Senior trade negotiators from the US and China are due to have a virtual call to check the progress of the “phase one” deal reached by the two nations in January, aimed at overcoming the trade war that has dragged on for the past several years.
All eyes will be looking for positive signs to pave the way to a second phase of negotiations. Yet Donald Trump recently said he was not thinking about holding more talks, telling journalists: “We made a great trade deal. But as soon as the deal was done, the ink wasn’t even dry, and they hit us with the plague.”
So with tensions running particularly high between Washington and Beijing, is there any chance of a breakthrough?
Progress so far
It seems a long time ago that the phase one deal was signed. It was always intended as a mini-deal to be followed by a second phase. The main commitment, effective from February, was a promise by China to purchase US$63.9 billion (£48.9 billion) more US goods and services in 2020 than in 2017. Further targets for 2021 require China to purchase an additional US$200 billion of goods and services over the two years.
The chart below shows that progress is poor. Exports from China to the US have gone up in spite of COVID-19 (per the top dotted line), but the amount it is importing from the US (the bottom dotted line) has not picked up to the levels envisioned.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that China imported less than 50% of what it should have done in the year to June. Barring a large upswing in the second half of the year, hitting the 2020 target looks unlikely.
Chinese trade with the US
US exports covered in the agreement include machinery, pharmaceuticals, aircraft, iron, steel, agricultural products, gas, oil and services. The deal was particularly important for US agriculture, whose barriers to trade have also been reduced through relaxing Chinese health and safety standards and other bureaucratic obstacles.
Meanwhile, the US pharmaceuticals sector was afforded additional protection through a commitment from Beijing to do more to enforce intellectual property rights against copycat manufacturers. However, other commitments such as access for financial-services providers were left vague and may be harder to enforce.
The next chart looks at some specific market segments. It shows a dramatic decline in Chinese imports of US aircraft and soya beans, while imports of mechanical appliances, electrical equipment and electronics are flat. The Peterson Institute’s data suggests that China had achieved around 24%, 27% and 5% of the end-of-year commitments in agriculture, manufacturing and energy respectively by June.
Chinese US imports by sector
China’s failure is not entirely surprising, given the collapse in global trade due to COVID-19. According to our calculations based on General Administration of Customs of China statistics, Chinese total exports to the rest of the world in May-June 2020 were only 1.2% lower compared to the same period of 2019, but their exports to the US were 6.9% lower. This may be because China has controlled the pandemic more successfully than the US.
Fresh impetus, perhaps through phase-two talks, is needed to get phase-one implementation back on track. Yet thanks to the wider disagreements that have engulfed the China-US relationship, talks look unlikely right now.
From an American perspective, the upcoming elections are key. Polling suggests that both Republican and Democratic voters are increasingly negative about China, not least because of the pandemic. Trump’s tough stance is therefore politically savvy in an election year.
The Americans had expected to use phase two to negotiate over other trade concerns, such as Chinese tech. We have seen the US pressurising other countries such as the UK to follow suit on banning Huawei, while more recently Trump has turned up the heat on the likes of WeChat and TikTok.
There is also a plethora of divisive non-trade issues. Alex Azar, the US health secretary, visited Taiwan earlier in August. This was one of the highest-level US delegations in decades, and followed a recent Taiwanese delegation being hosted at the US state department. There are also increasing military tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and the US and China have been closing consolates in one another’s countries.
There is also the fallout from China imposing national security legislation on Hong Kong, prompting a US executive order that Hong Kong will be treated the same as mainland China for trade purposes. This means goods labelled “Made in Hong Kong” will no longer receive preferential treatment.
The US is Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner, and the territory will now endure the same tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. These are currently six times higher than before the trade war. The row over Hong Kong has also led to the US and China imposing sanctions on certain citizens from each other’s countries.
These tensions are very important, though many of them are longstanding. When the phase one agreement was signed, both the US and China were willing to put aside differences to improve trade. Tensions have undoubtedly escalated since then, but the tide may yet turn in favour of negotiations to implement phase one and explore phase two.
