China's Iranian oil imports are set to rebound in December after two state-owned refiners in the world's largest oil importer began using the nation's waiver from U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to industry sources and data on Refinitiv Eikon.
Sinopec resumed Iran oil imports shortly after Tehran's biggest crude buyer received its waiver in November, while China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC)will restart lifting from its own Iranian production in December, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Reuters reported in November that China's waiver on U.S. sanctions allows it to buy 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil for 180 days.
Top Chinese energy group CNPC, which has invested billions of dollars in Iranian oilfields, is ready to load its full share of production from December, said an oil executive with direct knowledge of CNPC's Iran activities.
The executive, who asked not to be named, estimated CNPC will load at least two million barrels a month from December, doubling previous levels to help compensate for cuts made before sanctions on Iran's oil exports went into effect on Nov 5.
Before the waivers had been announced, Sinopec, Asia's largest oil refiner, had planned to stop loading Iran oil in November, but resumed imports within days of getting the exemption, a second source said, also asking to remain unnamed.
"We continued lifting Iranian oil in November because we received the waiver," the second source said.
Sinopec and CNPC will likely use up the 360,000 bpd of Iranian oil imports allowed to China under the waiver.
Another source said Iranian oil is "attractively priced" versus rival supplies from the Middle East.
For November and December, Iranian Heavy crude sold to Asia has been priced at $1.25 a barrel below Saudi's Arab Medium, a discount not seen since 2004.
The source also said many Chinese refiners were geared toward processing Iranian crude grades.
At 360,000 bpd, China's purchases would still be 45 percent less than the average 655,000 bpd imported during the January-September period.
The rise in Iranian oil supply and surging production from the United States, Russia and OPEC countries has pulled down crude oil prices by almost a third since October.
Ahead of the sanctions being implemented in early November, China's crude oil imports from Iran fell to 1.05 million tonnes (247,260 bpd) in October, the lowest since May 2010, Chinese customs data shows.
Data from Refinitiv Eikon, however, shows that 2.77 million tonnes of Iranian crude were discharged into Chinese ports in October, including into bonded storage tanks in Dalian.
By December, China's Iran oil imports could reach almost 3 million tonnes, the Eikon data showed. A total 2.51 million tonnes of Iranian crude were discharged into Dalian in October and November, according to the data.
Other major Iranian oil buyers, including India, South Korea and Japan, are also increasing or resuming orders.
It is still not clear whether Iran will be able to export much oil after the U.S. sanctions waivers expire around the start of May.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead negotiations with China over tariffs, market access and structural changes to intellectual property practices over the next 90 days, the White House has confirmed, potentially signaling a harder U.S. line.
On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a trade truce, agreeing to hold off on new tariffs following months of escalating tension. The two sides also agreed to negotiate over the next 90 days.
Lighthizer leading the talks marks a shift from the administration's previous approach to China trade talks that had been largely led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Lighthizer, an experienced trade negotiator and having just completed a new agreement with Canada and Mexico, is one of the administration's most vocal China critics.
"Robert Lighthizer, the ambassador, USTR, is in charge of these negotiations," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told National Public Radio. "He's the toughest negotiator we've ever had at the USTR and he's going to go chapter and verse and get tariffs down, non-tariff barriers down and end all these structural practices that prevent market access."
A White House official also confirmed the decision to have Lighthizer lead the negotiations.
Mnuchin had said the negotiations with China would be led by Trump, with an "inclusive team" of administration officials, including himself and other cabinet officials.
Mnuchin led some past rounds of talks due to his relationship as the counterpart to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also led a failed round of talks in Beijing in June, while mid-level Treasury officials hosted a round of discussions in August.
The White House said on Saturday that the talks would cover structural changes in China on forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.
Most of these issues were identified in USTR's "Section 301" investigation of China's intellectual property practices, which formed the basis of the U.S. tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.
Lighthizer said last week that China had failed to alter the "unfair, unreasonable" practices at the heart of the trade dispute.
President Donald Trump seemed ready to escalate the trade war with China in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
Trump said it was "highly unlikely" that a planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit would yield a deal to prevent an increase in tariffs.
Trump also said he was prepared to hit another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs — which would include duties on consumer goods like iPhones.
President Donald Trump seems ready to escalate the trade war with China even further as a crucial meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping nears.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, the president said it was "highly unlikely" that the US and China would reach a deal to prevent the 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from increasing to 25% on January 1.
In addition, Trump told The Journal that if planned weekend talks with Xi at the G20 summit in Argentina did not go well, more tariffs could be on the way.
"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the $267 billion additional on," Trump said.
Trump first announced tariffs on Chinese goods in March, ostensibly to punish the country for the theft of US intellectual property.
