EU business lobby fears losses as China promises to import more from US
UNTV News • January 16, 2020 • 411
Beijing – A European business lobby in China on Thursday said Beijing’s promise to buy $200-billion worth of products from the United States in two years as part of the first phase of a bilateral trade agreement could result in a drop in imports from Europe.
“Will our exports to China be possibly hurt? Possibly yes,” European Union Chamber of Commerce President Joerg Wuttke told reporters.
He warned that Chinese commitments could mean that it stops purchasing European products in the relevant sectors to substitute them with US imports.
In the agreement signed in Washington on Wednesday, China has pledged to boost its imports of US goods and services by $200 billion over the next two years.
This includes $32 billion in additional agricultural purchases, $52 billion in energy products and $78 billion in additional manufactured goods.
In 2018, the US had exported products worth $120 billion to China.
“The US always stood for competition and openness and it’s very interesting to see only that China gets told now what to buy, where to buy (…) All of a sudden, the lead of the free world is turning into a system that resembles the Chinese system. It’s ironic,” Wuttke said.
Although the EU trade representative welcomed the deal as a “good news” that meant the end of the “negative spiral” caused by the tariff war between the US and China, he criticized what he called a trend of “managed trade” and said it was “rewriting globalization”.
The business lobby also expressed doubts over specific parts of the agreement, such as the emphasis on bigger purchases of steel, even though China has been struggling with overproduction in the sector.
Wuttke welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Liu He’s statement that the deal would not affect third parties.
“(The statement) indicates that China might not be willing to just be forced to buy American products, they still want to maintain the right to source globally where products are (the) cheapest and best,” Wuttke said.
How the conflict between Beijing and Washington has been resolved – at least partially and temporarily – has not surprised European companies, which have been hit by US tariffs in sectors like Spanish olive oil.
“There’s this particular ban on Scottish whiskey and Spanish olive oil. There might be Italian or Greek olive oil but the fact is the American consumer gets told ‘you buy only this’,” Wuttke said.
“We do not like this kind of protectionism. Tariffs are something like an addiction, once you have it you don’t get rid of it, and certain interest groups will defend them. Getting tariffs down, as we learned last night, is very difficult,” he said.
Wuttke said that the real challenge in resolving the trade dispute lay in the “tech war”.
“There is tremendous pressure from the US on European business, you know the Huawei 5G story. But then again, like China, Europe doesn’t like to be told what to buy, where to buy,” he insisted.
Wuttke said EU firms suffered from the trade war because most of them operated in China and sold to China.
“We happen to sell to many Chinese exporters so indirectly many of us took a hit by this,” he said.
As part of Wednesday’s deal, the US agreed to cut tariffs on $120-billion worth of Chinese imports (imposed in September) from 15 percent to 7.5 percent and also suspend plans for 15 percent tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese goods that had been scheduled to go into effect last month.
However, tariffs ranging between 15 and 25 percent will remain in place on $370 billion worth of goods: roughly two-thirds of all US imports from China. EFE-EPA
Three cured coronavirus patients in south China’s Guangdong Province expressed their appreciation of beating the virus by being the first in their province to donate plasma as a treatment option for other infected patients on February 14.
Initial results have indicated the effectiveness of convalescent plasma-derived therapeutic products in curing infected patients in severe and critical conditions.
One of the donors is 48-year-old and was once in critical condition. After being cured, he found a way to give back.
“My country saved me, so I want to save more people,” said one of the donors.
The only female donor found this to be a great way to show her thanks to the medical staff that assisted in her recovery.
“People helped us a lot, so I want to give back to society. This is an important reason I donated my plasma,” said a female donor.
Based on the high demand of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the third donor saw a way to help his country fight against the epidemic.
“I think this is a way to contribute to society during the coronavirus outbreak,” said another young male donor.
Streets in China’s Wuhan were deserted on Thursday (February 20) after nearly a month in lockdown following a coronavirus outbreak that has now infected some 75,000 people and killed about 2,100.
Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, has been suspended and citizens are required to stay at home.
After the city’s borders were closed on January 23 and all incoming and outgoing flights canceled, other nearby cities in Hubei province also implemented their own policies restricting the movement of people.
The lockdown now means residents cannot leave Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou and other cities in Hubei province. In other areas of China, such as Shanghai and Beijing, restrictions are in place for smaller communities, such as building blocks or neighborhoods.
Many cities across China have reduced public transport lines and routes, while few have closed inner-city public transport entirely.
Some communities have instituted curfews or only allow people to exit and enter at particular times. In other areas, restrictions mean only a certain number of people from a household can leave their residence at any one time.
China, where the virus emerged in December, reported a sharp drop in new cases but the data was partly attributable to a change in how it diagnoses the virus and the figures could not quell growing alarm about its spread.
China’s National Health Commission reported 1,749 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, the lowest daily rise since January 29, while Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak – reported the lowest number of new infections since February 11.
The latest figures bring the total number of cases in China to over 74,000 with 2,004 deaths, three-quarters of which have occurred in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan.
(Production: Thomas Suen, Fang Nanlin, Iona Serrapica)
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).
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