There are important matters to discuss in phase two, including bringing tariffs down to pre-trade-war levels. The US retained the restrictions as leverage last time around. There is also the question of imports after 2021, and China’s subsidies to state-owned enterprises. And with cyber-security a high priority for the US, the actions against WeChat and TikTok could be part of the negotiating strategy.
There are therefore numerous incentives to resume negotiations, even if they may not happen immediately. Ultimately, new negotiations will heavily depend on the result of the US elections and the post-COVID-19 economic recovery of both countries.
Les auteurs ne travaillent pas, ne conseillent pas, ne possèdent pas de parts, ne reçoivent pas de fonds d'une organisation qui pourrait tirer profit de cet article, et n'ont déclaré aucune autre affiliation que leur poste universitaire.
Tesla rival Polestar reveals lineup of its new electric vehicles
The Sweden-based electric vehicle maker completes key testing before launching production of its new SUV.
Tesla's Model Y crossover, the best-selling vehicle globally, is the standard that electric vehicle makers strive to compete with. The Austin, Texas, automaker sold about 267,200 Model Y vehicles in the first three months of the year and continued leading the pack well into the second quarter.
It's no wonder that the Model Y is leading all vehicles in sales as it retails for about $39,390 after tax credits and estimated gas savings. Ford (F) - Get Free Report hopes to compete with the Model Y about a year from now when it rolls out the new Ford Explorer SUV that is expected to start at $49,150.
Plenty of competition in electric SUV space
Mercedes-Benz (MBG) however, has a Tesla rival model with its EQB all-electric compact sports utility vehicle with an estimated 245 mile range on a charge with 70.5 kWh battery capacity, 0-60 mph acceleration in 8 seconds and the lowest price of its EVs at a $52,750 manufacturers suggested retail price.
Tesla's Model X SUV has a starting price of about $88,490, while the Model X full-size SUV starts at $98,490 with a range of 348 miles. BMW's (BMWYY) - Get Free Report xDrive50 SUV has a starting price of about $87,000, a range up to 311 miles and accelerates 0-60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds.
Polestar (PSNY) - Get Free Report plans to have a lineup of five EVs by 2026. The latest model that will begin production in the first quarter of 2024 is the Polestar 3 electric SUV, which is completing its development. The vehicle just finished two weeks of testing in extreme hot weather of up to 122 degrees in the desert of the United Arab Emirates to fine tune its climate system. The testing was completed in urban cities and the deserts around Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“The Polestar 3 development and testing program is progressing well, and I expect production to start in Q1 2024. Polestar 3 is at the start of its journey and customers can now visit our retail locations around the world to see its great proportions and sit in its exclusive and innovative interior,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in a statement.
Polestar plans 4 new electric vehicles
Polestar 3, which will compete with Tesla's Model X, Model Y, BMW's iX xDrive50 and Mercedes-Benz, has a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of $83,000, a range up to 300 miles and a charging time of 30 minutes. The company has further plans for the Polestar 4, an SUV coupé that will launch in phases in late 2023 and 2024, as well as a Polestar 5 electric four-door GT and a Polestar 6 electric roadster that the company says "are coming soon."
The Swedish automaker's lone all-electric model on the market today is the Polestar 2 fastback, which has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $49,900, a range up to 320 miles and a charging time of 28 minutes. The vehicle accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds. Polestar 2 was unveiled in 2019 and delivered in Europe in July 2020 and the U.S. in December 2020.
Polestar 1, the company's first vehicle, was a plug-in hybrid that went into production in 2019 and was discontinued in late 2021, according to the Polestar website.
The Gothenburg, Sweden, company was established in 1996 and was sold to Geely affiliate Volvo in 2015.
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Fauci And The CIA: A New Explanation Emerges
Fauci And The CIA: A New Explanation Emerges
Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,
Jeremy Farrar’s book from August 2021…
Jeremy Farrar’s book from August 2021 is relatively more candid than most accounts of the initial decision to lock down in the US and UK. “It’s hard to come off nocturnal calls about the possibility of a lab leak and go back to bed,” he wrote of the clandestine phone calls he was getting from January 27-31, 2020. They had already alerted the FBI and MI5.