After failed negotiations on a trade deal with China, the first round of tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods went into effect in July.
A second round of tariffs on another $200 billion of goods went into effect in late September, and Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose a third round on the remaining imports not subject to tariffs.
While Trump said the third round would hit another $267 billion in goods, some reports peg the remaining amount at $257 billion.
After mostly avoiding consumer goods in the first two rounds of tariffs, Trump said he was also willing to place tariffs on items such as Apple's iPhone and laptops imported from China. The administration backed off plans to impose tariffs on some Apple products as part of the previous round after the tech giant lobbied the president.
Economists warn that tariffs on consumer goods would drive up prices for Americans, curtail consumer spending, and eventually hurt US economic growth. Trump disagreed with that assessment, instead suggesting that a low tariff rate on such goods would go unnoticed by consumers.
"I mean, I can make it 10%, and people could stand that very easily," he told The Journal.
In addition to the tariffs, the Trump administration is employing a suite of other measures to crack down on China's economic practices. For instance, the Department of Commerce is considering stricter rules on which types of technology can be exported to China, and the Justice Department has charged some Chinese companies and people with economic espionage.
While there were hopes a Trump-Xi meeting could deescalate the trade tensions, recent moves by the administration seem to point to a sustained trade war.
Perhaps most significant, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week released an update to the investigation into Chinese intellectual-property theft that kicked off the tariff battle. It found China had not changed any of the practices that precipitated Trump's tariff decision.
China is minting a billionaire every three days as tech boom unlocks ‘stealth wealth’
Posted on October 29, 2018 by Admin
The total number of billionaires reached 2,158 last year, up 9% from 2016, according to a new report from UBS and PwC.
The growth was fastest in Asia, with China minting roughly one new billionaire every three days.
Asian billionaires will be wealthier than their American peers in less than three years.
The rich are getting richer and more numerous.
The world added 332 billionaires last year, with their cumulative wealth increasing 19% to a record $8.9 trillion, according to an annual survey from UBS and PwC.
What’s behind this phenomenon? Explosive wealth creation in China.
“China is where we’re seeing unbelievable and unprecedented growth,” said John Mathews, head of ultra high net worth Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management. For the first time ever, billionaire growth in Asia Pacific outpaced that of the US last year.
In 2006, there were just 16 Chinese billionaires. But in 2017, the tally hit 373 – a fifth of the global total. The US still leads regionally, with 585 billionaires, but wealth creation in the region is slowing. The US created 53 billionaires in 2017, compared with 87 in 2012.
In China, 106 people became billionaires in 2017 (although a number dropped off the list from 2016). That comes out to roughly one new billionaire every three days.
If current trends hold, Asian billionaires’ wealth will surpass that of their American counterparts in three years.
That growth has been driven by self-made entrepreneurs in China, particularly in the technology industry.
More than 300 Chinese companies went public last year, unlocking what UBS deems “stealth wealth,” the difficult-to-measure wealth of individuals in private markets with little transparency.
About 97 percent of Chinese billionaires are self-made, and, at 56 years old on average, they’re about a decade younger than their North American counterparts.
US entrepreneurs could play catch-up next year, though. Mathews said major anticipated initial public offerings in 2019, including Uber, could reveal more stealth wealth, potentially adding more billionaires to the US’s count. Of the 53 new billionaires in the US last year, 30 were self-made.
After 9 years of construction and controversy, China has officially unveiled the world's longest sea bridge, built at a cost of R286.4 billion.
At more than 54.7km long, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is part of a master plan to create a global science and technology hub by connecting two Chinese territories, Hong Kong and Macau (the world's largest gambling center), to 9 nearby cities.
With an economic output of R21.5 trillion, the new mega-region - known as the Greater Bay Area - is positioned to rival Silicon Valley. The plan also includes the construction of a R157.5 billion bullet train, which opened in September.
The bridge is expected to open to traffic on Wednesday, though only certain vehicles - shuttles, freight cars, and private cars with permits - are allowed to cross. Pedestrians and bicyclists are prohibited.
While some have criticised the structure as a waste of taxpayer dollars, others tout its ability to connect up to 70 million people in the region.
The title of world's largest sea bridge previously belonged to the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, which stretches 42.3km.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is designed to last for more than a century, with the capacity to withstand major storms and earthquakes.
The structure should hold up in the face of 340km winds. That claim was put to the test in September, when Typhoon Mangkhut swept through Hong Kong, destroying roofs, shattering windows, and toppling trees.
The bridge is made of 420,000 tons of steel — enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers.
Perhaps the biggest financial market story in 2018 so far is the colossal fall from grace of the Chinese stock market, which has witnessed losses in excess of 30% since the start of the year.
