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WANT PEACE? PROMOTE FREE TRADE.

free trade

WANT PEACE? PROMOTE FREE TRADE.

Frédéric Bastiat famously claimed that “if goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.”

Bastiat argued that free trade between countries could reduce international conflict because trade forges connections between nations and gives each country an incentive to avoid war with its trading partners. If every nation were an economic island, the lack of positive interaction created by trade could leave more room for conflict. Two hundred years after Bastiat, libertarians take this idea as gospel. Unfortunately, not everyone does. But as recent research shows, the historical evidence confirms Bastiat’s famous claim.

To Trade or to Raid

In “Peace through Trade or Free Trade?” professor Patrick J. McDonald, from the University of Texas at Austin, empirically tested whether greater levels of protectionism in a country (tariffs, quotas, etc.) would increase the probability of international conflict in that nation. He used a tool called dyads to analyze every country’s international relations from 1960 until 2000. A dyad is the interaction between one country and another country: German and French relations would be one dyad, German and Russian relations would be a second, French and Australian relations would be a third. He further broke this down into dyad-years; the relations between Germany and France in 1965 would be one dyad-year, the relations between France and Australia in 1973 would be a second, and so on.

Using these dyad-years, McDonald analyzed the behavior of every country in the world for the past 40 years. His analysis showed a negative correlation between free trade and conflict: The more freely a country trades, the fewer wars it engages in. Countries that engage in free trade are less likely to invade and less likely to be invaded.

Trading partners

The Causal Arrow

Of course, this finding might be a matter of confusing correlation for causation. Maybe countries engaging in free trade fight less often for some other reason, like the fact that they tend also to be more democratic. Democratic countries make war less often than empires do. But McDonald controls for these variables. Controlling for a state’s political structure is important, because democracies and republics tend to fight less than authoritarian regimes.

McDonald also controlled for a country’s economic growth, because countries in a recession are more likely to go to war than those in a boom, often in order to distract their people from their economic woes. McDonald even controlled for factors like geographic proximity: It’s easier for Germany and France to fight each other than it is for the United States and China, because troops in the former group only have to cross a shared border.

The takeaway from McDonald’s analysis is that protectionism can actually lead to conflict. McDonald found that a country in the bottom 10 percent for protectionism (meaning it is less protectionist than 90 percent of other countries) is 70 percent less likely to engage in a new conflict (either as invader or as target) than one in the top 10 percent for protectionism.

Trade and Conflict

Protectionism and War

Why does protectionism lead to conflict, and why does free trade help to prevent it? The answers, though well-known to classical liberals, are worth mentioning.

First, trade creates international goodwill. If Chinese and American businessmen trade on a regular basis, both sides benefit. And mutual benefit disposes people to look for the good in each other. Exchange of goods also promotes an exchange of cultures. For decades, Americans saw China as a mysterious country with strange, even hostile values. But in the 21st century, trade between our nations has increased markedly, and both countries know each other a little better now. iPod-wielding Chinese teenagers are like American teenagers, for example. They’re not terribly mysterious. Likewise, the Chinese understand democracy and American consumerism more than they once did. The countries may not find overlap in all of each other’s values, but trade has helped us to at least understand each other.

Trade helps to humanize the people that you trade with. And it’s tougher to want to go to war with your human trading partners than with a country you see only as lines on a map.

Second, trade gives nations an economic incentive to avoid war. If Nation X sells its best steel to Nation Y, and its businessmen reap plenty of profits in exchange, then businessmen on both sides are going to oppose war. This was actually the case with Germany and France right before World War I. Germany sold steel to France, and German businessmen were firmly opposed to war. They only grudgingly came to support it when German ministers told them that the war would only last a few short months. German steel had a strong incentive to oppose war, and if the situation had progressed a little differently—or if the German government had been a little more realistic about the timeline of the war—that incentive might have kept Germany out of World War I.

% reduction in conflict

Third, protectionism promotes hostility. This is why free trade, not just aggregate trade (which could be accompanied by high tariffs and quotas), leads to peace. If the United States imposes a tariff on Japanese automobiles, that tariff hurts Japanese businesses. It creates hostility in Japan toward the United States. Japan might even retaliate with a tariff on U.S. steel, hurting U.S. steel makers and angering our government, which would retaliate with another tariff. Both countries now have an excuse to leverage nationalist feelings to gain support at home; that makes outright war with the other country an easier sell, should it come to that.

In socioeconomic academic circles, this is called the Richardson process of reciprocal and increasing hostilities; the United States harms Japan, which retaliates, causing the United States to retaliate again. History shows that the Richardson process can easily be applied to protectionism. For instance, in the 1930s, industrialized nations raised tariffs and trade barriers; countries eschewed multilateralism and turned inward. These decisions led to rising hostilities, which helped set World War II in motion.