“I’d never had trouble sleeping before, something that comes from spending a career working as a doctor in critical care and medicine. But the situation with this new virus and the dark question marks over its origins felt emotionally overwhelming. None of us knew what was going to happen but things had already escalated into an international emergency. On top of that, just a few of us – Eddie [Holmes], Kristian [Anderson], Tony [Fauci] and I – were now privy to sensitive information that, if proved to be true, might set off a whole series of events that would be far bigger than any of us. It felt as if a storm was gathering, of forces beyond anything I had experienced and over which none of us had any control.”
At that point in the trajectory of events, intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic had been put on notice. Anthony Fauci also received confirmation that money from the National Institutes of Health had been channeled to the offending lab in Wuhan, which meant that his career was on the line. Working at a furious pace, the famed “Proximal Origin” paper was produced in record time. It concluded that there was no lab leak.
In a remarkable series of revelations this week, we’ve learned that the CIA was involved in trying to make payments to those authors (thank you whistleblower), plus it appears that Fauci made visits to the CIA’s headquarters, most likely around the same time.
Suddenly we get some possible clarity in what has otherwise been a very blurry picture. The anomaly that has heretofore cried out for explanation is how it is that Fauci changed his mind so dramatically and precisely on the merit of lockdowns for the virus. One day he was counseling calm because this was flu-like, and the next day he was drumming up awareness of the coming lockdown. That day was February 27, 2020, the same day that the New York Times joined with alarmist propaganda from its lead virus reporter Donald G. McNeil.
On February 26, Fauci was writing: “Do not let the fear of the unknown… distort your evaluation of the risk of the pandemic to you relative to the risks that you face every day… do not yield to unreasonable fear.”
The next day, February 27, Fauci wrote actress Morgan Fairchild – likely the most high-profile influencer he knew from the firmament – that “be prepared to mitigate an outbreak in this country by measures that include social distancing, teleworking, temporary closure of schools, etc.”
To be sure, twenty-plus days had passed between the time Fauci alerted intelligence and when he decided to become the voice for lockdowns. We don’t know the exact date of the meetings with the CIA. But generally until now, most of February 2020 has been a blur in terms of the timeline. Something was going on but we hadn’t known just what.
Let’s distinguish between a proximate and distal cause of the lockdowns.
The proximate cause is the fear of a lab leak and an aping of the Wuhan strategy of keeping everyone in their homes to stop the spread. They might have believed this would work, based on the legend of how SARS-1 was controlled. The CIA had dealings with Wuhan and so did Fauci. They both had an interest in denying the lab leak and stopping the spread. The WHO gave them cover.
The distal reasons are more complicated. What stands out here is the possibility of a quid pro quo. The CIA pays scientists to say there was no lab leak and otherwise instructs its kept media sources (New York Times) to call the lab leak a conspiracy theory of the far right. Every measure would be deployed to keep Fauci off the hot seat for his funding of the Wuhan lab. But this cooperation would need to come at a price. Fauci would need to participate in a real-life version of the germ games (Event 201 and Crimson Contagion).
It would be the biggest role of Fauci’s long career. He would need to throw out his principles and medical knowledge of, for example, natural immunity and standard epidemiology concerning the spread of viruses and mitigation strategies. The old pandemic playbook would need to be shredded in favor of lockdown theory as invented in 2005 and then tried in Wuhan. The WHO could be relied upon to say that this strategy worked.
Fauci would need to be on TV daily to somehow persuade Americans to give up their precious rights and liberties. This would need to go on for a long time, maybe all the way to the election, however implausible this sounds. He would need to push the vaccine for which he had already made a deal with Moderna in late January.
Above all else, he would need to convince Trump to go along. That was the hardest part. They considered Trump’s weaknesses. He was a germaphobe so that’s good. He hated Chinese imports so it was merely a matter of describing the virus this way. But he also has a well-known weakness for deferring to highly competent and articulate professional women. That’s where the highly reliable Deborah Birx comes in: Fauci would be her wingman to convince Trump to green-light the lockdowns.
What does the CIA get out of this? The vast intelligence community would have to be put in charge of the pandemic response as the rule maker, the lead agency. Its outposts such as CISA would handle labor-related issues and use its contacts in social media to curate the public mind. This would allow the intelligence community finally to crack down on information flows that had begun 20 years earlier that they had heretofore failed to manage.