The fall, which has seen the benchmark Shanghai Composite index drop to its lowest level in almost four years this week, is generally explained through the prism of investors realising that the blockbuster growth China has enjoyed over the last decade is on the wane, and that things are likely to slow down to a strong, but not stellar, rate.
Such a view has been exacerbated by the rise of the trade conflict between the US and China, which has seen the world's two largest economies exchange tit-for-tat tariffs, which now apply to goods totalling close to a cumulative $300 billion (about R4.3 trillion).
Many economists see the trade war having a major negative impact on Chinese growth, with JPMorgan earlier in October saying a full-blown trade war could have a 1% shrinking effect on the economy.
While these two factors are evidently at play, there's reason to believe that another factor could soon come into play, and force Chinese stocks even deeper into bear market territory - forced selling.
In China, hundreds of companies use their shares as collateral for loans, but when share prices fall they are forced to sell in order to maintain a certain level of balance in brokerage accounts, used to lend the companies money.
According to the Report available, about 4.18 trillion yuan (R8.6 trillion) worth of shares have been put up by company founders and other major investors as collateral for loans, accounting for about 11% of the country's stock market capitalisation, based on calculations using China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation data.
The South China Morning Post, citing a report by Tianfeng Securities, said earlier in the week that more than 600 company stocks have fallen to levels where forced sales may kick in.
"It's a vicious cycle: share drops lead to liquidation and liquidation leads to further share drops," Wang Zheng, chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management told the South China Morning Post earlier in the week.
"The recent declines, particularly in small caps, are blamed for the problem arising from share pledges."
China's government has hit back at the Trump administration, accusing the US president of "bullying" over his aggressive tactics in the escalating trade conflict between the two nations, saying it will "rise up" should a full-scale trade war break out.
"China doesn't want a trade war, but would rise up to it should it break out," Zhong Shan, China's minister for commerce said in a statement.
So far, the Trump administration has placed tariffs on $250 billion (R3.7 trillion) worth of Chinese goods, affecting more than 5,000 products. The president, however, has said he is willing to "go to 500"- a colloquial term for placing tariffs on all US imports from China.
What was initially seen as an empty threat is now viewed by many observers as a genuine possibility after the latest round of tariffs were announced in late September, after which Trump doubled down on his threats to tax all Chinese imports. Such threats, Zhong said, will not lead China to back down and offer the US concessions.
"There is a view in the US that so long as the US keeps increasing tariffs, China will back down. They don't know the history and culture of China," he said.
"This unyielding nation suffered foreign bullying for many times in history, but never succumbed to it even in the most difficult conditions," he continued.
"The US should not underestimate China's resolve and will."
Zhong's comments came just a few hours after President Trump once again accused China of taking advantage of the US over trade.
"We can't have a one-way street," Trump said during a press conference to discuss the resignation of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday afternoon.
"It's got to be a two-way street. It's been a one-way street for 25 years. We've got to make it a two-way street. We've got to benefit also," he told reporters.
Alongside increasing tariffs, communications between the two sides have become more and more strained in recent weeks. China in September called off planned talks between mid-level officials, and this week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exchanged displeased words with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during a trip to Beijing.
"Recently, as the US side has been constantly escalating trade friction toward China, it has also adopted a series of actions on the Taiwan issue that harm China's rights and interests, and has made groundless criticism of China's domestic and foreign policies," Wang said at a press conference.
"We demand that the US side stop this kind of mistaken action."
Pompeo hit back, saying the US has "great concerns about the actions that China has taken."
A currency war brewing?
Away from the escalating tensions over trade, the US Treasury has shown new concern about China's devaluation of the renminbi, an action it believes Beijing is using to strengthen its hand with regard to trade by making Chinese goods cheaper.
"As we look at trade issues there is no question that we want to make sure China is not doing competitive devaluations," Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.
"We are going to absolutely want to make sure that as part of any trade understanding we come to that currency has to be part of that."
Trump has frequently criticised China for his belief that Beijing is artificially weakening its currency to make Chinese exports more competitive, something he believes Beijing is doing to hurt the US economy.
In August, he claimed that Beijing is a "currency manipulator."
President Muhammadu Buhari said Chinese loans to Nigeria were not “debt trap” as being purported, noting that the nation was able to repay all the loans as and when due.
This was contained in a statement on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
According to the statement, President Buhari was dispelling insinuations on how the Asian nation could be putting Nigeria under a massive debt through its financial support.
It said Nigeria’s partnership with China has resulted in the execution of critical infrastructure projects valued at more than $5 billion over the last three years.
It added that the projects being funded were perfectly in line with Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), adding that “some of the debts incurred are self-liquidating.”
