Cape Times



US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has threatened to hit China with tariffs on “at least” another $300 billion (R4.47trln) worth of Chinese goods but says he thinks both China and Mexico want to make deals in their trade disputes with the US. Tensions between the world’s two largest economies have risen sharply since talks aimed at ending a festering trade war broke down in early May. While Trump said yesterday that talks with China were ongoing, no face-to-face meetings have been held since May 10, the day he sharply increased tariffs on a $200bn list of Chinese goods to 25 percent, prompting Beijing to retaliate. “Our talks with China, a lot of interestin­g things are happening. We’ll see what happens… I could go up another at least $300bn and I’ll do that at the right time,” Trump told reporters, without specifying which goods could be impacted. “But I think China wants to make a deal and I think Mexico wants to make a deal badly,” said Trump before boarding Air Force One at the Irish airport of Shannon on his way to France for D-Day commemorat­ions. In Beijing, China’s Commerce Ministry struck a defiant tone. “If the US wilfully decides to escalate tensions, we’ll fight to the end,” ministry spokespers­on Gao Feng told a regular news briefing. “China does not want to fight a trade war, but also is not afraid of one. If the US wilfully decides to escalate trade tensions, we’ll adopt necessary countermea­sures and resolutely safeguard the interests of China and its people.” The Commerce Ministry also issued a report on how the US has benefited from years of economic and trade co-operation with China. | Reuters FRANCE sought to fend off a hail of criticism yesterday after it was blamed for scuppering a $35 billion-plus (R516.37bn) merger between carmakers Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) and Renault only 10 days after it was officially announced. Shares in Italian-American and France’s Renault fell sharply in early trading after FCA pulled out of talks, saying: “The political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combinatio­n to proceed successful­ly.” French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said the government, which has a 15 percent stake in Renault, had engaged constructi­vely, but had not been prepared to back a deal without the endorsemen­t of Renault’s current alliance partner, Nissan. Nissan had said it would abstain at a Renault board meeting to vote on the merger proposal. However, a source close to FCA played down the significan­ce of Nissan’s stance in the discussion­s, believing French President Emmanuel Macron was looking for a way out of the deal after coming under pressure at home. The FCA-Renault talks were conducted against the backdrop of a French public outcry over 1 044 layoffs at a General Electric factory. The US company had promised to safeguard jobs there when it acquired France’s Alstom in 2015. The collapse of the deal, which would have created the world’s third-biggest carmaker behind Japan’s Toyota and Germany’s Volkswagen, revives questions about how both FCA and Renault will meet the challenges of costly investment­s in electric and selfdrivin­g cars on their own. The merger had aimed to achieve €5bn (R83bn) in annual synergies, with FCA gaining access to Renault’s superior electric drive technology and the French firm getting a share of FCA’s lucrative Jeep and RAM brands. FCA has long been looking for a merger partner and some analysts say its search for a deal is becoming more urgent. | Reuters

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