China praises positive steps in US trade row

During an initial round of talks this month in Beijing, the US demanded that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion. (Reuters)
Updated 21 May 2018
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China praises positive steps in US trade row

  • “Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold,’ as US President Donald Trump observed. Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk,”
  • “The Chinese are in a state of quiet glee knowing that Trump’s trade team backed off on sanctions without getting any real and meaningful concessions out of Beijing,”

BEIJING: Chinese state media on Monday praised a significant dialing back of trade tension with the US, saying China had stood its ground and the two countries had huge potential for win-win business cooperation.
A trade war was “on hold” after the world’s largest economies agreed to drop their tariff threats while they work on a wider trade agreement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.
The previous day, Beijing and Washington said they would keep talking about measures under which China would import more energy and agricultural commodities from the US to narrow the $335 billion annual US goods and services trade deficit with China.
The official China Daily said everyone could heave a sigh of relief at the ratcheting down of the rhetoric, and cited China’s chief negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, as saying the talks had proved to be “positive, pragmatic, constructive and productive.”
“Despite all the pressure, China didn’t ‘fold,’ as US President Donald Trump observed. Instead, it stood firm and continually expressed its willingness to talk,” the English-language newspaper said in an editorial.
“That the US finally shared this willingness, means the two sides have successfully averted the head-on confrontation that at one point seemed inevitable,” it said.
During an initial round of talks this month in Beijing, the US demanded that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion. No dollar figure was cited in the countries’ joint statement on Saturday.
But some analysts in Beijing warned that trade tension would persist, and that China should prepare for more action on trade from the Trump administration.
“We should not be blindly optimistic,” Shi Yinhong, an expert on China-US relations at Renmin University in Beijing said at a forum on Sunday after the trade agreement was announced.
“Blind optimism (could lead to) China losing at this crossroads.”
Shi said China could accept a lower trade surplus and reduce its market entry barriers, but would not compromise on its industrial policy.
The ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily said that in the energy and agriculture sectors the two countries had obvious synergies, with the US having the capacity to satisfy the massive Chinese market.
“The ballast stone of Sino-US ties are an equal and mutually beneficial trade and business relationship. Its essence is win-win cooperation,” it said.
But China was not being forced to increase imports as a way to ward off the trade tensions or because the country had submitted to outside pressure, the newspaper said in a commentary.
China will naturally need to import more to satisfy demand from its increasingly affluent consumers, the newspaper wrote.
“Trade wars have no winners,” it added in the commentary, published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.
However, some people in US business groups, who had been pushing for tougher US policies to pressure China to reform market barriers, expressed frustration and disappointment, saying it would be hard for the administration to rebuild momentum to take on Chinese industrial policies.
James Zimmerman, a Beijing-based lawyer and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the Trump administration’s move to walk back its threatened trade actions was premature, and a “lost opportunity” for American companies, workers and consumers.
“The Chinese are in a state of quiet glee knowing that Trump’s trade team backed off on sanctions without getting any real and meaningful concessions out of Beijing,” Zimmerman said.


Fujairah joins other ports, tightens exhaust rules ahead of 2020 regulations

Updated 23 January 2019
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Fujairah joins other ports, tightens exhaust rules ahead of 2020 regulations

  • Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that come into effect from 2020, ships will have to reduce the sulfur content in their fuel to less than 0.5 percent
  • Singapore, China and Fujairah marine sales volumes represent a quarter of global ship refueling, also known as bunkering

SINGAPORE: Fujairah in the UAE has become the latest major port to ban a type of fuel exhaust cleaning system to comply with a coming tightening in rules regarding global sulfur emissions, mirroring similar moves in Singapore and China.
Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that come into effect from 2020, ships will have to reduce the sulfur content in their fuel to less than 0.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent now, forcing huge changes upon global shippers and also oil refiners.
Fujairah’s harbor master said in a faxed document seen by Reuters that the port “has decided to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters ... (and) ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulfur cap comes into force.”
This follows top marine fueling port of Singapore announcing a similar move in November, while China banned the use of open-loop scrubbers from Jan. 1, 2019.
Singapore, China and Fujairah marine sales volumes represent a quarter of global ship refueling, also known as bunkering.
Impact for shippers
To comply with IMO 2020 rules, shippers can switch to burning cleaner but more expensive oil, invest in exhaust cleaning systems known as scrubbers that may allow them to still use cheaper high-sulfur fuels, or redesign vessels to run on alternatives like liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Scrubbers use water to clean up fuel emissions, preventing them from being released into the atmosphere.
Open-loop scrubbers are the cheapest option, but they have come under criticism as they wash heavy metals and sulfur from the waste water into seas instead of storing it for a controlled discharge in ports, as closed-loop scrubbers do.
Of the more than 2,000 ships that have so far opted to invest in scrubbers, around three-quarters have installed the cheaper, open-loop type, shipping sources estimated.
Closed-loop scrubbers, which store wash water for later discharge, are still accepted in most ports.
Despite the spreading bans of open-loop scrubbers, Douglas Raitt of ship classifier Lloyd’s Register said vessels can still benefit from such systems as they can pump out the waste water in open seas, outside a port’s jurisdiction.
“The benefits of open-loop scrubbers are largely realized in open water during transit from one port to the next,” he said.
Raitt said shippers, however, should consider alternative measures to prepare for IMO 2020, considering that when the new rules come into force refueling infrastructure will be mostly geared toward compliant low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) rather than high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO).
“Prevailing wisdom would be for operators opting for scrubbers to have a meaningful dialogue with their supplier base to secure HSFO post-2020 in ports of call,” Raitt said.