Trade

Asian economies fearing that new U.S. sanctions against Iran will result in higher oil prices

December 16, 2011

“Plans for fresh U.S. sanctions to isolate Tehran have sent shudders among Asian governments who fear they will have no way to pay for Iranian crude imports and face rising costs to fuel the region’s growing economies. Top buyer China, meanwhile, is looking to cash in on the pressure Tehran faces to snap up discounted Iranian crude.”

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China announces an import tax on U.S.-made cars as retaliatory trade duties in response to damage to the Chinese car industry from America’s dumping and subsidies

December 14, 2011

“In a statement, China’s commerce ministry said on Wednesday that it was taking action in response to damage to its car industry from US “dumping and subsidies”.

Last week the US said it was taking a case against China to the World Trade Organization, arguing that Beijing’s use of anti-dumping measures against US poultry exports was illegal under global trade rules. Washington also has a similar WTO case pending against China for blocking steel imports from the US.”

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Tehran Times: Oil could hit $200 a barrel if Iran nuclear facilities are attacked

November 16, 2011

“Oil prices could well hit $200 a barrel on rising political tensions in the Middle East if occupying regime of Israel makes a decision to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The main worry among crude oil traders is that Israel launches a unilateral surprise attack to try to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and that Iran retaliates by closing, even if only briefly, the oil flow through the Strait of Hormuz. The strait is important because 15.5 million barrels per day of oil passes through it each day, equivalent to a third of the all seaborne traded oil.

The strait has added significance because all the world’s spare production capacity is in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. These exports would be constrained if the gateway was closed.

“It is the $200 a barrel scenario.” says Philip Verleger, an independent consultant.”

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Iran contemplates violently shutting down oil shipping in the Persian Gulf in retaliation against an Israel air strike on its nuclear facilities

November 15, 2011

“Iran is contemplating violently shutting down shipping in the Persian Gulf as one of several counterattack options if Israel strikes its nuclear facilities, regional and intelligence analysts say.

Such attacks would present the Obama administration with the option of undertaking a limited war against Iran by striking its warships and shore-based anti-ship missiles to keep the Gulf open for business.

Former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson said Iran has enough firepower to effectively close the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of all the world’s oil moves.

“One of the things that Iran has exercised, has the capability to do, is shut down the Persian Gulf,” Mr. Johnson said. “The best-case scenario is they shut it down for a week. The worst case is they shut it down for three to four months.””

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White House adviser Michael Froman: Obama “made it very clear that the American people and the American business community were growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with the state of change in China’s economic policy and the evolution of the U.S.-China economic relationship”

November 14, 2011

“Obama did not miss a beat, providing a perfectly bland response that there can be “friendly and constructive competition” between the world’s two biggest economies.

But Obama clearly took Corporate America’s concerns into consideration when he met privately with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Saturday.

“He made it very clear that the American people and the American business community were growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with the state of change in China’s economic policy and the evolution of the U.S.-China economic relationship,” said Michael Froman, a senior White House adviser on international economic affairs.

A day after his tete-a-tete with Hu, Obama laid on another layer of criticism before a bank of television cameras. He said the relationship was “off kilter” and China was too “grown up” now to flout international rules.”

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Canada says it will prioritize increasing energy exports to Asia following the U.S. decision to delay the approval of the Keystone Pipeline

November 14, 2011

“Canada will make it a priority to increase energy exports to Asia following the U.S. decision to delay approval of TransCanada Corp.’s $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

“This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we’re able to access Asian markets for our energy products, and that will be an important priority of this government going forward,” Harper said today, according to a transcript e-mailed by his office of remarks he made at a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu.

Harper said he conveyed that message at a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the summit.

The U.S. State Department said Nov. 10 it would delay a decision on Keystone XL to study an alternative route that would avoid environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.”

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Japanese Government denies its Prime Minister told President Obama that he’s willing to negotiate on ‘all his country’s goods and services’ in a regional free trade agreement

November 14, 2011

“Japan denied a White House statement that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda yesterday told President Barack Obama he is willing to negotiate on all his country’s goods and services for a regional trade agreement.

“Prime Minister Noda never said this,” Japan’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a statement. Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman told reporters the U.S. “would stand by the statement that we issued earlier.”

The two leaders met at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu a day after Noda said Japan intends to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks. The U.S. account after the meeting said Obama “welcomed Prime Minister Noda’s statement that he would put all goods, as well as services, on the negotiating table for trade liberalization.”

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Egyptian security officials arrest leading member of Islamist armed group suspected of committing the attacks on an Egyptian gas pipeline

November 13, 2011

“Egyptian security officials have arrested a leading member of an Islamist armed group suspected of being behind attacks on a pipeline supplying gas to Israel and Jordan. Mohammed al-Teehi of the radical Islamist group Al-Takfeer wal Hijra was arrested during a sweep in the north Sinai town of El-Arish, a security official said.

