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OPEC Looks to Cut Oil Production to Support Falling Price

OPEC countries were gathered Thursday to find a way to support the falling price of oil, with analysts predicting the cartel and key ally Russia would agree to cut production by at least 1 million barrels per day.

Crude prices have been falling since October because major producers — including the U.S. — are pumping oil at high rates and due to fears that weaker economic growth could dampen energy demand. The price of oil fell 22 percent in November and was down again on Thursday amid speculation that OPEC’s action might be too timid to support the market.

Saudi Arabia, the heavyweight within OPEC, said Thursday it was in favor of a cut.

“I think a million (barrels a day) will be adequate personally,” Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih said upon arriving to the meeting in Vienna. That, he said, would include production for both OPEC countries as well as non-OPEC countries, like Russia, which have in recent years been coordinating their production limits with the cartel.

That view was echoed by others, including the oil ministers of Nigeria and Iraq.

“I am optimistic that the agreement will stabilize the market, will stop the slide in the price (of oil),” said Iraq’s Thamir Ghadhban.

Investors did not seem convinced, however, and were pushing the price of oil down sharply again on Thursday, with some experts saying there is concern about the size of the cut. The international benchmark for crude, Brent, was down $1.52 at $60.04 a barrel.

“The cartel has to go above and beyond the 1 million barrels cut, to at least 1.4 million to really steady the ship,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

The fall in the price of oil will be a help to many consumers as well as energy-hungry businesses, particularly at a time when global growth is slowing. And U.S. President Donald Trump has been putting pressure publicly on OPEC to not cut production. He tweeted Wednesday that “Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!”

While Saudi Arabia has indicated it is willing to cut production, its decision may be complicated by Trump’s decision to not sanction the country over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. Senators say, after a briefing with intelligence services, that they are convinced that Saudi’s de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman , was involved in Khashoggi’s death. Some experts say that gives the U.S. some leverage over the Saudis, though Al-Falih denied that on Thursday.

When asked if the Saudis had permission from Trump to cut production, Al-Falih replied: “I don’t need permission from any foreign governments.”

Experts say this week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will influence the price of oil over the coming months. How strongly it does so could depend on Russia’s contribution, which will be determined in a meeting on Friday.

Analysts estimate that if Russia is willing to step up its production cuts, OPEC and non-OPEC countries could trim production by a combined 1.3-1.4 million barrels a day. A cut of 1 million barrels would be the minimum to support the market, and anything less could see the price of oil fall another $10 a barrel, according to Wilson.

“The stakes are high now for OPEC,” he said.

OPEC’s reliance on non-members like Russia highlights the cartel’s waning influence in oil markets, which it had dominated for decades. The OPEC-Russia alliance was made necessary in 2016 to compete with the United States’ vastly increased production of oil in recent years. By some estimates, the U.S. this year became the world’s top crude producer.

OPEC is also riven by internal conflict, especially between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. One of the key questions in Thursday’s talks is whether to exempt Iran from having to cut production, as its energy industry is already hobbled by U.S. sanctions on its crude exports.

Meanwhile, Qatar, a Saudi rival and Iranian ally, said this week it would leave OPEC in January. While it said it was purely a practical decision because it mainly produces natural gas and little oil, the move was viewed as a symbolic snub to the Saudi-dominated organization.

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OPEC, Russia Move Closer to Cutting Oil Output

OPEC and Russia moved closer on Wednesday to agreeing cuts in oil production from next year despite pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to reduce the price of crude.

OPEC meets on Thursday in Vienna, followed by talks with allies such as Russia on Friday. OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, has indicated a need for steep output reductions from January, fearing a glut, but Russia has resisted a large cut.

“All of us including Russia agreed there is a need for a reduction,” Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Rumhy told reporters after a ministerial committee that groups Saudi Arabia, Russia and several other producers met on Wednesday.

Exact volumes were still being discussed, he said. The cuts would take September or October 2018 as baseline figures and last from January to June.

Two OPEC delegates said Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was flying back to Moscow on Wednesday to get a final agreement from President Vladimir Putin.

Saudi Arabia has indicated it wants the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to curb output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day, or 1.3 percent of global production.

Riyadh wants Moscow to contribute at least 250,000-300,000 bpd to the cut but Russia insists the amount should be only half of that, OPEC and non-OPEC sources said.

