China says US trade row can be resolved through mutual respect

A ship at Qingdao port in Shandong province. China and the US are locked in a trade dispute which has seen them slap tariffs on each other’s goods. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2019
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China says US trade row can be resolved through mutual respect

  • Washington had sharply raised tariffs after talks broke down in May and Beijing followed suit

BEIJING: China and the US can find a way to resolve their trade dispute if each other’s concerns are taken into consideration, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Gao Feng also said during a weekly news briefing that China hopes the US will remove sanctions on Huawei Technologies as soon as possible and clear a path for healthy bilateral relations.
The two countries are in the midst of a year-long trade dispute which has seen them slap tariffs on each other’s goods. China has vowed not to give in on issues of principle nor under US pressure.
“Trade teams from both sides, according to the consensus reached at Osaka by leaders from both countries, will restart economic and trade negotiations on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” said Gao.
“China believes that both sides can find a way to resolve the issue if each other’s reasonable concerns are taken into consideration through a dialogue of equals.”

FASTFACT

In May the US raised tariffs on $20 billion of Chinese products to 25 percent from 10 percent while China retaliated with tariff on $60 billion of US goods.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in Japan last month to another trade cease-fire, thanks to Trump’s promise not to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods and to ease restrictions on Huawei. But no deadline has been set for the process to conclude, leaving the possibility of protracted negotiations.
Washington had sharply raised tariffs after talks broke down in May and Beijing followed suit.
On Tuesday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He exchanged views with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a phone call on implementing an agreement reached between Xi and Trump at their meeting in Osaka, the Ministry said in an earlier statement, without elaborating.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that the phone call was “constructive” and the two sides were talking about having a face-to-face meeting.
The Commerce ministry’s Gao declined to provide more information on the details of the call and plans for more talks in the next stage.


BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

Oliver Zipse
Updated 20 July 2019
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BMW picks insider Zipse as CEO to catch up with rivals

  • German giant has lost ground to Mercedes-Benz and Tesla as tech steps up

FRANKFURT: BMW has named Oliver Zipse as its new CEO, continuing the German carmaker’s tradition of promoting production chiefs to the top job even as the auto industry expands into new areas such as technology and services.
Hailing Zipse’s “decisive” leadership style, BMW hopes the 55-year-old can help it win back its edge in electric cars and the premium market  from rival Mercedes-Benz.
But some analysts questioned whether Zipse was the right choice with new fields such as software and services like car-sharing becoming increasingly important.
“What is intriguing is the cultural bias to appoint the head of production. It works sometimes but ... being good at building cars is not a defining edge the way it was 20 years ago,” said Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois.
Current CEO Harald Krueger, and former chiefs Norbert Reithofer, Bernd Pischetsrieder and Joachim Milberg were all former production heads.
Zipse joined BMW as a trainee in 1991 and served as head of brand and product strategies and boss of BMW’s Oxford plant in England before joining the board.
He will become chief executive on Aug. 16, taking over from Krueger who said he would not be available for a second term.
“With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the Chair of the Board of Management of BMW. He will provide fresh momentum in shaping  the future,” said Reithofer.
Zipse helped expand BMW’s efficient production network in Hungary, China and the US, in a move that delivered industry-leading profit margins.
Under Krueger, BMW was overtaken in 2016 by Mercedes-Benz as the best-selling luxury car brand.
It also had an early lead over US  rival Tesla in electric cars, but scaled back ambitions after its i3 model failed to sell large numbers.
Reithofer initially championed Krueger’s low-key consensus-seeking leadership, but pressured him to roll out electric vehicles more aggressively, forcing Krueger to skip the Paris Motor Show in 2016 to reevaluate BMW’s electric strategy.
Krueger’s reluctance to push low-margin electric vehicles led to an exodus of talented electric vehicle experts, including Christian Senger, now Volkswagen’s (VW) board member responsible for software, and Audi’s Markus Duesmann, who is seen as a future CEO of the company.
Both were poached by VW CEO Herbert Diess, a former BMW board member responsible for research who was himself passed over for BMW’s top job in 2015.
VW has since pushed a radical 80 billion euro ($90 billion) electric car mass production strategy, and a sweeping alliance with Ford.

Other skills
“A CEO needs to have an idea for how mobility will evolve in the future. This goes far beyond optimising an existing business,” said Carsten Breitfeld, chief executive of China-based ICONIQ motors, and former BMW engineer. “He needs to build teams, attract talent, and promote a culture oriented along consumer electronics and internet dynamics.”
German manufacturers have dominated the high-performance market for decades, but analysts warn shifts towards sophisticated technology and software is opening the door to new challengers.
“Tesla has a lead of three to four years in areas like software and electronics. There is a risk that the Germans can’t catch up,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport car magazine, normally quick to champion German manufacturers, this week ran a cover questioning BMW’s future.
“Production expertise is important, but if you want to avoid ending up being a hardware provider for Google or Apple, you need to have the ability to move up the food chain into data and software,” a former BMW board member said.