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News from China
Russia to present counterarguments over tariffs dispute with US at WTO: Kremlin
30th August 2018

 Moscow will put forward a wide range of counterarguments at the World Trade Organization in dispute with Washington over increased duties on a number of US products imposed by Russia, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

 
"We do not consider it normal. On the other hand, this is their legal right, and, of course, Russia in this case will use a wide range of counterarguments," Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russia's Sputnik news agency.
 
Earlier in the day, the US filed a complaint at the WTO requesting consultations with Russia over its "unfair" new tariffs on certain US goods.
 
On August 5, Russia started imposing additional import tariffs of 25-40 percent for a range of US goods, in retaliation to US extra tariffs of 25 percent on steel and of 10 percent on aluminum starting on March 23.
 
The request for consultations served as the first step in the legal proceedings within the WTO framework. If the consultations fail to yield results, a specific panel will be set up to settle the dispute.
 
On Wednesday, the Russian Economic Development Ministry also dismissed the US move, saying that Washington "incorrectly interpreted the nature of the measures taken by Moscow."
 
"We are acting within the framework of WTO agreement on special protective measures, which allows countries to compensate for damages caused by 'special protective measures' taken by another country (the US in this case)," the ministry said in a statement.
 
The volume of new Russian tariffs at the current stage will amount to US$87.6 million a year, according to a previous statement by the ministry
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 30, 2018
WTO chief calls for action to safeguard global trade order
29th August 2018

 Global trade is under threat and whether or not the current situation is a trade war, the first shots have been fired and this calls for action, Director General of the World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo has said.

 
WTO data showed a marked escalation of trade restrictive measures over the last six months, he wrote in an opinion piece released Tuesday by Swissinfo, the website of the Swiss national broadcaster.
 
"A continued escalation would risk a major economic impact, threatening jobs and growth in all countries, hitting the poorest the hardest," Azevedo said.
 
"A number of import-facilitating measures were also recorded during the same period, but crucially the value of trade covered by these measures is falling, whereas the coverage of the restrictive measures is rising rapidly," he said.
 
Azevedo said the whole international community has a responsibility to help resolve these issues.
 
He said he has been consulting with governments and leaders around the world, urging dialogue and exploring steps to unwind the current situation.
 
Azevedo said he has also been talking to a wider range of contacts across civil society including parliaments, businesses, think tanks and the media to raise awareness of what is at stake.
 
"I am calling on everyone who believes in trade as a force for good, and that global trade rules are an essential foundation for economic stability and prosperity, to speak up," said the WTO chief.
 
"Silence could prove as damaging as actions that lead to a trade war," he said.
 
He noted that there have been some signs of progress and that people are beginning to speak up. "Business leaders and associations are calling on governments to refrain from putting up new barriers. They are asking for governments to negotiate and find solutions."
 
There is, he said, a wider understanding that higher tariffs mean higher prices and lower salaries in real terms, and that greater uncertainty risks investors pulling back and jobs being lost.
 
"And from leaders around the world, we are seeing much greater engagement in the WTO. Instead of tearing it up, they want to strengthen the system and improve it," said Azevedo.
 
He said this could potentially help defuse tensions and find "a path out of the current crisis in global trade."
 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 29, 2018
Didi reforms ordered after Hitch passenger killed
27th August 2018

 China’s police and transport ministry said yesterday that the country’s largest ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing had “unshirkable responsibility” for a ride-sharing passenger being raped and killed by a driver in the eastern city of Wenzhou.

 
The company met with both ministry officials in Beijing and the nearby port city of Tianjin and was ordered to carry out a complete reform of its platform to ensure safety standards, Xinhua news agency reported.
 
A Didi representative said the company felt deeply responsible and would complete by Saturday a new compliance operation to be inspected by the ministries and the public.
 
Earlier, Didi said it would suspend its Hitch carpooling service from today due to “disappointing mistakes” while the company re-evaluated the product’s business model.
 
Huang Jieli, Hitch’s general manager, and the company’s vice president for customer services, Huang Jinhong, have been removed from their positions, Didi’s statement said.
 
The suspected murder of a 20-year-old woman, who Wenzhou police identified only with the surname Zhao, is the latest in a series of violent crimes that have fueled safety concerns about the service.
 
Zhao got into a Hitch carpool vehicle at 1pm on Friday, and sent a message to a friend at around 2pm seeking help before losing contact, according to a local police statement.
 
A 27-year-old driver named Zhong was detained at about 4am on Saturday and confessed to raping and killing the passenger, the local police statement said, adding that the victim’s body had been recovered and an investigation was continuing.
 
Didi said yesterday that the suspect had no prior criminal record, had provided authentic documentation and passed a facial recognition test before starting work.
 
But the company said on Saturday that there was a prior complaint made against the driver on Thursday by a passenger who alleged the driver took them to a remote place and then followed the passenger after she got out of the car.
 
“The incident shows the many deficiencies with our customer service processes, especially the failure to act swiftly on the previous passenger’s complaint and the cumbersome and rigid process of information sharing with the police,” it said in yesterday’s statement.
 
Didi is the biggest ride-sharing firm globally by number of trips.
 
The company has increased its safety measures for Hitch after the murder of a flight attendant during a Hitch ride in May sparked outrage. These included limiting Hitch drivers to only picking up passengers of the same sex during early morning and late evening hours.
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 27, 2018
China, US hold 'constructive, candid' talks on trade issues
24th August 2018

 At the invitation of the US side, a Chinese delegation has held "constructive and candid" exchanges on economic and trade issues of mutual concern with the US counterparts in Washington from August 22 to 23, an official statement said on Friday.

 
"Both sides will keep in contact about the future arrangement," China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.
 
The Chinese delegation was led by Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative Wang Shouwen, while the US delegation was led by David Malpass, Under Secretary for International Affairs of the US Department of the Treasury.
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 24, 2018

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