Trump: US-China trade deal could be reached in weeks

Robie de Guzman   •   April 5, 2019   •   2507

United States President Donald Trump (Reuters file photo)

United States President Donald Trump said a trade deal with China is getting very close and could be reached in about four weeks.

Trump spoke at a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is in Washington for trade talks.

Liu said there has been great progress in the negotiations.

“Because of your direct involvement, we do have a great progress. Although we still have some remainings, but I think hopefully, we get a good result,” Liu said.

“We have a number of things, but we also we’ve agreed to far more than we have left to agree to. And, in fact I would say, I think I can say that some of the toughest things have been agreed to. We have some things that are actually easier right now that we’re, we’re doing. But it’s a very, very – I am using a word that I don’t like using too often – but it’s a very, very comprehensive deal,” Trump said.

China and the US are in the middle of intense negotiations to end a months-long trade war that has rattled global markets.

Washington wants sweeping changes to China’s economic and trade policies, while Beijing wants Trump to lift expensive sanctions on Chinese goods.

Trump also lamented about the amount of money that the US, China and Russia spend on weapons production, including nuclear weapons, and suggested that such money could be better spent elsewhere.

Trump floated the idea of following up on a potential trade deal with China with a second deal that addressed the issue of military spending and arms production.

“But as you know China is spending a lot of money on military, so are we, so is Russia, and those three countries [U.S.] I think can come together and stop the spending, and spend on things that maybe are more productive toward long term peace,” Trump said. REUTERS

Embattled Facebook CEO Zuckerberg seeks to mend fences in Washington

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 20, 2019

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill for a second day on Thursday (September 19) as part of an effort by the social media giant to mend its reputation as it faces a slew of government investigations.

Zuckerberg, who is also Facebook’s founder, also has meetings planned for Friday on Capitol Hill. Discussions on Wednesday with lawmakers focused mainly on election security and data privacy concerns, sources close to the meetings said.

A person briefed on the matter said Zuckerberg was also expected to hold meetings with the Trump administration. Facebook and the White House both declined to say if Zuckerberg would meet with President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)

(Production: David Shepardson, Scott Vaughan)

U.S. shoemakers face losses amid China, U.S. trade tension

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 18, 2019

Shoemakers in the United States are facing losses over the tit-for-tat tariffs amid the trade tension between China and the U.S.

Xero Shoes is an American brand of lightweight minimalist footwear designed for walking, running and athletics. According to Steven Sashen, CEO of the company, their shoes and sandals have thin and flexible soles that are contoured to the shape of the human foot.

“It really reflects the essence of what we’re doing, which is something so lightweight, so minimalist, so barely there that you don’t know that it exists,” said Sashen.

Sashen started the company with his wife Lena Phoenix 10 years ago. Their 80-percent online business has taken off with 84-percent growth in the past four years.

Yet as another round of U.S. tariff took effect from early September, Sashen’s products are now 15 percent more expensive to import from China, where all of his shoes are made.

Lena Phoenix, co-founder of Xero Shoes, says one possible solution is to uproot their supply chain. Yet such move would take time and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“We don’t want to leave China. Moving factories is very dangerous for a company of our size,” said Phoenix.

“People just say very casually: well why don’t you move to Vietnam for example? Well, cause Vietnam is full. They’re overcapacity already,” said Sashen.

They’ve also thought about raising shoe prices in response to the tariff.

“While we have a rabid fan base and many people say we’re happy to pay a few dollars more. That’s what people love to say, but when push comes to shove, people are very price-conscious,” said Sashen.

“We’re going to hold prices as long as we can,” said Phoenix.

Sashen and Phoenix are not the only ones facing such dilemma. Xero joined forces with about 200 other footwear companies to write to President Trump last month, urging him to cancel the newly planned additional tariffs on goods imported from China.

The letter points out that the tariffs on footwear products imported from China are already at a high level of 11 percent on average, and will reach 67 percent on some shoes after the new tariffs take effect.

According to the letter, the 15 percent tariff will cost U.S. shoe consumers an additional four billion U.S. dollars every year, which may create further economic uncertainty.

“It’s almost impossible to come up with a coherent strategy because of how in flux all of this is,” said Sashen.

Xero is now trying to come up with a long-range manufacturing plan.

“It forces you to step out of your comfort zone and be innovative and thoughtful about how to go forward long-term,” said Michael Wellman, the vice president of the company’s Asia Pacific Development.

Meanwhile, the shoe-makers are also hoping for near-term relief for the footwear industry, which was relatively highly taxed even before the trade war picked up speed.

“There’s a part of me that’s still in denial, that hopes that it’s going to be resolved next month,” said Phoenix. (REUTERS)

Trump says Saudi oil attacks won’t affect the United States

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday (September 16) said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia at the weekend that raised fears of a fresh Middle East conflict, but added that he did not want war with anyone.

Asked by a reporter if he can trust Saudi Arabia, Trump said: “Oh I think so, they want to find out also, and I think they probably feel they know but we are going to know very quickly. We have pretty much all the material we need, we’ll know very quickly.”

Iran has rejected U.S. charges it was to blame for the attacks which damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Several U.S. Cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes. Trump told reporters that he agrees with Pompeo on Iran responsibility for Saudi attacks.

The attacks cut 5% of world crude oil production and sent oil prices soaring. Trump said that the oil attack won’t affect the United States. (Reuters)

(Production: Temis Tormo)

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