The CIA would hobble and hamstring the US president, whom they hated. And importantly, there was his China problem. He had wrecked relations through his tariff wars. So far as they were concerned, this was treason because he did it all on his own. This man was completely out of control. He needed to be put in his place. To convince the president to destroy the US economy with his own hand would be the ultimate coup de grace for the CIA.
A lockdown would restart trade with China. It did in fact achieve that.
How would Fauci and the CIA convince Trump to lock down and restart trade with China? By exploiting these weaknesses and others too: his vulnerability to flattery, his desire for presidential aggrandizement, and his longing for Xi-like powers over all to turn off and then turn on a whole country. Then they would push Trump to buy the much-needed personal protective equipment from China.
They finally got their way: somewhere between March 10 or possibly as late as March 14, Trump gave the go ahead. The press conference of March 16, especially those magical 70 seconds in which Fauci read the words mandating lockdowns because Birx turned out to be too squeamish, was the great turning point. A few days later, Trump was on the phone with Xi asking for equipment.
In addition, such a lockdown would greatly please the digital tech industry, which would experience a huge boost in demand, plus large corporations like Amazon and WalMart, which would stay open as their competitors were closed. Finally, it would be a massive subsidy to pharma and especially the mRNA platform technology itself, which would enjoy the credit for ending the pandemic.
If this whole scenario is true, it means that all along Fauci was merely playing a role, a front man for much deeper interests and priorities in the CIA-led intelligence community. This broad outline makes sense of why Fauci changed his mind on lockdowns, including the timing of the change. There are still many more details to know, but these new fragments of new information take our understanding in a new and more coherent direction.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
North Korea Enshrines “Permanent” Nuclear Power Status In Constitution
North Korea Enshrines "Permanent" Nuclear Power Status In Constitution
On Thursday North Korean state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying…
On Thursday North Korean state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying more advanced atomic weapons are needed to counter the threat from the United States.
This signals the death knell for Washington's long stated policy goal of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, given that the remarks came as Kim enshrined the DPRK's status as a permanent nuclear power in its constitution.
North Korea's "nuclear force-building policy has been made permanent as the basic law of the state, which no one is allowed to flout," Kim told the State People's Assembly, according to state-run KCNA.
Starting last year he declared the north as an "irreversible" nuclear weapons state, and has in the last couple months ramped up ballistic missile tests in response to intermittent, ongoing joint US military drills with the south. This has already been a record year in terms of the number of Pyongyang's missile tests.
The north's rubber-stamp parliament, which met Tuesday and Wednesday, has approved the nuclear update to the constitution. Kim described that this was necessary as the United States has "maximized its nuclear war threats to our Republic by resuming the large-scale nuclear war joint drills with clear aggressive nature and putting the deployment of its strategic nuclear assets near the Korean peninsula on a permanent basis."
In July, the nuclear-armed USS Kentucky Navy ballistic missile submarine made a port call in South Korea, which marked a first in decades. It has stayed there since, enraging Pyongyang.
Kim in his Thursday address also blasted growing defense cooperation between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo as the "worst actual threat," saying that as a result "it is very important for the DPRK to accelerate the modernization of nuclear weapons in order to hold the definite edge of strategic deterrence."
A similar message was delivered in New York on Tuesday by Kim Song, North Korea's representative at the UN, who said in an address to the UN General Assembly that the region is close to the "brink of a nuclear war".
NEW: North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. issued a stark warning that the Korean Peninsula has reached a “hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war breakout,” delivering a speech at the 78th U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. https://t.co/Rwtxf37wkW— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) September 27, 2023
"Owing to the reckless and continued hysteria of nuclear showdown on the part of the US and its following forces, the year 2023 has been recorded as an extremely dangerous year that the military security situation in and around the Korean peninsula was driven closer to the brink of a nuclear war," he said.
"Due to [Seoul’s] sycophantic and humiliating policy of depending on outside forces, the Korean peninsula is in a hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war," the ambassador continued. He further blasted the US for attempting to erect an "Asian NATO" that will bring a "new Cold War structure to northeast Asia."
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