These factors help explain why free trade leads to peace, and protectionism leads to more conflict.

Free Trade and Peace

One final note: McDonald’s analysis shows that taking a country from the top 10 percent for protectionism to the bottom 10 percent will reduce the probability of future conflict by 70 percent. He performed the same analysis for the democracy of a country and showed that taking a country from the top 10 percent (very democratic) to the bottom 10 percent (not democratic) would only reduce conflict by 30 percent.

Democracy is a well-documented deterrent: The more democratic a country becomes, the less likely it is to resort to international conflict. But reducing protectionism, according to McDonald, is more than twice as effective at reducing conflict than becoming more democratic.

Here in the United States, we talk a lot about spreading democracy. We invaded Iraq partly to “spread democracy.” A New York Times op-ed by Professor Dov Ronen of Harvard University claimed that “the United States has been waging an ideological campaign to spread democracy around the world” since 1989. One of the justifications for our international crusade is to make the world a safer place.

Perhaps we should spend a little more time spreading free trade instead. That might really lead to a more peaceful world.

This article was originally published on FEE.org.

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Julian Adorney

Julian Adorney is a Young Voices contributor. He’s written for FEE, National Review, The Federalist, and blogs at The Empathetic Libertarian.

tariffs

WTO Rules that U.S. Section 301 Tariffs on Chinese Imports Violate International Trade Rules

The World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement body ruled that the tariffs imposed by the U.S. on imports from China are inconsistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and recommended that the U.S. “bring its measures into conformity” with its obligations under the GATT. Beginning in 2018, at the direction of President Trump, the U.S. imposed tariffs on $400 billion worth of imports from China over 4 different lists or tranches. The U.S. and China negotiated a “phase one” trade deal earlier this year, however, most of the tariffs were still left in place.

The WTO panel concluded that the U.S. failed to demonstrate that the tariff measures are justified under Article XX(a) of the GATT 1994.  As a result, the panel found the U.S. tariff measures to be inconsistent with Articles I:1, II:1(a) and II:1(b) of GATT 1994. In other words, the WTO found that the U.S. tariffs on China were discriminatory and excessive, and the U.S. failed to present justification for an exemption that could have legally allowed for the tariffs.

Despite the WTO’s recommendation, its ruling is highly unlikely to sway the course of U.S. trade policy. This is not only because of the limited authority of the WTO, but also because the administration has argued that the tariffs are justified under U.S. law. Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 provides the U.S. government with the authority to impose trade sanctions on countries that violate trade agreements or engage in unfair trade practices, of which the U.S. has frequently accused China.

The WTO’s ruling is likely to increase the current U.S. administration’s distrust of the WTO. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer criticized the ruling, saying “the United States must be allowed to defend itself against unfair trade practices…” and that “[the WTO’s] decision shows that the WTO provides no remedy for such misconduct” by China.

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Nithya Nagarajan is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She practices in the International Trade & Supply Chain group of the firm’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation industry team.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

tariffs

Court of International Trade Receives its First Complaint Against Section 301 China Tariffs

On September 10, 2020, HMTX Industries LLC, along with Halstead New England Corporation, and Metroflor Corporation (importers of vinyl tile) filed a complaint (Ct. No. 20-00177) at the Court of International Trade (CIT) challenging both the substantive and procedural processes followed by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) when instituting Section 301 Tariffs on imports from China under List 3.

The List 3 tariffs went into effect on September 24, 2018. This is the first challenge of its kind filed against the administration’s use of Section 301 Tariffs in the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

The complaint alleges that USTR’s institution of List 3 tariffs violated the Trade Act of 1974 on the grounds that USTR failed to make a determination or finding that there was an unfair trade practice that required a remedy and moreover, that List 3 tariffs were instituted beyond the 12-month time limit provided for in the governing statute (19 U.S.C. § 2414). The complaint also argues that the manner in which in the List 3 tariff action was implemented violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

According to the complainants, USTR failed to provide adequate opportunity for comments, failed to consider relevant factors when making its decision (e.g. no analysis of increased burden on U.S. commerce from unfair trade practices), and failed to connect the record facts to the choices it made by not explaining how the comments received by USTR came to shape the final implementation of List 3.

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Nithya Nagarajan is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She practices in the International Trade & Supply Chain group of the firm’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation industry team.

Julia Banegas is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

Turner Kim is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

list 1

USTR to Consider Extending List 1 Exclusions Past October 2nd Expiration Date

On August 3, 2020, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued a notice requesting comments on whether to extend specific exclusions on Chinese imports from the Section 301 List 1 that are set to expire on October 2, 2020. Companies whose List 1 Exclusions products were granted exclusions in notices published on October 2, 2019December 17, 2019, and February 11, 2020 are eligible to submit comments.