Russia’s TASS news agency quoted an OPEC source as saying OPEC and its allies were discussing the idea of reducing output next year by reverting to production quotas agreed in 2016.

Such a move would mean cutting production by more than 1 million bpd. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the UAE have raised output since June after Trump called for higher production to compensate for lower Iranian exports due to new U.S. sanctions.

Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States have been vying for the position of top crude producer in recent years. The United States is not part of any output-limiting initiative due to its anti-trust legislation and fragmented oil industry. Trump raises pressure

Oil prices have fallen by almost a third since October to around $62 per barrel after Saudi Arabia raised production to make up for the drop in Iranian exports. Washington also gave sanctions waivers to some buyers of Iranian crude, further raising fears of an oil glut next year.

“Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The world does not want to see, or need, higher oil prices!” Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

Possibly complicating any OPEC decision is the crisis around the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Trump has backed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite calls from many U.S. politicians to impose stiff sanctions on Riyadh.

“How can the Saudis cut substantially if Trump doesn’t want a big cut?” said Gary Ross, chief executive of U.S.-based Black Gold Investors and a veteran OPEC watcher.

“Trump is worried about the Fed and inflation. So he wants low prices now. Also if Saudis are obnoxious with a deep output cut, it will spur the Democrats in Congress to go more actively for the Nopec legislation and the withdrawal of U.S. support for the Saudi-backed forces in the war in Yemen,” Ross said.

The Nopec legislation being discussed by U.S. lawmakers could make it possible to sue Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members for price fixing.

Bob McNally, president of U.S.-based Rapidan Energy Group, said OPEC was stuck between a rock and a hard place given pressure from Trump on one hand and the need for higher revenues on the other.

“We think OPEC will try to come up with a fuzzy production cut … It won’t be called a cut but will effectively mean a cut, which will also be difficult to quantify,” McNally said.

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Growth of Labor Migration Provokes Hostility in Host Communities

A new study estimates 164 million people are migrating to foreign countries in search of work, an increase of 9 percent since 2013.

The majority of migrant workers are men between the ages of 25 and 64, according to the International Labor Organization’s second edition of Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers. While the number of migrant workers in upper-middle-income countries has grown, the report finds the vast majority head for richer countries in North America, Europe and the Arab region, particularly the Gulf States.

Manuela Tomei, director of the ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department, tells VOA most of the people who migrate for work are low skilled, and employed in fields such as construction, agriculture, the hospitality industry or as domestic help.

She says migrant workers are a key factor in boosting the economies and development of rich countries and in the higher brackets of upper-middle-income countries.

“Their main contribution is through the work, the services that they provide to host communities in sectors and occupations, in jobs in which often nationals are not interested to work any longer,” Tomei said.

Unfortunately, she noted, the influx of migrants into foreign countries often creates a backlash. Instead of welcoming the workers as being beneficial to their societies, host communities often react with hostility.

In coming years, she said, these workers increasingly will be needed because of demographic trends and rapidly aging populations. Labor migration is a long-term trend, she added, urging governments to learn how to manage workers for their mutual benefit.

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Trump Tries to Calm Global Markets After Stocks Drop Sharply

U.S. President Donald Trump, who rattled global markets Tuesday after declaring himself “a Tariff Man,” predicted in a series of tweets Wednesday the United States and China would negotiate a new trade deal.

Trump said China is planning to resume buying U.S. soybeans and natural gas, which he said confirms his claims that China had agreed to start “immediately” buying U.S. products.”

Trump said he believes “President Xi (Jinping) meant every word of what he said” at their meeting recently in Argentina, including “his promise to me to criminalize the sale of deadly Fentanyl coming into the United States.”

The president’s optimistic comments came one day after stock prices around the world plunged in response to a series of tweets he posted on Tuesday, warning a fragile accord between the two countries could crumble.

Stocks in the U.S., Europe and Asia fell sharply after Trump declared himself “a Tariff Man” who wants “people or countries” with intentions to “raid the great wealth” of the U.S. “to pay for the privilege of doing so.”

Trump and President Xi, leaders of the world’s two biggest economies, agreed Saturday in Argentina to not impose any new tariffs on each other’s exports for the next 90 days while they negotiate a detailed trade agreement.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said earlier this week the U.S. won Chinese commitments to buy more than $1 trillion in American products.

The U.S. had a $335.4 billion trade deficit with China in 2017.

Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently, the tariff is at 40 percent

On Monday, Kudlow said there was an “assumption” that China would eliminate auto tariffs, not a specific agreement.

