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Finbarr Bermingham



Articles by Finbarr Bermingham

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

2 days ago

[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

3 days ago

[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

5 days ago

[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

10 days ago

[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

10 days ago

[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

17 days ago

[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

18 days ago

[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

23 days ago

[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

25 days ago

[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

26 days ago

[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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US election 2020: Trump and Biden both vow to reduce reliance on China, but methods will be ‘night and day’

September 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As voters in the United States prepare for the presidential election on November 3, the South China Morning Post is exploring the potential ramifications for China. The ninth part in the series looks at how the potential China trade policy of Joe Biden would differ from that of Donald Trump. Read the entire series here.In his Mexico City office, while the coronavirus pandemic has raged, Samuel Campos’ phone has been ringing off the hook with firms looking to move their manufacturing to Mexico…

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US drops sweeping Xinjiang goods ban, China’s cotton sector breathes temporary sigh of relief

September 15, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Having faced down trade war tariffs, a pandemic that closed factories for months and now a global recession, the Asian apparel industry can breathe a sigh of relief after the United States decided to temporarily shelve a sweeping ban on products containing cotton from China’s Xinjiang province over allegations of widespread forced labour.Instead, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency imposed restrictions through five separate Withhold Release Orders (WROs) covering cotton, computer…

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Trump has called on US firms to leave China, but no mass exodus among ‘well-rooted’ companies

September 9, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]For American companies in China, the meltdown of bilateral relations represents the biggest concern in 2020, but few businesses invested in the country long-term are inclined to leave while enjoying healthy profits in an economy that has rebounded strongly from the coronavirus pandemic.Almost two-thirds of respondents to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai’s annual business survey said US-China tensions were their biggest worry – the first time bilateral issues have led the poll, and…

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s US passport will not help her chances in WTO leadership race, Chinese trade experts say

September 4, 2020

“It is certainly not an asset for her to be chosen as the director general, from the Chinese perspective,” said Kong Qingjiang, a WTO expert at the China University of Political Science and Law. “Some factors are more important than others. Sometimes professionalism is not the most important – political factors get in the way.”AdvertisementOther candidates’ prospects have also been questioned because of the fraught global political situation. South Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee could be affected by an ongoing trade dispute with Japan, while the Korean-American military alliance may also alienate support from Beijing, despite her long career in trade.Mexican candidate Jesus Seade spent a number of years working in Hong Kong and in mainland China, but some suspect that his perceived

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US trade deficit with China wider than May 2016, when Donald Trump accused China of ‘greatest theft in history’

September 4, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The United States’ trade deficit with China has crept back up close to pre-coronavirus levels after narrowing when the outbreak battered the Chinese economy.The deficit with China – the gap between the amount the US buys from China and what it sells – was US$31.62 billion in July, just 3.46 per cent lower than US$32.8 billion in July 2019, data released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday showed.But the rate at which it has grown in recent months will rattle US President Donald Trump, who vowed…

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Face masks among Chinese exports given four-month US trade war tariff reprieve

September 2, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Disposable face masks, respirators, Bluetooth tracking devices and musical instruments are among the Chinese exports granted a new short-term exemption to trade war tariffs by the United States, its trade department announced on Tuesday.The products on List 1 of the Section 301 tariff action against China had been exempted on September 1, 2019, for one year. But the reprieve has been extended just four months, until the end of 2020. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) did not…

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Joe Biden faces pressure to separate China trade policy from Donald Trump’s in US election

September 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As voters in the United States prepare for the presidential election on November 3, the South China Morning Post is exploring the potential ramifications for China. The second part of the series looks at how the potential China trade policy of Joe Biden would differ from that of Donald Trump. You can read the first part of the series here.At the start of August, a Joe Biden presidential campaign aide rushed to clarify comments the candidate gave in an interview with National Public Radio, which…

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US-China style trade wars could proliferate without WTO ‘reinvention’, Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee says

September 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Tariff battles like the US-China trade war could become more widespread should global trade’s governing body “fail again to reinvent itself”, warned South Korea’s trade minister and candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO).Yoo Myung-hee said that the dysfunction at the WTO might be partly to blame for the trade spat which has run for more than two years, and has helped usher in a period of wider rivalry between the world’s two largest economies.“Perhaps their trade tensions are to…

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Hong Kong’s WTO threat against US ‘Made in China’ ruling puts city in uncharted waters

August 20, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]On April 24, 1986, when Hong Kong became an independent member of the global trading system in its own right, Michael Cartland stood up from his erstwhile British colleagues within the European Community’s delegation and walked over to take Hong Kong’s seat between Haiti and Hungary.More than a third of a century later, Hong Kong is facing an existential crisis in the system in which it has thrived for decades.In response to sweeping national security legislation that has placed question marks…

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Coronavirus vaccine fair trade should top WTO agenda, says Nigerian candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

August 19, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala vows that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will ensure future coronavirus vaccines and medical supplies are traded and allocated fairly, should she become the next director general of the Geneva-based body.Pitching herself as a reformer willing to reverse the WTO’s stagnation, the Nigerian candidate said the pandemic should be “used as an opportunity to put down markers – to solve a problem that the world is confronting right now”.“How do we get these vaccines in a way…

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US, China urged by WTO hopeful to avoid ‘old traps of cold war and rivalry’

August 12, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hamid Mamdouh, the Egyptian candidate to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has warned the United States and China against “falling back into old traps of cold war and rivalry”, as rising geopolitical tensions threaten to upend the global trade system.It is now commonly said that the US-China rivalry represents a new cold war, with most analysts expecting some degree of decoupling between the world’s two largest economies.The experienced Mamdouh, considered an outsider for the director…

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National security law: Hong Kong’s US exports to be relabelled ‘Made in China’

August 11, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Goods made in Hong Kong for export to the United States will have to be labelled “Made in China” after September 25, according to a US government notice.The move, in accordance with the suspension of the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and the invoking of US President Donald Trump’s executive order on “Hong Kong Normalisation”, will see Hong Kong companies subjected to the same trade war tariffs levied on mainland Chinese exporters, should they make products subject to these duties.A notice will…

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After Chengdu, ‘nobody knows what is next’, say US firms in geopolitical crosshairs

August 7, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In the days following China’s retaliatory closure of the US consulate in Chengdu at the end of July, Benjamin Wang received “maybe 20 phone calls” from the top bosses of American firms in the region, “who did not know what was going on” in the crumbling superpower relationship. The move marked a new and dangerous spike in the US-China rivalry and came after Washington closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, citing alleged cyber-espionage activity there. As chairman of the American Chamber of…

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WTO contender Amina Mohamed backs a new rule book in US-China trade war

July 31, 2020

Speaking from her current base in Geneva, Mohamed was keen to emphasise her experience in negotiating and her understanding of the issues that have hamstrung the WTO and left it watching the superpower dispute from the sidelines, saying: “You don’t send a doctor to fix a car.”The WTO club of 164 members, which is designed to set global trading rules, has not produced a major multilateral free trade accord since abandoning its “Doha Round” of negotiations in 2015.AdvertisementPerhaps aware of the widespread desire for substantive reform of an organisation that has been rendered a talking shop in recent years, Mohamed acknowledged the need for important changes – even in the contentious area of state subsidies.“We need to address agricultural subsidies in the same way that we need to address

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