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Next Step In U.S-China Trade Talks Remain Uncertain

This week’s talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

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US -CHINA TRADE TALks
A woman tries out a sweater at a U.S. retailer Gap's flagship store in Beijing, Jan. 10, 2019. Uncertainty over the outcome of China-U.S. trade talks is casting a pall over Asian markets as both sides kept quiet about what lies ahead.

The United States says talks in Beijing on ending a bruising trade war focused on Chinese promises to buy more American goods. But it gave no indication of progress on resolving disputes over Beijing’s technology ambitions and other thorny issues.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday the two sides would “maintain close contact.” But neither side gave any indication of the next step during their 90-day cease-fire in a tariff fight that threatens to chill global economic growth.

That uncertainty left Asian stock markets mixed Thursday. Share prices had risen Wednesday after President Donald Trump fueled optimism on Twitter about possible progress.

No signs of progress

However, the USTR statement emphasized American insistence on “structural changes” in Chinese technology policy, market access, protection of foreign patents and copyrights and cybertheft of trade secrets. It gave no sign of progress in those areas.

USA, trump, shutdown
Flags fly in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday morning, Jan. 1, 2019 VOA

Trump hiked tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods over complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

Washington also wants changes in an array of areas including the ruling Communist Party’s initiatives for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics, artificial intelligence and other industries.

American leaders worry those plans might erode U.S. industrial leadership, but Chinese leaders see them as a path to prosperity and global influence and are reluctant to abandon them.

The two sides might be moving toward a “narrow agreement,” but “U.S. trade hawks” want to “limit the scope of that agreement and keep the pressure up on Beijing,” said Eurasia Group analysts of Michael Hirson, Jeffrey Wright and Paul Triolo in a report.

“The risk of talks breaking down remains significant,” they wrote.

US-China
People walk by bull sculptures titled “Five Bulls Gathering Fortune” on display at the Wangfujing shopping district in Beijing, Jan. 10, 2019.

White House optimism

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders expressed optimism to Fox Business Network. She said the timing was unclear but the two sides “are moving towards a more balanced and reciprocal trade agreement with China.”

The U.S. statement said negotiations dealt with the need for “ongoing verification and effective enforcement.” That reflects American frustration that the Chinese have failed to live up to past commitments.

Beijing has tried to defuse pressure from Washington and other trading partners over industrial policy promising to buy more imports and open its industries wider to foreign competitors.

Trump has complained repeatedly about the U.S. trade deficit with China, which last year likely exceeded the 2017 gap of $336 billion.

USA, Trade
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey D. Gerrish, center, and members of his delegation leave the Westin hotel in Beijing, China, Jan. 7, 2019, for talks with their Chinese counterparts. (VOA)

Enthusiasm wears thin

U.S. stocks surged Wednesday on optimism higher-level U.S. and Chinese officials might meet.

That enthusiasm was wearing thin Thursday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.5 percent while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.4 percent.

Economists say the 90-day window is too short to resolve all the conflicts between the biggest and second-biggest global economies.

“We can confidently say that enough progress was made that the discussions will continue at a higher level,” said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council. “That is very positive.”

Chinese exports to the U.S. have held up despite tariff increases, partly because of exporters rushing to fill orders before more increases hit. Forecasters expect American orders to slump this year.

USA, china, trade talks
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish (front), key member of the U.S. trade delegation to China, arrives at a hotel in Beijing, Jan. 6, 2019. VOA

China has imposed penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for U.S. companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses.

U.S. companies also want action on Chinese policies they complain improperly favor local companies. Those include subsidies and other favors for high-tech and state-owned industry, rules on technology licensing and preferential treatment of domestic suppliers in government procurement.

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For its part, Beijing is unhappy with U.S. export and investment curbs, such as controls on “dual use” technology with possible military applications. They say China’s companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though almost all deals are approved unchanged.

This week’s talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran. (VOA)

 

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World Class Zoo Worth Rs 500 Cr to Come Up in Mumbai

The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a CZA team in 2014 which recently gave its clearance

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World, Zoo, Mumbai
The zoo, estimated to cost around Rs 500 crore. Pixabay

An ultra-modern zoo of global standards, spread across 100 acres, is expected to come up in the lush green environs in the suburban Goregaon in Maharashtra, officials said here on Wednesday.

The zoo, estimated to cost around Rs 500 crore, will have a host of unseen wild animals, trails and jungle safaris, nature education centre, a separate breeding centre and other facilities as per guidelines of Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a CZA team in 2014 which recently gave its clearance, and the new zoo will be virtually adjacent to two tourism centres like the famed Film City and nearby the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

On Wednesday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Maharashtra Forest Department and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) whereby 100 acres of the 190-acre government land will be given for setting up the zoo.

World, Zoo, Mumbai
An ultra-modern zoo of global standards, spread across 100 acres, is expected to come up in the lush green environs in the suburban Goregaon in Maharashtra. Pixabay

The BMC will soon appoint a project management consultant and prepare a comprehensive master plan for the zoo which will be executed from its own resources. However, the net revenues shall be shared by the civic body and the forest department.

The MoU documents were signed and exchanged in the presence of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

As per the MoU, the forest department will provide technical expertise in procuring various animals for the zoo and other facilities which would showcase the rich biodiversity of the state and the country.

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Since there is no space to expand the existing 50-acre zoo in Byculla, an alternative site inside the Aarey Milk Colony was explored. (IANS)