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News from China
China's hybrid rice helps relieve Africa's grain problems
5th September 2018

Su Lirong, a 54-year-old Chinese agricultural expert, has recently received a laudatory title from his old friends in Liberia. The title "Tamba Foya" is a local name used exclusively for those who are considered very respected and honorable guests.

Su formed ties with Liberia in 2016 after the company he works for, Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture Co. Ltd. (LPHT), became the contractor of China's second agricultural assistance program in Liberia, where he is based as an expert in hybrid rice.
In the past two years, Su and his colleagues worked together to grow China's hybrid rice in Liberia. The area of planted hybrid rice reaches 130 hectares, and grain yields more than quadrupled compared with the local rice variety.
Liberia is one of the world's poorest countries, with a population of nearly 5 million. "Liberia has to import 60 percent of grain because its own output can only meet 40 percent of its 1-million-tonne demand every year," Su said.
Moreover, border closures and quarantines in the wake of the outbreak of Ebola in 2015 further disrupted the grain market and processing chain, making it more difficult to get food, Su said.
Experts like Su are only a small sample of China's agricultural support in Africa. Since 2008, China has signed agreements with Liberia to provide not only food aid but also agricultural technology assistance.
In May 2013, the Chinese Academy of Sciences set up a China-Africa research center to help relieve the grain shortage of African countries through China's wisdom and experience.
The center has introduced China's high-yield and quicker-growing crop varieties in corn, hybrid rice and sweet sorghum to countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.
The assistance programs not only increase grain output but also help locals bring in more income.
Before growing hybrid rice from China, many Liberians like Mulbah could hardly make ends meet.
Mulbah, now chief of an agricultural cooperative in Liberia, recently bought a second-hand car and helped one of the members of the cooperative build a new house after they planted 10 hectares of hybrid rice.
Saturday Flomo, 27, used to be a taxi driver in Liberia, but he has now been trained to drive various types of farm machinery.
As the first Chinese firm authorized to provide training courses on hybrid rice planting for overseas students, LPHT trains a large number of overseas agricultural technicians each year.
"Many of the trainees have become high-level officials and policymakers in their countries, and their vast understanding of China's agriculture can help promote further cooperation with China," said Zhang Ke, deputy general manager of LPHT.
"Our aid to Africa will continue in the future, and the younger generation who were born in the 1990s is becoming the backbone of the aid program," said Zhang."
Source: Xinhua
Chinese yuan weakens to 6.8347 against USD Monday
3rd September 2018
The central parity rate of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, weakened 101 basis points to 6.8347 against the U.S. dollar Monday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.
In China's spot foreign exchange market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 2 percent from the central parity rate each trading day.
The central parity rate of the yuan against the U.S. dollar is based on a weighted average of prices offered by market makers before the opening of the interbank market each business day. 
Source: News xinhuanet
Trump threatens to withdraw US from WTO
31st August 2018

 U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to pull his country out of the World Trade Organization, a move that could further undermine the global trading system and economic stability.

"If they don't shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO," Trump said during an interview with Bloomberg News at the Oval Office.

The comments came as Washington's trade disputes with other economies continue to put global economy at risk, as pundits urge them to be addressed via multilateralism, including the WTO.

Created in 1994, the WTO was a part of a US-led effort by major economies to help settle trade disputes and bring stability to the world economy.

The head of the WTO called earlier this year for restraint and urgent dialogue within its system to stop trade frictions from damaging the world economy.

"Actions taken outside these collective processes greatly increase the risk of escalation in a confrontation that will have no winners, and which could quickly lead to a less stable trading system," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in March.

Trump has attacked the WTO, a cornerstone of the port-World War II multilateral trading system, for what he calls unfair treatment for the world's largest economy, while urging the Geneva-based body to "change their ways."

In the interview with Bloomberg News, Trump also claimed that Washington has rarely won at the WTO.

Countries that bring complaints to the WTO tend to prevail and defendants in trade disputes lose, Bloomberg News said.

According to the Cato Institute, a Washington policy group that favors more open international trade, the United States has won over 90 percent of the cases that it has initiated and has also brought more cases than any other WTO member.

Meanwhile, Washington has lost almost 90 percent of the cases brought against it at the WTO.

But top officials in the Trump administration haven't been as eager to pull out of the body. In July, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that talk to withdraw from the WTO was "a little premature."

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 31, 2018
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

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