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Finbarr Bermingham



Articles by Finbarr Bermingham

WTO grants Hong Kong request to escalate dispute with US over ‘Made in China’ labelling

February 22, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hong Kong’s dispute with the United States over a “Made in China” labelling demand has taken an important step forward, after the city’s request to establish a disputes panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) was granted.Hong Kong made the request to the Geneva body in January, but it was blocked by the US. However, at a meeting of the organisation’s Dispute Settlement Body on Monday, a second request was granted, according to a Geneva trade official who was there.It is common for…

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Soaring EU-Xinjiang trade in textile machinery, tomatoes piles pressure on Brussels to act on alleged forced labour

February 17, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]From the ancient ports of southwest Italy to the industrial heartlands of Germany, European companies are enjoying strong trade with China’s Xinjiang region amid increasing pressure on Brussels to act against allegations of forced labour and other human rights abuses there.As the European Union (EU) was finalising its investment deal with Beijing in December last year, there was a roaring trade in goods connected to the western region’s textiles and tomato industries, which have been targeted…

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WTO: South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee withdraws from director general race, clearing path for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

February 5, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean candidate to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), has dropped out of the race, effectively opening the door for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become its first African leader.In a statement, Yoo, the South Korean Trade Minister, said that she had been “in consultation with major countries such as the United States” over the consensus vote to become the next director general of the WTO.Nigerian candidate Okonjo-Iweala had been recommended by top WTO…

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EU-China investment treaty: top European negotiator Maria Martin-Prat defends forced-labour provisions amid criticism

January 27, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The chief negotiator of the European Union’s new investment deal with China has defended the forced-labour provisions, saying that Beijing’s obligations to ratify key international standards “can be measured over time”.Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday, Maria Martin-Prat said Brussels would continue to push “autonomous measures on forced labour”, implying that it would be unreasonable to expect an investment treaty to be a silver bullet for such social issues.“Even though we think it’s very…

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US rejects Hong Kong request for WTO panel over ‘Made in China’ labelling row

January 25, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The United States has rejected Hong Kong’s request for a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Washington’s decision to label goods made in Hong Kong as “Made in China”.Hong Kong made a request at a meeting of the WTO’s dispute settlement body in Geneva on Monday, a trade source familiar with the meeting told the South China Morning Post.The Hong Kong government had confirmed earlier in January that it would file the request, after US authorities “failed to offer a…

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China’s trade with US failed to meet phase-one deal targets last year, and 2021 is not expected to yield more success

January 22, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China fell well short of meeting the lofty purchasing targets of its phase-one trade deal with the United States in 2020, with analysts sceptical as to whether it will get any closer in the second year of the agreement.In the first year of the deal, China fulfilled only 58 per cent of those targets, according to an analysis of Chinese customs data by the Peterson Institute of International Economics.As part of the deal, signed on January 15, 2020, by former US president Donald Trump and Chinese…

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China’s Xinjiang more than doubled its US exports in 2020, despite Trump’s sanctions and bans

January 21, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Xinjiang’s exports to the United States more than doubled last year, despite increasing pressure on US companies to cut ties with the western Chinese region.Shipments rose by 116 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, analysis of Chinese customs data shows, led by strong sales of wind-powered electric generating sets, which jumped by 3,265 per cent from a year earlier and accounted for almost one quarter of all Xinjiang’s exports to the US.The news comes as the outgoing Trump administration, in one…

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

January 8, 2021

[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

December 31, 2020

[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

December 29, 2020

[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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