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U.S. says March 1 ‘hard deadline’ for trade deal with China

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 10 December 2018 07:00 AM

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during a Cabinet meeting held by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-China trade negotiations need to reach a successful end by March 1 or new tariffs will be imposed, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among President Donald Trump and his advisers.

Global markets are jittery about a collision between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and U.S. claims that China is stealing intellectual property and technology.

“As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March,” Lighthizer said on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” referring to President Donald Trump’s recent decision to delay new tariffs while talks proceed.

“The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised,” said Lighthizer, who has been tapped to lead the talks and appeared to tamp down expectations that the negotiation period could be extended.

After a turbulent week in markets, investors “can be reassured that if there is a deal that can be made that will assure the protection of U.S. technology…and get additional market access…the president wants us to do it,” Lighthizer said. “If not we will have tariffs.”

In Argentina last weekend, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal.

However, the arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] has roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row. In Beijing on Sunday, China’s foreign ministry protested the arrest to the U.S. ambassador.

In a series of appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, Lighthizer, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro insisted the trade talks with China would not be derailed by the arrest, which they deemed solely a law enforcement matter.

U.S. equity markets have staked much on the outcome of the talks. Stocks climbed early in the week on optimism tensions between the two sides were easing, then cratered after Trump claimed he was a “tariff man” after all. He also seemed to indicate the talks could be extended.

But Lighthizer, in his first comments since being appointed to lead the negotiations, said the United States will need concessions across a number of areas in coming weeks if the higher tariffs are to be voided.

That includes demands for increased purchases of U.S. goods in a more open Chinese market, as well as “structural changes” to a system that, for example, forces American firms to turn over technology to Chinese partners as a condition of doing business.

“We need agricultural sales and we need manufacturing sales. We need structural changes on this fundamental issue of non-economic technology transfer,” Lighthizer said.

The demands are similar to those made under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, but Lighthizer said he felt Trump’s willingness to go beyond “dialogue” and impose tariffs will produce results.

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Trump signs directive in move to create a U.S. Space Force

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 20 February 2019 02:05 PM

U.S. President Donald Trump presents newly signed Space Policy Directive 4 | Image captured from a Reuters video footage

(REUTERS) U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday (February 19) took a step towards creating a U.S. Space Force, a new branch of the military dedicated to handling threats in space.

Trump signed Space Policy Directive 4, which puts in place the foundation for a legislative initiative that could establish a Space Force as a new military service comparable to the U.S. Marines.

In an oval office signing ceremony, Trump said the Space Force is a national security priority.

“Today, I’m thrilled to sign a new order taking the next step to create the United States space force, so important. When you look at defense when you look at all of the other aspects of where the world will be some day, I mean this is the beginning is a very important process,” said Trump.

Trump also said that the U.S. has to be prepared against its adversaries and the Space Force is going to be a very big part of where the defense of the nation.

“Let’s say that defense of our nation is going to be America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests, our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space. And they’re working very hard at that, that’s why my administration has recognized space as a war fighting domain and made the creation of the Space Force a national security priority,” he added.

The memo directs the Department of Defense “to marshal its space resources to deter and counter threats in space,” through the establishment of the force that would be part of the Air Force, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

“We’re investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests especially when it comes to safety and defense. This directive calls on the Secretary of Defense to develop a legislative proposal that will establish the structure and authority of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States armed forces. That would mean a high ranking, the highest ranking person there would go on to be joint chiefs of staff, so it’s a very, very important deal,” Trump said.

According to Trump, the Space Force will organize, equip and train the next generation of warriors to deter aggression and defend the nation, its allies and American interests against hostile actions in the form of space and taking place in space.

“So we have a lot of things on the books, we have a lot of new defensive weapons and offensive weapons designed specifically for this and now we’re going to start taking advantage of. This is something they could have done sooner, but they decided to wait, and here I am and we’re going to do it and I’m very proud that during my administration we’re doing so much in space,” he noted.

Establishing the Space Force will require Congressional approval.

In August 2018, the Trump Administration announced an ambitious plan to usher in the force as the sixth branch of the military by 2020.

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Trump calls for end to political stalemate

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 February 2019 11:59 AM

U.S. President Trump’s State of the Union speech in Washington, D.C., United States on February 5, 2019 | Reuters

The early portion of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday (February 5) was aimed at offering to create a spirit of compromise.

“I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans,” Trump said in the highly anticipated speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, with his main Democratic adversary, new House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, watching over his shoulder.

“We must reject the politics of revenge resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation compromise and the common good,” he said.

But whether Trump and his opponents would follow through was far from clear as both sides are entrenched in long-held positions and girding for 2020 elections.

Trump appeared in the House chamber just weeks after his demand for $5.7 billion in wall funds triggered a historic 35-day partial government shutdown that more than half of Americans blamed him for, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.

Millions of Americans were expected to watch the address on television, giving Trump his biggest opportunity to date to explain why he believes a barrier is needed on the U.S. southern border with Mexico. The speech was delayed for a week because of the shutdown, which ended on Jan. 25. — Reuters

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North Korea deemed ‘extraordinary threat’ in Trump missile defense review

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, 18 January 2019 10:21 AM

US President Donald Trump speaking in Arlington, Virgina, United States on January 17, 2019 | Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy on Thursday (January 17) that singles out North Korea as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat,” seven months after he declared the threat posed by Pyongyang had been eliminated.

The Missile Defense Review is a sweeping examination of efforts to shield the United States from enemy missiles. It highlights concerns about advancing capabilities by North Korea, Iran, Russia and China.

“While a possible new avenue to peace now exists with North Korea, it continues to pose an extraordinary threat and the United States must remain vigilant,” the report said.

For Trump, who is trying to revive efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal, the report’s release came at an awkward moment. A senior North Korean envoy was headed for Washington on Thursday for expected talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a possible encounter with Trump, a person familiar with the matter said.

Their talks, as well as a potential meeting with the president, could lead to an announcement of plans for a second U.S.-North Korea summit, the source told Reuters.

The Missile Defense Review recommended studying experimental technologies, including prospects for space-based weaponry that might be able to shoot down enemy missiles, a throwback to Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative in the 1980s.

It also called for investments in space-based sensors that can better detect and track incoming missiles, and perhaps counter super-fast hypersonic technology, an area in which China has made major advances.

U.S. military officials have said U.S. missile defenses are primarily designed to counter attacks from countries with more limited arsenals, like North Korea, which U.S. intelligence officials believe is still advancing its nuclear program despite a halt to missile launches last year.

Pentagon officials contend that U.S. missiles defenses are too few to be able to counter a first-strike on the U.S. homeland by a major nuclear power like Russia or China. Washington hopes those countries will instead be deterred from attacks by America’s nuclear arsenal. — Reuters

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