China’s trade with US sinks in November

Weaker Chinese demand has global repercussions, depressing demand for industrial raw materials from other Asian economies and oil from Brazil and Australia. (AFP/File)
Updated 08 December 2019

China’s trade with US sinks in November

  • The dispute has disrupted global trade in goods from soybeans to medical equipment and threatens to depress economic growth

BEIJING: China’s trade with the US sank again in November as negotiators worked on the first stage of a possible deal to end a tariff war.

Exports to the US fell 23 percent from a year earlier to $35.6 billion, customs data showed Sunday. 

Imports of American goods were off 2.8 percent at $11 billion, giving China a surplus with the US of $24.6 billion.

Exports to some other countries including France rose, helping to offset the loss.

China’s global exports were off 1.1 percent from a year earlier at $221.7 billion despite weakening worldwide demand. Imports were up 0.3 percent at $183 billion, giving China a global surplus of $38.7 billion.

Hopes for a settlement to the fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions and trade surplus rose after President Donald Trump’s announcement of a “Phase 1” agreement following talks in October. But there has been no sign of agreement on details nearly two months later.

The dispute has disrupted global trade in goods from soybeans to medical equipment and threatens to depress economic growth.

Trump put off a tariff increase in October but penalties already imposed by both sides on billions of dollars of imports stayed in place. Another US increase is due on Sunday on $160 billion of Chinese goods. That would extend penalties to almost everything Americans buy from China.

Chinese spokespeople have expressed hope for a settlement “as soon as possible,” but Trump spooked financial markets last week by saying he might be willing to wait until after the US presidential election late next year.

Financial markets have repeatedly risen on optimism about the talks only to fall back when no progress is announced.

The “Phase 1” agreement doesn’t cover contentious issues including US complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Economists warn tensions could rise again next year and the bulk of tariff hikes are likely to stay in place for some time.

For the first 11 months of 2019, China’s total global exports were off 0.3 percent at $2.3 trillion despite the tariff war. Imports were down 4.5 percent at $1.8 trillion, adding to signs Chinese domestic demand is cooling.

China’s exporters have been hurt by the US tariff hikes but its overall economy has been unexpectedly resilient. Growth in the world’s second-largest economy slipped to 6 percent over a year earlier in the three months ending in September, down from the previous quarter’s 6.2 percent but still among the world’s strongest.

Weaker Chinese demand has global repercussions, depressing demand for industrial raw materials and components from other Asian economies and oil, iron ore and other commodities from Brazil, Australia and other suppliers.

The Ministry of Finance announced Friday that China was waiving punitive import duties on US soybeans, keeping a promise announced in September.

A sticking point is Beijing’s insistence that Washington roll back its most recent penalties on Chinese goods as part of the “Phase 1” deal. Beijing said last month the US side agreed, but Trump dismissed that.

A Chinese spokesman repeated Thursday that Beijing expects such a move in a “Phase 1” agreement.


Riyadh property market swells as mortgages surge 250%

Updated 29 January 2020

Riyadh property market swells as mortgages surge 250%

  • Vision 2030 economic reforms and major infrastructure projects encourage investment into capital’s real estate sector

LONDON: Riyadh recorded a 250 percent jump in mortgages last year as the value and number of property deals surged in the Saudi capital.

The volume of real estate transactions rose by 53 percent in 2019 compared to a year earlier while the value of transactions was up 63 percent according to a report from broker CBRE.

“The recent economic and social initiatives and legislation introduced by the Saudi Government have already had an extremely positive impact on the country’s real estate sector,” said Simon Townsend, head of strategic advisory at CBRE MENAT. “We are already starting to witness impressive growth across major real estate segments including residential, hospitality and retail, and this upwards trajectory is likely to continue in the short to medium term.”

Ongoing economic reforms under the Vision 2030 initiative have encouraged investment into the real estate sector while spending on major infrastructure projects such as the Riyadh Metro and tourism developments on the Red Sea coast have helped to boost confidence despite oversupply concerns.

“Overall, the country is making great leaps in its efforts to become a global business hub and world-class tourism destination, and the market is expected to continue to react positively to the efforts of the public and private sectors alike,” added Townsend.

Residential mortgages for individuals in the Kingdom recorded a growth rate of more than 250 percent in terms of the number of contracts signed from January 2019 — November 2019, according to the CBRE data. The value of contracts rose by more than 160 percent in the same period year-on-year. 

FASTFACT

At the end of last year, the capital’s residential supply stood at 1,290,000 residential units with an expected delivery of 111,000 additional units by 2023.

In October 2019, the Ministry of Housing launched an initiative to support residential renovations by providing financing for residential units more than 15 years old which is expected to result in higher activity among existing aging stock within the central districts of Riyadh.

Beneficiaries of the Saudi Ministry of Housing’s ‘Sakani’ initiative aimed at increasing the national rate of home ownership, grew by about 14 percent in 2019.

At the end of last year, the capital’s residential supply stood at 1,290,000 residential units with an expected delivery of 111,000 additional units by 2023, CBRE said.

Hotel occupancy is also on the rise in the capital and is expected to receive a further boost from Saudi Arabia hosting the G20 summit this year.

The opening of Qiddiya entertainment giga project which is scheduled for 2023 is also expected to benefit the tourism sector.

There are currently about 17,700 hotel rooms in Riyadh with another 4,500 expected to enter the market by 2023. Hotel occupancy has risen by 5 percent year-on-year, CBRE said.