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Category: Економіка

US ponders trade status upgrade for Vietnam despite some opposition

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Washington — U.S. officials are considering a request from Vietnam to be removed from a list of “nonmarket” economies, a step that would foster improved diplomatic relations with a potential ally in Asia but would anger some U.S. lawmakers and manufacturing firms.

The Southeast Asian country is on the list of 12 nations identified by the U.S. as nonmarket economies, which also includes China and Russia because of strong state intervention in their economies.  

Analysts believe Hanoi is hoping for a decision before the November U.S. election, which could mean a return to power of Donald Trump, who during his previous term as president threatened to boost tariffs on Vietnam because of its large trade surplus with the United States.

Under the Trump administration, the Department of Treasury also put Vietnam on a list of currency manipulators, which can lead to being excluded from U.S. government procurement contracts or other remedial actions. The Treasury, under the Biden administration, removed Vietnam from this list.

On the eve of President Joe Biden’s September visit to Hanoi, where he and Vietnamese Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong elevated the U.S.-Vietnam relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Vietnam formally asked U.S. Department of Commerce to remove it from the list of nonmarket economies on the grounds that it had made economic reforms in recent years.  

The Biden administration subsequently initiated a review of Vietnam’s nonmarket economy (NME) status. The Department of Commerce is to issue a final decision by July 26, 270 days after initiating the review.  

“Receiving market economy status is the highest diplomatic priority of the Vietnamese leadership this year, especially after last fall’s double upgrade in diplomatic relations,” said Zachary Abuza, a professor at National War College where he focuses on Southeast Asian politics and security issues.

He told VOA Vietnamese that the Vietnamese “are really linking the implementation of the joint vision statement to receiving that status.”

The U.S. is Vietnam’s most important export market with two-way trade totaling more than $125 billion in 2023, according to U.S. Census data. But Washington has initiated more trade defense investigations with Vietnam than with any other country, mainly anti-dumping investigations. Vietnam recorded 58 cases subject to trade remedies of the U.S. as of August 2023, in which 26 were anti-dumping, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in the U.S.

Vietnam has engaged a lobbying firm in Washington to help it win congressional support for a status upgrade. A Foreign Agents Registration Act’s statement filed to the U.S. Department of Justice shows that Washington-based Steptoe is assisting the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and supporting the Vietnamese government in “obtaining market economy status in antidumping proceedings.”

“I understand why Vietnamese are lobbying,” said Murray Hiebert, a senior associate of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“One reason is U.S.-Vietnam relations have come so far, and to hold the non-market [status] is a little bit disingenuous because most of the countries that have this status are countries like China, Russia, North Korea, who are not so friendly with the United States. So I think [the U.S. recognition of Vietnam as a market economy] would be a sign that relations have improved.”

US election key

Both Abuza and Hiebert believe that Vietnam is pushing hard to secure the upgrade before the November U.S. election that could bring Trump back into office.

“Trump began an investigation of Vietnam’s dumping just before the end of his administration. He may again start that process,” said Hiebert, who was senior director for Southeast Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before joining CSIS.

But Vietnam’s campaign faces opposition from within the U.S.

More than 30 U.S. lawmakers in January sent joint letters to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo urging the Biden administration not to grant market economy status to Vietnam. They argued that Vietnam did not meet the procedural requirements for a change of status and that granting Hanoi’s wish would be “a serious mistake.”

The U.S. designated Vietnam as a nonmarket economy in 2002 during an anti-dumping investigation into Vietnamese catfish exports. Over the past 21 years, the U.S. has imposed anti-dumping duties on many Vietnamese exports, including agricultural and industrial products.

In a request sent to Raimondo to initiate a changed circumstances review, the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade said that over the past 20 years, the economy of Vietnam “has been through dramatic developments and reforms.” It said 72 countries recognize Vietnam as a market economy, notably the U.K., Canada, Australia and Japan.

‘Unfairly traded Chinese goods’

U.S. manufacturing groups have expressed opposition to Vietnam’s request, arguing that Vietnam continues to operate as a nonmarket economy. In comments sent to Raimondo, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AMM) said that Vietnam “cannot reasonably be understood to demonstrate the characteristics of a market economy.”

“There’s still heavy intervention by the governing Communist Party [of Vietnam],” said Scott Paul, president of AMM. “There’s a lot of indication that China may be using Vietnam as a platform to also export to the U.S., which is obviously concerning to firms here,” he said.

