EU-China sign deal to protect iconic regional products

EU Trade Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping next to French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan at a signing ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 6, 2019. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)
Updated 06 November 2019

EU-China sign deal to protect iconic regional products

  • Beijing and Paris sign $15 billion contracts during Macron visit

BRUSSELS/BEIJING: The EU and China struck a deal on Tuesday to protect the geographic origins of 200 regional products like Roquefort cheese or Pu’er tea.

The accord makes good on promises made at the EU-China summit in April, and was finalized during a visit to China by French President Emmanuel Macron and European officials.

The food label deal comes as both sides have struggled for years to make way on a long delayed EU-China investment deal with Brussels extremely concerned about the lack of market access in China for foreign companies and the prevalence of state subsidies.

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan described the deal as a “win for both parties” that would strengthen trade ties and a protect farmers and consumers.

“Consumers are willing to pay a higher price, trusting the origin and authenticity of these products, while further rewarding farmers,” he said.

China is the EU’s second-largest market for agricultural exports, representing €12.8 billion ($14.2 billion) between September 2018 and August 2019.

At the moment, goods now with protected “geographical indicators” represent 9 percent of this total.

The deal will go into effect before the end of next year, after it has been ratified by EU national leaders and members in the European Parliament.

Four years later the list will be expanded to cover another 175 products from each side.

 

China, France deals

China and France signed contracts totaling $15 billion during a visit by President Emmanuel Macron, a Chinese government official said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

Deals were struck in the fields of aeronautics, energy and agriculture, including approval for 20 French companies to export poultry and beef to China.

They also agreed to expand a protocol for poultry exports reached earlier this year to include ducks and geese, according to a statement from the French president’s office.

Energy deals included a memorandum of understanding between Beijing Gas Group and French utility Engie to collaborate on a liquefied natural gas terminal and storage in the northern city of Tianjin.

An executive with Beijing Gas Group told Reuters that the cooperation with Engie will also include the French firm supplying membrane technology, used for gas leak prevention, in the massive gas storage projects that China is embarking on.

Among other deals, French company Total will set up a joint venture with China's Shenergy Group to distribute LNG by truck in the Yangtze River Delta.

The two countries also agreed to reach an agreement by the end of January 2020 on the cost and location of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to be built by Orano, formerly known as Areva.

Previous plans to build the plant in Lianyungang in eastern China’s Jiangsu province were canceled after protests.


Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing worth at least $13bn

Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

Alibaba confirms huge Hong Kong public listing worth at least $13bn

  • Over-allocation options could take the total value to more than $13 billion, making it one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade
  • Alibaba Chief Executive Officer said the group wanted to participate in Hong Kong’s future

HONG KONG: Chinese technology giant Alibaba on Friday confirmed plans to list in Hong Kong in what it called a $13 billion vote of confidence in the turbulent city’s markets and a step forward in its plans to go global.
The enormous IPO, which Hong Kong had lobbied for, will come as a boost for authorities wrestling with pro-democracy protests that have tarnished the financial hub’s image for order and security and hammered its stock market.
Alibaba will offer 500 million shares at a maximum of HK$188 apiece to retail investors, the company said. The number eight is considered auspicious in China.
Over-allocation options could take the total value to more than $13 billion, making it one of the biggest IPOs in Hong Kong for a decade after insurance giant AIA raised $20.5 billion in 2010.
Alibaba had planned to list in the summer but called it off owing to the city’s long-running pro-democracy protests and the China-US trade war. The US and China are now working on sealing a partial trade deal.
Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Chief Executive Officer, said the group wanted to “contribute, in our small way, and participate in the future of Hong Kong.”
“During this time of ongoing change, we continue to believe that the future of Hong Kong remains bright,” he said.
The firm’s shares are already traded in New York. A second listing in Hong Kong is expected to curry favor with Beijing, which has sought to encourage its current and future big tech firms to list nearer to home after the loss of companies such as Baidu to Wall Street.
In the statement, Zhang said that when Alibaba went public in 2014 it “missed out on Hong Kong with regret.”
Mainland authorities have also stepped up moves to attract such listings, including launching a new technology board in Shanghai in July.
The listing comes after the city’s exchange tweaked the rules to allow double listings, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam had also been pushing Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma to sell shares in the city.
“The listing in Hong Kong will allow more of the company’s users and stakeholders in the Alibaba digital economy across Asia to invest and participate in Alibaba’s growth,” the company said.
It has long been expected to launch a multibillion-dollar stock listing in Hong Kong but appeared to postpone the offering because of political and economic turmoil.
Hong Kong’s key Hang Seng Index rose 0.48 percent in morning trading following the announcement
Chinese shoppers set new records for spending on Monday’s annual 24-hour “Singles’ Day” buying spree, despite an economic slowdown in the country and the worries over the US trade war.
It said consumers spent $38.3 billion on its platforms over that stretch, up 26 percent from the previous all-time high mark set last year.
Alibaba also said it saw record amounts of cross-border sales, underlining its plans to expand globally.
“Globalization is the future of Alibaba Group. We firmly believe the marriage of digital technology and commerce will bring about unprecedented change that will not be limited by borders,” Zhang said.