The due date for companies to submit their comments is August 30, 2020. USTR has stated that it will focus its evaluation on whether, despite the first imposition of these additional duties, the particular product remains available only from China. Additionally, USTR encourages companies to specifically address the following in their submission:

-Whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries.

-Any changes in the global supply chain since July 2018 with respect to the particular product or any other relevant industry developments.

-The efforts, if any, the importers or U.S. purchasers have undertaken since July 2018 to source the product from the United States or third countries.

-Whether the imposition of additional duties on the products will result in severe economic harm to the commenter.

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Turner Kim is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

phase one

Trade Secret Protection in China After the US-China Phase One Trade Deal

The US-China Phase One trade deal, signed in January 2020, was viewed by many as a game-changer in causing China to upgrade its enforcement regime against trade secret misappropriation. But how much impact will the deal actually have for US companies trying to prevent trade secret theft in China? As this article explains, while there will likely be an impact, it may be less consequential than anticipated.

The Phase One Agreement’s Trade Secret Provisions

The Phase One Agreement contains a number of provisions aimed at protection of trade secrets and effective enforcement against misappropriation. Although the Agreement’s requirements are bilateral, they mainly consist of obligations by China to take certain steps to enhance its trade secret protection laws to match existing U.S. laws. These steps include enumerating acts of misappropriation to include electronic intrusions, breach of duties not to disclose information that is secret, and unauthorized disclosure or use that occurs after acquisition of a trade secret. The Agreement also calls for burden-shifting in civil proceedings so that “the burden of production of evidence or burden of proof … shifts to the accused party … where the holder of a trade secret has produced prima facie evidence … of a reasonable indication of trade secret misappropriation ….”  Additionally, the Agreement dictates that China provide for prompt and effective provisional measures to prevent the use of misappropriated trade secrets, and identify use or attempted use of claimed trade secret information as an “urgent situation” authorizing judicial authorities to grant preliminary injunctions. Finally, the Agreement requires China to broaden the scope of trade secret cases where criminal liability may ensue.

Comparison to Current Trade Secret Protection Laws in China

China is a civil law country. The laws governing trade secrets are mainly provided in the Anti Unfair Competition Law, with the remaining authority provided in the Civil Law, the Criminal Law, the Labor Law and judicial interpretations issued by the Supreme People’s Court (the “SPC”). The latest amendment of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law in 2019 has already accomplished some steps required by the Agreement, such as the aforementioned expanded list of misappropriation acts and the burden-shifting rule. Similarly, for provisional remedies, a 2018 notice by the SPC provided guidance to all courts on what circumstances constitute “urgent situations” that should merit applications for preliminary injunctions; while the “urgent situations” were not expressly defined at that time to include use or attempted use of claimed trade secret information, when broadly interpreted, they would cover this situation. For these reasons, what US companies now should monitor is how effectively the laws are applied to protect trade secrets.

One of the major difficulties US companies face when enforcing their trade secret rights in China, is obtaining sufficient admissible evidence to prove both misappropriation and damages. This is especially true when the trade secret theft has cross-border elements, whereby the trade secrets are afterwards used in China, e.g. by third parties who are not obviously connected with the perpetrator.

According to China’s Civil Procedure Law, there are eight types of evidence, including statements, documentary evidence, physical evidence, audio-visual materials, electronic data, witness testimonies, court expert opinions and inspection records. However, in practice, documentary evidence is given almost total supremacy over the other types of evidence. This means that, in practice, witness statements and cross-examinations of witnesses carry less evidentiary weight. The prioritization of documentary evidence by China’s courts presents challenges for US companies seeking to use testimony or other non-documentary evidence available in the US to establish in Chinese civil proceedings that the trade secrets being used in China originated from the US (likely via an ex-employee’s breach of confidentiality duties).

Moreover, Chinese law does not provide for discovery procedures. This means that the defendant is not obliged to produce unfavorable evidence at the request of the plaintiff. At the time of filing the claim, the plaintiff must, by and large, submit (documentary) evidence to prove the facts it relies upon, and it must generally locate and produce such evidence on its own. The absence of discovery, as well as the additional formal requirements for receipt of foreign evidence, can make it challenging for trade secret holders to meet their burden of proof.

When facing these challenges, US trade secret holders should proactively think about how to collect necessary evidence cross-border so that they can support filing of a civil claim in China and ultimately stop further leakage or use of the trade secrets. This may involve collecting initial evidence of misappropriation from the US, and then using the US evidence to plead in China for a court investigation order or an order to search and preserve evidence from the defendant. The trade secret holder can leverage its pleading and the investigation and preservation orders, combined with the burden-shifting rule, to prevail on its civil claim.

