BEIJING, August 24 -- China said Friday that it will impose further tariffs on U.S. imports worth around $75 billion, in retaliation for planned tariff hikes on Chinese products by Washington.
The Commerce Ministry said it will impose additional tariffs of 5 percent or 10 percent on a total of 5,078 products of U.S. goods, some of which would take effect on Sept. 1 and the rest on Dec. 15. China will also resume imposing additional tariffs of 25 percent and 5 percent on U.S.-made vehicles and auto parts starting from Dec. 15, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council announced. The announcement comes as U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged that Washington will impose 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, effective on those two dates, in a move that would see nearly all imports from Asia's biggest economy taxed. The U.S. decision "has greatly hurt interests" of China, the United States and other countries and "has seriously threatened the multilateral trade system and the free trade system," Beijing said, adding, "China is forced to take reciprocal measures." "We hope China and the United States will resolve differences in a manner acceptable to both sides on the premise of mutual respect, equality, good faith, and consistency of words and deeds," the Customs Tariff Commission said in a statement.
The Trump administration has so far imposed 25 percent levies on a total of $250 billion of Chinese imports in an effort to reduce the chronic U.S. trade deficit with China, as well as to address alleged intellectual property and technology theft by Chinese companies. On Aug. 13, it delayed imposing a 10 percent tariff on laptop computers, cellphones, video game consoles and other "certain articles" imported from China to Dec. 15 from Sept. 1 as planned. The announcement drew some relief from retailers and other businesses concerned that the new levies, which in combination with current ones would have meant tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports, could have dampened consumption especially around the holiday shopping season.
BEIJING, August 22 -- China is hopeful that US President Donald Trump can “honour” his earlier hands-off stance on Hong Kong, although the Commerce Ministry spokesman neglected to mention the latest statement from the American leader linking the trade talks between Washington and Beijing with the anti-government protests in the city.
China is hopeful that US President Donald Trump can “honour” his earlier hands-off stance on Hong Kong, although the Commerce Ministry spokesman neglected to mention the latest statement from the American leader linking the trade talks between Washington and Beijing with the anti-government protests in the city. Trump had been distancing himself from the tensions until earlier this week saying that trade talks with China would be hampered if Beijing used violent means to crack down on the ongoing protests in Hong Kong similar to those employed against pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.Trump said that if a similar crackdown happened in Hong Kong, “there’d be tremendous political sentiment not to do something”, referring to trade negotiations between China and the United States. “It does put pressure on the trade deal. If they do something negative, it puts pressure,” he added. “We noticed that President Trump had said that Hong Kong is part of China and [China and Hong Kong] can sort it out on their own. We hope the US side can honor these words,” said Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng on Thursday.
Protests have taken place in Hong Kong since June 9, sparked by demands for the city’s government to withdraw an unpopular extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of suspects to mainland China. Protests have continued in the city for over 11 weeks despite Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam stating that the bill “is dead”. The stance from China’s Commerce Ministry is in line with China’s Foreign Ministry and state media as Beijing is opposed to linking the situation in Hong Kong with the talks over the ongoing trade war. Earlier on Wednesday, Trump added that “I don’t view it as leverage. I hope Hong Kong works out in a very humane way. I don’t view it as leverage or non-leverage. I hope it works out in a humane way. And I think that President Xi Jinping has the ability to make sure that happens”. Gao said China’s negotiating team has maintained contact with their American counterparts, with Vice-Premier Liu He believed to have taken part in a scheduled phone call with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week.
HONG KONG, August 22 -- Hong Kong stocks are poised for their worst quarter since 2015 and corporate earnings are unlikely to save them.
After a sell-off erased more than US$600 billion from the city’s equities, attractive valuations stood as a potential bright spot. But those multiples don’t look so good when analysts keep slashing their profit forecasts for 2019. Their call for an average 19 per cent slump in operating income would be the biggest contraction for Hang Seng Index companies since the global financial crisis, data compiled by Bloomberg show. While a protracted US-China trade war and a weak yuan are to blame for a big chunk of the profit reductions, the latest cuts reveal a deeper issue. With Hong Kong’s slowing economy buckling under the pressure of 11 straight weeks of protests, demand for everything from bank loans to utility gas may be jeopardized. “The third quarter could be even worse given the local political situation and the trade war escalation,” said Jackson Wong, asset management director at Amber Hill Capital. “Potential downside surprises have not been fully reflected in share prices.” Shares of utilities provider Hong Kong and China Gas fell 5.3 per cent on Wednesday after it posted disappointing results and said the local business environment is “full of challenges.” Political unrest in Hong Kong may dampen its sales to the hospitality industry as people opt to cook at home rather than dine out, analysts at Daiwa Securities Group say. The threat from the trade war and weeks of local unrest has been apparent in the property market, as well as hotel occupancy and retail sales. CK Asset Holdings, whose shares fell to lowest since January 2017 last week, postponed a luxury residential project because of the protests. HSBC Holdings and BOC Hong Kong Holdings have lost about 9 per cent this month as investors become increasingly concerned about capital flight.
