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Finbarr Bermingham

Articles by Finbarr Bermingham

China tried to punish European states for Huawei bans by adding eleventh-hour rule to EU investment deal

13 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]At the eleventh hour of its painstakingly negotiated investment deal with the European Union, China tried to add a clause that would have frozen some of the benefits for EU states that restricted access for Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese telecoms firms, according documents reviewed by the South China Morning Post.The insertion appeared in a draft negotiating text dated December 11, just weeks before the parties finalised their bilateral investment pact, but was struck-through by EU…

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China-EU investment deal: ‘landmark’ treaty greeted with a shrug by underwhelmed analysts

21 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The China-EU investment deal agreed to in principle on Wednesday has been greeted with a shrug by economists, with some questioning whether an under-pressure European Commission has oversold a deal that will not significantly move the needle in economic terms.The deal retains multiple deep carve-outs to protect Chinese interests in key sectors, including automotive, aviation, health care and telecoms, according to an early negotiating text, and contains some commitments that Beijing has made in…

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Facing US tariff threat, Vietnam’s furniture makers fight back against claims of illegal trading practices

23 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Vietnamese businesses are pushing back against investigations by the United States into its timber industry and currency management that threaten to wipe out Vietnam’s huge gains from the US-China trade war.The Southeast Asian nation has been heralded as one of the main victors of the superpower clash, soaking up manufacturing exiting China to avoid Donald Trump’s trade tariffs on Chinese goods.As a result, Vietnam’s own trade surplus with the US ballooned – up 180 per cent in October compared…

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Katherine Tai: Joe Biden’s US trade chief pick ‘unmatched’ on China issues, would not be soft on Beijing

December 10, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As America’s chief enforcement lawyer on China trade issues during the Obama administration, Katherine Tai was charged with corralling partners to join the United States in a trade dispute against China on restrictions involving exports of rare earth elements – a market dominated by China.It was a landmark case – one that stoked regional tensions between China and its neighbours, but which also helped raise awareness on some of the major grievances that trading partners had with Beijing, a…

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China’s US, Australia trade continues to grow in record-breaking month despite ongoing geopolitical spats

December 7, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s two-way trade with sparring partners Australia and the United States expanded in November from a year earlier despite ongoing tensions, in what was a record breaking month for Chinese exports.Shipments to Australia rose by 22.6 per cent last month, in the most lucrative month on record for China’s overall exports. Chinese imports of Australian goods ticked up 9.4 per cent in November compared to a year earlier, even as the political relationship went from bad to worse.However, despite…

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Xinjiang: US moves swiftly to enforce ban on cotton products linked to forced labour

December 4, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]US customs authorities are baring their teeth over a sweeping new ban on cotton products from Xinjiang, even as businesses scramble to remove the sprawling Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) from their supply chains.After announcing a ban on cotton products connected to the sanctioned XPCC on Wednesday, US customs detained shipments for further investigation on Thursday in a sign that the agency “is looking to make this enforcement effort very visible to its critics”.“I’ve…

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China’s former trade chief hits out at ‘groundless’ claims country cannot join CPTPP

December 2, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Beijing’s former top trade negotiator has dismissed as “groundless” claims that China would not meet strict criteria to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in the long term.President Xi Jinping said two weeks ago the country was “actively considering” joining the formerly American-backed trade pact, setting off debate as to whether China would meet its terms of entry, including on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), labour rights and e-commerce…

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China’s interest in Pacific trade deal sets stage for new US showdown after Xi Jinping ups the ante

November 24, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]On the heels of signing the world’s biggest free trade deal, President Xi Jinping’s announcement that China “will actively consider” joining a formerly American-backed accord has sent a ripple of intrigue across the Pacific Rim.That it comes just weeks after Joe Biden’s US election win thickens the plot further still, with speculation running high as to whether the United States could also return in some shape or form to a deal dumped by Donald Trump in his first week in office.After three…

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Joe Biden’s US election win means ‘more stability’ in superpower ties, American businesses in China hope

November 20, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]American businesses in China have welcomed Joe Biden’s US election victory, hoping that it will help stabilise superpower ties following four years of “sometimes erratic policies”.Almost two-thirds of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai said they are more optimistic about doing business in China following Donald Trump’s election loss.Businesses are signalling that a Biden administration will bring more stability to the US-China relationshipKer GibbsAlmost…

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China-Australia relations: Canberra reached out to Beijing at ‘every possible level’, minister says