Apart from civil claims, US IP owners may request that China’s law enforcement agencies pursue criminal liability for perpetrators in trade secret misappropriation cases. The Phase One Agreement calls for China to lower its threshold for initiating a criminal investigation of trade secret theft, including eliminating any requirement that a trade secret holder must establish actual losses as a prerequisite to such an investigation.

At present, Article 219 of the PRC Criminal Law stipulates that whoever commits illegal acts of infringing on trade secrets and thus causes “serious” or “exceptionally serious” losses shall be subject to criminal liability.  Under the Regulations on Prosecution Standards for Economic Crimes of the Supreme People’s Procutorate and the Ministry of Public Security, losses of more than 500,000 yuan can trigger a criminal investigation. However, there are different views from local enforcement agencies on whether the losses should be limited to actual losses and how a trade secret holder should prove its losses. The current prevailing view is that the losses should not include anticipated losses such as reduced market share or loss of competitiveness. Such a narrow reading of losses as a criminal enforcement threshold contributes to insufficient protection of trade secret rights. As an example, for trade secret theft cases involving production know-how, it is difficult to show actual losses when the culprit has started to use the know-how to build a plant or prepare to make products, but it has not yet sold the violative products.

If the Criminal Law is amended to eliminate the requirement of establishing actual losses, this will address a current problem and improve trade secret protection in China.

Conclusions and Alternatives

The Phase One Agreement undoubtedly will enhance some aspects of civil and criminal trade secret protection laws in China.  Ultimately, however, the degree of success of these efforts may depend more on the commitment by China’s courts to reliably implement and enforce these laws.

One final note for US companies to consider is that trade secret enforcement alternatives may be available in US federal courts, even for acts of misappropriation in China. Specifically, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 applies to misappropriation outside the US if “an act in furtherance of the offense was committed in the [US].”  18 U.S.C. § 1837. Such “act[s] in furtherance of the offense,” that would enable a US court to adjudicate misappropriation in China, might be as straightforward as selling or marketing imported products within the US that incorporate the stolen trade secrets.

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Zhen Feng (also known as Katie Feng) is a partner based in Hogan Lovells Shanghai IP Agency.  She specializes in all areas of IP with a focus on IP litigation, IP strategic counseling and brand protection. She advises numerous clients from diverse backgrounds on formulation and implementation of IP enforcement strategies in China through a combination of administrative, civil and criminal actions. Katie has been recognized by several industry publications as a leading IP lawyer in China, such as Top 250 Women in IP 2020 by IP Stars, Top 100 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific 2020 and Recommended Individual for Litigation by IAM Patent 1000 2020. She can be contacted at +862161223826 4032 or by email zhen.feng@hoganlovells.com or by wechat account: zhenkatiefeng_wechat

Steve Levitan is co-chair of Hogan Lovells’ global trade secret group. He has led numerous intellectual property lawsuits, with an emphasis on trade secret, patent, trademark and technology contract disputes. He practices before US federal district and appellate courts, California state courts, the US International Trade Commission (ITC), and in International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitrations. He also regularly counsels clients on the protection of trade secrets and confidential information. He is based in Hogan Lovells’ Silicon Valley, California office, and can be contacted at +1 (650) 463 4032 or by email: steve.levitan@hoganlovells.com.

 

pork

BRINGING HOME THE BACON: U.S. PORK TRADE

The Year That Wasn’t

This year was supposed to mark a comeback for U.S. pork producers. Instead, the industry faces volatile markets and unprecedented supply chain disruptions. COVID-19’s domino effect on farmers, processors, retailers and consumers underscores the complexities of our modern food system.

In late April, meat industry executives warned the United States could soon face a meat shortage after processing facilities closed temporarily due to the spread of COVID-19 among employees. Total meat supplies in cold storage facilities across the United States totaled roughly two weeks’ worth of production. With processing at a standstill, meat supplies for retail grocery stores were expected to shrink by nearly 30 percent by Memorial Day, leading to increases in pork and beef price prices of as much as 20 percent, according to analysis by CoBank.

Shuttered plants also meant that farmers had nowhere to send their mature pigs, creating a massive livestock backlog. While many meat processors have re-opened as of May 2020, hog farmers may yet be forced to euthanize as many as seven million pigs in the second quarter of 2020, a loss valued at nearly $700 million. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute forecasted a total loss of $2.2 billion for the U.S. pork industry in 2020 due to the pandemic.

US 3rd largest pork producer

Going Whole Hog on Exports

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States is the world’s third-largest producer and consumer of pork, shipping on average more than 5 billion pounds of fresh and frozen pork internationally each year since 2010.