China’s ministry of foreign affairs said Monday the Chinese and U.S. president had agreed to work toward removing all tariffs.

The 90-day truce in the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China came during a dinner meeting between the two presidents following the G-20 summit of the world’s industrialized and emerging economies in Buenos Aires.  For months, the two countries have engaged in tit-for-tat increases in tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of exports flowing between the two countries.

Trump, speaking to reporters on Air Force One after the plane departed Argentina, said his agreement with Xi, will go down “as one of the largest deals ever made… And it’ll have an incredibly positive impact on farming, meaning agriculture, industrial products, computers — every type of product.”

Trump agreed he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products at 10 percent, and not raise it to 25 percent as he has threatened to do Jan. 1, according to a White House statement.

Trump and Xi also agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture, according to the White House statement.

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Farmer Protests Highlight India’s Growing Rural Distress

Vimla Yadav, a farmer from India’s Haryana state, says agriculture costs, such as fertilizers and seeds, have soared, yet produce prices have plunged, leaving her family of 10 with virtually no profit from their four-acre farm. “We don’t even get the fruits of the labor that the entire family puts in on the farm, although we slog day and night,” she laments.

Yadav is one of the tens of thousands of angry farmers from around the country who poured into the Indian capital recently, demanding a special session of parliament to discuss their demands:better prices for farm produce and a waiver by the government from repaying loans taken from banks.

The protest highlighted the deepening distress among the population in the countryside, where there is growing concern about diminishing agricultural profits because many are being driven into debt.

In a country where half the population of 1.3 billion depends on agriculture, low farm profits have long been a challenge and prompted promises by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double rural incomes by 2022. But the growing disenchantment among the farming community could pose a challenge to Modi as he seeks re-election next year.

According to the government, the average income of a farmer is about $100 a month. But many make less, said Yogendra Yadav, one of the main leaders of the protest and founder of the farmers group Jai Kisan Andolan. The Yadavs are not related.

“For a majority of them, the income is probably less than $50 a month. That is the level at which they survive. And one of the principal reasons for that is that they don’t get enough price for their crops,” Yogendra Yadav said.

Low prices for crops are not the only problem: increasingly erratic weather patterns pose a new challenge in a country where nearly half the farmers lack access to irrigation.

 

In eastern Orissa state, for example, back-to-back droughts over the past two years have brought widespread distress.

 

“There has been very little rain this year,” said Lakhyapati Sahu, a farmer who traveled from Orissa, one of India’s poorer states. “We face a massive problem due to successive droughts.”

 

According to various studies, nearly half of Indian farmers have said they want to quit working on the land but cannot do so because of a lack of alternate livelihoods.

Despite the challenge of finding work, Parul Haldar, a farmer from West Bengal, said she wants to migrate with her entire family to the city. “I will give up farming and go to Kolkata and look for work to make a living. There is no money to be earned from the farm,” she added.

Although the rural crisis has been festering for many years, economists partly blame the deepening crisis on a sweeping currency ban that led to widespread cash shortages two years ago and affected their incomes.

 

“Many farmers lost working capital, they had to borrow money from the banks or from the local moneylenders at high interest rates, so their costs went up,” economist Arun Kumar said. “So if costs go up and revenue comes down, then income gets squeezed.”

Protests by farmers have intensified in the past two years as they try to draw attention to the usually forgotten countryside — their recent march was their fourth and largest to Delhi so far this year. They have also held marches in other cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. In June, farmers in several parts of the country threw their produce on the streets to highlight low prices. And last year, farmers from southern India protested in New Delhi with skulls to draw attention to suicides by farmers.

“Farmers are saying enough is enough, now something needs to be done,” Yogendra Yadav said. “Both the economic and ecological crisis is leading to an existential crisis, farmers are committing suicide, they are quitting farming.”

 

Political analysts also said the growing rural anger could erode support for Prime Minister Modi in the countryside ahead of next year’s scheduled elections. Farmers make up an important voting bloc.

“Opposition to Modi is growing. Unless you have rural support, no party can win on [the] basis of urban support only,” said Satish Misra, of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “The distress is real. The agriculture issue needs to be addressed in a very focused manner.”

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Shifting Global Marketplace Leaves US Workers Behind

President Donald Trump insists his new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada will address the exporting of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas. That pledge, however, comes on the heels of auto giant General Motors’ announcement of the layoff of 14,000 employees in five factories in the United States and Canada.

