US trade negotiators want to make “meaningful progress” in upcoming talks with China, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one day after conciliatory gestures by both sides boosted hopes of an eventual resolution.
The slugfest between the world’s two largest economies has cast a shadow over global economic growth with both Chinese and US economies suffering from the tit-for-tat suctions and steepening tariffs.
Mnuchin said on CNBC he is “cautiously optimistic” about chances for a deal to resolve the conflict, while US President Donald Trump hinted at a watering down of his position with the possibility of an interim deal.
Washington and Beijing will first hold talks at the deputy level to ensure senior officials who meet later can advance towards an agreement.
“We don’t want a trip that’s just a series of discussions. We want to make meaningful progress,” Mnuchin said.
However, he again warned that Trump will only accept a good deal, and is willing to raise tariffs if necessary.
Trump told reporters he preferred to seal a complete deal, but that he might be willing to consider an interim agreement.
“I’d rather get the whole deal done,” he said, but noted analysts have been discussing the possibility of an interim deal “meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first.”
“There’s no easy or hard, there’s a deal or there’s not a deal. It’s something we would consider I guess,” he said.
There have been positive signs this week in the trade conflict, now entering its second year, as Trump agreed to Beijing’s request to delay one round of tariff increases on $250 billion worth of goods for two weeks, until October 15, after China agreed to spare some US products from its retaliation.
China added Thursday that it was “making enquiries” about buying American farm products including big-ticket items like pork and soybeans, not on its previous list of spared goods.
“It is expected that China will be buying large amounts of our agricultural products!” Trump tweeted early Thursday.
American farmers have borne the brunt of the US-China trade spat, especially after US soy exports collapsed last year, virtually wiping out foreign markets farmers had spent years cultivating.
Trump has previously accused Beijing of backsliding on promises to increase purchases of US farm goods and has offered billions in aid to farms badly damaged in the trade war.
Senior US and Chinese officials are due to hold preliminary talks later this month, in preparation for meetings in early October led by Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer.
Mnuchin said “we clearly didn’t make the progress we wanted to” at the last meeting in Shanghai in late July, but he added: “I’m cautiously optimistic. I take the Chinese in good faith that they want to come here with a deal now.”
But he said Trump “is prepared to keep these tariffs in place. He’s prepared to raise tariffs if we need to raise tariffs.”
Trump’s hardline trade advisor Peter Navarro said on CNN Thursday that the US is focused on addressing “seven acts of economic aggression” by China claiming “cyber-hacking of our computers to steal our business secrets, intellectual property theft” and “manipulation of the currency.”
However Mnuchin said Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement “is definitely not on the table,” as “that is an issue for the secretary of state to deal with.”
‘Eating the tariffs’
Reducing America’s soaring trade deficit with China has long been a principal aim in Trump’s trade battle with Beijing, but so far it has not led to a reduction in the trade imbalance. In 2018, the US goods trade deficit with China was $419.52 billion.
Trump has long viewed deficits as a defeat for the United States, arguing that they amount to stealing — a position rejected by most economists.
Meanwhile the US president maintains that the protracted trade war is damaging China more than the United States, and China is “eating the tariffs.”
The US Treasury has taken in $66 billion in customs duties in the 11 months through August, 73 percent more than in the same period of the prior fiscal year — tariffs paid by American importers.
Experts have warned there are signs the US is also feeling the pinch, with job creation slowing across major industries last month, and manufacturing seeing a decided slowdown.
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse
Forecasts are in negative territory for south east and wider Asia
The Asian Development Bank has trimmed its forecasts for economic growth in developing Asia this year and next as growth in the People’s Republic of China and India are weighed down by both external and domestic factors.
Closer to home, south east Asia’s growth projections have also been revised down slightly to 4.4% for 2019. Economic woes of Thailand and Singapore, two of the region’s largest economies, have prompted downward adjustments to their growth forecasts, for the rest of this year and next.
In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2019 Update released three months ago, the ADB now expects GDP in the region to expand 5.2% in both 2019 and 2020, just a tad down from the September forecast of 5.4% growth this year and 5.5% next year.
Thailand’s economy expanded by only 2.5% in the first nine months of 2019 as growth moderated for private consumption and for public consumption and investment. Weaker trade also dragged on growth, with export declines in both agriculture and manufacturing. Imports also went backwards in line with weaker domestic demand.
Growth forecasts for East Asia are downgraded to 5.4% in 2019 and 5.2% in 2020 as the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea endure continuing trade tensions and slowing domestic investment. The same in Hong Kong where political unrest is an added factor.
Growth projections for South Asia are lowered to 5.1% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020. Growth in India is expected to slow to 5.1% in 2019. Also, consumption in India affected by slow job growth and rural distress aggravated by poor harvest. Policy support will help growth recover to 6.5% in 2020.
On the up side, growth could accelerate around the region if the US and the PRC can sort out an agreement on trade, the report says.
Hong Kong is already in technical recession and is predicted to see severe downward pressures persist possibly into 2020. The economy is now expected to contract 1.2% this year and grow only 0.3% next year.
In south east Asia, many countries are seeing continued export declines and weaker investment, and growth forecasts have been downgraded for Singapore and Thailand. GDP growth is expected to slow in the Pacific with activity in Fiji, the subregion’s second largest economy after Papua New Guinea, expected to be more subdued than previously anticipated.
