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News from China
Decline in foreign exchange reserves narrows
8th October 2015

CHINA’S foreign exchange reserves fell for the fifth month in September but the decline narrowed, indicating milder capital outflow pressure.
The reserves decreased by US$43.26 billion in September, slower from the record US$93.9 billion decline in August when the central bank engineered a 3 percent devaluation of the yuan against the US dollar, the People’s Bank of China said yesterday. The monthly fall also outperformed expectations for US$57 billion, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.
The stockpile stood at US$3.514 trillion by the end of September, 12 percent off its peak of nearly US$4 trillion by the end of June last year, but remained the world’s largest.
Economists said the figure showed that capital outflow continued but the pace was slower, and the central bank will still take measures to stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate.
“The market is coping with the changes of yuan exchange rate in September with relatively weak sentiment,” the China Merchants Securities said in a note yesterday. “But the central bank’s measures to counter market expectations are taking effect, reducing panic sales and speculative trading.”
The note said China’s foreign exchange reserves may continue to fall in the coming months, as the global market worries about US monetary policies.
Ding Shuang, chief China economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said he expected capital outflow from China to slow down in the coming months as companies had improved their foreign debt structure, helping offset foreign exchange outflow.
The central bank will still try to stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate, but interference will be milder as capital outflow pressure eases, Ding said.
Fuelled by exports, China’s foreign exchange reserves have been growing for more than a decade to peak in June 2014.
China’s foreign exchange watchdog last Wednesday attributed recent declines in the reserves to shrinking valuation of non-US dollar assets, companies and banks adjusting their debt structure, overseas investment of companies and overseas spending by tourists.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange said long-term investment capital is still flowing into China as foreign direct investment continues to build up and fundraising is still active for Chinese firms listed overseas.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Press ahead with reforms, says IMF
7th October 2015

CHINA’S policy-makers should forge ahead with structural reforms to put its economy on a more sustainable footing, even as growth is likely to slow further to 6.3 percent in 2016, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday.
It expects China’s growth to slow to 6.8 percent this year from 7.3 percent in 2014, and weaken further in 2016.
“Modest further policy support to ensure that growth does not fall sharply is likely to be needed, but further progress in implementing the authorities’ structural reforms will be critical for private consumption to pick up some of the slack from slowing investment growth,” IMF said in its World Economic Outlook.
The government has been steadily ratcheting up its policy support, including cutting interest rates and increasing fiscal spending, in a bid to put a floor under an economy on track to grow at its weakest pace in a quarter of a century.
The government is aiming for growth of around 7 percent for this year.
China faces a tough balancing act in preventing a sharp slowdown, reducing vulnerabilities from excess leverage and strengthening the role of market forces in the economy, the IMF said.
The credit and investment boom, fanned by a massive stimulus package during the height of the global financial crisis, resulted in heavy debt among local governments and widespread factory overcapacity.
“There are risks of a stronger growth slowdown if the macroeconomic management of the end of the investment and credit boom of 2009-12 proves more challenging than expected,” the IMF said.
The IMF reaffirmed its calls for China to press ahead with market-based currency reforms, following the surprise devaluation of the yuan in August.
“The recent change in China’s exchange rate system provides the basis for a more market-determined exchange rate, but much depends on implementation,” the IMF said.
“A floating exchange rate will enhance monetary policy autonomy and help the economy adjust to external shocks, as China continues to become more integrated into both the global economy and global financial markets.”
China described the devaluation as modest and part of reforms to make the currency more market-driven, coinciding with a push to have the yuan included in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket. The IMF board is to decide next month whether to include the yuan.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Pacific rim nations agree trade deal
6th October 2015

TWELVE Pacific Rim countries yesterday sealed a deal to create the world’s largest free-trade area, delivering US President Barack Obama a major policy triumph, a United States Official said.
Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), led by the US and Japan, aims to set the rules for 21st century trade and investment and intends to press China, not one of the 12, to shape its behavior in com¬merce to the TPP standards.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the hard-won deal on the sixth day of talks in Atlanta, Georgia.
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed the “broad agreement.” Besides the US and Japan, the deal includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia.
Agreement came after talks between 12 ministers in Atlanta went four days past deadline to resolve conflicts over how to protect the rights of creators of biologics, a cutting edge class of drugs, and how to open more markets to trade in dairy products.
The TPP will affect 40 percent of the world economy, reshape industries and influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer drugs. It will also stand as a legacy-defining achievement for Obama, if it is ratified by Congress.
Lawmakers in other TPP countries must also approve the deal.
The final round of negotiations in Atlanta, which began on wednesday, had snared on the question of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs, until the US and Australia negotiated a compromise.
The TPP deal has been controversial because of the secret negotiations that have shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to an array of interest groups, from Mexican auto workers to Canadian dairy farmers.
Although the complex deal sets tariff reduction schedules on hundreds of imported items from pork and beef in Japan to pickup trucks in the US, one issue had threatened to derail talks until the end — the length of the monopolies awarded to the developers of new biological drugs.
Negotiating teams had been deadlocked over the question of the minimum period of protection to the rights for data used to make biologic drugs, made by companies including Pfizer, Roche Group’s Genentech and Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical.
The US had sought 12 years’ protection to encourage drug companies to invest in expensive treatments. Australia, New Zealand and public health groups had sought a period of five years to bring down the burden on state-subsidized medical programs.
Negotiators agreed on a compromise on minimum terms that was short of what US negotiators had sought, people involved in the closed-door talks said.
A politically charged set of issues surrounding protections for dairy farmers was also addressed in the final hours of talks, officials said. New Zealand, home to the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra, wanted increased access to US, Canadian and Japanese markets.
Separately, the US, Mexico, Canada and Japan also agreed rules governing the auto trade that dictate how much of a vehicle must be made within the TPP region in order to qualify for duty-free status.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Former Hong Kong leader charged with misconduct
5th October 2015

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Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s former leader, has been charged with misconduct in public office after an investigation into his close links with the city’s tycoons during his seven years in power.
The highest-profile official to be charged with corruption since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control in 1997, Mr Tsang faces a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment if found guilty.
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The 70-year-old former civil servant, who ended his second term as chief executive in 2012, is due to appear in court on Monday afternoon to hear the charges read out, according to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The charges relate to his failure to disclose the fact that while chief executive of Hong Kong he leased an apartment in Shenzhen, a neighbouring Chinese city, from a businessman whose company was also applying to the government for licences.
Mr Tsang said he was innocent of the charges, in a statement given to the South China Morning Post, a local newspaper.
“My conscience is clear,” he said. “I have every confidence that the court will exonerate me after its proceedings.”
The case is the latest high-level action brought by Hong Kong’s ICAC. Last year Thomas Kwok, one of the city’s richest tycoons, was jailed for five years after being found guilty of bribing one of the city’s top officials.
An investigation into Mr Tsang’s dealings was launched following allegations that he received inappropriate favours from business tycoons.
Mr Tsang, who is known for his trademark bow tie, has previously said he did take some trips on private jets and on yachts while in office but he denied any conflict of interest.

A career civil servant in Hong Kong under British rule, Mr Tsang was chief executive between 2005 and 2012, taking over after his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa was forced to step down following street protests against unpopular policies

Source: Financial Times

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