China says trade war with US hampered its 2019 foreign trade

UNTV News   •   January 14, 2020   •   431

A man works on the CSCL Yellow Sea cargo ship at the Los Angeles Port in Los Angeles, California, USA, 08 August 2019. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT

Beijing – China’s international trade growth slowed to 3.4 percent in 2019, affected by the trade war with the United States, a country with which exchanges decreased 10.7 percent, according to official data published Tuesday.

China’s foreign trade increased by 3.4 percent to 31.54 trillion yuan ($4.57 trillion) in 2019, figures of the General Administration of Customs showed.

Exports grew by 5 percent in 2019 to 17.23 trillion yuan, while imports increased by 1.6 percent to 14.31 trillion yuan.

The trade surplus increased by 25.4 percent, totaling 2.92 trillion yuan.

Although the growth rate was lower than in the previous two years, Customs authorities underlined that the total trade volume as well as imports and exports set record nominal figures in 2019.

There was a sharp increase in pork imports (75 percent), a product in great demand in China and for which supply was severely affected by the African swine fever epidemic.

Purchases of veal meat abroad, used as a substitute, also experienced a notable increase (59.7 percent).

China’s trade scenario last year was marked by the ongoing trade war with the United States, leading bilateral trade between them to fall by 10.7 percent to 3.73 trillion yuan.

The figure means the United States is no longer China’s second-largest trading partner, and falls to third place, although it is still far superior to fourth-placed Japan.

Chinese exports to the US reduced by 8.7 percent to 2.89 trillion yuan, while imports from the North American country dropped by 17.1 percent to 845.38 billion yuan.

This lopsided trade balance between them in favor of China — which last year stood at 2.04 trillion yuan, a drop of 4.7 percent — was among the major reasons for the Trump administration to start the trade war with Beijing.

While trade with the US fell, China increased exchanges with the European Union by 8 percent, the United Kingdom (12 percent).

One of the commercial year’s notable relationships was with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional bloc with which China raised its businesses by 14.1 percent and took the place of the US as Beijing’s second-largest trading partner.

In addition, the Asian giant carried out 8 percent more year-on-year more purchases and sales in Latin America in 2019, and 6.8 percent more in Africa.

The country’s Customs authorities also highlighted trade growth with countries that are part of the Chinese initiative of the New Silk Routes, which rose by 10.8 percent.

Another figure highlighted by the state press is that, for the first time since the statistical series began, Chinese private companies outperformed those with foreign funding.

Looking ahead, Capital Economics analyst Julian Evans-Pritchard believes the “gradual recovery” of the economies of China’s main trading partners will help sustain exports this year.

This should also be helped by the so-called “first phase” of the agreement between China and the US, which is to be signed Wednesday and will serve to end the tariff conflict between the two powers.

Evans-Pritchard is not so optimistic about the growth of imports in 2020 “It could not increase much more due to the winds against domestic demand,” he said, and said the agreed increase in purchases of US products would be carried out by sacrificing other countries’ imports.

The General Administration of Customs published data today for the month of December, in which foreign trade increased by 12.7 percent and set a new monthly volume record. EFE-EPA

vec/tw-lds

US, PH soldiers build two classrooms in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Two new classrooms jointly built by United States and Philippine troops have been opened in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

The new classrooms were inaugurated on February 19, at the Malatgao National Elementary School, the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

US Navy Lt. Joshua Moore said the new learning facilities, built by American and Filipino soldiers under arrangements through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), will be used by over 100 students residing in the community.

“This project provides a much-needed schoolhouse for the Malatgao National Elementary School in Palawan, which will be utilized by over 120 students,” Moore was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We are proud to assist this community working hand-in-hand with our Filipino counterparts,” he added.

Under the VFA, US and Philippine troops participate in war and disaster response drills and assist in humanitarian projects like erecting multi-purpose buildings or helping repair schools.

The deal, which came into force in 1999, was terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte last week. The notice of termination will take effect after 180 days.

The US Embassy said that in the last four years, its Navy engineers, known as Seabees, have completed 24 humanitarian projects across the Philippines.  

These projects include single- and double-room classrooms, water catchment systems, multipurpose school huts, and multipurpose communal buildings.

Joint construction operations such as these between the Philippine Navy Seabees, U.S. Navy Seabees, Philippine Marines, and local Barangays serve to strengthen the U.S.-Philippine partnership.

“I think working with U.S. troops will make our alliance stronger and continue to increase our bonds for years to come,” said Apprentice Fireman Construction Electrician Joel Nioda from Zamboanga City.

“This will help unify and grow our bilateral relationship,” he added.

Since October 2016, the U.S. Navy Seabees construction projects for Philippine communities are valued at more than PHP100,000,000 ($1.9 Million).

US, evacuate citizens from Japan cruise ship; South Korea to follow suit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

The United States (US) has evacuated its citizens from the virus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan.

Two planes carrying around 300 American citizens left Haneda Airport on Monday morning (February 17).

South Korea also plans to bring home their citizens in the said cruise ship.

“Even before February 19, the government plans to bring those South Koreans home if they are tested negative from screenings by the Japanese authorities and are willing to return. We will first check our people’s intentions and then cooperate with the Japanese government,” according to South Korea Minister of Health and Welfare, Park-Neung Hoo.

Canada and Hong Kong will also send planes to evacuate their citizens.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said they will assist in repatriating Filipino crewmen aboard the cruise ship.

538 Filipinos are aboard the Diamond Princess, 531 are crewmen while 7 are passengers. There already 27 of them who tested positive of COVID-19.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Ed Meñez said the Filipinos who tested positive of the virus are already brought to the hospital for better care.

“We received information that aside from the 11 Filipino crew members who are earlier identified, another 16 have been identified over the weekend to have been identified as COVID positive,” he said.

The DFA also said the Inter-Agency Task Force will discuss their planned action in a meeting to assist the Filipinos aboard the cruise ship.—AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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