The China Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, said this at a weekly briefing, on Thursday.
In the latest tit-for-tat escalation of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, U.S. President Donald Trump last Friday heaped an additional duty of 5 per cent on about 550 billion dollars in targeted Chinese goods.
The move came hours after China had unveiled retaliatory tariffs on 75 billion dollars worth of U.S. goods.
China hopes the U.S. can cancel the planned additional tariffs to avoid an escalation in the trade war, its commerce ministry spokesman, Gao said.
“The most important thing at the moment is to create necessary conditions for both sides to continue negotiations,” he said.
He added that China was lodging “solemn representation” with the U.S.
For two years, the Trump administration has sought to pressure China to eliminate what it calls unfair trade practices and make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.
But China has constantly denied such accusations, vowing to fight back in kind and criticising U.S. measures as protectionist.
Gao reiterated that China had “ample’’ retaliatory measures if Washington eventually moved to impose the planned tariffs, but was willing to resolve the issue calmly.
On Monday, Trump predicted a trade deal with China, saying he believed it was sincere about wanting to reach a deal, citing what he called increasing economic pressure on Beijing and job losses there.
Trump cited as a positive sign comments by Vice Premier, Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, that China was willing to resolve the dispute through “calm” negotiations.
He repeated his assertion that Chinese officials had contacted U.S. trade counterparts’ overnight, offering to resume negotiations, a statement that China declined to confirm.
Gao also declined to provide any detail when asked if there had been a call this week between Beijing and Washington.
“As far as I know, both trade teams have maintained effective communication,” he said.
In July 2018, the U.S.-China trade dispute boiled over in tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods and threatens to engulf all trade between the countries, putting global growth at risk.
“We hope the U.S. will show sincerity and concrete actions,” Gao said. (Reuters/)
Nigeria’s candidate for WTO chief prioritizes fixing dispute settlement system if selected
Okonjo-Iweala, who is competing with seven other nominees for the position of director-general of the WTO, told Xinhua in a recent interview that her top priorities if selected, would be preparing for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Kazakhstan in 2021.
She also hoped to work on restoring the dispute settlement system and updating the WTO’s rule book.
The WTO’s dispute settlement body is currently paralysed.
The Appellate Body, considered as the Supreme Court for global trade disputes, is supposed to have seven judges and needs a minimum of three judges to function.
The United States administration has been blocking new appointments for more than two years, with United States officials claiming that the court had gone beyond its remit.
“I would be focusing, if I get the job, on the dispute settlement system because this is the fundamental pillar of the WTO,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.
“If you have a rules-based organisation, you must have a place where rules are arbitrated and that’s what happens with the dispute settlement system.
“So, restoring that will be a top priority as well.’’
She also had a 25-year career at the World Bank, including as a managing director.
The candidate, who also sits on the board of Twitter and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, said she was confident to win the selection process and that she would be a listener-in-chief as well as a tough negotiator.
“I have strong political skills and negotiation skills.
“I think that’s very much needed; I am a consensus-builder and I’m a good listener too.’’
The candidate showed her confidence to “find a way to unlock the seeming division’’ on the trade side, between China and the United States, underlining that finding areas of mutual interest and to build trust within the WTO trading system would be important.
“Actually, if you listen to the two members, they have some things in common,’’ Okonjo-Iweala added.
“The dispute settlement system of the WTO is valued by both, they want it to reform, they don’t want it to disappear.’’
“I think the best thing China can do is to recover quickly.
“Because it’s one of the engines of growth in the world and it’s almost a quarter of world trade,’ she told Xinhua.
“So, if it recovers quickly, it means that it can help the rest of the world recover.
“So, that’s the role I would see for China.’’
Roberto Azevedo, the incumbent WTO chief, announced in May that he will officially leave his post on Aug. 31, a year before his term expires.
The second phase of the selection process, in which the candidates “make themselves known to members’’, will end on Sept. 7 and then the General Council chairperson will consult with all WTO members before making the final decision.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19 vaccines now in phase 3 clinical trials– WHO
The director-general said: “ We all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.
“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be; for now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.
“Testing, isolating and treating patients, tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.
“Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all.
“For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all.’’
Ghebreyesus said the message to people and governments was clear: “Do it all, and when it’s under control, keep going! Keep strengthening the health system.
“Keep safeguards and monitoring in place, because lifting restrictions too quickly can lead to resurgence.
“Keep investing in the workforce and communicating and engaging communities.
“We have seen around the world, that it’s never too late to turn this pandemic around,’’ he said.
According to him, if we act together today, we can save lives, we can save livelihoods, if we do it all together.
He told journalists that the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met on Friday and reviewed the current pandemic.
“It was a sobering moment coming six months on from when the committee advised.
“And, I agreed that the outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
“At the time, Jan. 30, there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China.
“Since then, the number of cases has increased more than five-fold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled to 680,000,’’ the director-general said.
In addition to the direct toll COVID-19 is having, Ghebreyesus said the committee noted the health impact that disrupted services were having on a range of other diseases.
