Several companies announced business deals worth $250 billion between the United States and China in conjunction with President Donald Trump’s recent Asia tour.
One of the more prominent deals was forged with Boeing. The aerospace giant forged a deal worth $37 billion in sales of planes to the communist behemoth. It was not made clear if this deal is part of a previous announcement from Boeing to sell hundreds of jets to yet unrevealed buyers.
General Electric was also able to forge three separate deals in China valued at a total of $3.5 billion. In addition, Qualcomm was in discussions with Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo to purchase about $12 billion worth of semiconductors. Ford Motor Company will be investing $756 million in a joint venture with its Chinese partner Anhui Zotye Automobil to manufacture electric cars. This deal was already announced in August this year.
Some of the deals announced on Thursday have been in negotiations for a while, while other deals are only in the early stages, and the outcomes are far from assured.
Other deals in the works with China and US business include:
• A $83.7 billion investment by the China Energy Investment Corporation Limited in several shale gas and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia.
• Chinese state-run oil producer Sinopec has agreed to help develop Alaska’s liquefied natural gas sector. The deal, worth about $43 billion, is between Sinopec, the Bank of China and the China Investment Corp. It is estimated that about 12,000 jobs will be created during the construction of project.
• Chinese importers agreed to buy $5 billion worth of soybeans from US producers during 2018.
• Chinese e-commerce company JD.com said it will purchase $2 billion in food and agriculture products over the coming three years from the US, including $1.2 billion in Montana beef and Smithfield Foods pork.
Giant conglomerate, China Poly Group Corp, announced that it is continuing to look for trade and investment opportunities in the US, hopeful that the two countries will successfully overcome their differences over trade through talks and consultation.
The Poly Group is focused on investments in the US residential market and the cultural sector.
Chairman of the Group, Xu Niansha, said that investments in the US are an integral component of the company’s business strategy. His words were prompted by the high-profile visit of the US President Donald Trump, with a delegation of top US business executives to China.
Xu added that the president’s visit will allow the two countries to strengthen their commitment to each other and help to resolve any misunderstandings between the countries.
“China and US trade cooperation is essential for bilateral relations and hence mutually beneficial. We hope the two countries will continue on a path of cooperation considering China and the US are now each other’s major trading partner,” Xi said.
Many businesses which form the backbone of the US economy are worried about the Trump tax reform plan and the possible negative effects it could have on the economy.
Sectors of the US economy such as construction, wind power, and electric cars might experience job shrinkage and harm done if the Republican tax plan is enacted as it is now.
The effects of the tax plan, although only in its earliest stages and nowhere near law, have already been felt in the marketplace. Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s largest manufacture of turbines used in wind power, saw its stock tumble by 9 percent. Tesla, the leading electric car maker had a stock downturn as well, closing lower by 6.8 percent. The Trump plan includes cutting the $7,500 tax break for the purchase of an electric car.
Homebuilders are also up in arms over the tax reform. The National Association of Home Builders are taking aim at the Republican’s proposal to remove the tax credit for mortgage payments. The chairman of the association, Granger MacDonald, said that congress was “ignoring the needs of America’s working-class families and small businesses.”
“The bill eviscerates existing housing tax benefits by drastically reducing the number of homeowners who can take advantage of mortgage interest and property tax incentives,” he said.
Some stocks of homebuilders’ companies lost ground. Toll Brothers fell almost 6%, among the worst casualties.
Others are happy with the plan. The US Chamber of Commerce endorsed the plan cautiously, saying the plan was “exactly what our nation needs to get our economy growing faster”, but “a lot of work remains to be done to get the exact policy mix right.”
The struggle over the legalization of marijuana in the United States has created a bit of uncertainty in the Toronto Stock Exchange’s relationship to US companies that produce the mind-stimulating drug.
Aphria Inc, an Ontario-based producer of marijuana says it met with representatives of the TSX a week ago to talk about the company’s exposure to US markets and the risk that exposure subjects the company to.
Vic Neufeld, CEO of Aphria, said that the company re-committed to working with the TSX as it carefully studies the developments in the United States as they happen. Earlier in October the TSX warned companies that the US federal laws take precedence over the state laws, and, at least right now, federal US law holds marijuana to be an illegal substance. The potential for economic trouble exists for companies like Aphria which have investments in Florida and Arizona, where marijuana is legal for medicinal only and recreational use, respectively.
The TSX said that companies on their exchange that do not comply with US federal law are not in compliance with their requirements to be listed on their exchange.
Neufeld said that he would like to see his company remain on the TSX, and right now has no plans to move Aphria to the more pot-friendly Canadian Securities Exchange. However, if an agreement with the TSX can’t be reached Neufeld said there are other options, such as creating a spin-off for its US business which can be listed separately on the CSX.
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc, announced that it will buy the US Group life and disability business from the health insurance company Aetna, Inc for $1.45 billion in cash. Hartford hopes to expand its insurance division and ignite its digital technology strategy.
Hartford shares lost over 5%, falling to $53.63 after they said is would halt their existing buyback in order to pay for part of the deal with Aetna. They added that they will not be repurchasing stock next year as well.
The company said it will use $273 million from its 2017 equity buyback program to fund the deal, and will also use dividends from its holding company resources and insurance units to cover the cost of Aetna’s subsids.
“Hartford is financing the deal by dividends and clearly mentioned that it will not authorize an equity repurchase plan for 2018, driving the shares down,” said John Heagerty, Atlantic Equities analyst.
The deal will insure that Harford is the second-biggest group life and disability insurance provider in the US. They will have over 20 million customers, and the deal will also strengthen the firm’s dealings with mid-sized companies.
Aetna’s divisions will also provide Hartford with access to Aetna’s digital assets. These tools will allow Hartford to more efficiently process worker’s comp and disability claims. Aetna’s assets include an integrated absence management platform.