China says trade war with US hampered its 2019 foreign trade

UNTV News   •   January 14, 2020   •   194

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

PH now working on terminating PH-US VFA, says Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

Philippine Marines rush to shore during an amphibious landing exercise with United States counterparts on a beach on the coast of the Naval Education and Training Command in Zambales Province, northwest of Manila, Philippines, 09 May 2018. The Philippines-US Balikatan (Shoulder to Shoulder) Military Exercise is on its 34th iteration, which is aimed to enhance interoperability between security forces of the two countries. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed Friday that the Philippines has started the process of terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end the deal if it does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president issued the termination order Thursday night despite giving a month for the US to restore the senator’s visa.

Panelo said the order has already been relayed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

“I just talked with Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin, and he said that he will start with the process and he called up already the vice chair and they talked, and Ambassador Romualdez has already been informed, I was also talking to him earlier,” he said.

In a tweet on Friday, Locsin confirmed he and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have taken the first step in ending the 1998 deal with the US government.

Locsin sits as the chairperson of the Commission on Visiting Forces while Lorenzana serves as vice chairman.

“Del Lorenzana and I- as Vice and Chair of USVFA – are starting the process of terminating it by first contacting the Senate because it is a treaty on our side, an executive agreement on the US side. I’m leaving for Washington on a totally unrelated matter,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lorenzana, for his part, refrained from commenting into Duterte’s latest pronouncement.

“Will study it first,” he said in a message to reporters. “No comment muna. Too soon to comment.”

The VFA is a bilateral accord between Washington and Manila that 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. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Rosalie Coz & Lea Ylagan)

Duterte can scrap PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement without Senate approval – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US) even without the concurrence of the Senate, Malacañang said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the president threatened to scrap the VFA if the US government does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said.

Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed to media that he is not allowed to travel to the US for now after he received notification about his visa cancellation.

The senator said the exact reason on why his US visa was cancelled remains unclear but he heard reports it might be linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs that he spearheaded when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2016 to 2018.

The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington in 1998, is a bilateral deal which outlines the guidelines for the conduct of government troops when they are visiting the US or the Philippines.

Panelo said the US government should not intervene with the Philippines’ internal issues.

The Palace official also believes the president’s threat to cancel the VFA will not affect Filipino workers in the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

US government to restrict visas to pregnant foreigners

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020

A US flag flutters in the wind in front of The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarter in Brussels, Belgium, 06 January 2020. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Washington – United States President Donald Trump’s government announced on Thursday it will restrict tourist visas for pregnant foreign women visiting the country.

The measure will come into effect on Friday in a bid to stop “birth tourism,” a practice of taking trips to the US to obtain American citizenship for children born there.

The State Department will no longer issue temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) visas to anyone it suspects of trying to carry out “birth tourism”.

“This rule change is necessary to enhance public safety, national security, and the integrity of our immigration system,” the White House press secretary said in a statement.

According to the US Constitution, people born in the United States have the right to citizenship, even if their relatives are not citizens.

At 21 years of age, these people have the right to request the legal permanent residence of their relatives, something that critics of the system have described as “chain immigration”.

“The birth tourism industry threatens to overburden valuable hospital resources and is rife with criminal activity, as reflected in Federal prosecutions,” the White House added.

“Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice.”

It continued: “It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.

“The integrity of American citizenship must be protected.”

The statement did not provide figures on the number of “birth tourism” cases, the costs that this practice may incur for the economy, nor did it explain how it threatens national security.

The US government issued 5.7 million B1 and B2 visas in the 2018 fiscal year.

Anti-immigration think tank the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that every year there are about 20,000 deliveries of women who arrived in the country on tourist visas and then left the US.

The US government admits 1.1 million immigrants every year and 79 per cent of legal immigration is based on family reunification, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Chain visas have been the main source of legal immigration for people with low education, which has depressed wages and employment opportunities for US workers with the same levels of training, according to the department. EFE-EPA

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