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Nov 17, 2009

FACTBOX: Sino-U.S. trade disputes pile up

BEIJING (Reuters) – Trade rows between the United States and China will be a key issue on the agenda when President Barack Obama holds talks with Chinese leaders in Shanghai and Beijing this week.

Here are some of the disputes dogging China-U.S. trade:

STEEL PIPES

The U.S. Commerce Department this month slapped preliminary anti-dumping duties ranging up to 99 percent on $2.63 billion in Chinese-made oil well pipe in the biggest U.S. trade action against China. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce denounced the move as protectionist and launched its own investigation into imports of U.S.-made automobiles.

Nov 13, 2009

China’s Hu punches back on investment, trade barriers

SINGAPORE, Nov 13 (Reuters) – With pressure piling up on
China to appreciate its currency at the annual Asia-Pacific
summit, the Chinese president used his speech to the gathering
as a soapbox for some complaints of his own.

Hu Jintao’s 20-minute speech to the Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation — which never once mentioned the yuan — gives
insight into some of the concessions China may require if it is
to cooperate on currency issues that the West says contribute
to global imbalances [ID:nSP220440].

Nov 13, 2009

ICBC chairman says not yet time for stronger yuan

SINGAPORE, Nov 13 (Reuters) – The chairman of the
Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest by
market capitalisation, said a stronger yuan would not be
conducive to the global recovery, and defended the wisdom of a
rash of lending by Chinese banks this year.

China’s central bank earlier this week signalled it would
consider shifting from an effective peg to the U.S. dollar,
which has been in place since mid-2008. The People’s Bank of
China said it would consider major currencies, and not just the
dollar, when guiding the exchange rate []ID:nSP466424].

Nov 12, 2009

China carefully navigates ties with Straits Chinese

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – When Chinese president Hu Jintao arrived in Singapore for a state visit this week, he announced China’s favorite diplomatic gift — two pandas — but chose his words very carefully.

Hu spoke of the two nations’ “close friendship” and “cultural ties,” but avoided any mention of a shared ethnic heritage in a nod to sensitivities in a region with long ties to China, and an equally long wariness of Chinese domination.

Nov 9, 2009

China, like U.S., tackles thorny health care reform

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Construction worker Li Fuxing had been in the wealthy Chinese city of Hangzhou for less than a month when a falling beam smashed his knee, landing him with hospital bills equivalent to half a year’s wages.

In striped pajamas and a cast, he is another test case in China’s experiment in providing affordable health care to 1.4 billion people, an endeavor expected to cost $124 billion over the three years to 2011.

Nov 5, 2009

China says space plans peaceful

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry insisted on Thursday that the country’s intentions in space were peaceful, after comments from top air force brass preparing to celebrate a 60th anniversary worried analysts in the United States.

Like the rest of the People’s Liberation Army, the air force is trying to upgrade information capability, modernize its forces and develop homegrown technology.

Nov 3, 2009

Market rise revives China-Africa resource deals

BEIJING (Reuters) – Recovering commodity prices are reviving Chinese investors’ interest in African resource deals, after nearly a year in which infrastructure projects dominated Chinese investment in the continent, the head of Standard Bank’s China operations told Reuters.

When Industrial and Commercial Bank of China took a 20 percent stake in Standard Bank in 2007, Standard Bank executives like Craig Bond expected its Chinese clientele to use the new banking channels into Africa to snap up resource projects.

Oct 29, 2009

US, China talk nice on trade, pork ban lifted

WASHINGTON/HANGZHOU, China, Oct 29 (Reuters) – China pledged to lift its ban on U.S. pork on Thursday and the United States took a step toward easing restrictions on chicken imports as the two superpowers agreed to tackle a series of trade irritants.

The flurry of trade accords between China and America comes ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to China in mid-November to reach agreements on currency, the environment and trade with its second-largest trading partner and the largest foreign holder of its government debt. [ID:nPEK8692]

China’s promise on pork sent U.S. hog futures higher on Thursday and also lifted the stock of Smithfield Foods Inc <SFD.N>, the largest U.S. hog and pork producer.

"We’re going to work through whatever details remain to try to get this done as expeditiously as possible," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Reuters during a telephone interview from Hangzhou, where the countries held trade talks. [ID:nN29356378]

China is a top buyer of U.S. meat, chicken, soybeans and other products, purchasing $560 million worth of pork in 2008. China imposed the ban on U.S. pork five months ago following the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu. The disease cannot be caught by eating pork.

China’s Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai did not say when he would announce a formal end to the pork ban.

"He didn’t put a specific timeline on it, but as you know President Obama is coming to China in a couple of weeks, and I don’t know whether that is part of their calculation or not," Vilsack said.

China’s willingness to lift its pork ban was not related to the recent move by Congress to end its ban on imports of Chinese poultry products, Vilsack said.

"I asked Minister Sun that specific question, and he was very emphatic in indicating that there’s no connection," he said.

But Vilsack said his department will soon begin the process to review China’s food safety laws and poultry plants with an eye to allowing U.S. imports of poultry meat.

