No need to lower French government’s stake in Renault: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment contradicts recent remarks by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire that the government was ready to reduce its 15 percent stake in Renault. (AP)
Updated 27 June 2019

No need to lower French government’s stake in Renault: Macron

  • Relations have been strained between the alliance members since the shock arrest in November of former boss Carlos Ghosn
  • Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, which in turn holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its French partner

TOKYO: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday there was no need for the government to lower its stake in Renault and that he wanted the Renault-Nissan alliance to work on strengthening its synergies.
Relations have been strained between the alliance members since the shock arrest in November of former boss Carlos Ghosn, but Macron referred to that as an individual situation that should not have a bearing on their partnership.
“Nothing in this situation justifies changing the cross shareholdings, the rules of governance, and the state’s shareholding in Renault, which has nothing to do with Nissan,” Macron told reporters.
Macron’s comment contradicts recent remarks by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire that the government was ready to reduce its 15 percent stake in Renault in the interest of bolstering the automaker’s alliance with Japan’s Nissan Motor.
“I wish for the group to maintain its stability concentrating on the essential and that synergies between Renault and Nissan continue to be strengthened,” said Macron, who was in Japan on an official state visit ahead of the G20 in Osaka.
“The future of the group is how it can become leader in electric vehicles and one of the leaders in autonomous vehicles … I think the future is more of a growing integration.”
Despite the French government’s frequent calls for Renault and Nissan to strengthen their partnership, Nissan has been unhappy with what it sees as an unequal relationship and has rebuffed previous suggestions of an outright merger.
Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan which has surpassed its French partner in size since being rescued by it two decades ago. Nissan holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its partner.
Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said at a shareholders’ meeting this week the Japanese automaker would “postpone discussions” on the future direction of the alliance as it prioritized recovery of its financial performance.


Despite agreement, China purchase of US agriculture lags

Updated 10 August 2020

Despite agreement, China purchase of US agriculture lags

  • The two sides are set to meet on Saturday to discuss the deal, American media says

NEW YORK: Seven months after the United States and China signed a preliminary agreement to temper their trade war, Beijing’s purchases of US agricultural goods have yet to reach the deal’s target.

As President Donald Trump readies for a tough reelection battle in November, US media reported the two sides are set to meet beginning August 15 to discuss the deal, which calls for China to sharply increase buying American goods and services this year and next.

But according to data compiled by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Chinese agricultural purchases at the end of June were far from where they should be at this point in the year.

They had reached only 39 percent of their semiannual target, according to US figures, or 48 percent, based on Chinese figures.

“If we get back to what the level of trade was in 2017, we’ll be lucky,” said Chad Bown, a PIIE senior fellow who authored the study, referring to the year before the trade war began.

Under the deal’s terms, China agreed to increase agricultural imports $32 billion over the next 2 years from 2017 levels.

Chinese orders for corn and soybeans have increased since mid-July, with Beijing buying just over 3 million tons of American oilseeds between July 14 and Aug. 7, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

At the end of July, the United States reported the largest-ever daily order by China for its corn, of 1.9 million tons.

The announcements were a relief to US farmers, who are expecting a bumper crop this year and need to find buyers to take it.

They also came at a time of high political tension between the two countries, after the Trump administration authorized sanctions against several Hong Kong leaders over the rights crackdown in the city, and restrictions on Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok.

The Chinese “realize we’re not being the best of buddies right now, but they need the products and they’re gonna take as much as they need,” said Jack Scoville, agricultural market analyst for Price Futures Group.

It’s possible that Beijing will change its orders from buying this year’s harvest to next year’s.

But analysts warn that any orders could be called off before the ships carrying them leave port.

Brazil and Argentina, two of the world’s largest soybean and corn producers, are starting their harvests next spring, said Brian Hoops, president of the brokerage firm Midwest Market Solutions.

China “could cancel all these purchases they made in July and buy at much cheaper prices if that’s available to them,” Hoops said.

The trade deal dubbed “phase one” and signed in January has managed to survive both the tensions and the sharp global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has badly hit international trade.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in June said China would follow through on its commitments, while Washington would also pursue a “phase two” trade deal that “will focus on issues of overcapacity, subsidization, disciplines on China’s state-owned enterprises, and cyber theft.”

Bown said any success in getting China to buy not just farm but also energy and manufactured goods, would aid Trump in his reelection campaign.