LOS ANGELES, August 22 -- Action movie hero Dwayne Johnson, star of the "Jumanji" and "Fast and Furious" franchises, topped the annual list of the world's highest-paid actors, Forbes magazine reported.
Johnson, the former wrestler once known as The Rock, pulled in US$89.4 million (S$123 million) from June 2018 to June 2019, the magazine said. That includes his salary and a share of profits from films, US$700,000 per episode of HBO series Ballers, and seven figures in royalties from his line of clothing, shoes and headphones with Under Armour. Last year, Johnson was second behind George Clooney, who reaped a windfall from the sale of his tequila company. Next on this year's list were two stars of Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing movie of all time. Chris Hemsworth, who played Thor, took in US$76.4 million, while Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr earned US$66 million, Forbes said. Other "Endgame" stars - Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans and Paul Rudd - also landed in the top 10. Most of Cooper's earnings, however, came from A Star Is Born, the musical drama he directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in with Lady Gaga. Cooper collected US$40 million of his US$57 million total from that film, Forbes said. The fourth-biggest earner was Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, with US$65 million, and Hong Kong-born actor and martial artist Jackie Chan with US$58 million. The figures are pre-tax and do not include deductions for fees given to agents, managers and lawyers, Forbes said.
BEIJING, August 21 -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday asked Japan and South Korea to seek a solution to resolve their differences "through dialogue," amid concern that worsening relations between Tokyo and Seoul may threaten regional economic stability down the road.
Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono also called on Beijing and Seoul to bolster trilateral cooperation even when respective bilateral ties sour, but his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung Wha lambasted Tokyo's moves to tighten export controls against her country.
"While maintaining a constructive attitude, it is important (for Japan and South Korea) to find out an appropriate solution through dialogue," Wang said at the outset of a foreign ministerial gathering of the three nations in Beijing.
Kono said, "Two countries sometimes face various difficulties respectively, but even under such circumstances, Japan, China and South Korea should work together trilaterally." A Japanese government official briefing reporters later in the day quoted Kono as telling Wang and Kang that the foreign ministers "should refrain" from raising issues related to bilateral relations during the trilateral meeting.
Kang, however, told Kono and Wang that South Korea hopes that the three nations will stick to "free and fair" trade for prosperity in the region in an apparent jab at Japan, underscoring that strains between Tokyo and Seoul are unlikely to wane soon.
She also said at a joint press appearance following the talks, "It is important to eliminate unilateral and arbitrary trade retaliatory steps and remove uncertainties" in East Asia. Kang did not single out Japan.
The Japanese official said Wang did not make comments aimed at mediating in the row between Tokyo and Seoul.
Recently, Japan-South Korea ties have plunged to the lowest point since normalization in 1965 over Japanese imposition of export control measures in the wake of a string of South Korean court rulings last year ordering compensation for wartime labor.
At a three-way meeting in Bangkok earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to make efforts to ease their confrontation, but no resolution has been in sight.
Although Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul agreed Wednesday to accelerate negotiations to reach regional free trade agreements, Japan-South Korea trade spats would make it more difficult for them to be realized, foreign affairs experts say.
BANGKOK, August 21 -- Thailand's finance ministry has cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to 3.0% from the 3.8% it projected in April, due to falling exports.
The ministry also said it changed its 2019 estimate for exports, a key driver of growth, to a fall of 0.9% instead of a 3.4% rise. However, the economy will be helped by a $10 billion stimulus package approved by the cabinet on Tuesday, it said. The outlook downgrade came a day after Thailand reported second-quarter growth of 2.3%, the weakest annual pace in nearly five years. Southeast Asia's second-largest economy expanded 4.1% last year, the best in six years.
WASHINGTON, August 21 -- The US president told reporters that buying Greenland, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has extensive home rule, would be “a large real estate deal” that could ease a financial burden on Denmark, but Denmark’s prime minister did not want to talk about a possible US purchase of the island of Greenland.
President Donald Trump said he would be putting off a planned meeting with Denmark’s prime minister because she did not want to talk about a possible US purchase of the island of Greenland. “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump said in a Twitter post on Tuesday night. “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!” the president wrote. Trump had been scheduled to make a state visit to Denmark on Sept. 2 on the invitation of Queen Margrethe II.
