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Trade News Archive: 18 April - 24 April
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The News Article Rating System
As well as providing fresh news reports every day, offers a uniques news rating system. Each news item below has been given a rating from 1 to 5 stars, depending on its importance and relevance to U.S. international economic and trade policy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
An Apparel-Making Revival? This 'Made in USA' Story Doesn't Hold Up

• Comment: "The logic for reshoring seems sound enough. All else equal, many American shoppers would prefer to support employment in the U.S. Wages for apparel workers in China are rising fast, reducing the cost edge for overseas manufacturers. And while Bangladesh, Vietnam, and other countries remain considerably cheaper, American customers don’t want clothes made in unsafe conditions."
What's Japan's Guiltiest Secret?: (Hint) It's Not The Comfort Women

• Comment: "Fifty years after the Tokyo authorities ostensibly began opening to free trade, the Japanese auto market remains one of the world’s most closed. I don’t mean just that Detroit-made cars don’t get a look in. These are, with few exceptions, unsuitable for Japanese roads. But the Detroit Big Three’s subsidiaries in Europe, particularly subsidiaries of Ford and General Motors, make plenty of cars that – in a fair world – should do well in Japan. After all such cars compete, and in many cases compete strongly, against Japanese competition across Europe. They don’t have a prayer against Japan’s non-tariff barriers."
U.S. steps up trade pressure on Japan ahead of Obama visit

• Comment: "After four years of talks and missed deadlines, negotiators from several TPP countries say they hope Thursday's summit will lay the groundwork for tough concessions, including a possible easing in Japan's protectionist stance on beef, sugar, dairy and wheat — a step that could breathe life into the struggling TPP."
Chinese Labor Activists Detained
Washington Free Beacon

• Comment: "Both Zhang and Lin were previously forced to leave Dongguan but returned to assist workers at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd, which makes shoes for large U.S. companies such as Adidas and Nike. As many as 30,000 workers have joined the strike to protest unpaid social insurance and other benefits."
Four factors shaping President Obama’s visit to Asia
Washington Post

• Comment: "For this trip, this renewed effort at pivoting will focus on two policies in particular -- finishing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country free-trade agreement that has been in the works for five years, and an agreement with the Philippines giving U.S. ships and planes more access to bases there than they've had since 1992. In 1991, the country asked the United States to leave Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay naval facility. The military isn't planning to establish a permanent base again; it is just instituting rotating deployments and stocking up supplies in case of a disaster -- a plan similar to one recently instituted with Australia."
Negotiating Asia’s Troubled Waters
New York Times

• Comment: "Meanwhile, the People’s Liberation Army has resisted Japanese confidence-building proposals, viewing military tensions and uncertainty as means to force compromise on underlying disputes. Mr. Obama should make Chinese acceptance of these proposals the centerpiece of his public and private discussions about the island standoff when he is in Asia this week and next."
Obama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to Japan

• Comment: "The eve of Obama's arrival in Japan was marked by a final push by U.S. and Japanese negotiators for a trade deal to support the broader Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would connect a dozen Asia-Pacific economies.Even if a U.S.-Japan pact cannot be finalized before Obama leaves Tokyo on Friday, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are likely to try to project a sense of progress on key issues. Gaps remained over Japan's agriculture and both sides' auto markets."
Obama Arrives in Asia as Disasters Complicate Mission
New York Times

• Comment: "The prime minister has raised hopes in Washington because of his commitment to overhauling the Japanese economy. The United States would like to announce progress, if not a signed deal, in trade negotiations with Japan during the visit, to help bolster an American-led regional trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Obama's Asia trip: a balancing act, amid doubts about US resolve
Christian Science Monitor

• Comment: "Noting how easily the slightest emphasis on one side of the balance can set off alarms on the other, Mr. Green says that comments from senior administration officials in support of China’s recent articulation of a new model of great-power relations between the US and China have raised concerns in Japan and elsewhere in Asia of some form of “US-China condominium.”
Chinese Cash Chases High-Tech Deals in the U.S.

