Jack Ma joins cho­rus slam­ming lat­est tar­iffs

China Daily European Weekly - - China News - By JING SHUIYU and REN XIAOJIN Con­tact the writ­ers at jing­[email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Prom­i­nent Chi­nese busi­ness lead­ers and trade ex­perts have de­nounced the United States’ new­est levies on Chi­nese goods as ir­ra­tional and de­struc­tive to both coun­tries’ busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties.

Jack Ma, founder and chair­man of Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group, said his com­pany no longer plans to cre­ate 1 mil­lion jobs in the US be­cause of the bi­lat­eral trade dis­putes.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Xinhua on Sept 18, Ma said his com­mit­ment — made in Jan­uary 2017 fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Don­ald Trump, who was US pres­i­dent-elect at the time — was based on “friendly co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two sides and a ra­tio­nal and ob­jec­tive premise of bi­lat­eral trade”.

He said “the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion has al­ready de­stroyed the orig­i­nal premise. There is no way to de­liver on the prom­ise”, since Sino-US tar­iff ten­sions for the past sev­eral months have reached a crescendo.

Washington an­nounced ear­lier last week that it would slap ad­di­tional levies on $200 bil­lion (170 bil­lion euros; £150 bil­lion ) worth of Chi­nese goods. Beijing re­sponded that it will place tar­iffs on about $60 bil­lion worth of US im­ports.

China’s coun­ter­mea­sures are made out of a com­pul­sion to safe­guard global free trade and the coun­try’s in­ter­ests, Gao Feng, a Min­istry of Com­merce spokesman, said on Sept 20. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tar­iffs tar­get­ing $200 bil­lion (170 bil­lon euros; £153 bil­lion) worth of Chi­nese goods will hurt not only con­sumers and com­pa­nies from the two na­tions, but also jeop­ar­dize the global value chain, Gao said at a news con­fer­ence.

The US should “show sin­cer­ity” in bi­lat­eral trade talks and take con­vinc­ing steps to cor­rect its pro­tec­tion­ist be­hav­ior, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Gao, China is eval­u­at­ing the po­ten­tial im­pact of the lat­est round of US tar­iffs on China-orig­i­nated goods in fields such as ma­chin­ery, tex­tiles, chem­i­cals and agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties.

“Among the po­ten­tially af­fected en­ter­prises, for­eign-funded en­ter­prises will ac­count for nearly 50 per­cent,” Gao said, em­pha­siz­ing that the US tar­iff hikes will lead to a lose-lose sit­u­a­tion.

He said China will not stim­u­late ex­ports through de­pre­ci­at­ing the yuan, but in­stead deepen ex­change rate re­forms and keep the cur­rency at a rea­son­able and bal­anced level.

To help com­pa­nies ad­dress the dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges they may face, the coun­try will lever­age a series of mea­sures in line with World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion rules, such as fee re­duc­tions to fa­cil­i­tate trade, Gao added.

Amid ex­ter­nal pres­sure, ex­perts urged do­mes­tic com­pa­nies to seek closer ties with coun­tries and re­gions be­yond the US.

Tong Ji­adong, for­mer vice-pres­i­dent of Nankai Uni­ver­sity, says, “What we need to do is to work with the Euro­pean Union, Africa and economies in­volved in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, and con­tinue to com­ply with trade rules to re­al­ize a sta­ble trade en­vi­ron­ment.”

Ma said in the in­ter­view that he had grow­ing con­fi­dence in economies like Europe, Rus­sia, South­east Asia, Africa and South Amer­ica.

He said the ba­sis for trade has been un­der­mined, “But we will con­tinue to work hard to pro­mote the healthy de­vel­op­ment of China-US trade.”

A strong ad­vo­cate of glob­al­iza­tion, Ma said trade is not a weapon and should be “a pro­pel­ler of peace”.

China’s cen­tral au­thor­i­ties have been con­tin­u­ing on a set course to ad­vance re­forms and open the econ­omy to for­eign com­pa­nies.

The coun­try has also made con­certed ef­forts to spur do­mes­tic con­sump­tion.

Zhang Jie, an an­a­lyst at Guo­tai Ju­nan Se­cu­ri­ties, says: “The gov­ern­ment may in­tro­duce a num­ber of poli­cies to en­large the do­mes­tic mar­ket and con­tinue to adopt ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to ease its fis­cal and mone­tary sec­tor. The coun­try will take such a chal­lenge as an op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther deepen re­forms and ad­just the in­dus­trial struc­ture.”

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