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Finbarr Bermingham

Articles by Finbarr Bermingham

Trump’s plan to strip Hong Kong of its special status is light on detail, but economists still fear for city’s future

2 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that he plans to begin stripping Hong Kong of its special trading status left many important questions about the city’s future as a financial and commercial hub unanswered.Hong Kong officials played down the impact of Trump’s vow “to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China”, noting the city’s direct trade with the US is only a very small part of its economy.While Trump said it…

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Hong Kong warned WTO challenge to potential US trade sanctions could be ‘counterproductive’

3 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hong Kong has hinted at a potential legal challenge to sanction threats from the United States, stating that it would be “a violation of international law”, as the fallout from China’s decision to implement a national security law in the city continued.In a statement released late on Thursday, hours after China’s National People’s Congress approved the proposal for the controversial legislation, the Hong Kong government said that as a full member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), “we…

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Hong Kong national security law: city awaits Trump’s response, casting shadow over long-term economic status

4 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Economists, diplomats and business figures were scrambling on Thursday to quantify the effect of Washington’s decision to deem Hong Kong “no longer autonomous” from China, with many gaming out the “nuclear option”, in which the United States revokes the city’s special trading status.Former White House officials said that the most likely immediate scenario is that US President Donald Trump approves a “variety” of sanctions, potentially on both Chinese and Hong Kong officials, by the end of the…

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Coronavirus backlash adds to trade war and decoupling pressure to fray China’s ties to global system

9 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This is the seventh in a nine-part series examining the issues Chinese leaders face as they gather for their annual “two sessions” of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference this week. This story will examine China’s changing role in the global economy.Up until last week, almost all the Angus beef raised on Robert Mackenzie’s 15,000 acre family farm in Newcastle, New South Wales, was bound for China.But a trade spat which has seen meat from four…

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China GDP: economy facing perilous challenges even after Beijing abandons 2020 growth target

10 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s decision to abandon its economic growth target for 2020 for the first time in its history was not unexpected, but nonetheless was a reminder of the perilous situation facing the world’s second largest economy.The nation’s economy shrank by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, with some analysts expecting a second successive quarterly contraction, which would send the Chinese economy into its first recession since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976.“We still expect 1 per cent…

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Coronavirus: WTO warns global trade on the brink as pandemic wreaks havoc on supply chains

12 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Global trade is “likely to fall precipitously in the first half of 2020” thanks to collapses in the automotive sector, container shipping and export orders, according to a report released by the World Trade Organisation on Wednesday.The Global Trade Barometer plunged to 87.6, its lowest reading since launching in 2016. The baseline index is 100, with a reading below that suggesting a contraction.The quarterly release from the Geneva-headquartered World Trade Organisation (WTO) is based on…

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Coronavirus row won’t kill US-China trade deal, even as tensions rise, one of phase one’s top US negotiators says

17 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]While US-China tensions “are at a higher point” than ever before, one of the architects of the phase one trade deal does not believe the beleaguered accord is on the verge of collapse.Pressure continues to mount on the deal, which only entered force in February having been signed a month earlier, with attacks on its content, feasibility and desirability raining in from both Beijing and Washington with increasing regularity.And while the superpower relationship has soured dramatically since…

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Coronavirus: US-China blame game prompts Beijing hawks to ramp up criticism of phase one trade deal

19 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hours after top negotiators finished up their first teleconference since the US-China phase one trade deal was signed in January, a blog thought to have ties to officials in Beijing published an aggressive attack on Washington’s perceived muddying of the agreement with the row over coronavirus.“Everyone with a discerning eye can see that there is a clear logic behind these actions,” read a post on Friday on Taoran Notes, a WeChat account affiliated with the official Economic Daily newspaper,…

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Coronavirus: evidence of demand shock wave to China’s economy piles up, as South Korean exports collapse

21 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Just days after reporting surprisingly strong exports for April, evidence of tougher times ahead for China’s factories and traders is beginning to pile up.Collapsing shipments from South Korea, plunging commodity rates, wildly fluctuating cargo costs and a hollowing out of jobs markets for major trading partners are all ominous signs for China’s industrial base, which has struggled to return to full capacity since a coronavirus-led shutdown in the first quarter.On Monday, South Korea became the…

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US-China trade negotiators vow to save phase one deal on first call during pandemic

24 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Top trade negotiators from the United States and China spoke by phone on Friday and vowed to continue to support the phase one trade deal, Chinese state media reported, in their first contact since the agreement was signed in January.On the call, China’s Vice-Premier Liu He, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “vowed to implement their trade deal and boost cooperation on public health”, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.The officials said…