• Comment: "In particular, the report examines trends in Chinese investment in 15 high-tech industries, including software and IT services, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and renewable energy. For the years 2000-2013, the report authors find “an increase in both the number of transactions and total investment value [in U.S. high-tech] since 2009, but a notable stall in the growth trend for the past two years, 2012 and 2013.”
Yuan Falls to Weakest Level in More Than a Year
Wall Street Journal

• Comment: "China's yuan fell to its weakest level in more than a year Tuesday as Beijing signals it isn't done pushing the currency lower, a move aimed at shaking out speculators who bet on gains and flood the economy with excess cash."
Eight Reasons to Dislike the Obama Administration's Trade Agenda

• Comment: "Dan Ikenson, director of Cato’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, argues that the Obama administration should give up on trying to include a procedure that allows companies to force governments into binding arbitration when they feel that their interests have been harmed."
UAW's case to establish itself at Tenn. VW plant wasn't solid, labor expert says
Fox News

• Comment: "The United Auto Workers had reason to abandon — at least temporarily — its drive to establish itself at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant. But, a labor expert said, union officials may never say why the UAW backed out."

Monday, April 21, 2014
U.A.W. Drops Appeal of VW Vote in Tennessee
New York Times

• Comment: "The vote was a major defeat for the U.A.W. because Volkswagen, unlike most American companies faced with unionization drives, did not even oppose the effort. If the union had won the vote, the plant would have become the first foreign-owned auto factory in the South to be unionized, and many said it could pave the way to unionizing the Daimler-Benz plant in Vance, Ala., and the BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C."
Detroit Turns Inward: Ford Puts a Lifer in the Driver's Seat

• Comment: "The succession news was largely expected. More notable, however, is that the boards of directors have started once again to trust made-in-Detroit executives. Fields, having the joined the company shortly after grabbing his Harvard MBA, has been a Ford employee since 1989, back when the Taurus was a hot new model. Mulally, by contrast, made his name at Boeing (BA) and was considered an automotive outsider when he took over Ford in 2006."
UAW suddenly retreats from fight at Tennessee VW plant

• Comment: "Labor experts said the union's move would allow it to devote more energy to trying to win representation at other Southern plants: the Nissan Motor Co plant near Jackson, Mississippi where the UAW has sought worker support for more than two years; or the Daimler AG Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama."
In His First Year, China's Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa

• Comment: "China is also deepening direct economic ties. Over the past year, Beijing has granted $10 billion in direct loans to African governments. And the focus of Chinese investments is evolving. “One striking feature of these loans lies in China’s new priority in financing infrastructure, agricultural, and manufacturing industries in Africa,” writes Sun, “a strategy that shifts away from its traditional heavy investment in Africa’s extractive industries.”
Obama’s Strategic Shift to Asia Is Hobbled by Pressure at Home and Crises Abroad
New York Times

• Comment: "Such comments have turned up the pressure on Mr. Obama. He will have to re-emphasize America’s presence without inflaming the Chinese. “The Chinese are certainly nervous about this trip: Is this just going to be the grand containment tour?” said Jeffrey A. Bader, Mr. Obama’s former top China adviser at the National Security Council. “It doesn’t have to be.”
During Asia trip, Obama will renew effort to ‘rebalance’ U.S. relationship with the region
Washington Post

• Comment: "On one level, the president has a long list of tasks awaiting him: He will try to make headway on trade negotiations with Japan, work to ease tensions between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, foster a closer alliance with the government in Muslim-majority Malaysia, and shore up support for Philippine President Benigno Aquino III."
Obama trip stirs emotions over Asia trade pact

• Comment: "The United States has its own sensitivities, including automobiles, as Detroit automakers fear the removal of a 2.5 percent tariff on cars and a 25 percent tariff on trucks could lead to more competition from Japan. There has been a flurry of meetings between senior negotiators from both countries in recent weeks, raising business group hopes that the Obama-Abe meeting could clear the way for a final TPP package."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014
Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China

• Comment: "The Asia "pivot" - as the White House initially dubbed it - represented a strategy to refocus on the region's dynamic economies as the United States disentangled itself from costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
White House announces itinerary for Obama’s Asia trip
Washington Post

• Comment: "The White House had hoped to be able to announce major progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation Pacific free trade pact that stands at the core of the Obama administration's bid to ramp up U.S. economic engagement in the region. But U.S. and Japanese negotiators failed to make a breakthough during two days of talks that concluded in Washington, D.C. on Friday."
Ford urges crackdown on currency manipulation
Detroit News

• Comment: "We're being very clear on our currency demands, and we're working very closely with the administration on that because I think an agreement without strong currency language isn't going to work," Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of the New York International Auto Show. "It won't be a true trade agreement if currency certainty isn't in there."
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