Finbarr Bermingham

Finbarr Bermingham

Production Editor, Political Economy

Finbarr Bermingham is a contributor to Inkstone. He is a production editor at the South China Morning Post focused on China’s political economy.

Language spoken
English
Areas of Expertise
Trade, economics, geopolitics
China still wants lobsters and pork, just not the American ones
At the start of the summer, a group of officials from Maine wrote to President Donald Trump, urging financial support for the state’s iconic lobster industry. China was once the second-largest importer of Maine lobster, but then Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs hit. In 2018, the market died and US lobster exports to China fell by 80% compared with a year earlier, when Chinese lobster lovers bought $128.5 million of the crustacean.  But China has not lost its taste for the delicacy; it is getting lobsters from somewhere else. The shift illustrates how Trump’s trade war is reshaping the global economy, sometimes in ways that hurt his own country. Over the first half of 2019, Canadian lobster sale
China still wants lobsters and pork, just not the American ones
One of China’s most successful investors is quietly leaving
Large South Korean firms have historically been among the most successful investors in China. But, they’ve been gradually withdrawing from the country, in order to avoid tariffs on exports of their China-made products to the US and to head off a repeat of a major political crisis.  Many analysts say the efforts of South Korean firms in China should be essential study material for Western governments and businesses about the political risks of doing business in the mainland. These risks are growing as the US-China trade war threatens to draw in other nations and expand into a broader geopolitical struggle. In 2016, Seoul agreed to a long-standing request from the United States to allow the d
One of China’s most successful investors is quietly leaving
Is this the final nail for US exports to China?
China’s retaliation will kill off US exports to the world’s biggest consumer market, American companies fear, after Washington hiked up tariffs on Chinese goods. The US increased tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods on Friday, with Beijing saying it “will have no choice but to implement countermeasures.” Jaime Castaneda, senior vice-president of the US Dairy Council, said much of his industry was already hit with a 25% tariff by China last year, which caused total dairy exports from the US to China to plunge by 48% in 2018. Any increase on import restrictions would be “a final nail in the coffin for our exports,” Castaneda said: “We don’t know exactly what China is going
Is this the final nail for US exports to China?
US-China trade talks are at the stage where people haggle over every word
As negotiators from the United States and China grow closer to clinching a deal to end the trade war, both sides will be wary of the complications that can arise from issues of language, interpretation and translation during negotiations. While both sides are negotiating in their native tongues with the help of simultaneous translation, the subsequent text will be translated into both English and Chinese. These translations will then be “scrubbed” by lawyers and technical translators in an effort to reach a final text that both sides are happy with. But history shows that this is rarely straightforward. Ambiguity is hard to avoid in international trade deals, while experienced negotiators ha
US-China trade talks are at the stage where people haggle over every word
The world is running out of pork to feed China
The world is running out of pork to feed Chinese people, as a swine fever epidemic sweeps across China’s pig farms. Financial services firm Rabobank says there’s not enough pork in “the whole world combined” to fill the potential supply shortfall that will hit China later this year. China is the world’s biggest pork producer and consumer. A staple food in most Chinese families, pork makes up 60% of the total meat consumption in China. However, the country is set to lose up to 200 million pigs to disease or slaughter during the African swine fever epidemic, almost three times the pig population in the United States, according to analysts. “A lot of herd will disappear due to infection and li
The world is running out of pork to feed China
Why Australia banned Chinese tech giants from building its 5G network
Good friends are forever, except maybe when it comes to friendships between countries. This is in part the thinking behind Australia’s move to ban two Chinese companies from building a next-generation telecommunications network in the country, according to the former Australian leader whose administration oversaw the ban. Australia banned tech giants Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network as a “hedge against adverse contingencies” in case relations with China soured in the future, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in an interview with the South China Morning Post this week. Turnbull, who was ousted as leader in August 2018, said that his government “decided not to allow 5G networks to
Why Australia banned Chinese tech giants from building its 5G network
Inkstone index: China’s plummeting profits
70%: the fall in profits in China’s oil processing sector in the first two months of 2019. As the impact of the country’s trade war with the United States and widespread economic slowdown continued to take root, oil processing was by far the worst performing area in China’s key industrial sectors. But new data shows worrying figures across the board in those sectors, which employ huge numbers of people. According to figures released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, total industrial profits fell by 14% in the first two months of the year. This is the worst performance since the statistics board began measuring profits by these metrics in October 2011. China is seeking t
Inkstone index: China’s plummeting profits
Back at home, China’s ‘sea turtle’ grads find the job market has moved on
As the clock struck 11pm on a Wednesday night in late January, Peter Chen finally left his office in northwest Beijing. He had been researching the tech used in self-driving cars since 10am that morning. Chen, a native of Yunnan province, is a recent returnee to China, having studied for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science in Hong Kong. But since returning to China, Chen’s career path has been a winding one. A start-up venture he launched – a travel planning app – never got off the ground, so he spent a year teaching himself the engineering of autonomous vehicles, before landing a job at one of China’s internet giants. That has not been an easy road either. Chen works long h
Back at home, China’s ‘sea turtle’ grads find the job market has moved on
Trump is up against some ruthless Chinese trade negotiators
Chinese and American negotiators have worked overtime this week in Beijing on a deal to end a trade war that has disrupted commerce worldwide. Initially scheduled to take place over two days in Beijing, trade talks between the United States and China continued for a third day on Wednesday. This is an indication that “the whole thing has not blown up yet and that they believe that it’s worthwhile to spend more time together,” said Claire Reade, a former assistant US trade representative for China affairs. Trump said on Tuesday the talks with China were “going very well!” Talks with China are going very well! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2019 But the extended negotiations, s
Trump is up against some ruthless Chinese trade negotiators
What the US wants from China to end the trade war
With the United States and China facing a 90-day deadline to resolve their differences over trade, we look at some of the areas where Washington will be looking for concessions – and its chances of getting what it wants. Forced technology transfer China has officially denied that it forces foreign companies to hand over technology as a condition of doing business in the country – a long-standing complaint from the US and other countries. In October Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said: “I want to emphasize that China’s laws and regulations do not contain any requirement for technology transfer and that companies’ purchases of technologies and patents are pure market behavior.” This makes it unl
What the US wants from China to end the trade war