News about international trade flows, statistics and policy decisions from the world’s most important trading economies and trade-related bodies, including the World Trade Organisation.

China tells US to stop developing its relationship with Taiwan
The Chinese government has asked the US to stop deepening its unofficial diplomatic relations with Taiwan, after Washington’s announcement of a new economic dialogue with the island. “We called on the US to ... stop official interaction with Taiwan in all forms,” said Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday. Hua described the US Taiwan Relations Act, which allows for de facto diplomatic relations, as “illegal” and “invalid,” adding that it broke the one-China principle – under which Beijing insists that any country with which it has diplomatic relations must sever official links with Taipei. On Monday, US assistant secretary of state David Stilwell said
Distress signal: Stuck on a never-ending cargo voyage in a pandemic
When Captain Bejoy Kannan boarded the oil tanker China Dawn on December 1, 2019, he expected the job to be much like any other during his 25-year career at sea. He would work hard, do his time and likely be home before his 4-month contract ended. But coronavirus restrictions have meant that “there are 7 of us who have exceeded our contract,” says Kannan, speaking by phone from his ship in the South Atlantic Ocean. “We are stuck at sea, we are prisoners at sea.” Sailing from Australia to South Africa in mid-March, Kannan and 6 of his crew expected to be relieved and fly back home to their families, but 4 days before the China Dawn reached Port Elizabeth, he received the news that South Africa
Why Trump officials don’t want to cut tariffs on Chinese medical supplies
Hardliners within the Trump administration are trying desperately to avoid reducing tariffs on imported medical supplies from China, hoping to stave off mounting pressure from health care workers and a panicked public as the coronavirus death toll mounts. After an extended US-China trade war and President Donald Trump’s signing of an initial agreement in December, hawks within the administration are loath to set a precedent.  Their concern is that emergency concessions could undercut their hawkish trade stance toward Beijing, which Trump sees as a cornerstone accomplishment leading up to the November elections, say former officials and analysts. “There will be inexorable pressure to relax t
Global trade was breaking down. Then came the coronavirus
The still-evolving coronavirus outbreak has already disrupted trade and economic performance both regionally and globally. Perhaps the most insidious impact of the virus stems from China’s pre-eminent position as a producer of intermediary products that feed into global supply chains. China accounts for almost one-fifth of world manufacturing and Chinese intermediary products are predominant in the electronics, car, machinery and textile sectors. Subtracting Chinese inputs from these supply chains will, in some instances, cause production to grind to a halt, as has been the case for Hyundai Motor in South Korea. In other instances, alternative or workaround solutions will be found but they w
The US and China cannot afford to go their separate ways
In the past couple of decades, nothing has been as prominent in remaking the global economy and reshaping global geopolitics as China’s rise and globalization. China’s accession into the World Trade Organization in 2001 – the landmark inception of the world’s most populous nation into the global capitalist system – drove both China’s explosive growth and economic globalization. In the past year, however, a completely different theme has come to the foreground: decoupling.  Many in Washington fear or suggest that China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, might go their separate ways, due to fundamental divergences in their philosophy on economics, governance and politics
China faces ‘huge challenge’ in living up to US trade promises
China has released fewer details about its trade deal with the US than the American side has – a sign of caution as one government adviser warned it would not be easy for Beijing to live up to its commitments. “For China, committing to and carrying out the phase one agreement is a huge challenge,” Shi Yinhong, a Chinese government adviser and international relations professor at Renmin University, said. “China will need to buy something like $300 billion worth of US products in the next two years and lots more US agricultural goods. Does China need that amount of US soybeans?”  A fact sheet released by Washington on Friday said China and the US had reached a “phase one” agreement on nine are
Chinese motorcycles are king of the road in Cameroon
Cameroon has one of the lowest numbers of cars per person in the world, but Chinese motorcycles are everywhere. The central African nation is one of Africa’s top importers of motorcycles from China, a success story of China’s manufacturing and export economy. Across the African continent, Chinese export and investment have increased over the years and changed the way people live. Check out the gallery, above, of made-in-China motorcycles that dominate Cameroonian roads. The photos were taken by Nic Bothma for the European Pressphoto Agency.
Trump holds off on sweeping new block on Chinese investments
President Donald Trump sees American technology as the country’s “crown jewels,” and has promised to protect them: specifically, to protect them from China.  Last month, his White House singled out “Chinese persons and entities” as targets of new investment restrictions in the works that would prevent China from acquiring “industrially significant technology.”  This week, Treasury officials were reported to have drafted an executive order for Trump to sign that would automatically ban any companies with more than 25% Chinese ownership from investing in US companies, according to Politico. But on Tuesday, Trump appeared to have chosen a less direct and less targeted measure. “It’s not just C
Is Trump bringing China and Germany closer?
President Donald Trump has brought the United States and China to the brink of a trade war in an attempt to get Beijing to shrink its $375 billion trade surplus. There’s another country with a significant trade surplus that has drawn Trump’s ire:  Germany, which exports $64 billion more to the US than the other way around. Now Trump’s rhetoric may be drawing these two countries closer together. German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in China Thursday during this delicate moment to rally Beijing’s support in her efforts to boost free trade and strengthen multilateralism across the world, Merkel said ahead of the two-day visit. She will begin her trip in Beijing and continue to Shenzhen, Chin
China lets foreign automakers off the hook — but who really wins?
The elimination of restrictions on foreign automakers in China may be seen as a major concession in the face of a possible trade war, but it will have little impact on foreign car manufacturers already operating in the country. Since 1994, foreign automakers have had to form joint ventures with local partners if they want to produce vehicles in China. After all restrictions are lifted in 2022, foreign automakers will be able to go solo. But while ceasing their partnerships with local firms means more profit to bring home, analysts are doubtful whether it will lead to significant changes in how foreign automakers do businesses in China. “It takes a lot to set up a new network and new plants