Bill Zhang

Saturday, September 03, 2005

China, UK expect big deals

China and Britain will sign agreements worth US$2.4 billion in the fields of aerospace technology and banking next week.

Christopher Hum, British ambassador to China, said on Friday in Beijing that the protocols will be reached on Tuesday during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to China, following a talk with his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, in Beijing.

No further details were available on Friday night.

Hum said a very solid personal relationship has developed between the two leaders. This will be their third meeting as prime ministers.

Hum noted a business delegation of 37 people, mainly chiefs or chief executive officers of British companies, will be in Blair's entourage. They cover a wide range of companies in areas such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, engineering and retailing.

Blair will arrive in Beijing on Monday to attend the eighth EU-China Summit.

Serge Abou, ambassador of the EU delegation of the European Commission, said the summit will present several achievements.

A wealth of agreements are expected to be sealed in such fields as employment and social benefits, space exploration, geographical indication and maritime transport.

Abou said the EU has decided to invest 55 million euros (US$68 million) in two projects to protect the biodiversity of China's two biggest waterways the Yangtze River and the Yellow River.

He noted that there would be another significant loan worth 550 million euros (US$680 million) offered by the European Investment Bank to China for the expansion of Beijing Capital International Airport.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finland: Consumer e-commerce grows by 35%-40% per year

Helsinki, 1 September, 2005 — According to the MD of the Electronic Commerce Finland Association (ECF), Kare Casals, consumer Internet commerce has increased nearly tenfold during the last six years. At the moment, the annual growth rate is approximately 35%-40%. Over 70% of Finnish consumers have used the Internet, and 60% have used the Internet to find information about shops or products. Consumers' and companies' Internet purchases from abroad increase more rapidly than Internet purchases from Finland.

According to ECF, the main reason for growing consumer e-commerce is the increasing number of broadband connections. It has been estimated that the net sales of consumer e-commerce will total over EUR 2.7bn in Finland, in 2005.

BOC names underwriters for IPO

Bank of China (BOC) named Goldman Sachs Group, UBS and Bank of China International as financial advisers and underwriters for the lender's planned US$4 billion stock listing.

The announcement ended months of jostling among major investment banks for the prestigious mandate to handle one of the highest-profile initial public offerings in years.

Bank of China said it had chosen the three banks after a rigorous assessment that took account of various factors. It said all three enjoyed a good reputation and long-established ties with the bank.

Bank of China is expected to go public by the middle of next year, generating US$120 million or more in fees for the underwriters.

Bankers said Bank of China International, the Beijing-based lender's investment banking arm, was always certain to share the mandate.

Goldman has long been viewed as a frontrunner as its close ties to the bank include working on the July 2002 listing of its BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) unit.

But the announcement deals a blow to other contenders, including Merrill Lynch, which strengthened its case by joining a syndicate that said last month it would invest a total of US$3.1 billion for 10 percent of Bank of China.

According to a news report Wednesday, Singapore government-owned Temasek Holdings was also preparing to invest about US$3 billion for about 10 percent of Bank of China.

China wants to raise money to modernize its State-owned banking industry by selling minority stakes to foreign investors while retaining control of the institutions. All of its major commercial banks are planning to sell shares abroad. Enditem

Sino-US textile talks fail to yield any result

China-US textile dispute talks concluded yesterday with no progress made.

Cass Johnson, president of the US National Council of Textile Organizations, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the two-day closed-door negotiations had not narrowed the two sides' differences.

Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, who was in Beijing, said: "It appears that it's over this week, and no agreement has been reached."

There was no official response from China's Ministry of Commerce.

The US negotiating team is scheduled to head home today.

The spokeswoman of the US Embassy in Beijing said the US Trade Representative Office would possibly publish a decision on whether to launch additional caps on Chinese products today. No information about its decision is available at the time of press.

The US side promised to be prudent when initiating new safeguard measures on Chinese textile products at the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in July, which was attended by US and China's top trade officials. And it postponed the decision on new curbs to August 31.

Insiders had expected that this round of talks, of a higher level than the previous rounds although still "technical," would be more likely to wrap up a deal. The talks in the past two days were chaired by China's vice-commerce minister Gao Hucheng.

Compared with the EU-China agreement signed in June, "substantial differences" exist in how many categories the agreement should cover, how to calculate the base figure as well as the annual growth.

The US textile industry claimed that the ending of a global textile quota regime in January this year would see cheap Chinese textile and apparel products flooding the US market and hurting local enterprises.

The topic has grown hotter in the past couple of months, as the US Government re-imposed quotas on textile imports from China upon the industry's request in May, and the industrial association continued to file petitions for curbs on more categories.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

China president Hu to visit US in Sep, he will send message of peace during US visit

Chinese President Hu Jintao will send a message on China's peaceful development during his upcoming visit to the United States.

"President Hu Jintao's visit will deliver the important message to the US leadership and the US public that China is a force for peace," said He Yafei, director of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry.

He briefed a press conference on Tuesday on President Hu's upcoming state visits to the United States, Canada, Mexico from Sept. 5 to 17. Hu will also attend the United Nations' summit marking the 60th anniversary of its founding, He said.

"China's development is peaceful development," said He, The peaceful development is conducive not only to the Chinese people, but also to the American people and the people in the world, He added.

"Through the visit, the American people and the people in the world will have better understanding on China's peaceful development," said He. "This will also help improve China-US relations and relations between China and the rest of the world."

President Hu will visit Seattle and Washington DC and deliver aspeech in Yale University. Besides he is also scheduled to meet US congress members, officials, businessmen, academics and the general public, according to He.

On energy issue, He said China has been exploring energy marketin line with international rules. "Energy issue is the one that each country is facing, China has no intention to scramble for world energy supply with other countries."