Aung San Suu Kyi shows contempt for case against Myanmar army in international court
PHOTO: LA Times
Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has shown contempt for UN judges investigating the genocide case relating to the Myanmar army’s attacks on the Rohingya in 2017. In her speeches she defended the generals she once defied, for their genocide against the muslim minority living in the Rhakine state, west of the country.
Her supporters gathered outside the court in The Hague chanting as she arrived for the hearing… “We stand with you Aung San Suu Kyi”
She’s asked the International Court of Justice to throw out a genocide case against Myanmar, warning it would reignite the crisis that forced around three quarters of a million Rohingya Muslims from their homes, north over the border into Bangladesh. During her speech Suu Kyi refused to refer to the Rohingya muslims by their ethnic name.
The hearing went for three days, but in her six minute closing argument, Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader issued a stark warning to judges that allowing a case against Myanmar to go ahead could “undermine reconciliation”.
The case could take years to prosecute if accepted by the International Court of Justice.
Wearing traditional Burmese dress and flowers in her hair she hoped that the Court’s “wisdom and vision of justice will help us to create unity out of diversity.”
“Ending the ongoing internal conflict… is of the utmost importance for our country. But it is equally important to avoid any reignition of the 2016-17 internal armed conflict in northern Rakhine.”
The small African, mainly Muslim state of Gambia, is taking majority-Muslim Myanmar to the UN’s top court in The Hague accusing it of breaching the 1948 UN genocide convention. Backed by the 57 nation Organisation of Islamic Conference, Canada and the Netherlands, Gambia is seeking emergency measures to prevent further violence against the Rohingya.
Up to 750,000 Rohingya fled across the Bangladesh border into make-shift refugee camps after the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) launched a huge crackdown in the Rakhine state in August 2017.
Suu Kyi told the court that there was no proof of “genocidal intent” and said the army operation was in response to attacks on Myanmar military posts by Rohingya militants.
Suu Kyi has said little about the incident, or the global condemnation of the genocide, since the UN and other countries independently and officially condemned the violence after corroborated reports emerged of the systematic attacks on the Rohingya muslims.
Gambia’s lawyer Philippe Sands condemned Suu Kyi’s lack of words.
“Madame agent, your silence said far more than your words. The word ‘rape’ did not once pass the lips of the agent.”
Suu Kyi sat impassively in the courtroom whilst the Gambian lawyer pressed his country’s charges.
He recounted incidents included in the UN report including “infants beaten to death or torn from their mothers’ arms and thrown into rivers to drown.
“Armed conflict can never be an excuse for genocide.”
The lawyer said Suu Kyi had also failed to deny the conclusions of a 2018 UN investigation that found that genocide had been committed in Myanmar against the Rohingya.
A decision on the emergency measures sought by Gambia could take months, while a final ruling if the International Court of Justice decides to take on the full case could take years.
Bangkok less popular, Taipei heads the list – World’s favourite city for expats
PHOTO: This year’s #1 city for expats – Taipei, Taiwan – Time Out
Bangkok has dropped from #5 (in 2018) to #20 this year in the annual Expat City Ranking – a big drop from its former position as a darling of the world expat community. But Asian cities continue to dominate the annual global Top 5 in the Expat City Ranking 2019. Italian cities Rome and Milan join Kuwait City at the bottom of this year’s rankings.
Taipei managed to defend its first place from last years list. Kuala Lumpur is rated the best city for getting settled and is second overall. Ho Chi Minh City ranks first in the Finance & Housing Index but third in the overall survey. Singapore and Montreal fill out the top five spots this year.
Bangkok experienced a significant drop compared to the 2018 edition of the list, where the Thai capital ranked 5th worldwide and 4th in Asia.
“Poor environmental management and horrendous traffic conditions eventually took a toll on Bangkok ratings.”
Bangkok, as an “expat-friendly city”, now faces fierce competition with Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City taking the lead ahead of the longtime favourite.
Ranking fifth out of all the cities surveyed in Asia, Bangkok ranks third in the Finance and Housing Index, but the Big Mango’s rankings were shot down by poor scores for environmental quality and political stability. 59% of the respondents in the survey say Bangkok’s environment is poor, and 36% worry about political stability.
Singapore’s fourth place further adds to Asian destinations dominating the Expat City Ranking 2019. The four top cities all do very well regarding finance and housing, with Singapore receiving the “worst” result here – a 15th rank mostly due to the expensive housing in the city-state.
Bangkok, the Thai capital, stays in the top 3 in the Finance & Housing Index for another year although the city has dropped from second place in 2018 to third place in 2019.
With regards to how easy it is to find housing in Bangkok, 80% of respondents give agreeable answers. The ease of finding a new, reasonably priced home appears to be an attractive aspect for expats moving to Bangkok; 58% of respondents find that the housing in the city is affordable.
With its second place in the Expat City Ranking 2019, Kuala Lumpur makes it into the global top 3 after consistently ranking among the top 10 cities in the past few years. Expats rate Kuala Lumpur as the city where it’s easiest to get settled, as well as one of the best cities worldwide when it comes to finance and housing.
Following a 4th place out of 72 cities in 2018, Ho Chi Minh City manages to further improve its result to rank 3rd out of 82 in 2019. Expats rate Vietnam’s most populous city as the best place for finance and housing, with the city ranking first for all but one of the underlying factors. HCMC places second regarding the affordability of housing.
In the Expat Insider 2019 survey, over 20,000 participants were asked not only to rate their respective host country but also to share insights regarding their city of residence. Respondents rated more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven, with the rating process emphasising expats’ personal satisfaction with these aspects.
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