Alibaba to stop sales of e-cigarette components in the US

Vaping products have been linked to a mysterious lung illness in the US. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 October 2019

Alibaba to stop sales of e-cigarette components in the US

  • Vaping products have been linked to a mysterious lung illness that is reported to have led to 18 deaths as of last week
  • Prior to the suspension, buyers could easily purchase devices, component parts and packaging

OCTOBER: Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba said on Wednesday it will stop selling e-cigarette components in the United States, amid growing regulatory scrutiny and reports of lung disease and some deaths linked to vaping.
The move follows announcements by Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. this week that they would stop selling e-cigarettes at their stores, in line with a similar decision by Walmart.
Alibaba said it already had a long-standing policy in place to not sell complete e-cigarette products in the United States.
Vaping products have been linked to a mysterious lung illness that is reported to have led to 18 deaths as of last week, with the number of confirmed and probable cases of the condition exceeding 1,000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said that listings for products such as box mods, vape pens, herbal vapors, heat not burn devices, and empty pod cartridges would not be displayed for users located in the United States.
While Juul Labs Inc. dominates the North American market for pod e-cigarettes, many reports of death and injury in the United States have been tied to makeshift brands with no identifiable owner.
The most prominent, Dank Vapes, was linked to 24 patients with lung illness, according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine. The products contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Prior to the suspension, buyers could easily purchase devices, component parts and packaging from sites like Alibaba or Amazon to make their own counterfeit vaping devices.
Amazon.com Inc. took down vape paraphernalia in September, although it did not specify the exact products it removed.


China exports, imports in deeper contraction as US tariffs bite

Updated 14 October 2019

China exports, imports in deeper contraction as US tariffs bite

  • Downbeat data likely to reinforce expectations that Beijing needs to introduce more stimulus measures to avert a sharper economic downturn

BEIJING: China’s exports fell at a faster pace in September while imports contracted for a fifth straight month, pointing to further weakness in the economy and underlining the need for more stimulus as the Sino-US trade war drags on.
The downbeat data is likely to reinforce expectations that Beijing needs to introduce more stimulus measures to avert a sharper economic downturn, despite tentative signs of a thaw in tense trade relations between the world’s top economies.
Following talks last week, US President Donald Trump on Friday outlined the first phase of a deal to end the trade war and suspended a threatened tariff hike set for Oct. 15. But existing tariffs remain in place and officials on both sides said much more work is needed before an accord could be agreed.
September had marked another major escalation in the dispute, with Washington imposing 15 percent tariffs on more than $125 billion in Chinese imports from Sept. 1, and Beijing hitting back with retaliatory levies.
September exports fell 3.2 percent from a year earlier, the biggest fall since February, customs data showed on Monday. Analysts had expected a 3 percent decline in a Reuters poll after August’s 1 percent drop.
“The headline figures suggest that global demand softened last month, adding to the pressure from the US tariffs that went into effect in September,” said analysts at Capital Economics.
Some economists attributed the deterioration in exports to a fading in the so-called “front-loading” effect. Some Chinese firms had rushed to ship goods to the United States ahead of the September deadline, supporting overall July and August export readings.
Total September imports fell 8.5 percent after August’s 5.6 percent decline, the lowest since May. Analysts had expected them to fall by 5.2 percent.
Despite more than a year of growth boosting measures, China’s domestic demand has remained stubbornly weak as economic uncertainty weighs on business and consumer confidence and discourages fresh investment.
China reported a trade surplus of $39.65 billion last month, compared with a $34.84 billion surplus in August. Analysts had forecast $33.3 billion.
Its trade surplus with the United States stood at $25.88 billion in September, narrowing from August’s $26.96 billion.
China’s exports to the United States fell 10.7 percent from a year earlier in dollar terms in January-September, while US imports dropped 26.4 percent during that period, the customs data showed.
Though President Trump had agreed not to proceed with a hike in tariffs set for Tuesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Trump had not made a decision about tariffs that were subject to go into effect in December.
Analysts believe China’s economic growth cooled further in the third quarter from a near 30-year low of 6.2 percent hit in April-June, and is threatening to breach the lower end of the government’s full-year target of 6.0-6.5 percent.
Some economists forecast growth could fall into the upper 5 percent range in 2020 due to a combination of cyclical and structural factors.