Despite the president’s optimistic pronouncements, the General Motors announcement indicates broader market shifts in the automotive industry that are unlikely to be reversed.

General Motors justified the decision as a result of shifting economic trends that have seen consumer preferences shift away from mid-sized vehicles and toward sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and electric cars. The company said the move “is transforming its global workforce to ensure the right skill sets for today and the future.”

Those moves toward increased efficiency also include a 25 percent cut of the executive workforce.

But in Lordstown, Ohio, workers whose livelihoods have depended on jobs in GM factories struggled to understand the move.

Mid-sized autos

The Lordstown plant manufactures the Chevy Cruze, one of the mid-sized cars auto manufacturers no longer see as profitable. Trump specifically addressed the impact on the Lordstown plant shortly after GM’s decision, saying, “They say the Chevy Cruze is not selling well. I say, ‘Well, get a car that is selling well and put it back in.'”

Workers are holding on to that hope with the Lordstown plant in an “unallocated status” that leaves open the possibility of GM moving in another product. Local union leader Dave Green acknowledged that issues with the Chevy Cruze were part of an overall industry trend away from smaller cars. 

“They’re not building cars, sedans anymore, but people are still buying cars,” Green told VOA. “Part of it is that they need to be priced right and they need to be priced fair. If I can go into a dealership and lease an SUV cheaper than a Chevy Cruze — you know, most Americans want more for less. So they’re going to get the bigger, the better, the more for less and it is what it is. I think the car was priced a little out of its range.”

The 6.2-million-square-foot Lordstown plant is well-placed in the center of the country, with easy access to major highway artery Interstate Highway 80 and an infrastructure of secondary plants.

Green said 80 percent of the plant’s production is sold within a 600-mile radius. “GM would be foolish to walk away from it,” he said.

The 1,600 workers anticipating a March 2019 layoff from the Lordstown plant certainly hope that’s the case. They earn $30-40 an hour compared to the next best option in the area, $10 an hour at the aluminum factory.

Lordstown is part of the broader Warren-Youngstown, Ohio, area that once thrived on the presence of steel mill manufacturing. When those plants shut down in the 1970s and ’80s, the auto industry became the lifeblood of the local economy.

“That’s is the largest plant that we have,” said Trish Williams, owner of the Ice House restaurant in Austintown, Ohio. She has several family members and friends who have worked at the GM plant in the past and present.

“That keeps this town going. Our steel mills are gone. Our factories are gone. [Hewlitt] Packard is closed. General Electric is gone. Chrysler is gone and GM was it. GM was what kept this here — it may turn into a ghost town,” Williams said.

‘Don’t sell your house’

Trump visited Youngstown in July 2017, telling workers, “Don’t sell your house. Don’t sell your house. Do not sell it. We’re going to get those values up. We’re going to get those jobs coming back. And we’re going to fill up those factories, or rip them down and build brand new ones.”

Many residents said they do not hold Trump responsible for GM’s decision, a move that could devastate the local economy.

“The president doesn’t own GM,” waitress Lisa Miller said. “Nor can he say you can’t do this, you can’t do that. We are a free country. I believe the president will push with all his might — as we’ve already seen him doing — to keep them here and to change things, but this was something that was out of his hands.”

Just days after the GM announcement, Miller said she was already noticing a drop in sales and an end to the usual lunch to-go orders from GM workers.

Some of those workers will be able to transfer to other plants around the country based on their seniority within GM. But many workers expressed concern to VOA about the number of temporary employees — who earn far lower rates per hour — working in those plants. They are also aware of GM’s plant in Mexico that builds the Chevy Blazer, an SUV.

“Why is our plant not getting the Blazer?” asked Rebecca Zak, an 18-year veteran of the Lordstown GM plant. “Why is it being built in Mexico? It’s mind-blowing. I heard in Ramos, Mexico, they get paid $2.65 an hour.”

Zak said she sees the decision as part of a trend toward corporations enriching themselves at the expense of the worker.

“We’re the ones that build this car, we are the ones that got this company this far and who are the ones who are suffering? The worker, not corporate America. Six billion dollars in the third-quarter and they can justify laying off 14,000 people,” she said.

GM workforce

Those 14,000 people represent just 7 percent of GM’s 180,000-person workforce, a strategic shift for a company in a competitive automotive market. What remains to be seen is whether that strategic shift will include places like Lordstown.

