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News from China
Oil spurts on hopes of OPEC deal to freeze output
16th August 2016

 OIL rose further yesterday on hopes that OPEC producers would agree to freeze output next month and ease the global supply glut.

At 1130 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery added 24 cents to US$44.73 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for October rose 25 cents to US$47.22 per barrel.

Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih hinted last week that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could discuss action to stabilize markets at a September gathering.

It helped prices rebound since tumbling into a bear market earlier this month.

Any agreement to curb production would help rebalance the crude oil market, where output has been running ahead of demand. Both oil contracts rose more than 6 percent last week following the Saudi minister’s remarks.

“Will there or won’t there be a credible meeting and should anything be expected of it? The one word answers are ‘maybe’ and ‘no’, but OPEC have absolutely nothing to lose from talking about having an informal discussion on production restraint,” said PVM analyst David Hufton.

“The meeting is unlikely to yield anything because OPEC are caught in a squeeze. On the supply side it is their own increase in production that is prolonging the price depression — but if they freeze or restrain production to lift prices they will stimulate competing non-OPEC supply and lose market share.”

Some analysts have cautioned against putting too much hope on an output freeze, because previous talks earlier this year have resulted in disagreement.

“An agreement is still improbable,” research house Capital Economics said in a market commentary.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 16, 2016
Pingxiang chosen as pilot zone
15th August 2016

 CHINA’S State Council has approved Pingxiang, a city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the border with Vietnam, to be a new opening-up pilot zone, a statement said on Friday.

The plan for the new zone will be published by the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner.

Pingxiang is Guangxi’s second “key pilot zone for development and opening-up” after Dongxing, approved in August 2012.

Southwestern Yunnan Province’s Mengla bordering Laos, and Ruili, a major border crossing between China and Myanmar, as well as northern Inner Mongolia’s Manzhouli city and northeastern Heilongjiang Province’s Suifenhe-Dongning zone on the Russian border are also on the pilot zone list.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 15, 2016
Cutting steel overcapacity on track
11th August 2016

 EFFORTS to reduce China’s steel production overcapacity are forging ahead according to plan, the top economic planner said yesterday.

In a medium-term roundup of the drive, the National Development and Reform Commission said, in an online statement, that the central government has rolled out general guidelines and the NDRC has also strongly guided local governments and major steel producers in drawing their own plans to cut capacity.

The State Council guidelines, issued on February 4, dictated that steel production capacity must be cut by 100 million tonnes to 150 million tonnes over the next five years, with 45 million tonnes cut in 2016.

Xia Nong, head of the NDRC industry department, said that the resolute measures have proven effective, the “People’s Daily” reported yesterday.

The drive will pick up speed in the second half of this year to achieve the goal, he said.

Inspection teams will be dispatched to local governments to oversee their work starting from mid-August, the report said.

Crude steel output posted a year-on-year fall of 1.1 percent in the first half of 2016.

China’s crude steel production capacity utilization rate of 71.2 percent in 2015 was higher than the global average of 69.7 percent, data from the World Steel Association showed.

In the first half year, China slashed steel capacity by 13 million tons, about 30 percent of the planned cuts for 2016, a figure in line with expectations, said Feng Fei, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The campaign gathered pace in July, when another 17 percent of the target was finished.

In the first half year, work focused on breaking down tasks so that they could be allocated to provincial-level regions, and on measures to support steel capacity cuts, Feng said.

In the second half, capacity cuts and supportive measures will gain speed, according to Feng.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 11, 2016
China to extend protection of rare earth industry
9th August 2016

 CHINA will continue to crack down on illegal mining, processing and sales of rare earth elements, experts said yesterday.

In the 13th Five Year (2016 to 2020) period, Chinese ministries and departments will enhance cooperation, increase inspection, and take a zero-tolerance approach toward illegal mining of rare earth metals, said Zhou Changyi, head of the department of raw materials under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

A tracking system will also be implemented to trace the source of rare earth elements to curb illegal mining, he said.

“The next few years are an important period for the overhaul of China’s rare earth industry and promoting its healthy development,” he said.

China is the world's largest rare earth producer and exporter, but the industry is beset by numerous problems, such as illegal mining, smuggling and a lack of competitiveness due to weak research and development. Excessive exploration has also caused environmental damage.

“Illegal mining is the principal reason for gloominess in the industry,” Zhou said.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, 14 illegal rare earth mines and 28 companies were closed. More than 36,000 tons of illegal rare earth products were seized, and 230 million yuan in fines were imposed, according to statistics from the ministry.

Monitoring systems have been created in key mining districts such as Baiyun Ebo in Inner Mongolia, Ganzhou in Jiangxi Province, and Maoniuping in Sichuan Province.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 9, 2016

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