China says trade war with US hampered its 2019 foreign trade

UNTV News   •   January 14, 2020   •   415

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, 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)

PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty now reduced to mere paper treaty after VFA termination – Lacson

Robie de Guzman   •   February 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States “will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty” with the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

“Like it or not, bad or good, nothing much can be done now but do a 180-day countdown upon receipt of the notice by Washington,” Lacson said in a statement.

“What is certain is that the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned,” he added.

Lacson made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed and sent a notice formally scrapping the VFA to the United States.

The MDT was signed by Washington and Manila in 1951 where both parties agreed to support each other in case of an armed attack.

The VFA, on the other hand, came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines.

It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification.

“Having said that, there’s no more intelligence information sharing in our fight against domestic and foreign terrorist acts, no more US military aid and financing that accounts for a good 52% of what they extend to the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Lacson said.

“That may not include other intangible economic benefits and security from external threats in the West Philippine Sea, as well as humanitarian aid in times of disasters, epidemics and other crises,” he added.

Lacson and other senators earlier filed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plan to scrap the VFA while the Senate reviews it.

Duterte in January threatened to terminate the deal following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

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