outstanding workloads continued to rise moderately.“Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed unemployment in urban areas for February was the highest since early 2017, causing concerns about the job market. The situation improved significantly in March, indicating easing pressure on employment,” Zhong said.Gauges for input costs and output charges edged into positive territory, with the latter posting a higher reading than the former, reflecting lower pressure from raw material costs, Caixin said. Optimism toward the year-ahead outlook for production improved to a 10-month high in March, with a number of firms linking positive forecasts to expectations of further improvements to overall market conditions, the report said.The official general PMI released on Sunday, which tracks both the manufacturing and services sectors, jumped 1.6 points to 54, indicating that the overall expansion of production and operation activities of Chinese enterprises accelerated in March, said Zhao Qinghe, senior statistician at the NBS.
Shanghai stocks closed at their highest in more than nine months yesterday, boosted by a cut in the value-added tax and a rise in factory and services output.The reduction of the VAT to 13 percent from 16 percent effective yesterday, together with macroeconomic data from the National Bureau of Statistics on Sunday and from Caixin yesterday, boosted market sentiment.The Shanghai Composite Index surged 2.58 percent to 3,170.36 points. Combined turnover on the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets passed 1 trillion yuan (US$147 billion) — the highest in two weeks. Shanghai turnover was 480 billion yuan and only 23 shares fell. NBS data released on Sunday showed the Purchasing Managers’ Index posted its first uplift in four months, hitting 50.5 in March, indicating an expansion and pointing to new evidence of stable economic fundamentals amid government measures to spur high-quality growth.The private Caixin PMI also showed growth in the sub-indexes for new orders and new exports. Software firms were among the best performers yesterday. Fujian Apex Software Co and Hithink Flush Information Network Information Network Co both surged by the daily limit of 10 percent. CSC Financial Co chief strategist Zhang Yulong said the easy credit situation has provided momentum for the market.Northeast Securities wrote in a research note that the market valuation of A shares is still relatively low and expected follow-up stimulus measures would continue to lift investor confidence. Investors are also looking at new trade talks with the US ahead of a planned visit by Vice Premier Liu He and officials to meet their US counterparts in Washington this week.
Onshore Chinese bonds will be included in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index over the next 20 months from yesterday, a move expected to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign inflows.In January, Bloomberg announced the inclusion of yuan-denominated government and policy bank securities issued by the China Development Bank, the Agricultural Development Bank of China and the Export-Import Bank of China in its flagship Global Aggregate index family over 20 months from yesterday.This means Chinese bonds will be fully accounted for in the Global Aggregate Index by November 2020.By then, China is estimated to have a weighting of approximately 6.06 percent in the index, and the yuan will be the fourth-largest currency component, after the US dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen.Upon full inclusion, the index will contain 159 Chinese government bonds and 205 Chinese policy bank bonds, totaling US$3.3 trillion in market value, according to data as of January 31, Bloomberg said.“It represents an important milestone for China as it continues to strengthen and liberalize its capital market and looks to attract more international investors,” said Mark Leung, CEO of JP Morgan China.China’s bonds posted returns at the high end of the global market last year, the return on equity of the Bloomberg Barclays China Aggregate Index was 3.45 percent, compared with 0.01 percent for the US index.But foreign investors are still in the early stages of investing in onshore Chinese bonds, holding only about 2 percent of the total, said Li Bing, head of Bloomberg China.“The inclusion of new instruments or issuers within benchmarks inevitably leads to diminished sponsorship from existing index securities assuming managers are index-neutral and the total assets benchmarked remain unchanged,” JP Morgan said in a statement.“The obvious winners are the newly index-eligible China bonds, which are poised to receive US$122 billion in sponsorship over the next 20 months from Global Aggregate (index) managers,” JP Morgan said.Deutsche Bank analyst Liu Linan said that about US$120 billion of overseas investment would flow into the domestic bond market over the next 20 months — US$48 billion of that by the end of this year.Over the next five years, overseas inflows into the domestic bond market will reach US$750 billion to US$850 billions and overseas investors’ holdings in the Chinese market will climb to 5.5 to 6 percent.
