As a result of high-level trade talks a week ago, China has agreed to purchase 600,000 tons of soybeans grown in the USA. As a result of the purchase, the price of soybean futures in the US climbed by more than 1 percentage point on the Chicago Board of Trade.
The deal will result in the shipment of about 10 boatloads of soybeans, which will be spaced over the time period between October and December, all heading off to Chinese shores.
The announcement about the soybean purchase came on the heels of the bad news that Chinese trade officials had cancelled a scheduled visit to US farm states. Except for this one decision, trade talks had proceeded positively. More negotiations between the US and China are scheduled for October has the trade war between the two powerful global economies continues.
In early September this year a Chinese state news agency reported that some farm products, pork and soybeans, were no longer subject to additional tariff increases. The announcement helped to reduce tensions between the trading partners and make way for the recent soybean deal.
In the United States online consumers let loose on Cyber Monday; and in China shoppers
run wild on what is known there as “Singles’ Day.” This year Singles’ Day saw online shoppers shell out over $14 billion within only the first two hours of commencement, flying past last year’s record of $25 billion in sales for the entire 24 hours.
Singles’ Day began ten years ago as a bit of a joke when unmarried students honored choose November 11, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, or also known as “Double 11” day to celebrate their own single status. The ad hoc holiday was co-opted by retailers, creating a day of online buying and sales.
China’s own version of Twitter, Weibo, was swarming wit
h posts about Singles’ Day; some saying how proud they were to have resisted the temptation to make a purchase, while others bragged about the great deals they got.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, the platform where the crazy commerce took place, said that Singles Day is “not a day of discounts, but rather a day of gratitude. Speaking in a video which was shown at the start of the party celebrating the event he added, “It’s when retailers use the best products and best prices to show their gratitude to our consumers.”
Not everyone agrees that Singles’ Day is a day of gratitude. One economics professor, Hong Tao of Beijing Technology and Business University, said that the event encourages consumers to prefer cheap prices over high quality, causing them to buy things they definitely do not need.
“People are swept up in the festivities,” Hong said in a phone interview. “This burst of consumption, confined to just one day, can be exhausting for both buyers and sellers.”
There is also a negative environmental impact to all the unneeded buying. Although Alibaba and its close competitor JD.com have both promised to use packaging that is recyclable, research done by Greenpeace East Asia said much of the plastic that is marked as biodegradable and used by Chinese online sellers, really needs extremely high temperatures in order to fully break down. Those recycling facilities are scattered across China, and in small numbers. Greenpeace said that they are forecasting that within just two years this so-called “biodegradable” packaging might account for about 721 truckloads of garbage produced every single day in China.
President Donald Trump announced that he will seek 25% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods coming into the United States. The tariff was set to be 10%, but the White House is seeking to increase pressure on China to adhere to fairer trade policies.
On July 10 the administration said it would ask for 10% tariffs on thousands of Chinese products. Those imports include consumer goods such as furniture, dog food and baseball gloves to manufacturing materials like chemicals, steel and aluminum.
Before the tariffs can be imposed the proposal must wind through a period of public comment. The US Trade Commission has set the deadline for such comments to be filed by August 30 with hearings scheduled for August 20-23.
It is expected that a 25% tariff will be greeted with even less enthusiasm than the already beleaguered 10% tariff has been subjected too. It is expected that a 25% tariff will seriously escalate the trade war now already in progress.
Back in July China accused the US of bullying and threatened to hit back with tariffs of its own. Investors are afraid that a full-blown trade war could slow down global growth. Many key US business groups have criticized harshly Trump’s tariff policy.
Last year, Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak launched an “e-hub” facility. One of their goals was to remove trade barriers for smaller locations and emerging nations. Now, Alibaba plans to set up a traffic control system that would use artificial intelligence for Kuala Lumpur. This would be their first time offering a service of this sort outside of China.
They plan to make live traffic predictions and recommendations by looking at the data they collect from video footage, traffic bureaus, public transportation systems and other locations. The technology will be integrated into 500 inner city cameras by May and Alibaba will work with the state agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the Kuala Lumpur city council to implement these changes.
A similar system in the Chinese city of Hagnzhou has reported traffic violations with as much as 92% accuracy, an increase in traffic speed of 15%, and an ability for emergency personnel to reach their destinations in half the previous time.
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.