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UN warns of ‘massive’ global impact of US tariff hike in China trade battle

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UN warns of ‘massive’ global impact of US tariff hike in China trade battle

UNITED NATIONS: A United Nations expert has warned that a US plan to raise tariffs on Chinese goods next month would have “massive” implications for the global economy unless it is resolved.

US President Donald Trump has placed tariffs on nearly half of all goods that are imported from China as he tries to force Beijing to change what he claims are unfair trade practices, including the forced sharing of technology.
Unless the US and Chinese agree to drop their tariff dispute by 1 March, duty on each country’s products will rise to 25 per cent, up from the current 10 per cent level.
Of the $250 billion in Chinese exports that are subject to US tariffs, only about six per cent will be picked up by firms in the United States, according to a report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
And of the approximately $85 billion in US exports that are subject to China’s tariffs, only about five per cent of this will be taken up by Chinese firms, the UN research shows.
The report said Asian countries are likely to suffer most from protectionism.
The implications are going to be massive,” Pamela Coke-Hamilton, UNCTAD’s head of international trade, said at a news conference in Geneva on Monday.
“The implications for the entire international trading system will be significantly negative.”
Smaller and poorer countries would struggle to cope with the external shocks, she said.
UNCTAD’s report estimates that east Asian producers will be hit the hardest, with a projected $160 billion contraction in the region’s exports. But it warns the effects could be felt everywhere.
“There’ll be currency wars and devaluation, stagflation leading to job losses and higher unemployment and more importantly, the possibility of a contagion effect, or what we call a reactionary effect, leading to a cascade of other trade distortionary measures,” Ms Coke-Hamilton said.
The report also cautions that the effects “are consistent across different sectors” including machinery, furniture, chemicals and precision instruments, noting that bilateral tariffs “would do little to help protect domestic firms in their respective markets”.
Quoting former US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, UNCTAD’s Pamela Coke-Hamilton repeated his description of protective tariffs as “a gun that recoils on ourselves”, which had also contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s and the rise of extremism.
“I think that is a single lesson from what we have had here today,” Ms. Coke Hamilton said. “If – barring an agreement between US China on 1 March – tariffs will escalate to 25 per cent, which is a significant difference from the 10 per cent as it currently exists.”
The implications of such a development would be “massive”, the UNCTAD Director, Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities, continued, adding that its effects would first of all involve “an economic downturn due to instability in commodities and financial markets”.
Next, Ms. Coke-Hamilton said, there would be “increased pressure on global growth, as companies will have to impose adjustment costs which will affect productivity investment and profitability”.
Countries that are expected to benefit the most from the trade war are European Union members; the UN study indicates that exports in the bloc are likely to grow by $70 billion. Japan and Canada, meanwhile, will see exports increase by more than $20 billion each.
Although these figures do not represent a large slice of global trade – which was worth $17 trillion in 2017 – for some countries, like Mexico, the increase in exports will amount to a six per cent rise in exports overall.
Other countries set to benefit from the trade tensions – which erupted in early 2018, when China and the US imposed tariffs worth around $50 billion on each other’s goods – include Australia, with 4.6 per cent export gains, Brazil (3.8) India (3.5), Philippines (3.2) and Viet Nam (5).
But the UNCTAD study also warns that the spat could hit East Asian producers the hardest, with a projected $160 billion contraction in the region’s exports unless discussions between China and the US are resolved before the March deadline.
The study also underlines the “common concern” that trade disputes have an unavoidable impact on the “still fragile” global economy, particularly on developing, commodity-rich countries that are dependent on exports.
“One major concern is the risk that trade tensions could spiral into currency wars, making dollar-denominated debt more difficult to service,” the report adds.

 

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BMW, Daimler to invest 1b euros

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BERLIN: German auto giants BMW and Daimler said Friday they would invest one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in combining and extending their carsharing schemes, in future offering a slew of joint “mobility services”, including for electric cars.
“We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than one billion euros to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility,” Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler said in a statement.

 

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Asian markets mixed after Fed minutes, eyes on trade talks

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Asian markets mixed after Fed minutes eyes on trade talks

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed Thursday after the Federal Reserve left open the possibility it could lift interest rates this year, while investors kept an optimistic eye on China-US trade talks.

Equities and other risk assets have enjoyed a stellar start to the year on hopes for the negotiations as well as expectations the US central bank will slow its pace of monetary tightening — with some even tipping a cut — as growth both at home and globally slows.

On Wednesday, the Fed minutes showed its policy board was concerned about the outlook and trade tensions, and said US growth would “step down” from last year’s rapid pace.

It also said it expects to continue to wind down its balance sheet of securities and other assets — which helps keep borrowing costs down — but added “it was not yet clear” what rate moves “may be appropriate later this year”.

The minutes showed there could be another hike if price pressures pick up.

Analysts said there was still a possibility of more increases in borrowing costs this year, after four in 2018.

“The debate is still focused on whether to tighten or not, and not whether to cut,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC. “The risk is tilted in the direction of more tightening.”

In morning trade, Hong Kong was flat and Shanghai dipped 0.1 percent while Tokyo went into the break 0.1 percent lower.

Sydney rose 0.4 percent, Singapore slipped 0.2 percent and Seoul was off 0.3 percent. Wellington added 0.7 percent, Taipei was barely moved and Manila lost 0.5 percent.

 

 

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Crunch time as high-level US-China trade talks resume

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Crunch time as high-level US-China trade talks resume

WASHINGTON: With eight days left in their trade truce, top US and Chinese officials were due Thursday to return to the daunting task of bridging a chasm between the world’s two largest economies.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed the talks with Beijing are going “very well,” but concrete signs of progress have not been apparent in the three months since the two sides agreed to pause their trade war.

Analysts say the distance separating Washington and Beijing and the short time remaining before the March 1 deadline make it likely the outcome would feature banner announcements but would fall short of Trump’s most far-reaching goals.

“I think the consensus of people that have been following this thing is that they’re not making nearly as much progress as the president tweets that they’ve been making,” said William Reinsch, a former US trade official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Chinese trade envoy Liu He will lead Beijing’s delegation in meetings with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other American officials Thursday and Friday as they work to head off an escalation of US tariffs.

This fourth round of negotiations follow two days of preliminary talks at the deputy level.

Trump this week said a March 1 deadline to reach a deal was in fact “not a magical date,” raising hopes that he could delay the plan to more than double duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

China’s party-owned Global Times late Tuesday warned raising US tariffs would amount to “a catastrophic strike” on global stock markets, which have been buffeted for months by the uncertainty and the prospects for slower global growth.

Since July, Washington and Beijing have hit each other with tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, weighing on the manufacturing sectors in both countries.

Washington has demanded that Beijing reverse much of its industrial policy, charging that China has sought global dominance through the alleged theft of American technology, massive subsidies and the promotion mammoth state-owned enterprises.

US officials have stressed that any agreement must have teeth to ensure that China keeps its promises.

 

 

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