But this dominant role in world pork trade is a fairly recent phenomenon. The United States became a net exporter of pork in 1995. Exports jumped from two percent of total production in 1990 to 21 percent in 2016. What made this spike possible?

The U.S. pork industry has gone through a major restructuring since the mid-1980s, shifting from small, independently owned operations to larger, vertically-integrated companies that contract with growers to raise pigs. This structure increased the industry’s productivity and year-round slaughter capacity. Between 1991 and 2009, the number of hog farms in the United States dropped by 70 percent but the number of hogs remained stable.

The National Pork Producers Council calculates that exports account for nearly 36 percent of the total $149 average value of a hog. While American pork is shipped to more than 100 countries, just four countries account for 75 percent of U.S. pork exports: Mexico, Japan, China, and Canada. It’s easy to see why implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is important to U.S. pork producers: Mexico alone accounts for about one-third of all exports by volume. U.S. exports of pork increased 1,550 percent in value since 1989, when the United States first implemented a free trade agreement with Canada.

U.S. pork producers mainly compete with pork producers in the European Union, Canada, and Brazil for sales in overseas markets. American farmers were concerned they could lose market share in Japan after the United States did not join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Japan made a trade deal with the European Union. Japan is the largest value market for U.S. pork and the second largest market by volume. However, pork exports there have been trending higher in 2020 following the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement.

Where US pork exports go

Higher on the Hog in China?

For the last two years, American pork producers have found themselves in the crosshairs of a trade war between the United States and China, a key export market. In April 2018, China levied a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on many U.S. pork imports in response to Section 232 tariffs put in place by the United States. In 2019, China again retaliated against American pork, this time in response to Section 301 tariffs.

Before the trade war, China was the second-largest market for U.S. farm exports (after Canada). In 2016, China purchased nearly $20 billion in American farm products but sales dropped sharply in 2018 to $7.9 billion.

The “Phase One” U.S.-China trade agreement went into effect on February 14, 2020. It includes a commitment from China to import an additional $12.5 billion in U.S. agricultural products during 2020 on top of a 2017 baseline of about $24 billion. The agreement also provides access for a larger variety of U.S. pork products and restores access for processed pork products, which had been blocked by China.

As part of this deal, on February 17 China announced tariff exclusions for 696 products, including pork. In the first quarter of 2020, China bought $5.05 billion in U.S. farm goods, up 110 percent from last year. China’s pork imports almost tripled from March 2019, reflecting a major domestic supply gap caused by African Swine Fever (ASF).

However, concerns remain if it is feasible for China to meet the purchase targets set in the agreement. Through March 2020, U.S. Census Bureau data show that U.S. agricultural exports to China were only at 37 percent of year-to-date targets. The American Farm Bureau Federation found that U.S. agricultural exports to China need to accelerate by 114 percent each month from May through the rest of the fiscal year to meet the “Phase One” target.

China ag purchases fall in trade war

Not Exactly “Year of the Pig” for Pork Industry

The possibility of U.S. sales to China going unfulfilled seems surprising. Another virus – ASF – has been ravaging China’s pork output since August 2018. ASF is a highly contagious, deadly pig disease with no known treatment or vaccine. It does not affect humans or food safety but it has had a devastating impact on China’s pork industry, the world’s largest, leaving a shortage in domestic supply.

Despite low officially reported cases of ASF, as many as 350 million pigs died from the disease in China during 2019. (And because the disease continues to spread across borders, one quarter of all the world’s pigs may die from ASF.) After more than a year of declining pork output, China’s total pork supply gap is estimated at 18 million tons – a figure much larger than total global supplies. Chinese consumers have faced record high prices for pork, traditionally their protein of choice. Some parts of the country also faced meat shortages due to disrupted supply chains during the COVID-19 quarantine.

To address persistent high prices, the Chinese government auctioned off a small amount of frozen pork from publicly held pork reserves, but the move was largely symbolic and had a limited short-term impact on prices. The government’s total pork reserve volumes are a national secret and not publicly available.

Enter: Coronavirus

As American hog farmers were positioning to fill China’s need to import more pork, enter the coronavirus in early 2020, which threw the U.S. pork market into extreme volatility.

After COVID-19 forced processing plants to temporarily close, U.S. pig prices dropped 27 percent in about a week, reducing profits for pig producers while consumers paid more for pork at the grocery store. The demand for meat often takes a hit during economic recessions as consumers keep a close eye on their grocery bill. At the same time, the industry lost major food service markets such as restaurants, universities, and elementary schools that were also shut down.