CHINA’S factory and service activities picked up in March, pointing to new evidence of stable economic fundamentals amid government measures to spur high-quality growth.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index for China’s manufacturing sector came in at 50.5 in March, up from 49.2 in February, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
Construction has started on the main structure of a 2.24-gigawatt hydropower station on the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze.A cofferdam, which blocks the river to allow work downstream, was built above the construction site on Saturday.The Yebatan Hydropower Station is at the junction of Baiyu County in southwestern Sichuan Province and Konjo County in the Tibet Autonomous Region.It will be the largest hydropower station on the upper reaches of the Jinsha River upon completion. It will be able to generate about 10.2 billion kilowatt-hours a year.The project is undertaken by China Huadian Corporation, with a total investment of about 33.4 billion yuan (US$5 billion).Wei Yongxin, of the Huadian Jinsha River Upstream Hydropower Development Co Ltd, said the project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2016, and the power station’s first generating unit is expected to start operation in 2025.Wei added that the project had contributed to local infrastructure-building and poverty alleviation.About 240 kilometers of roads were built by Huadian around the station.The company also upgraded an 84.5-kilometer road linking Baiyu County and Batang County in Sichuan, cutting travel from over five hours to two.“I earn more than 200 yuan each day working at the construction site, which is better than herding and farming,” said Jampa, a Tibetan herder from Konjo working on the project. “More importantly, I have the chance to learn new skills.”The station is expected to replace 3.99 million tons of coal and reduce 7.37 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
Hyundai has found a new problem that can cause its car engines to fail or catch fire, issuing yet another recall to fix problems that have affected more than 6 million vehicles during the past three and a half years.The Korean automaker, under pressure from safety regulators, is recalling about 20,000 Veloster cars in the US and Canada because fuel can prematurely ignite in the cylinders around the pistons. That can cause excessive pressure and damage the engine, causing vehicles to stall and in some cases catch fire, according to Hyundai documents posted on Friday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.It’s a different problem from what has caused the rest of the recalls since 2015 from Hyundai and its affiliated automaker Kia, which have been plagued by engine failures and fires across the US. The recall, which covers only the 2013 Veloster with 1.6-liter engines, is due to a software problem that has been found only in that model year and not in other Hyundai engines, company spokesman Michael Stewart said. Kia spokesman James Bell said in a statement that the automaker didn’t use any engines from the plant that made Veloster engines.Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group that has petitioned the government seeking more Hyundai and Kia recalls, said the fire and engine problems keep spreading to more vehicles.“This recall raises the question of whether we are even beyond the tip of the iceberg with these non-crash fires with both of these manufacturers,” Levine said. “How many times are we going to hear from either Hyundai or Kia that these circumstances are unique to a particular model and then have another recall or fire situation announced weeks or months later?”Hyundai said in documents that it has been analyzing fire claims from owners and reporting the findings to NHTSA, which in December raised questions about the Veloster. The company traced the problem to engine control software in vehicles made at the Ulsan plant in South Korea from April 26, 2012 to October 16, 2013, according to documents.While claims were high for the 2013 model, they decreased starting in 2014, the company wrote.Software was updated on vehicles at the factory in October of 2013, the company said.Hyundai wrote that it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries.Dealers will install updated software on the recalled cars. Owners will be notified starting May 13.
An Arizona man killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator brings the worldwide death toll to at least 24.Armando V. Ortega, 55, of Yuma, died on June 11, 2018, three days after his 2002 Honda Civic was involved in a crash near Phoenix, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.Honda said in a statement that the Civic driver was hit by metal fragments and injured. He later died at a hospital.The death, which wasn’t reported to a federal agency until this month, is the 16th in the US caused by the air bags, which can explode with too much force and hurl debris into drivers and passengers.Seven people have been killed in Malaysia and one in Australia.More than 200 people also have been hurt by the inflators, which have caused the largest series of automotive recalls in US history involving with as many as 70 million inflators to be recalled by the end of next year. About 100 million inflators are to be recalled worldwide.“This is a critical reminder of the serious nature of the Takata airbag recall and serves as an important call to action,” NHTSA said in a statement on Friday. Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the bags. But it can deteriorate due to high temperatures and humidity and explode too forcefully, spewing metal fragments. The deaths and recalls forced Takata into bankruptcy with its assets purchased by a company owned by a Chinese investment firm.