In a letter dated January 28, eight senators wrote “Granting Vietnam market economy status before it addresses its clear nonmarket behavior and the severe deficiencies in its labor law will worsen ongoing trade distortions, erode the U.S. manufacturing base, threaten American workers and industries, and reinforce Vietnam’s role as a conduit for goods produced in China with forced labor.”  

Many Chinese products have been found to be disguised or labeled as “Made in Vietnam” to avoid U.S. tariffs since Trump launched a trade war with China in 2018. Vietnam has promised to crack down on the practice.

Abuza pointed out what he called a contradiction in U.S. policy.

“Vietnam is too important to the United States economically in terms of trade and foreign direct investment, and we cannot look to Vietnam for supply chain diversification out of China if it doesn’t have market economy status.”

Hiebert said the U.S. “should do this and get moving” as Vietnam is “one of the U.S.’ best friends in Asia and Southeast Asia and help stand up to China.”

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US presidential contenders differ on who’s better for economy

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The U.S. economy is always a major factor in the presidential campaign because the president plays a key role in setting and shaping trade and economic policies. VOA’s Senior Washington Correspondent Carolyn Presutti reports on how the economy is doing and the difference between how the two presidential contenders would handle it. Camera: Mike Burke

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Курс на 40: на міжбанку гривня стрімко падає відносно долара

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Національний банк України опівдні встановив довідкове значення курсу на рівні 39 гривень 77,16 копійки за долар, це на 17 копійок більше за офіційний курс на 19 квітня

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Країни G7 «продовжать працювати» над шляхами застосування активів РФ на підтримку України

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«Ми вітаємо пропозиції ЄС щодо спрямування надзвичайних надходжень від суверенних заморожених активів Росії на користь України»

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Biden seeks higher tariffs on Chinese steel as he courts union voters

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SCRANTON, Pa. — President Joe Biden is calling for a tripling of tariffs on steel from China to protect American producers from a flood of cheap imports, an announcement he planned to roll out Wednesday in an address to steelworkers in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

The move reflects the intersection of Biden’s international trade policy with his efforts to court voters in a state that is likely to play a pivotal role in deciding November’s election.

The White House insists, however, that it is more about shielding American manufacturing from unfair trade practices overseas than firing up a union audience.

In addition to boosting steel tariffs, Biden also will seek to triple levies on Chinese aluminum. The current rate is 7.5% for both metals. The administration also promised to pursue anti-dumping investigations against countries and importers that try to saturate existing markets with Chinese steel, and said it was working with Mexico to ensure that Chinese companies can’t circumvent the tariffs by shipping steel there for subsequent export to the U.S.

“The president understands we must invest in American manufacturing. But we also have to protect those investments and those workers from unfair exports associated with China’s industrial overcapacity,” White House National Economic Adviser Lael Brainard said on a call with reporters.

Biden was set to announce that he is asking the U.S. Trade Representative to consider tripling the tariffs during a visit to United Steelworkers union headquarters in Pittsburgh. The president is on a three-day Pennsylvania swing that began in Scranton on Tuesday and will include a visit to Philadelphia on Thursday.

The administration says China is distorting markets and eroding competition by unfairly flooding the market with below-market-cost steel.

“China’s policy-driven overcapacity poses a serious risk to the future of the American steel and aluminum industry,” Brainard said. Referencing China’s economic downturn, she added that Beijing “cannot export its way to recovery.”

“China is simply too big to play by its own rules,” Brainard said.

Higher tariffs can carry major economic risks. Steel and aluminum could become more expensive, possibly increasing the costs of cars, construction materials and other key goods for U.S. consumers.

Inflation has already been a drag on Biden’s political fortunes, and his turn toward protectionism echoes the playbook of his predecessor and opponent in this fall’s election, Donald Trump.

The former president imposed broader tariffs on Chinse goods during his administration, and has threatened to increase levies on Chinese goods unless they trade on his preferred terms as he campaigns for a second term. An outside analysis by the consultancy Oxford Economics has suggested that implementing the tariffs Trump has proposed could hurt the overall U.S. economy.

Senior Biden administration officials said that, unlike the Trump administration, they were seeking a “strategic and balanced” approach to new tariff rates. China produces around half of the world’s steel, and is already making far more than its domestic market needs. It sells steel on the world market for less than half what U.S.-produced steel costs, the officials said.