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Coronavirus: China’s medical supply boom, lockdown backlog sparked surprise April exports rise

25 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A surprise jump in Chinese exports in April will be short-lived, analysts said, with the world’s second largest economy unable to stay sheltered from the demand shock to come from the global economic downturn.A 3.5 per cent rise in shipments last month caught economists by surprise and left them scrambling for explanations as the consensus forecast was for an 11 per cent contraction.The rise was, in part, due to factories coming back online in China in March and April to fulfil orders that had…

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Coronavirus: China’s exports in surprise jump in April, but imports tumble

25 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s exports returned to growth in April, beating forecasts and suggesting that an expected demand shock from coronavirus containment efforts around the world will come further down the line.April exports rose by 3.5 per cent from a year earlier, reversing the 6.6 per cent fall in March and much better than the combined minus 17.2 per cent collapse in January and February. April’s return was much better than the expectations of a Bloomberg poll of analysts, which had predicted an 11 per cent…

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Coronavirus: China economy facing uneven recovery, three months after lockdown

April 30, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]More than three months after the Chinese economy was shut down to contain the spread of coronavirus, new sentiment surveys released on Thursday offered a snapshot of how uneven the recovery has been.For exporters, the worst of the downturn remains ahead, the polling suggests, while the great effort to restart the economy has left people in the service sector feeling better than the industrial base.There was also fresh evidence to suggest that Beijing is turning to its favoured playbook of old…

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Coronavirus: China manufacturing mood steadied in April but fears of overseas collapse heightened

April 30, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s manufacturing economy stabilised further in April, as the country slowly inched closer to full capacity following the coronavirus lockdown, but serious concerns about overseas demand lingered.The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 50.8 for the month, with a reading above 50 signifying growth in activity in this survey of factory operators.This followed a reading of 52.0 in March, which showed some stabilisation in activity after the worst reading on record…

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US-China decoupling to be accelerated by tightening of technology export controls, experts say

April 29, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The Trump administration’s move to tighten export controls on technological goods to China this week will help accelerate the decoupling of the world’s two largest economies, experts have said.The move is designed to keep key technology products away from the Chinese military, broadening existing controls and accelerating a process which has been under way for a number of years.But it is also set to severely disrupt technology supply chains in China, the United States and around the world,…

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Coronavirus: China’s industrial giants see profits collapse in first quarter of 2020

April 27, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Profits at China’s big industrial firms collapsed in the first quarter of the year, during the country’s unprecedented coronavirus lockdown.Industrial firms saw profits fell by 36.7 per cent over the first three months, led by a massive 187.9 per cent collapse in the profitability of firms in the oil and gas industries. These firms saw a 28.5 billion yuan (US$4 billion) profit over the same period of 2019 fall to a 24.7 billion yuan loss.Big companies in metal products, machinery and equipment…

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Coronavirus: China’s slow economic reboot continues but power surge suggests light at the end of tunnel

April 20, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The lights are slowly coming back on for China’s economy after its coronavirus lockdown, with electricity generation and consumption both rising in the first part of April compared with a year earlier.However, detailed analysis of other activities showed that China’s great reopening is patchy and piecemeal, a warning shot to Western economies now mulling restarts of their own.Power generation climbed 1.2 per cent in the first 15 days of April, compared to a 4.6 per cent decline in March and a 6…

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Coronavirus: global trade braces for ‘tidal wave’ ahead, as shutdown batters supply chains

April 3, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]On Tuesday, the Port of Wuhan, a vital cog in China’s heavy industry supply chains, reopened for business after more than two months of being locked-down at the centre of China’s initial coronavirus outbreak.

In the same week, Ethiopia closed its land borders, Myanmar cancelled all commercial flights and South Africa restricted cargo movements to non-essential goods, joining the United States, Canada, Mexico and most of Europe in deploying draconian containment strategies aimed at stopping the…

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Coronavirus: China’s small factories stabilised in March after lockdown, private PMI shows

April 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Activity at China’s smaller, privately-owned factories strengthened in March, after a weeks-long lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, data released on Wednesday showed.The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) gave a reading of 50.1, up from 40.3 in February and well above analysts’ forecasts of 45. A figure above 50 signifies growth, while less than that represents a contraction. February’s figure was an all-time low.The survey followed the official manufacturing…

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Coronavirus: China’s March PMI steadies, but economy not out of the woods yet

March 31, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s economy showed signs of a recovery in March after a nationwide lockdown paralysed business in February, but analysts warned that it is not yet out of the woods.Despite stronger-than-expected government data released on Tuesday, a series of threats lying ahead could derail China’s fragile recovery, including a second wave of infections, a global recession, worsening deflation due to plunging oil prices and a potentially sharp fall in the property market.“While the lowest point is behind…

