US launches trade probe into China’s IP practices

In this July 8, 2017 photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2017
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US launches trade probe into China’s IP practices

WASHINGTON: The US on Friday formally launched a trade investigation into China’s intellectual property (IP) practices and forced transfer of American technology.
“On Monday, President Donald Trump instructed me to look into Chinese laws, policies, and practices which may be harming American intellectual property rights, innovation, or technology development,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
“After consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation.”
Foreign companies have long complained about Beijing’s failure to protect know-how and patents, and in some cases forcing firms to share information with domestic partners as the price for doing business in the massive Chinese market. But they also have been timid about pressing too hard for their governments to take action, for fear of losing access to China.
“Washington will turn a blind eye no longer,” Trump insisted on Monday. “We will safeguard the copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets and other intellectual property that is so vital to our security and to our prosperity,” he said.
America, he added, will no longer tolerate Beijing’s “theft” of US industrial secrets.
Lighthizer is launching the investigation under Section 301 of US trade law, which addresses intellectual property. Beijing this week fired back, warning that “everybody will lose” in the event of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The US is China’s second-largest trading partner after the EU and had a deficit of nearly $310 billion last year.


Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

Updated 25 June 2018
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Oil prices fall on expected output rise after OPEC deal

SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices fell over 1.5 percent on Monday as traders factored in an expected output increase that was agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna on Friday.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $74.21 per barrel at 0343 GMT, down 1.8 percent from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $68.40 a barrel, down 0.3 percent, supported more than Brent by a slight drop in US drilling activity.
Prices initially jumped after the deal was announced late last week as it was not seen boosting supply by as much as some had expected.
OPEC and non-OPEC partners including Russia have since 2017 cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to tighten the market and prop up prices.
Largely because of unplanned disruptions in places like Venezuela and Angola, the group’s output has been below the targeted cuts, which it now says will be reversed by supply rises especially from OPEC leader Saudi Arabia. Although analysts warn there is little space capacity for large-scale output increases.
“Several ministers suggested that (rises) would correspond to a 0.7 million bpd increase in production,” said US bank Goldman Sachs following the announcement of the agreement, although it added that were risks “that Iran production may be even lower than we assume” and that its output could fall further due to looming US sanctions.
Still, Britain’s Barclays bank said OPEC’s and Russia’s commitments would take “the market from a -0.2 million bpd deficit in H2 2018 to a 0.2 million bpd surplus.”
Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the agreement “represents a compromise between responding to consumer pressure and the need for oil-producing countries to maintain oil prices and prevent harming their economies.”
In the United States, US energy companies last week cut one oil rig, the first reduction in 12 weeks, taking the total rig count to 862, Baker Hughes said on Friday.
That put the rig count on track for its smallest monthly gain since declining by two rigs in March with just three rigs added so far in June, although the overall level remains just one rig short of the March 2015 high from the previous week.