China’s premier urges US to ‘act rationally’ over trade

Premier Li Keqiang, above, made no mention of a possible Chinese response in the event US President Donald Trump raises import barriers over trade complaints against Beijing, but other officials say the government is ready to act. (AP)
Updated 20 March 2018

China’s premier urges US to ‘act rationally’ over trade

BEIJING: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang appealed to Washington on Tuesday to “act rationally” and avoid disrupting trade over steel, technology and other disputes, promising that Beijing will “open even wider” to imports and investment.
“No one will emerge a winner from a trade war,” said Li, the No. 2 Chinese leader, at a news conference held during the meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature.
Li made no mention of a possible Chinese response in the event US President Donald Trump raises import barriers over trade complaints against Beijing, but other officials say President Xi Jinping’s government is ready to act.
Trump’s government has raised import duties on Chinese-made washing machines and other goods and is investigating whether Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, which might lead to trade penalties. That could invite Chinese retaliation.
“What we hope is for us to act rationally rather than being led by emotions,” the premier said. “We don’t want to see a trade war.”
Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said March 11 that China will “resolutely defend” its interests but gave no details. Business groups have suggested Beijing might target US exports of jetliners, soybeans and other goods for which China is a major market.
Asked whether Beijing might use its large holdings of US government debt as leverage, the premier said its investments are based on market principles and “China will remain a responsible long-term investor.”
Li promised more market-opening and other reforms as Xi’s government tries to make its cooling, state-dominated economy more productive. He said Beijing will make it easier to start a business and will open more industries to foreign and private competition.
The ruling Communist Party promised in 2013 to give a bigger role to market forces and entrepreneurs who generate most of China’s new jobs and wealth. Reform advocates complain they are moving too slowly.
Private sector analysts say Xi, who took power in 2012, might accelerate reform after focusing for his first five-year term as party leader on cementing his status as China’s most dominant figure since at least the 1980s.
“If there is one thing that will be different from the past, that will be that China will open even wider,” said Li.
Beijing plans to “further bring down overall tariffs,” with “zero tariffs for drugs, especially much-needed anti-cancer drugs,” the premier said.
Li repeated a promise he made at the March 5 opening of the legislature to “fully open the manufacturing sector” to foreign competitors.
“There will be no mandatory requirement for technology transfers and intellectual property rights will be better protected,” he said.
The government has yet to say how that might change conditions for automakers and other manufacturers that are required to work through Chinese partners, which requires them to share technology with potential competitors.
In a sign of Li’s reduced status as President Xi Jinping amasses power, the premier was flanked by eight newly promoted economic officials, in contrast to previous years when he appeared alone at the annual news conference.
They included Liu He, a Harvard-trained Xi adviser who was named a vice premier Monday and has told foreign businesspeople he will oversee economic reform. Neither Liu nor any of the other officials spoke at the event.
The premier traditionally is China’s top economic official but Xi has stripped Li of his most prominent duties by appointing himself to lead ruling party bodies that oversee economic reform and finance policy.


Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

Updated 12 July 2020

Qatar’s top bank Q2 profit slides over virus

  • QNB net profit in the 2nd quarter plunged 25.8%

DOHA: Qatar National Bank, the largest lender in the Middle East, said Sunday its net profits for the second quarter sank over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
QNB net profit in the second quarter plunged 25.8 percent to 2.84 billion riyals ($780 million) compared to $1.05 billion in the same period a year ago, the bank said in a statement.
The first quarter net profit of QNB, which has operations in 31 countries including Turkey, Indonesia and India, dropped only slightly.
Its net income in the first six months of the year also dipped 13.6 percent to $1.76 billion from $2.04 billion a year ago, it said.
The bank said it increased the loan loss provisions by $320 million in the first half to safeguard itself from any adverse shocks from the pandemic, thus affecting its profitability.
Total assets rose 10 percent to $267 billion on June 30, making it the largest lender in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of assets.