To help pork producers and other farmers, USDA on April 17 announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to provide $19 billion in emergency aid to farmers and ranchers hit by market disruptions. CFAP includes $16 billion in direct payments to producers and $3 billion in purchases of fresh produce, meat, and dairy products for distribution through food banks. USDA will purchase an estimated $100 million per month in pork and chicken, along with other food products, beginning in May. Nonetheless, an industry-funded analysis by Iowa State University found that American hog farmers will lose $5 billion (or $37 per pig) due to reduced prices for pork and shuttered processing plants.

US pork shipments to China

Saving Our Bacon

America’s pork industry has been beset with uncertainty in recent years. The latest Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer found that the unknowns surrounding the pandemic have further decreased farmer optimism to a four-year low, with 67 percent of farmers saying they are worried about the impact of the coronavirus on their business.

Prior to COVID-19, U.S. farmers were already reeling from lost sales due to China’s tariffs. The saving grace for U.S. pork producers now is that pork exports are actually ramping up.

During March and April, the number of pigs slaughtered per day decreased by 40 percent, but shipments of U.S. pork to China more than quadrupled, including whole carcasses as well as products that Americans generally don’t eat, like feet and organs. The U.S. Meat Export Federation estimated that so far in 2020, about 31 percent of U.S. pork has been exported with one-third of that volume going to China.

That means that in the near term, increasing exports will remain vital for the U.S. pork industry to weather the coronavirus storm as processing capacity gets back online and domestic sales begin to rebound.

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Sarah Hubbart provides communications strategy, content creation, and social media management for TradeVistas. A native of rural Northern California, Sarah has melded communications and policy throughout her career in Washington, D.C., serving in government affairs, issues management, and coalition building roles in the agricultural sector. She is an alum of California State University, Chico and George Washington University.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.
stock

Global Stock Markets Impacted by Trade War

Understanding the finer points of the stock market and the how and why of its ups and downs is a complex task for anyone. When major shifts in a whole diaspora of fields occur, people often look to the stock market as a gauge for how significant those shifts really are and what the potential results are going to come out as. World news is often reported as to how it has an impact on the world of finance, and this is certainly one such instance, as President Trump trades tariff blows with China in a rapidly escalating trade war. The impact of this trade war certainly didn’t avoid the stock market, which took notice of the shifting costs of exports and imports and created a noticeable response. Let’s take a look at what’s really going on in this recent episode in the global economy.

Trump VS China

The US President’s attitude towards foreign nations is an eternally shifting spectrum, though it does tend to rest somewhere towards antagonistic for the sake of sending a message. Trump’s ‘show of force’ tactics recently got him into a situation with China on a trade front, causing a situation that has impacted all of the global markets, and heavily impacted the American and Chinese markets. “Trump has a latent tension towards China that simply won’t abate, no matter how few tangible issues there are in reality. This drove him most recently to impose some pretty severe tariffs on Chinese goods,” reports Samuel Chang, data analyst at WriteMyx and BritStudent.

US Tariff

The United States began a 15 percent tariff on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods for import, from tech to clothing. Trump’s explanation for his move relates again to his suspicion of all of the largest global powers, from Russia to China. He spoke out, via his favorite medium Twitter, about the US over-reliance on Chinese exports, and that his tariff was a motivator for US companies to look for alternative solutions for suppliers outside of China, rather than simply turning to some nation over and over again to supply the products they needed.

Trump’s Reasoning

Trump’s steps to disincentivize US trade with China could be viewed as impulsive, since the immediate effects of so drastic a tariff will likely fall on the US consumer, with US household costs potentially rising by up to $1000 a year, with such a large selection of consumer goods now made noticeably more expensive. Similarly, Trump’s plan, though it must have considered the possibility of consequences, didn’t allow for a reaction in the opposite direction as the Chinese trade officials lashed back at the tariff.

The Chinese Response

Not ones to be out-maneuvered, least of all by Trump, the Chinese responded to the tariffs with sanctions of their own that were as much a political response as a practical one, as they delivered a counter punch to Trump’s initial move. China immediately imposed additional tariffs on exported goods on a $75-billion target list, and further tariffs were placed on thousands of items originating from the US. Similarly, China was quick to begin imposing new duties on US crude oil, a predictable but damaging move that has made the potential fallout and impact on global stock markets more noticeable.

The Trade War Fallout

“Such actions from nations as influential as the US and China don’t come without an impact that affects people from all around the world. In this instance, a variety of shifts have left most markets a little worse for wear, but most drastic damage has been avoided”, explains Mark Cherry, a business writer at Australia2Write and NextCoursework. The fallout included the US stock futures dipping 0.7% and the Asian markets are down. A noticeable drop in oil prices was also recorded, as would have been expected after the duties imposed on US crude by the Chinese.