Vilsack said officials did not discuss China’s recent anti-dumping investigation into U.S. chicken exports. [ID:nPEK218176]

News that China would scrap the ban sent U.S. hog futures <0#LH:> at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange up 2 percent early Thursday. Hog futures have fallen about 40 percent after hitting a high of 90 cents per lb in August 2008 amid high prices for feedstock, the recession blunting demand and the H1N1 flu.

Shares of Smithfield Foods Inc rose as much as 5 percent to $13.92 per share Thursday morning at the New York Stock Exchange.

BEEF ISSUES REMAIN

While making progress on pork and chicken, China and the United States are still at odds over beef.

China has banned U.S. beef imports since the United States found its first case of mad cow disease in 2003.

"I think there’s still work to be done" on the beef issue, Vilsack said, noting talks focused on pork and poultry trade.

"I think we have to be creative. I think we have to put something on the table (on beef trade) for the Chinese to respond to, and we intend to do that very quickly," he said.

Vilsack said he had established "a good personal chemistry" with Sun during the talks.

"We’re going to try to build on the momentum that was created during this meeting" to focus on other outstanding farm trade issues, he said. (Additional reporting by Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Russ Blinch)








Oct 29, 2009

China, U.S. try to take sting out of trade disputes

HANGZHOU, China, Oct 29 (Reuters) – China and the United States agreed to tackle a series of trade irritants and reiterated pledges against protectionism, but left the broader questions of the value of Chinese currency and U.S. debt untouched at high-level talks that ended on Thursday.

In a sign that the global financial crisis has fuelled a risk of more, not fewer, trade barriers, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming confirmed that Beijing would conduct a preliminary dumping investigation of U.S. auto imports.

The probe was initially announced in response to the imposition last month by the United States of tariffs on Chinese tyres, the first time the U.S. invoked safeguard clause China agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organisation.

Speaking to reporters after the bilateral meetings, officials from both countries tried to keep the focus on areas of agreement, not contention.

Importantly for U.S. businesses, China agreed to treat products of U.S.-China joint ventures as local products in government procurement tenders, and would submit a revised offer to join the World Trade Organisation’s government procurement agreement by 2010, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.

China will remove its local content requirement in tenders for wind power equipment, Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration, said.

The United States, for its part, agreed that imposing curbs on imports from China was not the way to tackle the country’s politically contentious trade surplus, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said.

"The two have agreed that the solution to the trade gap between the United States and China is not to restrict imports from China but to promote balance," Chen told reporters through an interpreter.

China will soon allow imports of U.S. pork, after a ban following the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, Chinese Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai and his U.S. counterpart, Tom Vilsack, said.

The U.S. Congress had earlier dropped its ban on U.S. agencies certifying Chinese cooked poultry for U.S. sales.

"I hope pork imports can quickly resume, but I also hope the the U.S. will follow Chinese requirements to credibly ensure the quality, safety and health of pork exports to China," Sun said, adding China had already restored cooked pork products imports.

They did not give a timeframe for the ban to be lifted.

OBAMA’S VISIT

President Barack Obama will travel to China in mid-November, preceded by a flurry of official American visits as the United States tries to reach accords on currency, the environment and trade with its second-largest trading partner and the largest foreign holder of its government debt.

For a FACTBOX on the two countries’ interdependency, please click on [ID:nPEK294728].

Chen said the United States agreed to establish a working group to examine Beijing’s long-standing demand that Washington formally regard it as a market economy, a status that would make it harder to impose trade penalties on China.

As part of its WTO agreement, China gets that status automatically in 2016, but is pushing for earlier recognition in light of its market reforms.

Chen said progress on U.S. recognition was unrelated to "micro-economic" issues such as U.S. concerns that China subsidises its state-owned enterprises with cheap loans, land and other resources.

The U.S. failed to get China to retreat on regulations over online music distribution, but officials said they were pleased with Chinese pledges to combat and punish Internet piracy.

Intellectual property rights are one of the biggest concerns of U.S. investors in China, where piracy of brand name clothing, films, books, music, and industrial patents is rampant.

The Obama administration angered China, whose economy is heavily dependent on exports, when it slapped a 35 percent safeguard duty on imports of Chinese-made tyres, which totaled about $1.8 billion last year.

China immediately challenged the action at the World Trade Organisation and said it would launch an anti-dumping and countervailing-duty investigation against U.S. poultry and autos to offset unfair pricing and government subsidies.

The probe into U.S. auto imports would be "objective, just and fair," Chen said. (Editing by Nick Macfie)





Oct 29, 2009

China, U.S. urge against trade protectionism

HANGZHOU, China, Oct 29 (Reuters) – China and the United
States both reiterated calls against protectionism at an annual
trade meeting on Thursday, against a backdrop of friction over
trade and the value of their currencies.

The annual Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting,
held in a garden compound in the lakeside city of Hangzhou,
comes just a few weeks before U.S. president Barack Obama’s
first official trip to China.

    • About Lucy

      "I am the Reuters Insider correspondent in China, where I have lived for ten of the last 15 years. Prior areas of coverage include political and general news, as well as commodities and energy policy and markets."
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