China trade surplus with US dropped 8.5% to $296bn in 2019

The world’s two biggest economies exchanged punitive tariffs in a bruising trade war. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

China trade surplus with US dropped 8.5% to $296bn in 2019

  • World’s two biggest economies exchanged punitive tariffs in a bruising trade war

BEIJING: China’s trade surplus with the United States narrowed last year as the world’s two biggest economies exchanged punitive tariffs in a bruising trade war, official data showed Tuesday.

The figures were released just a day before the US and China are expected to sign a “phase one” agreement that marks a de-escalation in their two-year conflict.

The perennial US trade deficit with China has been a major source of anger for President Donald Trump, who has slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, triggering tit-for-tat responses from Beijing.

China’s surplus came in at around $295.8 billion in 2019, down 8.5 percent from the previous year’s record $323.3 billion, according to customs data.

In December, its surplus with the US was around $23.2 billion, down from $24.6 billion the month before.

As part of the interim trade deal, Beijing will buy an extra $200 billion of US products over a two-year period, according to Washington officials. China has yet to publicly confirm the figures.


Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case

Updated 21 October 2020

Australian watchdog considers its own Google antitrust case

  • Competition and Consumer Commission launched Australian court action against Google in July

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s competition watchdog will consider its own antitrust case against Google, the commission chairman said Wednesday after the US Justice Department sued the company for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.
Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims described the US case filed Tuesday as one of the world’s biggest antitrust cases in the past 20 years.
“I’m delighted the D.o.J.’s taking it on and we’ll follow it really closely,” Sims told the National Press Club, referring to the US Department of Justice.
“We’re going to look at it and see whether there’s any value in what we might do,” Sims added.
Separately, Sims is drafting legislation to address the imbalance in bargaining power between Google and the Australian media businesses that want the tech giant to pay for journalism.
The bills, that will be ready to be introduced to Parliament by December, would empower an arbitrator to make binding decisions on how much Google and Facebook must pay media companies for news content.
Sims said his commission “had a lot of talk” with the US Justice Department before he released a report in July last year that recommended more government regulation on the market power of Google and Facebook that would ensure fair deals for other media businesses and more control for individuals on how their data was used.
Sim’s commission launched Australian court action against Google in July alleging the California-based company misled account holders about its use of their personal data.
The commission alleges the Google misled millions of Australians to obtain their consent and expand the scope of personal information that Google collects about users’ Internet activity to target advertising. Google denies the allegations.
In October last year, the commission sued Google in an Australian court alleging the company broke consumer law by misleading Android users about how their location data was collected and used. That case will be heard by the Federal Court next month. Google also denies that allegation.
Sims said Google was lobbying “every politician at Parliament House” ahead of draft legislation being introduced to make it pay for news.
Google has said the proposed laws would result in “dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube,” put free services at risk and could lead to users’ data “being handed over to big news businesses.”
Facebook has warned it might block Australian news content rather than pay for it.