Conclusion

This is the latest in a series of jabs between the US and China, though there is no sense in which these sorts of interactions have all that much of a practical purpose. Though this particular episode abated pretty swiftly, the threat of further escalations has made the market quite jittery.

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Mildred Delgado is a young and responsible marketing strategist at PhdKingdom and AcademicBrits. She works with a company’s marketing team in order to create a fully-functional site that accurately portrays the company. Mildred is also responsible for presenting these details to stakeholders in a series of marketing proposals. You can find her work at OriginWritings.

risk management

Strategic Risk Management Means Preparing for the Worst but Hoping for the Best

Trading globally comes with risks. You’re operating in a foreign market with different rules, regulations and business practices, not to mention the lack of geographic proximity makes it difficult to keep tabs on your trading partner and ensure the relationship is strong and payments will be made promptly. That said, those risks can be minimized with a smart risk management strategy that tips the risk/reward balance in your company’s favor.

A smart risk management strategy begins with a solid foundation in research that takes a macro look at the market and a micro look at your trading partner and their sector. For the former, the World Bank’s ease of doing business index can provide valuable information on business regulations in nearly 200 economies. Trade credit insurers can also help you keep tabs on specific markets and sectors.

To better understand your trading partner, start by researching the cultural elements of doing business in that market. Making a mistake can negatively affect or even end your relationship with your trading partner. Ask colleagues about any business culture etiquette you should be aware of, and review your notes before making the initial introduction. Getting this part correct will help you forge a strong relationship moving forward.

Next, take your time before signing any contracts. It may be tempting to quickly jump into a new opportunity, but if you rush through the documentation process, neglect to have a lawyer review the terms of your agreement or fail to validate your trading partner’s sound financial standing, you could end up with major headaches in the future.

Once you have an agreement in place, figure out how to maintain a close relationship with your trading partner. You don’t want to find out too late that your trading partner is in distress – you want to be aware of the first signs of trouble so you can take steps to protect yourself against late payment or nonpayment. Some of the classic signs of a company headed for insolvency include sudden late payments, pushing back for discounts or a drop-off in communication.

If your customer is overseas, don’t assume email and phone calls will be enough. A local presence is advised, as this is the only real way to understand the subtle shifts occurring in the local market and with your trading partner. How you establish the local presence will depend on the size of your opportunity. Large business deals may require establishing a foreign office, while appointing a local agent or having an employee visit frequently may suffice for smaller opportunities.

Finally, have contingency plans in place to cover any and all likely scenarios, including disruptions to trade via major events (such as the coronavirus shutting down production facilities in China or the trade wars suddenly making input materials more expensive) or delinquent customers. For the former scenario, you’ll want to understand how political or economic developments will impact your costs and know how you’ll pivot, if needed.

For delinquent customers, your first step should be establishing the facts and uncovering what’s actually going on. If the customer proves slippery and evasive, consider engaging a third-party expert to mediate. Review your contract terms to make a list of options available to you – can you recover your goods? Or is it time to start the legal collection process?

Strategic risk management is really about preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. A thorough understanding of the market, the sector and your trading partners, paired with detailed plans for how to react to any likely scenarios will minimize the risks to your business and help you feel confident conquering new markets.

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Gordon Cessford is the president and regional director of North America for Atradius Trade Credit Insurance, Inc.

barley

Global Barley Market Rose 3.3% to $33.7B

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Barley – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The global barley market revenue amounted to $33.7B in 2018, picking up by 3.3% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price).

Barley Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of barley consumption in 2018 were Russia (12M tonnes), China (9.7M tonnes) and Spain (9.5M tonnes), together accounting for 23% of global consumption.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of barley consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by China, while barley consumption for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, China ($2.5B), Spain ($2.4B) and Russia ($2.3B) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2018, together accounting for 21% of the global market.

The countries with the highest levels of barley per capita consumption in 2018 were Spain (203 kg per person), Canada (167 kg per person) and Saudi Arabia (130 kg per person).

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of barley per capita consumption, amongst the main consuming countries, was attained by China, while barley per capita consumption for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Production By Country

The countries with the highest volumes of barley production in 2018 were Russia (17M tonnes), France (11M tonnes) and Germany (9.6M tonnes), with a combined 27% share of global production. Australia, Spain, Canada, Ukraine, Turkey, the UK, Argentina, Kazakhstan and Denmark lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 43%.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of barley production, amongst the main producing countries, was attained by Kazakhstan, while barley production for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Exports 2007-2018

In 2018, the global barley exports totaled 37M tonnes, falling by -4.7% against the previous year. In value terms, barley exports stood at $7.5B (IndexBox estimates).