Teehi was the mastermind of attacks on the gas pipeline and on police stations and installations in North Sinai, the official charged. On Thursday, two explosions hit the pipeline.

The pipeline, which carries gas through the Sinai and on to Jordan and Israel, had already been attacked six times since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. Egyptian authorities have on several occasions announced measures to step up protection of the pipeline and try to arrest those behind the attacks.”

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Asia-Pacific summit exchanges offer insight into the U.S.-China rivalry

November 13, 2011

“Tensions had been building in the lead-up to the annual APEC gathering over a proposed U.S.-led free trade deal that Washington wants as counterbalance to Chinese influence but Beijing sees as an attempt to force it to play by U.S. rules.

The situation came to a head at a news conference — on the eve of a leaders’ meeting hosted by President Barack Obama — when senior trade officials sparred over a proposed Transpacific Partnership between the United States and at least eight other Asia-Pacific economies.

China’s Assistant Commerce Minister Yu Jianhua struck first, saying pointedly that Beijing had not been asked to join talks on the pact but “if one day we receive such an invitation, we will seriously study the invitation.”

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk volleyed back, insisting that the proposed pact was not a “closed clubhouse.”"

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Internal disagreement in the Japan government over the country’s position on free trade stalls Japan’s role in the Asia-Pacific free trade agreement

November 13, 2011

“Japan’s prime minister hoped for praise at the weekend summit of Asian-Pacific leaders here for his bold pledge to join a U.S.-led free-trade pact—but his government instead got into a tangle with the Obama administration over just how far he had promised to go, and drew skepticism abroad and at home about the gesture. The day after Yoshihiko Noda made his announcement in Tokyo, his aides were scrambling in Hawaii to limit the extent that Japan was willing to negotiate, criticizing the White House for overstating Mr. Noda’s promise.

The unusual public disagreement between the two allies had been prompted by a White House news release that said Mr. Noda had told Mr. Obama during a bilateral session here that “he would put all goods, as well as services, on the negotiating table for trade liberalization.”

That triggered a release from the Japanese foreign ministry denying that Prime Minister Noda made such a remark in the summit meeting. Instead, Japanese officials have said Japan would enter the talks to learn the terms necessary but hasn’t promised to negotiate over every contentious issue.”

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President Obama caps the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in his home state of Hawaii

November 13, 2011

“President Barack Obama on Sunday dove into summit diplomacy, using his home state of Hawaii as an American foothold into the Pacific Rim region of the world he views as an explosive source of 21st century economic power. In the midst of a hard re-election bid, Obama kept his message on jobs, even as he privately lobbied for help on containing the Iranian nuclear threat.

The president was to meet throughout the day with fellow leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a collection of 21 nations spanning the globe from Chile to China and accounting for roughly half of the world’s trade and economic output. He was to cap the summit with a solo news conference in which topics on and off his scripted agenda were likely to emerge.”

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President Obama: The U.S. has ‘gotten lazy’ about foreign investment

November 13, 2011

“Obama made the comment while meeting with CEOs during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit; one participant asked the president what China might consider as impediments to investment in the United States.

The U.S. is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world, Obama said, “but we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades.”"

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The European Crisis is negatively impacting U.S. companies

November 13, 2011

“The European Union is the No. 1 U.S. trading partner. Nearly $475 billion in goods crossed between the regions in the first nine months of 2011. About 14 percent of revenue for the 500 biggest U.S. companies — roughly $1.3 trillion — comes from Europe.

The U.S. economy is especially vulnerable to the European crisis because it’s growing so weakly and facing other risks, such as weak hiring, stagnant pay, high energy costs, a wide trade deficit and potentially steep government spending cuts.

“It won’t take much to tip us into another recession,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands. “If Europe gets into any deeper trouble, it will take us and the rest of the world down, too.”"

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United States and eight other Nations agree on the framework for Asia-Pacific free trade agreement

November 13, 2011

“The United States and eight other nations agreed to the basic framework for an Asia-Pacific free-trade pact, President Barack Obama said on Saturday while vowing that the U.S. would engage heavily in the region on a range of issues.

“The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay,” Mr. Obama said at a summit for business executives held on the sidelines of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a gathering of 21 regional economies. “There’s no region in the world that we consider more vital than the Asia-Pacific region.”"

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Obama to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit: China must play by the rules

November 12, 2011

“Obama, under pressure to create jobs at home and eager to highlight U.S. influence abroad, said an undervalued Chinese yuan was putting U.S. businesses at a disadvantage and a change in the currency policy would help the global economy.

“What I have said since I first came into office and what we’ve exhibited in terms of our interactions with the Chinese is we want you to play by the rules. And currency is probably a good example,” Obama said at a forum of executives on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

“For an economy like the United States — where our biggest competitive advantage is our knowledge, our innovation, our patents, our copyrights — for us not to get the kind of protection we need in a large marketplace like China is not acceptable.”"

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