But as Lordstown employee Dan Smith said, “Any industry is cyclical. Gas could go up to $5 a gallon and then, poof, there goes the truck-SUV market. And they’re going to need small cars. It’s something we went through, my dad’s worked there.”

Smith said he was shocked by the decision but did not entirely fault GM for operating a plant in Mexico with lower-paid labor.

“Business-wise that makes sense, but then to sell it here in the United States doesn’t make much sense for American people to buy an American car that’s built in another country,” he told VOA.

For Williams, waiting to see how the decision impacts her community and her business, the equation seemed simple.

“Smaller cars, bigger cars — they all have four wheels,” she said. “They’ve made other cars off that line — why not bring another car back?”

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro to Tackle Pension Overhaul Piecemeal

Right-wing President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday he plans to tackle the overhaul of Brazil’s fiscally burdensome pension system with piecemeal reforms that can pass Congress, starting with an increase in the minimum age of retirement.

He said reforms should start with the public social security system and advance gradually to make sure they pass Congress.

“The idea is to start with the (minimum) age, attack the privileges and take it forward,” Bolsonaro said at a news conference, warning that the problem with the cost of the pension system was growing every year.

“We cannot allow Brazil to reach the situation that Greece reached to do something about it,” he said.

Brazil’s next president said he planned to start by raising the minimum age of retirement for everyone by two years, but keeping the gender age gap, building on a proposal made by incumbent President Michel Temer. He gave few details.

Currently, Brazilian men can retire after 35 years of contributions and women after 30 years. Men can also retire by age 65 and women at 60 as long as they have contributed for at least 15 years.

Generous pensions are a major cause of Brazil’s gaping budget deficit and growing public debt, an unsustainable situation that is becoming more acute as the population ages and more people retire.

Investors and credit rating agencies are watching Bolsonaro’s commitment to pension reform closely as it is key to reducing the deficit and restoring confidence in Latin America’s largest economy as it recovers slowly from a two-year recession.

The pension reform proposal by Temer’s outgoing government never gained enough traction in Congress.

Bolsonaro, who takes office on Jan. 1, began meetings with political parties on Tuesday to see how he can build support for his agenda that includes tax reform and the easing of gun laws.

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Trump: Trade Talks With China Underway

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a series of tweets Tuesday that talks to secure a trade deal with China “have already started” and if a “fair deal” is reached, “I will happily sign it.”

 

Trump’s comments come after leaders of the world’s two biggest economies agreed Saturday in Argentina to not impose any new tariffs on each other’s exports for the next 90 days while they negotiate a detailed trade agreement.

Trump declared himself Tuesday “a Tariff Man” who wants “people or countries” with intentions to “raid the great wealth” of the U.S. “to pay for the privilege of doing so.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said earlier this week the U.S. won Chinese commitments to buy more than $1 trillion in American products.

The U.S. had a $335.4 billion trade deficit with China in 2017. Trump said on Monday, however, “We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed.  Level the field!”

The U.S. leader said U.S. farmers “will be a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately. We make the finest and cleanest product in the World, and that is what China wants. Farmers, I LOVE YOU!” 

Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S.  Currently the tariff is 40 percent.

On Monday, Kudlow said there was an “assumption” that China would eliminate auto tariffs, not a specific agreement.

China’s ministry of foreign affairs said Monday the Chinese and U.S. president had agreed to work toward removing all tariffs.

Trump said he and Xi “are the only two people that can bring about massive and very positive change, on trade and far beyond, between our two great Nations.  A solution for North Korea is a great thing for China and ALL!” 

At his political rallies and news conferences, Trump often praises the increase in U.S. military spending during his nearly two years in the White House.

But he tweeted that “at some time in the future,” Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and he “will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race.  The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!”

The 90-day truce in the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China came during a dinner meeting between the two presidents following the G-20 summit of the world’s biggest economies in Buenos Aires.  For months, the two countries have engaged in tit-for-tat increases in tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of exports flowing between the two countries.

Trump, speaking to reporters on Air Force One after the plane departed Argentina, said his agreement with Xi, will go down “as one of the largest deals ever made. … And it’ll have an incredibly positive impact on farming, meaning agriculture, industrial products, computers — every type of product.”

Trump agreed he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products at 10 percent, and not raise it to 25 percent as he has threatened to do Jan. 1, according to a White House statement. 