November 18, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Australia has “reached out at every possible level and pathway in terms of writing to Beijing” in a bid to repair fraying tensions with China, but will not budge on its criticism of “international human rights obligations”, trade minister Simon Birmingham said on Wednesday.Returning the latest volley in a game of verbal tennis between Beijing and Canberra, Birmingham told Australian radio that “it is fanciful to suggest that we haven’t sought and tried pretty much every possible or conceivable…

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China-Australia relations: Beijing blames Canberra for trade spat, citing grievances from Huawei to Taiwan

November 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has rejected Australia’s claim that the “ball is in its court” regarding resolution of their escalating trade dispute, providing a long list of alleged offences that have “greatly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people”.At a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China bears “no responsibility” for the collapse in bilateral ties, which has resulted in a series of Australian exports to China being hit with trade restrictions.Zhao cited…

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China-Australia relations: ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull urges Canberra not to ‘buckle under pressure’ from Beijing

November 13, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Australia should not “buckle under pressure” from an onslaught of trade actions from Beijing and change its stance on controversial bilateral issues with China, according to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.China continues to apply trade actions to Australian exports, with informal bans or import duties targeting products ranging from coal, cotton and timber to wine, lobster and beef.I went through an episode precisely like this in 2017 and 2018. And we stuck to our position, we didn‘t…

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Does Joe Biden’s pick as the next US trade chief need to be a China hand?

November 10, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In his three years as US ambassador to China under then-president Barack Obama, Max Baucus says he was often surprised by the lack of understanding about China among senior government colleagues in Washington.“It was very clear to me that some of the people – the top cabinet secretaries, for example – did not have sufficient Chinese experience and did not sufficiently understand China,” said Baucus, who advised Joe Biden on China policy during his successful presidential election campaign…

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China-Australia relations: Canberra lashes out at China’s barley duties at WTO

October 30, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Australia lashed out at China’s anti-dumping duties on its barley exports in a statement made at the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week, Geneva sources said.The statement was made at a meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Anti-Dumping Practices on Wednesday.Australian WTO officials criticised China’s investigation into whether Australia was dumping cheap barley on the market, and claimed that a flawed probe led to a miscalculation of the duties charged.China has been engaged in an…

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China would ‘probably prefer a Joe Biden presidency’ over Donald Trump, says former American ambassador to Beijing

October 29, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]After four years of unpredictability and US President Donald Trump tweeting “whatever is on his mind in the middle of the night”, China would probably prefer the relative stability that a Joe Biden presidency would bring, America’s former ambassador to Beijing says.The comments from Max Baucus – the top US envoy to China between 2014-17, and an adviser on China policy to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign – can be added to a maelstrom that views on whether Beijing would prefer four more years of…

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WTO: US vetoes appointment of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, China’s choice to lead the global trade body

October 28, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The World Trade Organization (WTO) moved a step closer to appointing its next director general on Wednesday, with top officials recommending Nigerian candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the job at a meeting in Geneva.However, the United States told an informal gathering of the heads of delegations that it will not back her candidacy, meaning Okonjo-Iweala does not yet have the consensus needed to secure the job.WTO General Council chair David Walker told the same meeting that Okonjo-Iweala is…

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US lodges appeal against WTO ruling in China’s favour over trade war tariffs

October 26, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The United States has lodged an appeal against a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that some of President Donald Trump’s trade war tariffs on China were unlawful, according to a Geneva trade official.The move was announced by the chair of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body at the start of a meeting in Geneva on Monday.The US move effectively derails any action China might have taken against the dispute award, made in September.The WTO’s appellate body – the Geneva body’s final appeal court –…

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Donald Trump promised a tough China trade policy, but few think it has worked

October 21, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As voters in the United States prepare for the presidential election in November, the South China Morning Post is exploring the potential ramifications for China. The latest part of the US election series looks at the impact of US President Donald Trump’s trade policies on China.When the US-China trade war kicked off in 2018, Xu Yanlin, a senior sales manager for a Guangzhou company selling clothes and household items on Amazon, worried that her US market would collapse.But instead, her online…

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China, Taiwan and Vietnam successfully contained coronavirus, now they are poster boys for export recovery

October 21, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A new study has confirmed the polarised impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the global trade recovery, with East Asian economies powering ahead of those in the West.China, Taiwan and Vietnam are the only major trading economies whose exports have recovered strongly, with all three reporting strong growth in the third quarter of 2020, according to research by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).The trio were among the only economies who brought the spread of…

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Hong Kong lashes out at US ‘Made in China’ labelling rule at the World Trade Organization