Biden’s announcement follows his administration’s efforts to provide up to $6.6 billion so that a Taiwanese semiconductor giant can expand facilities that it is already building in Arizona and better ensure that the world’s most-advanced microchips are produced in the U.S. That move could be seen as working to better compete with China chip manufacturers.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, during a recent visit to China, warned against oversaturating the market with cheap goods, and said low-cost steel had “decimated industries across the world and in the United States.” The Chinese, in turn, expressed grave concern over American trade and economic measures that restrict China, according to the China’s official news agency. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also has an upcoming visit to China.

Also potentially shaking up the steel industry is Japanese Nippon Steel’s proposed acquisition of Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel. Biden said last month that he opposed the move.

“U.S. Steel has been an iconic American steel company for more than a century, and it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated,” Biden said then.

At a rally last weekend in Pennsylvania, Trump tore into Biden over Nippon Steel’s efforts to buy U.S. Steel, ignoring the president’s objections to the merger.

“I would not let that deal go through,” Trump said.

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Zimbabwe’s new gold-backed currency sliding on black market

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Harare, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s recently introduced gold-backed currency is sliding on the local black market but officials insist the currency is getting stronger and has a bright future. Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare.

Even songs are played on the radio encouraging citizens to embrace the currency, called Zimbabwe Gold — or ZiG — introduced on April 5 trading at 13.56 to the U.S. dollar.

Official statistics say ZiG is now trading at 13.41. But on the black market it is around 20.

Chamunorwa Musengi, a street vendor in Harare, is not optimistic about the new currency which for the moment is trading electronically, with notes and coins coming into circulation on April 30:  

“Let’s wait and see,” he said. “Maybe it will boost our economy for some time. But I do not see anything changing with the new currency, because things are really tight at the moment. We been through this before. When they introduced bond notes, things stabilized for a short time and then it started sliding on the market. They are saying ZiG is around 13 — it will end up around 40,000 against the dollar.”

Bond notes refer to the currency which was launched in 2019 after a decade of Zimbabwe using the U.S. dollar and other currencies.  The bond note had lost about 80% of its value and was trading at around 40,000 to the dollar before its official demise.

Samson Kabwe, a minibus conductor, says he cannot wait for the physical notes and coins of ZiG to be released.

“We are for ZiG, especially for change,” he said. “We had no small notes for change. If ZiG notes and coins come, the government would have done a great thing. We want it like now.”

The government says for now, commodities like fuel will still be bought and sold using U.S. dollars. 

Gift Mugano, an economics professor, predicts the new currency will go the way of the abandoned one.

“[In] 2016, we introduced bond notes which was backed by Afreximbank (African Export–Import Bank) facility of $400 million,” he said. “The Afreximbank is an international bank with reputation. But that was not be sufficient to guarantee the success of the bond notes. So it failed. Right? Why are we failing to guarantee stability? There is no sustained production in the economy because you defend the economy with production. Secondly, confidence issues. People do not trust this system because we have lost money several times.”

But John Mushayavanhu, the new governor or the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, predicts the currency will succeed because it is backed by reserves of gold and other minerals worth $175 million and $100 million cash.   

“We are doing what we are doing to ensure that our local currency does not die,” he said. “We were already in a situation where almost 85% of transactions are being conducted in U.S. dollars because [the] local currency was not living up to the function of store of value. We are going to restore that store of value so that we can start reviving our currency. So, we are starting at $80 million worth, and as we get more reserves, we will gradually be moving towards greater use of the local currency. It is my wish that if we get to the year (end) at 70-30, next year 60-40, the year after 50-50; by the time we get to 50-50 people will be indifferent as to which currency they are using. And that way we regain use of our local currency.”

While Mushayavanhu has that confidence, social media is awash with people and traders — including government departments — refusing to accept the outgoing Zimbabwe currency.

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Після двох днів рекордів на міжбанку зупинилося падіння гривні

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Національний банк України опівдні встановив довідкове значення курсу на рівні 39 гривень 57,88 копійки за долар, це майже не відрізняється від офіційного курсу на 16 квітня

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Долар іде на новий рекорд – уже понад 39 з половиною гривень

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Національний банк України близько 12:30 встановив довідкове значення курсу на рівні 39 гривень 50,94 копійки за долар – це на 11 копійок більше за офіційний курс на 15 квітня

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