China is willing to achieve mutually beneficial and win-win through cooperation on a equal footing, He said.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

EU trade commissioner proposes to end textile dispute with China

The European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said on Sunday that he will on Monday propose to end a trade dispute which has stopped millions of itemsof Chinese clothing from entering Europe.

"I'm making proposals, the Commission is making proposals to our member states... to begin the proceedings to unblock all the goods currently held at customs," Mandelson said in an interview with the BBC News 24.

"And if they cooperate I believe that we will be able to unblock all the goods currently held at customs by the middle of next month," he added.

In the past four days, the EU and China have been negotiating in Beijing to find a way to unblock some 75 million pieces of clothing being held at ports in EU member states.

The problem stems from a new limit on Chinese clothing imports to the bloc, which came into force in June and was designed to protect the EU's own clothing manufacturers.

Reports said China has already exceeded its quota for this year, so its clothing exports are not being allowed into Europe.

But some of Europe's biggest high street names have warned thattheir shelves may start to empty if the goods are not released, and it now looks as if EU officials will have to increase China's 2005 quota after only two months.

Mandelson said the same problem would not reoccur next year andhe hoped the held goods would be given "speedy passage".

He said the problem was partly caused by the rapid expansion ofChinese manufacturing which could not have been foreseen.

"Nobody has been made bankrupt, however, there are many retailers - and I'm particularly concerned about small and medium sized retailers - who have faced difficulty and it's not right they have done so," said the trade commissioner.

With around 50 million sweaters and 17 million pairs of trousers already detained at European ports, big name stores across the continent are increasingly anxious that these Chinese-made clothes should be released in time to prepare for the Christmas rush.

T-shirts and bras are the latest items to join the list of products that have reached their EU quota limits.

Meanwhile, it was announced that Chinese and US officials will hold a fourth-round of talks to try to reach a comprehensive deal on Chinese textile exports to the US.

China's development benefits US economy

The US economy has benefited greatly from China's economic growth, and "simply blaming China will not solve issues relating to US economic transformation," an American expert on anti-dumping laws said Friday in an interview with Xinhua.

"China and the United States are the twin engines of world economic growth. China's economic development has numerous beneficial effects on the US economy," said Jeffrey S. Grimson, 38, Counsel and Chair of the China/International Trade Practice ofKaye Scholer LLP, an international law firm with over 500 lawyers on three continents.

Foremost, "Chinese goods have a reputation for being low-priced. The availability of low-priced goods has had a beneficial impact on the US economy, by enabling consumers to enhance their standard of living while keeping inflation down," said Grimson who have been working in the field of anti-dumping laws for 15 years.

Chinese products are moving up the scale of quality too, he added.

Also, economic prosperity in China means more potential customers for US goods and services, he said.

What's more, "the rise of China as a manufacturing superpower has pushed US business to modernize and achieve ever higher levelsof efficiency and productivity," said Grimson.

Grimson holds that it is not right for US manufacturers to blame China for a decline in US manufacturing jobs, saying "the transformation of the US economy started long before the current 'crises' with China's trade imbalance, the currency, or textiles. Simply blaming China will not solve issues relating to US economictransformation."

According to statistics compiled by the US-China Business Council, he said, the US manufacturing sector's share of the US economy has fallen from 32 percent in 1960 to 22 percent in 1980, and to 14 percent in 2002.

Grimson noted that "in fact, the decline in the contribution ofthe US manufacturing sector to the overall economy began long before China's emergence" as a major trade power.

On the bilateral economic and trade relationship, Grimson said the overall economic and trade ties between China and the United States are built on a strong foundation of mutual benefit, and thefact that the relationship is not viewed in the United States as a"two-way street" is in part because the US-China trade statistics are typically viewed in isolation, rather than in broader regionalterms.

For example, less than half of the US trade deficit in 2004 is related to trade with East Asian countries, including China, he said, while "overall, the US trade deficit with the rest of the world has increased nearly three times as much as the trade deficit with China over the past ten years."

Because of the negative perception of the US-China trading relationship, trade disputes that might otherwise be considered anexpected consequence of such a large volume of trade take on a whole new political aspect, Grimson noted.

"Groups interested in curtailing free trade are able to capitalize on the negative political environment to achieve objectives that might not otherwise be attainable," he said.

It is essential for the two countries to handle trade disputes in an objective,transparent fashion, abiding by fundamental principles of fairness in addition to merely the strict letter of international and domestic law, said Grimson.

"For the United States, abiding by international trade agreements is paramount to maintaining global credibility as a country committed to open markets not only abroad, but also at home," he said.

"Unilateral action is not the ideal way to resolve trade disputes," Grimson noted, "Quotas, especially unilateral quotas, are the opposite of what the international free trade rules seek to achieve."

Grimson has traveled to China many times over the past 10 years. When asked about his impression of the Chinese economy, hesaid that the pace of growth of China's economy is unprecedented.
"China is speeding through decades of development in only a fewyears. As such, the country has the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of countries. In particular, China can look to the lessons of other developed countries in areas such as urban planning and the environment," he said.

China, US to hold 4th round textile talks

China and the United States will hold the fourth round of talks on the textile issue during Aug. 30-31 as the two countries failed to reach any agreement in the third round ending in San Francisco on Aug. 17, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Saturday.

The two countries still have substantial differences in some matters of principle concerning the issue, and agreed to continue consultations to seek solutions to the problem, a ministry spokesman said.

This is meant to create an environment for the steady development of bilateral textile trade, the spokesman added.

It was reported that the US side would make a final decision on imposing restrictions on six categories of Chinese textile products before Aug. 31.

So far, some 20 kinds of Chinese textile products have been put under US restrictions or are under restriction-related investigations.

China and the United States held the first round of talks on the textile issue on June 17 and the second round on July 8.