October 14, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hong Kong has formally denounced at the World Trade Organization (WTO) a Trump administration regulation that goods made in the city for export to the US must be labelled as “Made In China”.The “formal intervention” was made during a session on Tuesday of the WTO’s General Council, the Geneva institution’s highest-level decision-making body.It comes after the Hong Kong government made an official written complaint to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in September, demanding…

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US election: China’s trade gap with United States was 43 per cent bigger in September than when Donald Trump took office

October 13, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s trade surplus with the United States was 43.6 per cent larger last month than in January 2017 when Donald Trump was sworn into office, according to the final monthly trade figures released by Beijing before November’s US presidential election.Trump railed against the US’ deficit with China before and after taking office. And this year’s much-vaunted phase one trade deal with China, which saw Beijing agree to buy hundreds of billions of dollars worth of American products, was designed to…

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China faces ‘difficult trade-off’ as WTO leadership race heads into final round

October 8, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The field of candidates to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) was cut to two on Thursday, in a historic move that means the Geneva-based body will get its first female director general.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea will fight it out for the hot seat vacated by the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo in August, with candidates from Britain, Kenya and Saudi Arabia failing to make the second cut, it was widely reported on Thursday.Should Okonjo-Iweala win, she would be…

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Coronavirus hit to global trade ‘deeper but not as long’ as thought, as WTO sees recovery under way

October 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The coronavirus pandemic has caused a “deeper but less prolonged decline in trade” than initially expected, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Tuesday, as the Geneva-based body reduced its estimate for the contraction of global trade in 2020.The WTO said global trade was now set to shrink by 9.2 per cent this year, with growth of 7.2 per cent forecast for 2021.In April, when the effects of the pandemic on global supply chains were still uncertain, the WTO forecast that global trade…

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China says US and Indian bans on TikTok, WeChat broke WTO rules

October 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]At a closed-door meeting at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), China has accused the United States and India of breaking global trading rules over bans on Chinese-made apps, including TikTok and WeChat.China took to the floor at the Council for Trade in Services meeting on Friday to accuse the pair of taking measures that are “clearly inconsistent with WTO rules, restrict cross-border trading services and violate the basic principles and objectives of the multilateral trading system”,…

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Donald Trump’s four years in power have ‘totally changed manufacturing’, say US firms forced to rethink supply chains

October 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When Donald Trump was elected US President in 2016, almost all of M Group Corporation’s high-end hotel furniture fittings were made in China.Now, after four years of being pummelled by anti-dumping duties, tariffs and extreme political volatility, about 50 per cent is made in China, with the balance of production scattered around Vietnam, Malaysia and Eastern Europe.“We eventually came up with a solution, and the only real winner was my frequent flier programme,” said the American company’s…

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US-China trade: soybeans, corn and cars surge, but Beijing still not close to meeting demands of deal

September 28, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Exponential increases in purchases of some politically important American goods such as soybeans, corn and cars have failed to significantly move the needle towards meeting China’s annual import commitments in the phase one trade deal ahead of November’s US elections.A South China Morning Post analysis of detailed US customs data for August shows that China’s imports of goods covered by the deal, signed in January, were up 25 per cent relative to June.The incremental increase came despite sales…

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China’s economy undergoing ‘two very different recoveries’, study that counters official data says

September 23, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China has been heralded as the first major economy to recover from the impact of the coronavirus, but that resurgence has been patchy and overhyped, according to the authors of a new study.A survey of Chinese firms conducted by China Beige Book, an independent analysis firm, showed that for “the corporate elite” – large firms in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong – the economy is accelerating, but that “most firms in most regions are seeing a far more muted recovery”.Official data showed that the…

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US-China trade war casts long shadow over WTO leadership race

September 22, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As the race for leadership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) moves into its second phase, candidates are walking on eggshells, with the US-China trade war casting a long shadow over the highly-politicised proceedings.The five remaining nominees have survived a “gruelling” confessional period, in which they were interviewed by representatives of the trade body’s 164 members, with each attempting not to alienate any of the powerful triumvirate of China, the European Union and the United…

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China coronavirus criticism and Britain’s Huawei 5G ban should not affect WTO bid, says Liam Fox

September 18, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Liam Fox, the British candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO), said his vigorous criticism of China’s trade policy and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic should not be a disqualifying factor for his candidacy in the eyes of Beijing.In a hotly-politicised race for the director general hot seat vacated by Roberto Azevedo at the end of last month, candidates have been careful not to appear too close to China, the European Union, or the United States, for fear of alienating any…

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