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News from China
TPP talks to move forward without US
22nd May 2017

 ASIA-PACIFIC trade ministers agreed yesterday to try to revive a massive free trade pact, even though the United States reaffirmed its decision to pull out, as fears grow of a new global era of protectionism.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership covered 40 percent of the global economy before Trump abruptly abandoned it in January to meet a campaign pledge to save American jobs which he says have been sucked up overseas.
Japan, Australia and New Zealand are leading efforts by the so-called TPP 11 to resuscitate the agreement, convinced it will lock in future free trade and strengthen labor rights and environmental protection.
After an early-morning huddle in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said the TPP 11 “are committed to finding a way forward to deliver” the pact.
Trade representatives agreed to help the US to rejoin the deal at any time, pinning hopes on a U-turn in American policy.
But Trump’s newly appointed trade chief Robert Lighthizer poured cold water on the prospect of a US return, saying Washington “pulled out of the TPP and it’s not going to change that decision.”
“The TPP 11 can make their own decisions, the United States makes its decisions, that’s what sovereign nations do,” Lighthizer said, adding that his nation will “stay engaged” in the area, albeit on a bilateral basis.
After seven years of talks, the finalized TPP proposal was signed in February last year but cannot go into force until it is ratified by six countries with a combined 85 percent of the bloc’s total GDP.
The deal goes further than most existing free trade pacts, with labor laws, environmental protection and intellectual property rights touted as a new gold standard for global trade.
It promised to transform smaller economies such as Vietnam by offering unprecedented access to the world’s top economies.
The Trump administration has said it is seeking bilateral agreements rather than sweeping free trade pacts, and is pushing for fair trade with partners and not just free trade.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 22, 2017
Alibaba’s quarterly profit doubles
19th May 2017

 CHINESE e-commerce giant Alibaba said yesterday that its net profit almost doubled in the latest quarter amid soaring growth in online shopping.

Alibaba, which has made billionaire founder Jack Ma one of China’s richest men, is a dominant player in online commerce and its robust earnings highlight the strength of the sector even as the country’s broader economy sputters.
Net profit attributable to ordinary shareholders soared 98 percent from a year ago to 10.65 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in the quarter ended on March 31, the company said in a statement.
That was on the back of a faster-than-expected 60 percent surge in revenue to 38.58 billion yuan — a key figure for gauging China’s increasingly important consumer sector.
Flushed with cash, Alibaba said it has authorized a US$6 billion buyback to take place over two years.
“Our robust results demonstrate the strength of our core businesses, as well as the positive momentum of our emerging businesses, including cloud computing, where we continue to see strong growth,” said Maggie Wu, Alibaba’s chief financial officer.
But net profit for its full fiscal year fell 39 percent to 43.68 billion yuan, hit by a weak performance in the first six months of the year.
Alibaba’s Taobao platform is estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market. Its Tmall platform is believed to handle over half of business-to-consumer transactions.
But China’s largest online shopping portal has been on the defensive since the office of the US Trade Representative put Taobao on its annual blacklist in December, saying it was not doing enough to curb sales of fake and pirated goods.
Alibaba has been expanding outside its core e-commerce business into sectors ranging from sports to entertainment.
In October, Alibaba Pictures took a minority stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, a film creation company that includes DreamWorks studios.
Revenue from digital media and entertainment soared 234 percent year on year in the quarter to 3.93 billion yuan.
“Investors will be paying attention to Alibaba’s top-line growth guidance for next year,” Ray Zhao, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities, told Bloomberg News.
“Alibaba has done a lot of acquisitions this past year, so revenue growth might not be as fast as people expect.”
The results came after Ant Financial Services Group, which is controlled by Alibaba and valued at roughly US$60 billion last April, reportedly delayed its highly anticipated public listing.
Ant is behind Alipay, a platform that accounts for 80 percent of electronic payments in China where it is used for e-commerce at Alibaba online venues and a large number of mobile applications.
Mobile monthly active users on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces hit 507 million in March, up 97 million from a year earlier.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 19, 2017
Shanghai’s foreign trade quickens
18th May 2017

 SHANGHAI’S foreign trade growth accelerated in April amid economic indicators revealing a mixed picture in the economy.

Shanghai’s total imports and exports rose 17.8 percent in April from a year ago to 253.2 billion yuan (US$36.8 billion), faster than the 15.2 percent increase in March, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday.
Imports growth accelerated to 25 percent but growth in exports slowed to 7.6 percent, the bureau’s data showed.
The imports were lifted by a 65.7 percent jump in imports by state-owned companies, while exports by SOEs fell 11.2 percent year on year.
The bureau also said Shanghai’s Producer Price Index, a gauge of inflation at the factory gate, rose 4.4 percent year on year in April, 0.3 percentage points slower than March.
A lower PPI growth is usually associated with weaker demand from companies.
However, consumer demand grew stronger as the year-on-year increase in retail sales accelerated to 7.9 percent in the first four months of 2017 from the first quarter’s 7.8 percent.
Earlier data showed Shanghai’s industrial production and fixed-asset investment slowed in April while home sales improved and consumer inflation warmed up.
The city’s Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose to 1.6 percent year on year in April from March’s 1.4 percent.
Medical and health care led the price hikes by jumping 8.5 percent, followed by a 2.8 percent increase in house rents and maintenance expenses.
Food prices added 0.2 percent while transport and communications prices fell 0.8 percent.
The Shanghai data echoed the national figures to indicate moderation in economic momentum.
The National Bureau of Statistics said China’s manufacturing activity, foreign trade, industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment growth slowed in April, while consumer inflation heated up to a three-month high.
Economists said China’s economic growth may slow in the second quarter but the official target of 6.5 percent growth will be met this year.
Source: Shanghai Daily, 18, 2017
PBOC’s liquidity boost spurs shares higher
17th May 2017

 CHINA stocks yesterday rose for the fourth straight day as investors were relieved by central bank efforts to boost liquidity in the financial system.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.74 percent to 3,112.96 points.
Small caps outperformed the broader market, with the index tracking small and medium-sized companies in Shenzhen advancing 2 percent, posting its best day in nine months.
The gauge tracking ChiNext, China’s Nasdaq-style board of growth enterprises, ended 2.04 percent higher, the largest daily rise recorded this year.
The People’s Bank of China injected a net 170 billion yuan (US$24.7 billion) into money market through open market operations yesterday — the most in nearly four months.
In a rare explanation, the PBOC said the injection is meant to “offset impact from factors including tax payment and maturing open market operations,” indicating Beijing’s intention to maintain stability in the markets amid widespread concerns over policy tightening.
Analysts said it was vital for the Shanghai index to return to the 3,100-point level as it could boost investor confidence.
Shares related to Xiongan New Area, a new economic zone to be built near Beijing, drove the rebound yesterday, with 15 stocks, including Beijing Capital Co and SPIC Shijiazhuang Dongfang Energy Corp, jumping by the daily limit of 10 percent.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 17, 2017

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