Chinese auto giant Geely and Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler yesterday announced a joint venture to develop the next generation of electric Smart cars to be made in China.Under the agreement, expected to be finalized by the end of the year, the new vehicle will go on global sale in 2022, the car giants said in a statement.The 12-strong board of directors of the new venture will be made up of six executives from each company.The new Smart cars will be styled by the Mercedes-Benz Design network with engineering by Geely.Before the launch of the next generation, Daimler will continue to produce the current “fortwo” model of the Smart car at its plant in Hambach, northeastern France.The Smart car will then leave its historic home in France to be manufactured in China, but Daimler insists no jobs will be lost.“None of our colleagues at Smart will lose their jobs as a result of these decisions,” said Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche in a statement.“On the contrary. We need the passion and creativity of the Smart team more than ever.“After all, these changes are no ending for Smart — but a new beginning.”Daimler says 500 million euros (US$562 million) will be invested in the Hambach plant, which will assume “an additional role” producing a compact electric vehicle under the new “EQ” product brand.“All jobs will be sustained through our new project which will consist of creating a new assembly line for the construction of a Mercedes-Benz electric SUV in Hambach,” Serge Siebert, CEO of Smart France, told the Le Republicain Lorrain newspaper on Wednesday.Geely is owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu, who is also Daimler’s main shareholder having acquired nearly 10 percent in the German manufacturer in February 2018.Li’s investment in the Stuttgart firm is reportedly worth around 7.2 billion euros. Last year, Germany’s economy minister warned Berlin would be “especially watchful” over the new major investor.However Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the move, saying “we are open to trade partners and at first glance do not see any violations.”The rise of the Chinese car giant has been swift.Founded in 1986, Geely was originally a low-cost home appliance maker before founder and boss Li transformed it into an auto group in the late 1990s, becoming one of China’s leading private manufacturers.In 2010, while Geely and its entry-level vehicles represented only a few percent of the Chinese market, the group paid US$1.5 billion to buy Volvo Cars.The bold move saw the Chinese company acquire a premium Swedish brand, known for the safety and the robustness of its models.The following year, Geely invested US$11 billion in Volvo to launch a new line of cars, which saw the brand take off in China.Last week, Geely reported worldwide sales of 2.15 million vehicles, up 18.3 percent year on year.And it announced a net profit for 2018 of 1.66 billion euros, up 18 percent on 2017, on a turnover of 14.1 billion euros, up 15 percent.Daimler can boast similar sales figures, with Mercedes-Benz shifting 2.4 million vehicles in 2018, including 130,000 Smart cars in 40 markets worldwide.The German group’s net profits last year were 7.6 billion euros, down 30 percent on 2017, with sales of 167 billion euros, up 2 percent.Following the 2013 acquisition of British taxi manufacturer, The London Taxi Company, Geely made a burst of investments in 2017 to strengthen itself, particularly in Europe.It snapped up iconic English sports car Lotus and American startup Terrafugia, designer of futuristic flying cars, while Geely also became the largest shareholder in the Volvo group with a reported investment of 3.25 billion euros.“I want the whole world to hear the cacophony generated by Geely and other made-in-China cars,” Li told Bloomberg in 2011.
Iceland’s budget carrier WOW Air said it had ceased operations and canceled all flights yesterday, stranding thousands of passengers.The collapse of the troubled airline, which transports more than a third of those traveling to Iceland, comes after buyout talks with rival Icelandair collapsed earlier this week.“All WOW Air flights have been canceled. Passengers are advised to check available flights with other airlines,” the carrier said in a statement.“Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances. Information on those airlines will be published, when it becomes available.”Iceland’s government said it estimated that 4,000 travelers were stranded, including around 1,300 currently in transit.At Reykjavik airport, hundreds of passengers were stranded as 30 WOW Air flights to Paris, New York and Montreal were canceled.Two Portuguese tourists, Cristiana and Nuno Barrocas, were in Iceland as part of a trip around the world and rushed to the airport after hearing the news.“Our dream is to go around the world but the start of our adventure is turning out worse than expected,” the couple said after their flight from Copenhagen to Reykjavik was delayed on Wednesday.WOW Air, founded in 2011, exploited Iceland’s location in the middle of the North Atlantic to offer a low-cost service between Europe and North America as well as tapping into a tourist boom to the volcanic island.However it had flown into financial trouble in recent years due to heightened competition on transatlantic low-cost flights and rising fuel prices, and had been searching for an investor for months.On Monday WOW Air said it was in talks to restructure its debt with its creditors after Icelandair ended brief negotiations over buying a stake in the no-frills airline.WOW Air was left needing US$42 million to save the company, according to the Frettabladid newspaper.The privately owned airline has undergone major restructuring after posting a pre-tax loss of almost US$42 million for the first nine months of 2018. It has reduced its fleet from 20 to 11 aircraft, dropped several destinations and cut 111 full-time jobs.A report by a government work group has warned that a WOW Air bankruptcy would lead to a drop in Iceland’s gross domestic product and the value of the krona and rising inflation.