“China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.”

Trump and Xi also agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture, according to the White House statement.

“Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent,” the statement said.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trump: Trade Talks With China Underway

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a series of tweets Tuesday that talks to secure a trade deal with China “have already started” and if a “fair deal” is reached, “I will happily sign it.”

 

Trump’s comments come after leaders of the world’s two biggest economies agreed Saturday in Argentina to not impose any new tariffs on each other’s exports for the next 90 days while they negotiate a detailed trade agreement.

Trump declared himself Tuesday “a Tariff Man” who wants “people or countries” with intentions to “raid the great wealth” of the U.S. “to pay for the privilege of doing so.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said earlier this week the U.S. won Chinese commitments to buy more than $1 trillion in American products.

The U.S. had a $335.4 billion trade deficit with China in 2017. Trump said on Monday, however, “We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed.  Level the field!”

The U.S. leader said U.S. farmers “will be a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately. We make the finest and cleanest product in the World, and that is what China wants. Farmers, I LOVE YOU!” 

Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S.  Currently the tariff is 40 percent.

On Monday, Kudlow said there was an “assumption” that China would eliminate auto tariffs, not a specific agreement.

China’s ministry of foreign affairs said Monday the Chinese and U.S. president had agreed to work toward removing all tariffs.

Trump said he and Xi “are the only two people that can bring about massive and very positive change, on trade and far beyond, between our two great Nations.  A solution for North Korea is a great thing for China and ALL!” 

At his political rallies and news conferences, Trump often praises the increase in U.S. military spending during his nearly two years in the White House.

But he tweeted that “at some time in the future,” Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and he “will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race.  The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!”

The 90-day truce in the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China came during a dinner meeting between the two presidents following the G-20 summit of the world’s biggest economies in Buenos Aires.  For months, the two countries have engaged in tit-for-tat increases in tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of exports flowing between the two countries.

Trump, speaking to reporters on Air Force One after the plane departed Argentina, said his agreement with Xi, will go down “as one of the largest deals ever made. … And it’ll have an incredibly positive impact on farming, meaning agriculture, industrial products, computers — every type of product.”

Trump agreed he will leave the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products at 10 percent, and not raise it to 25 percent as he has threatened to do Jan. 1, according to a White House statement. 

“China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.”

Trump and Xi also agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture, according to the White House statement.

“Both parties agree that they will endeavor to have this transaction completed within the next 90 days. If at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent,” the statement said.

 

 

 

 

 

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Uber Announces New Minibus Service in Traffic-mad Egypt

Uber launched a new minibus service on Tuesday in traffic-mad Cairo, Egypt’s capital and one of the U.S. ride-sharing giant’s fastest-growing markets.

A part of an aggressive push into emerging countries, the company hopes to draw millions of Egyptians into ride-sharing from chronically congested, pollution-filled urban landscapes and replace personal automobiles. It is already investing $100 million into a Mideast and North Africa customer support center in Cairo.

At a news conference with the famed Pyramids at Giza in the background, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company wants to grow its global number of users from 100 million to 1 billion, and that the new Uber Bus service was part of this plan.

“This is a product that we built for Cairo. It will now be the most affordable way to use Uber technology to get around the city,” he said. “I’m especially proud to add that Cairo is the first city globally to be rolling out Uber Bus.”

Microbuses — such as the ones Uber plans to use — are notorious in Cairo.

Often over-packed, speeding and veering across traffic lanes with little concern for safety and other drivers, the vehicles are the only affordable method of travel for millions of people in Egypt, where public transport is massively overloaded.

The company hopes that its safety features and feedback model will improve the popular mini-bus form of transport, allowing users to select the closest, quickest routes from convenient pick up spots. It also is introducing a smaller version of its application to run on less advanced mobile phones.

Uber’s regional rival, the Dubai-based Careem, said it also launched a microbus service in Cairo similar to Uber’s and that it is planning to offer similar services in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the future.

Uber drivers have come into conflict with taxis in Egypt, as in other countries. But many in this country of 100 million people say the service provides cleaner vehicles and driver accountability.

Egypt’s government also welcomes the company as it helps generate tax revenue by bringing in drivers from the informal economy. Uber says previous regulatory issues have been overcome, as have questions over data privacy raised by reports of Egypt’s infamous intelligence agencies seeking continuous access to user information and locations.