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Coronavirus: China manufacturing economy bounces back strongly after lockdown

March 31, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s manufacturing engine bounced back strongly in March, recovering from a miserable February, when the country was effectively shut down due to coronavirus.The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) – a survey of sentiment among factory owners in the world’s second largest economy – was 52 in March, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday. This was up from an all-time low of 35.7 in February A reading of 50 shows growth in the…

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Coronavirus: world faces ‘similar economic shocks’ to China as global lockdowns escalate

March 16, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A series of grim economic numbers from China have given the world a glimpse of what might lie ahead, as countries embark on draconian coronavirus containment measures.The Chinese economy went into free fall over the first two months of the year, data released on Monday showed, with industry, retail and investment all shrinking for the first time in history, each by double-digits.And while the slump was quite well telegraphed in advance surveys, such as the purchasing managers’ indices, the…

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Coronavirus: China’s exports and imports plummet in January and February

March 7, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s exports and imports both plunged over the first two months of the year, as the coronavirus tore through the world’s second-largest economy.Exports fell by 17.2 per cent in January and February combined compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data released on Saturday by the General Administration of Customs. This was down from 7.9 per cent growth in December. Imports dropped 4 per cent from a year earlier, down from 16.5 per cent growth in December.A poll of analysts…

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Coronavirus: China’s trade economy slowly coming back to life, but US$190 billion export hit expected

March 6, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s trade economy is slowly coming back to life, but the coronavirus outbreak has already inflicted huge and lasting damage to global trade.A series of metrics showed that this week, China made significant progress in kick-starting its imports and exports, with seaborne freight levels in particular returning to close to what they were before the crisis put large swathes of China’s economy on lockdown.Data from Cargometrics, which tracks every vessel on the planet, showed that seaborne…

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Coronavirus: China’s ravaged manufacturing heartlands force international firms to speed up exit strategies

March 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]This is part of a five-part series looking at how the coronavirus epidemic affects China’s relationships with the rest of the world. Part two focuses on how the coronavirus has shaken the commitment of multinational companies working in China, and whether it may lead to another wave of manufacturing exits.Some are celebrating the decision to leave, others are regretting their decision to stay, while the rest have no choice but to lick their wounds and count their losses.But for any…

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Coronavirus: Vietnam lured factories during trade war, but now faces big hit as parts from China stop flowing

February 28, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A quick glance at the accounts of his 10,000-person packaging factory in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi tells Stuart Donegan that the “big wave is coming”.In addition to its Hanoi site, Donegan’s company, Sino Manufacturing, employs 1,500 at a plant in Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam, while three other factories in China and Indonesia make packaging for electronic goods, working with two of the world’s five biggest electronics firms.But with component manufacturing in China – where…

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China ‘fully expected’ to meet trade deal terms despite coronavirus, top US officials say

February 25, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China is taking numerous steps to meet the agricultural commitments made in the phase one trade deal with the United States, according to a statement signed by two top US officials.The note from US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, released on Tuesday in Washington, comes amid rising questions whether the rampant economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak will sharply reduce China’s ability to stick to the terms of the deal.Without…

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Coronavirus hits China’s farms and food supply chain, with further spike in meat prices ahead

February 21, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]On his farm in China’s Guangdong province, a chicken farmer named Chen is facing a race against time.The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus throughout China has led to the shutdown of many marketplaces and cut farmers off from their livestock and the supply of animal feed.Chen, who wished only to give his family name, keeps around 60,000 chickens, and before the Lunar New Year holiday in January, he could have sold the birds for 20 yuan each (US$2.8). Now he says he will be lucky to get 2…

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Coronavirus: American factories in China unable to staff production lines as lockdown continues

February 17, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]As China tries to put its economy back to work amid a novel coronavirus outbreak that has left swathes of the country on lockdown, American manufacturers have warned that they do not have enough staff to man their production lines.The Lunar New Year holiday was officially extended until February 10 in a bid to stem contagion, but factories begun reopening last week across the country, with differing rules applying across China’s almost 3,000 counties.A survey of 109 companies in the…

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Coronavirus creates new cracks in US-China relations, as crucial phase one deadline looms

February 5, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Less than a month after the phase one trade deal was signed, the fragile US-China truce appears to be fraying at the seams.At the root of the discontent is the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus through China and beyond, the response to which has led to a series of barbs flying from Beijing to Washington and back.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing claimed the United States “inappropriately overreacted” and “spread fear” by restricting travel from China and pulling consular staff…

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