“That compounds what we already know about reduced immunisation coverage, cancer screening and care, and mental health services.
“A survey of responses from 103 countries between mid-May and early July, found that 67 per cent of countries report disruption in family planning and contraception services.
“More than half of countries reported disruption in antenatal care services and more than a third of countries reported disruption in child birth services.
“On top of the health impact, we have seen the damage COVID-19 has caused socially, economically and politically.
“The committee put forward a number of recommendations for countries to continue to implement to bring the virus under control.
“These range from sharing best practice, to enhancing political commitment and leadership for national strategies and localised response activities driven by science, data and experience.’’
He said from serology studies that most people remained susceptible to this virus, even in areas that have experienced severe outbreaks.
“Over the past week we’ve seen several countries that appeared as though they were past the worst now, contending with fresh spikes in cases.
“However, we’ve also seen how some countries, regions or localities that had a high number of cases are now bringing the outbreak under control.
“It’s not easy, of course. Strict measures may cause their own problems for delivery of essential health services, the economy and societies overall.
“The committee acknowledged that Member States have tough choices to make to turn the epidemic around.
“But, they were also clear that when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations, this disease can be brought under control.’’
He further said we learnt everyday about this virus.
“ I’m pleased that the world has made progress in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of COVID-19 recover.
“The committee recommended that countries engage in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, participate in relevant clinical trials, and prepare for safe and effective therapeutics and vaccine introduction,’’ Ghebreyesus said.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
China’s manufacturing sector shows strong recovery – Survey
China’s manufacturing activity expanded in July at the fastest pace in almost a decade, according to a private survey released on Monday, though employment continued to drop in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 52.8 for July, compared to 51.2 in June.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below shows contraction.
The survey indicates the quickest monthly expansion of manufacturing output and new orders since January 2011.
Meanwhile, new business from overseas fell at the slowest rate in six months.
The index beat analysts’ expectations and comes as China has largely contained the coronavirus crisis and most companies have resumed operations.
Nevertheless, employment dropped for the seventh consecutive month.
While some companies hired more workers to meet production needs, others laid off employees to cut costs, the survey showed.
“To increase employment, manufacturers will need more time and confidence,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.
Official manufacturing data released last week also indicated a recovery.
The official manufacturing PMI came in at 51.1 in July compared to 50.9 in June.
China’s economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the second quarter of the year, according to official data, after contracting 6.8 per cent in the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
China Loan: Amaechi says Nigeria will pay back in 20years
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says Nigerian government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.
Amaechi, in a statement on Saturday, said China was the only country giving out loans with a low interest rate of 2.8 per cent.
He said no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.
“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.
“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.
“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.
“We are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that of the 500million dollars loan, we have paid 96 million dollars already, Nigeria is already paying.
“And the 500 million dollars was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there.
“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the period of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will give you that loan? Secondly, these loans are not given to us, they are paid directly to the contractors.
“Once they sign that the job has been done, they pay the contractors and that has never happened before and this project are in place. Are they trying to rubbish the fact that there is a railway from Abuja-Kaduna?
“There is no loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none.
The minister further said the government needed the loans to boost infrastructure in the country.
According to him, the sovereign guarantee and sovereign immunity clause raised by the NASS is a term used to ensure that loans collected are paid back.
The minister said in the case of a default, only the assets constructed with such a loan would be taken back.
He said: “What you do is you give a sovereign guarantee and that guarantee is the immunity clause they are talking about.
“When we say, I give you a sovereign guarantee and we get immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow I am not able to pay and you come to collect the items we have agreed upon, that these are the items that am putting down as guarantee, I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it am sovereign country.
“So, they are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will make us recover our funds. So, is China our father that will give us money for free?
“It is a standard clause in every agreement whether is America we signed it with, whether is Britain, any country would want to know that they can recover their money.
“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge.
“Just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down, that is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister.
” And if the assets you put down become depreciated then you negotiate which assets they can go after. Chinese will never take over what was not constructed with the loan.”
Amaechi noted that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the NASS, but for confidentiality in government he would have published the clauses generating the dusts.
The minister while asking the reason for the investigation by the NASS added that they were aware of all the loans.
He said:” The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back, which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.”
On the Zambia experience, where the country could not meet up with its loan agreement, the minister said that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that was not constructed from the money taken.
He also acknowledged that the finance ministry in a payment plan had started paying back some of the loans collected.
He said the payment plan was the responsibility of the ministry of finance, and the Ministry of transportation was supposed to implement the contract.
“They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay. 1.6 billion dollars was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for 5.3 billion dollars to fix from Ibadan to Kano.
“3.2 billion dollars to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about 11.1billion dollars, if those things were done when we had money, the infrastructure will be here today? The answer is no,” Amaechi added.
The minister, however, called on the National Assembly and Nigerians to appreciate government effort in providing infrastructure in the country.
Amaechi noted that the Itakpe /Warri rail project in the South South, which was abandoned for thirty four years by successive governments was fully rehabilitated by the present administration without seeking for loan.
Edited By: Yakubu Uba/Felix Ajide (NAN)