Hours before the trip was called off, Carla Sands, the U.S. ambassador to Denmark, tweeted that the Scandinavian country was “ready for the POTUS @realDonaldTrump visit! Partner, ally, friend.” Earlier this week, the president told reporters that buying Greenland, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has extensive home rule, would be “a large real estate deal” that could ease a financial burden on Denmark.
Frederiksen had ruled out any sale. Danish officials have been adamant about no-sale since reports emerged last week that Trump had directed advisers and lawyers to review a possible deal. “Greenland isn’t for sale, Greenland isn’t Danish, Greenland is Greenlandic,” she said Sunday during a visit to Greenland, according to local newspaper Sermitsiaq. “I keep trying to hope that this isn’t something that was seriously meant.” Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, earlier Sunday said Greenland is a “strategic place” rich in valuable minerals and that discussions are continuing. “The president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look at a potential Greenland purchase,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday.” However serious White House discussions of a sale might have been, the topic prompted jokes on both sides of the Atlantic since Trump’s interest was first reported. He got into the act on Monday night with a tweet showing an image of a golden Trump tower on an austere Greenland landscape. “I promise not to do this to Greenland,” Trump wrote.
VIENNA, August 20 -- OPEC+ countries participating in the Vienna Agreement on the reduction of oil production fulfilled the terms of the agreement by 159% in July 2019, a source said after the meeting of the OPEC+ technical committee.
"OPEC+ deal compliance percentage reaches 159% in July 2019," the source said. At the same time, OPEC countries complied with the agreement by 156%, and non-OPEC countries performed the agreement by 166%, the source added. Thus, in July the OPEC+ participants reduced production against October 2018 taken as the base level by 1.9 mln barrels per day, instead of early planned 1.2 mln barrels daily. In total, OPEC+ countries agreed to reduce oil production by 1.2 mln barrels per day by March 2020, including 812,000 barrels for OPEC countries and 383,000 barrels - non-OPEC countries. The main reduction quotas fall on the largest parties to the agreement - Russia and Saudi Arabia (228,000 barrels per day and 322,000 barrels per day, respectively).
LONDON, August 20 -- Asking prices for London homes showed their first annual increase since 2017 this month, as the Brexit-battered market started to show signs of life.
New seller prices were up 1.3 per cent from a year earlier, property website Rightmove Plc said in a report published Monday. They eased just 0.1 per cent on the month, the smallest decline for any August since 2006. Rightmove said a shortage of supply is helping to underpin prices, with the number of new sellers down almost 11 per cent on the year. Meanwhile, sales agreements jumped in what is normally a slow month, suggesting buyers and sellers alike are now taking the plunge after years of waiting for Brexit to be resolved. “It’s been three years since the vote and Brexit fatigue has kicked in,” Chris Osmond, sales director at London-based estate agent JOHNS&CO, said in a comment accompanying the report. “After all, life goes on and you can only put plans on hold for so long. We’ve also seen the number of vendors wanting to cash in on long-held investments increase.”
August also saw the largest number of sales nationwide in four years. Rightmove Director Miles Shipside said that uncertainty ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline had potentially encouraged homeowners to sell earlier in the year than normal. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid is mulling stamp duty reforms for U.K. home sellers as part of a budget due later this year, he told The Times in an interview published Saturday. While the newspaper reported that tax burden would be shifted from home buyers to sellers to give larger tax bill for those who have benefited from rising property prices, Javid later said he won’t support that in a tweet. Nevertheless, “we need bold measures on housing,” he said. The property market has struggled in the recent years, with the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union weighing on prices. London has been particularly badly affected. A separate report by Acadata found house prices in the capital barely rose in the year through June, with several areas losing more than 10%. Across the country, the picture is mixed. Asking prices were lower than a year earlier in the southeast and the southwest, while northern England, Scotland and Wales -- regions where house prices are cheaper on average -- showed solid increases, according to Rightmove.
WASHINGTON, August 19 -- U.S. President Donald Trump warned China on Sunday a suppression by force of Hong Kong protestors like the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 would harm bilateral trade talks.
"I think it would be very hard to deal if they do violence. I mean, if it's another Tiananmen Square...it's a very hard thing to do," Trump told reporters in New Jersey, referring to the crackdown that is believed to have killed hundreds of people, mostly students, when armed troops were deployed to clear the square. The world's two largest economies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat tariff war. Organizers said some 1.7 million people took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday, calling for full withdrawal of a now-suspended bill that would have allowed fugitive transfers to mainland China as well as an independent probe into alleged police violence. The protest, the biggest since a June 16 rally in which organizers said 2 million took part, represented Hong Kong citizens' strong frustration with Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has refused to accept their requests. Another rally may be held on Aug. 31. The Chinese leadership led by President Xi Jinping has stationed the People's Armed Police Force, a paramilitary force, in Shenzhen across the mainland border with armored vehicles seen gathering in recent days at a stadium.