China’s trade deficit in services narrowed in February to US$20.6 billion from US$22.8 billion in January, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said yesterday.Services imports were US$36.4 billion and exports were US$15.8 billion.China has taken steps to improve the development of trade in services, including gradually opening up the finance, education, culture and medical treatment sectors.SAFE began issuing monthly data on services trade in January 2014 to improve the transparency of balance of payment statistics. Since the start of 2015, it has also included monthly data on merchandise trade in its reports.Last month, China saw a surplus of US$8.5 billion in foreign merchandise trade, down from US$46 billion in January.
Bayer Crop Science said it’s sticking to technology innovation to help tackle in a sustainable way the challenges facing the agricultural sector for the benefit of farmers, consumers and our planet. The non-profit training project “Agriculture Green Capacity Building Action Plan” jointly launched by the National Agricultural Technology Extension and Service Center, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and Bayer Crop Science seeks to help participants build up their own capacities and skills and foster talent for green agriculture and quality development in China. The “Agriculture Green Capacity Building Action Plan” (“Embrace the Green” program) plans to cover all provinces and autonomous regions across the country within the next five years. “Sustainable and environmental friendly crop protection technology promotion is key to green agriculture,” commented director Liu Tianjin of the National Agricultural Technology Extension and Service Center. More than 180 professionals from the agricultural industry took part in the kick-off event and attended the first training session in Yangzhou City in Jiangsu Province last week. Liu also urged all participants to stay focused, be innovative and integrate various technologies and to contribute to a safe, high quality and environmentally friendly system. The “Embrace the Green” program launched jointly by NATESC and Bayer aims to leverage best international practices and foster advocates of green technologies by targeting key players.“Under the complicated situation of increasing downward pressure on the economy and profound changes in the external environment, it is of special importance to do a good job in agriculture and rural areas,” the State Council said in an official mandate in February. The rural rejuvenation strategy is a pillar of the country’s work and the training program has also been included as an important topic in the Sino-German agricultural cooperation framework. The “Embrace the Green” program aims to promote and localize the latest concepts, technology and practices of agricultural green development. “High quality agricultural development benefits from a healthy ecological environment, while sustainable agriculture protects and promotes improvements in the ecological environment,” said China Country Head of Bayer Crop Science Huang Weidong. “With the mission of Science for a Better Life, Bayer Crop Science is dedicated to bringing innovative products and technology to China, supporting Chinese growers with enhanced efficiency and quality.” The training sessions brought participants the latest international concepts, standards, technology and practices. The training sessions have been catering to the needs of the agricultural industry and crop growers to cover topics such as interpretation of agricultural policies and green development concepts, green development skills, innovation practices, specific needs of the characteristic industry for green development and soft skill development.In the future, it will also adopt various forms such as lectures, field visits, online webcasts and interactive seminars. In Hanjiang District in Yangzhou City, a number of crop growers have already adopted a new method to eradicate weed from wheat fields to ensure the yield and crop quality. For Bayer, the methods to promote ecologically friendly agricultural practices may vary, but the principle of a foundation in the market and creating value for growers remains unchanged.Chen Yi and Feng Sheng are among the farmers in the Hanjiang District that have used Bayer’s herbicides. “Sometimes I had to use herbicides twice in one wheat season now I need to use Bayer’s Bacara Forte only once in less volume which ensures the wheat yield,” said Chen. Bayer’s innovative solution on weed control, which combines the use of its herbicides Bacara Forte with Sigma/Sigma Broad, is different from traditional weed control methods. The combination can control weeds in wheat fields effectively, especially in the Yangtze valley and also manage weed resistance by combining various modes of actions. In 2019, the “Embrace the Green” program is expected to be implemented in six provinces and autonomous regions, including Jiangsu, Shandong, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Sichuan and Guangxi, and will be co-organized by relevant provincial level crop protection organizations.