Exports by Country

The countries with the highest levels of barley exports in 2018 were Australia (6.9M tonnes), France (6.6M tonnes) and Russia (5.4M tonnes), together finishing at 51% of total export. Ukraine (3.6M tonnes) occupied a 9.7% share (based on tonnes) of total exports, which put it in second place, followed by Argentina (6.9%), Canada (6%) and Germany (5%). The following exporters – Romania (1,336K tonnes), Kazakhstan (1,052K tonnes), the UK (852K tonnes), Denmark (776K tonnes) and Hungary (567K tonnes) – together made up 12% of total exports.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by Kazakhstan, while exports for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest barley supplying countries worldwide were Australia ($1.4B), France ($1.3B) and Russia ($1B), together comprising 50% of global exports. Ukraine, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Romania, the UK, Denmark, Kazakhstan and Hungary lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 40%.

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the average barley export price amounted to $202 per tonne, rising by 14% against the previous year.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major exporting countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was Canada ($236 per tonne), while Kazakhstan ($145 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by the UK, while the other global leaders experienced a decline in the export price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

industries

Most Affected Industries By US-China Trade War

Since Donald Trump became president, the US and Chinese governments have been at loggerheads after the Trump administration started imposing hiked tariffs on goods coming from China. This came hot on the heels of a trade deal that the two governments had been negotiating on, a deal that was supposed to strengthen trade between the two global economic powerhouses. Hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods are now being tariffed at 25%, up from 10%. China is threatening to come up with stringent countermeasures, which threatens to precipitate a full-blown trade war.

Trade experts are predicting that American companies that import goods from China will be paying unreasonably hefty taxes to their government by 2020. That could cripple their operations.

This trade tension has precipitated many harsh and far-reaching consequences. Manufacturers and importers in the US are now cutting costs, postponing key business deals, and putting off investments in a bid to cushion the business-crippling impact of the trade wars. Moody’s Analytics- an American economic research firm- estimates that this has already cost 300,000 Americans their jobs and if things don’t change for the better, more than 450,000 job opportunities will have been quashed by the end of 2019. This impact is being felt across industries, although some industries have been affected more than others. Here are some of these industries:

The Energy Sector

Steel and aluminum are very important to America’s energy sector. They are used to construct oil pipelines, to build solar panels, to distribute electric power- you name it! President Trump has proposed an additional tax on aluminum and steel imports from China, which has already caused the country’s energy PD to hike significantly. Projects in the energy sector will keep getting pricier, which in turn will force consumers to pay higher prices for clean energy. If the price gets out of hand, there is a serious danger of many Americans ditching the expensive clean energy for the cheaper dirty energy.

Automobiles

American automakers sell most of their products in the Chinese market. In 2018, as a countermeasure, the Chinese government raised tariffs from 15% to 40% for all automobiles entering its market from the US. This hasn’t affected the Chinese so much, bearing in mind that the Asian nation has a thriving automobile sector that can satisfy the local market.

On the other hand, American electric automakers including Tesla Inc. (TSLA) will be feeling the pinch in the long run if the China-US trade tension deteriorates. Auto parts sellers will also stand to lose if the situation won’t improve. That being said, things are looking up for this industry as the Chinese government promised to suspend the tariffs as an act of goodwill. If the US could return the gesture, fortunes are likely to turn in favor of American automakers.

Translation Industry

Digital technology has allowed many American firms to expand their products and services in China. The Asian market helps companies from the west to generate a consistent growth rate of 4-5% per annum, sometimes more. That is why localization services have become very marketable in the recent past: If you want to expand in China, you should consider hiring professional translation services to handle all your localization projects, failure to which you could greatly hurt your chances of understanding or impressing your Chinese customers. But then with the growing trade tension, lesser companies will be keen to move to China in the future, which will mean lesser need for translation services. The translation industry in China could really suffer going forward.

Food and Agribusiness

The Chinese government cut off imports of corn, soybeans, nuts, lobster, and other farm products from the US. The American farmers are now struggling to find a market for their produce, which has, in turn, affected their productivity. Tractor manufacturers and farm input sellers are also feeling the pinch. Processed food companies in the US might be forced to lay off workers and close some of their processing plants if things remain as they are.

Tech Sector

Most tech companies in the US have opened shops in China, some of them including NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) and Intel Corp. (INTC). Chinese tech manufacturers, on the other hand, depend on American semiconductor suppliers to run their businesses. An escalation in the U.S.-China trade war could really hurt tech traders in both countries.

Conclusion

The tension between the U.S. and Chinese officials could end up hurting key industries in both economies. It could be a battle over who will control international trade, but it can easily boil over and become counterproductive. The sad thing is that no one really knows for sure if the tension will rage on or we still are going to witness more draconian tariffs. Only time will tell.