An uphill battle for CPO

KUCHING: When it comes to the palm oil sector, like most traded commodities, ‘smooth sailing’ is something rarely mentioned by experts of the field in regards to the prospects of this industry. Palm oil experts are generally painting a good short-term outlook for the sector in 2018 – but palm industry players are more sceptical […]

Equities Weekly: Global equities in the black yet again

Equity markets around the world on aggregate continued to record gains for investors, with the MSCI AC World Index 0.8 per cent higher from the previous week. The developed markets of Europe, Japan and the US climbed higher, with the latter’s S&P 500 Index recording new all-time highs and posting a 1.1 per cent gain […]

Indonesia: Year in Review 2017

Solid growth, supported by strong investment flows, should put Indonesia on a firm footing in 2018, despite a slight drop in expectations. In mid-November 2017 Bank Indonesia (BI) sharpened its forecast for year-end growth to 5.1 per cent, at the lower end of projections made earlier in 2017 of between 5 per cent and 5.4 […]

China draws up new ‘special’ emission curbs on industries

SHANGHAI, Jan 20 — China will impose “special emissions restrictions” on enterprises in major industrial sectors in northern China later this year, as it bids to ensure its war on pollution continues once a tough winter anti-smog campaign…

WTO gives US deadline to fix anti-China practices

GENEVA: A World Trade Organization arbitrator on Friday gave Washington until August 22 to implement a prior ruling faulting the anti-dumping measures taken against Chinese products.

The WTO's Dispute Settlement Body ruled last May that some of the US anti-dumping practices were inconsistent with international trade rules.

Arbitrator Simon Farbenbloom said in a report that it was “reasonable” to expect the United States to implement the ruling within 15 months.

“The reasonable period of time for implementation will expire on Aug 22, 2018,” he said.

The case dates back to December 2013, when China filed a dispute against the United States, taking issue with the way Washington assesses whether exports have been “dumped” at unfairly low prices onto the US market.

The use of anti-dumping duties are permitted under international trade rules as long as they adhere to strict conditions, and disputes over their use are often brought before the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body.

In this specific case, China alleged that the United States, in violation of WTO rules, was continuing a practice known as “zeroing”, which calculates the price of imports compared to the normal value in the United States to determine predatory pricing.

In October 2016, a panel of WTO experts found largely in China's favour in the case, including on the issue of “zeroing”.

The United States, which has repeatedly lost cases before the WTO over its calculation method, said in June 2017 that it would implement the panel's recommendations, saying it would do so within a “reasonable” time frame.

This prompted China to ask the WTO to appoint an arbitrator to set an end date.

The 162-member Geneva-based WTO aims to create a level playing field in global trade, although US President Donald Trump's trade envoys maintain the organisation has given unfair advantages to China at the expense of the United States. — AFP

US ‘erred’ in supporting WTO membership for China, Russia: USTR

WASHINGTON: China and Russia have shown no intention of living up to World Trade Organization rules and Washington should not have supported their membership in the global trade body, the Trump administration said Friday.

In strongly worded reports to Congress, the US Trade Representative delivered a laundry list of grievances over unfair trade practices by Beijing and Moscow it says runs counter to global free trade rules.

USTR Robert Lighthizer said the reports show “the global trading system is threatened by major economies who do not intend to open their markets to trade and participate fairly.”

“This practice is incompatible with the market-based approach expressly envisioned by WTO members and contrary to the fundamental principles of the WTO,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

President Donald Trump has ratcheted up retaliatory measures against foreign trading partners, notably China, as part of his America First economic agenda which lifted him to power a year ago. That included an aggressive new trade probe into possible dumping of aluminium and steel.

The US had a US$309 billion trade deficit in goods and services with China in 2016, and that was on track to expand by US$10 billion last year.

USTR report said after joining the WTO in 2001, Beijing effectively abandoned efforts to adopt market-friendly reforms and instead increased central government control over commerce while erecting barriers to foreign competition.

But WTO rules are insufficient to correct Beijing's interventionist policies, and the United States “erred” in supporting China's membership in 2001, the report said.

US dialogue with Beijing since Trump took office yielded some results, such as renewed access to Chinese markets for US beef, but these were piecemeal changes, the report said.

“China is determined to maintain the state's leading role in the economy and to continue to pursue industrial policies that promote, guide and support domestic industries while simultaneously and actively seeking to impede, disadvantage and harm their foreign counterparts,” the China report said.

Chinese authorities also continue to pressure American companies into sharing valuable intellectual property, the report said.

The USTR likewise accused Moscow of an “accelerating withdrawal” from the open market system demanded by WTO membership since joining in 2012, citing burdensome import licensing, opaque customs regimes, and barriers to agricultural imports.

“It was a mistake to allow Russia to join the WTO if it is not fully prepared to live by WTO rules,” the report said. — AFP

US$1 = RM3.94

Stronger ringgit sees palm slide for fourth day

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — Malaysian palm oil futures fell for a fourth straight day today, weighed down by a stronger ringgit and concerns over slow exports. A stronger ringgit, palm’s currency of trade, makes the edible oil more expensive for…

IEA sees oil markets tightening as Venezuelan output collapses

LONDON, Jan 19 — Global oil markets are tightening quickly on falling supply from Venezuela, which posted 2017’s biggest unplanned output fall and could see a further decline in 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today. Debt…

Huawei founder, top execs fined for management oversight

HONG KONG, Jan 19 — Top executives of Huawei Technologies Co, including founder Ren Zhengfei, will pay a self-imposed fine totaling 3 million yuan (RM1.8 million) for management oversight of some quality breaches at the firm, an internal company…

Tide of money drowns out HK property warning by central banker

HONG KONG, Jan 19 — Why are official warnings of the threat that rising interest rates pose to Hong Kong’s red-hot housing market falling on deaf ears? The Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the International Monetary Fund have both…