The US economy slowed more than initially thought in the fourth quarter, keeping growth in 2018 below the Trump administration’s 3 percent annual target.Corporate profits failed to rise for the first time in more than two years. Gross domestic product increased at a 2.2 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department said yesterday.That was down from the 2.6 percent estimated in February.The economy grew at 3.4 percent in the third quarter.The revisions to the fourth-quarter GDP reading reflected markdowns to consumer and business spending, as well as government outlays and investment in home-building.For all of 2018, the economy grew 2.9 percent as previously reported, despite the White House’s fiscal stimulus of US$1.5 trillion in tax cuts and more government spending.Growth last year was the strongest since 2015 and was an acceleration from the 2.2 percent logged in 2017.Compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, the economy expanded 3.0 percent, revised down from the 3.1 percent reported last month.President Donald Trump has highlighted the year-on-year growth as proof that fiscal stimulus, which has contributed to a swelling of the federal government deficit, has put the economy on a sustainable path of strong growth.Trump likes to showcase the economy as one of the biggest achievements of his term, declaring last July that his administration had “accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.” On the campaign trail, Trump boasted he could boost annual GDP growth to 4 percent, a goal analysts always said was unrealistic given low productivity, among other factors.There are signs the slowdown in growth persisted early in the first quarter, with retail sales rising modestly and manufacturing production and home-building tepid.That was underscored by weak profits in the fourth quarter. After tax corporate profits were unchanged for the first time since the third quarter of 2016, after growing at 3.5 percent in the third quarter.The economy is facing headwinds from the fading stimulus, slowing global growth, Washington’s trade war with China and uncertainty over Brexit.
China’s stock markets closed down yesterday and combined daily turnover shrank as local investors chose to take a “wait and see” approach after foreign institutional investors sold off.The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.92 percent or 27.78 points to finish at 2,994.94.More than 20 shares fell by the daily maximum 10 percent. The Shenzhen Component Index shed 0.65 percent to 9,546.51 points, while the ChiNext dropped 0.67 percent to 1,626.82 points.Most sectors fell, with textile and clothing manufacturers, property developers and media companies leading the losses.Langsha Knitting Co Ltd, the world’s largest hosiery enterprise, based in the eastern province of Zhejiang, dived 5.19 percent to close at 17.72 yuan (US$2.63). The combined turnover of the two bourses was 663.6 billion yuan, down from 664.7 billion yuan on Wednesday.Turnover this low has been rare in March.Monday saw a net outflow of more than 10 billion yuan of foreign capital, which triggered a risk-aversion sentiment among investors.And without abundant capital, it would be very difficult for the market to rise, said Kang Chongli, head of strategy at Lianxun Securities.Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia — Asia’s equivalent of the Davos summit — yesterday that the country would continue to open up its financial sector.The banking, securities and insurance industries are speeding up their efforts to liberalize market access for foreign investment and the business scope for foreign banks will be expanded.
Shanghai yesterday outlined new rules from the State Council for free trade zones, including multiple land use, accelerated approval for inbound artworks and the promotion of local financial institutions to provide overseas agencies with yuan derivative products.The changes set the stage for further liberalization in the city’s pilot free trade zone.A total of 59 measures to optimize the business environment, facilitate free trade, promote the opening-up and innovation of the financial sector and boost human resources incentives will take effect at the end of the month, the city government said.Foreign HR agencies are no longer required to have more than three years’ experience before opening in Shanghai.There is also no more ratio requirement for foreign technicians in the workforce of foreign engineering design firms.And Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan construction enterprises will be treated the same as mainland firms.The new rules also support Pudong International Airport becoming the designated port of parallel-import vehicles and the Yangshan Deep-Water Port as the bonded area for the warehousing of the vehicles. The program, unlike traditional car importing, does not require auto dealers to import strictly from carmakers.Separately, stem cell production, quality inspection and research platforms will be established in the Shanghai FTZ, together with accelerated approval for clinical tests of overseas-marketed stem cell products.The Shanghai FTZ will optimize the trading mechanism of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program and promote Shanghai-London Stock Connect.Individuals in the Shanghai FTZ will be allowed to carry out overseas securities investment.The Shanghai FTZ will also support more eligible banks to carry out direct settlement of yuan and New Taiwan dollars.Flexible working, including hiring extra workers at busy times, short-term employment and temporary jobs for research and development will be encouraged, while more incentives will be introduced to attract foreign students to work in Pudong.