“Let me use this opportunity to address and dispel insinuations about a so-called Chinese ‘debt trap’. We have completed and flagged off West Africa’s first urban rail system, valued at $500 million, in Abuja. Before then was the 180km rail line that connects Abuja and Kaduna, completed and commissioned in 2016, and running efficiently since then,” the statement read.
Buhari said Nigeria was leveraging Chinese funding to execute $3.4 billion worth of projects at various stages of completion, including upgrading of airport terminals, the Lagos – Kano rail line, Zungeru hydroelectric power project, and fibre cables for the country’s internet infrastructure, among others.
“Less than 3 months ago, Nigeria signed an agreement for an additional $1billion loan from China for additional rolling stock for the newly constructed rail lines, as well as road rehabilitation and water supply projects,” it added.
Two days ago, the presidential spokesman in a separate statement had said the two nations would sign a $328 million agreement on the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase 11 (NICTIB 11) at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
On Monday, China pledged a total of $60 billion financial support for projects in Africa, but noted the funds are not for “vanity projects” but for building infrastructure that can remove development bottlenecks.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has proven to be productive and effective in boosting China-Africa cooperation, a Chinese special envoy said.
Zhou Yuxiao, China’s ambassador for FOCAC affairs, said this in an interview with Xinhua prior to the FOCAC Beijing Summit in September, expressing his confidence in the event’s success.
Zhou said FOCAC has grown into a dynamic mechanism with rich content and tangible results, following the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and the values of friendship, justice, and shared interests.
“China neither imposes its own will on others nor seeks its sphere of influence,” said Zhou.
“The concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits’ is upheld when China cooperates with African countries.”
FOCAC was founded in 2000 and its membership had grown to have China, 53 African countries having diplomatic relations with China, and the African Union Commission as of June 2018, according to the FOCAC website.
Under the FOCAC framework, there are regular consultations at ministerial and senior-official levels, and between the Chinese Follow-up Committee and the African Diplomatic Corps in China.
Sub-forums on business, youth, health and poverty reduction, and many others, have also been set up.
FOCAC has held two summits gathering leaders of China and African countries, one in Beijing in 2006 and another in Johannesburg in 2015.
“FOCAC is not for idle words, but a platform to unleash real actions,” said Zhou.
The veteran diplomat, who spent years in Africa and served as the Chinese ambassadors to Liberia and Zambia, said he had witnessed the development of FOCAC over the years.
It began with small steps, with a focus on aid, trade, debt relief, personnel training but gradually grew to a comprehensive platform that covers industrialization, agricultural modernization, financing, green development, people-to-people exchanges, and security.
Zhou said FOCAC has won wide support from African countries for its efficient enforcement means, clear time-bound action plans, and an effective evaluation system.
He also attributed the mechanism’s effectiveness to the adequate funding.
For example, Zhou said, China pledged financing support amounting to 60 billion U.S. dollars to implement the ten cooperation plans announced at the 2015 FOCAC summit in Johannesburg.
Projects can also be funded by the Silk Road Fund or the BRICS New Development Bank.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government encourages trustworthy and competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa.
Both China’s ability to “walk the walk” and African countries’ active collaboration are key to the success of FOCAC, Zhou said.
“That is why FOCAC has earned wide recognition from African countries as well as the international community, and expectations are high for the upcoming summit,” said Zhou.
The summit is scheduled for Sept. 3 to Sept. 4 in Beijing. Priorities and key directions for China-Africa cooperation in the next three years will be announced.
A key aspect to watch, Zhou said, will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development plans.
With the “twin engines” of the BRI and FOCAC, China-Africa cooperation is poised to move forward more steadily, faster and further.
“I’m confident that the summit will be a complete success,” said Zhou.
China would invest 14.7 billion dollars in South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday after talks between the two countries, news that sent the rand one percent firmer.
Speaking at the same event, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world’s second-biggest economy would take active measures to expand imports from South Africa to support development in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
Xi arrived South Africa on Monday night for a State visit ahead of the much anticipated 10th BRICS Summit in Sandton.
This is Xi’s third visit to South Africa, having visited the country for the 2013 BRICS Summit, and the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. Xi made State visits to Senegal and Rwanda before arriving in South Africa.
The two presidents engaged in bilateral talks and evaluated progress achieved by the two countries on the Strategic Programme with specific reference to the six priority areas identified in 2015.
Those areas include the Alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation process; Enhancement of co-operation in Special Economic Zones; Enhancement of marine co-operation; Infrastructure development; Human resources co-operation; as well as Financial co-operation.
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row, and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
Two-way trade has reached a historic 39billion dollars, 20 times the volume of that at the onset of official diplomatic relations. Direct Chinese investment in the South African economy has also grown eight fold, reaching 10 billion dollars.
While there is a trade imbalance between China and South Africa, both countries have implemented mechanisms to address these discrepancies.