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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "International Trade and World Market"

Silicon Valley’s Biggest Foe Is Getting Even Tougher

Westlake Legal Group 18VESTAGER-facebookJumbo Silicon Valley’s Biggest Foe Is Getting Even Tougher Vestager, Margrethe Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Google Inc Facebook Inc European Commission Computers and the Internet Apple Inc Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues Amazon.com Inc

BRUSSELS — Margrethe Vestager spent the past five years developing a well-earned reputation as the world’s top tech industry watchdog. From her perch overseeing Europe’s competition rules, she fined Google more than $9 billion for breaking antitrust laws, and forced Apple to pay about $14.5 billion for dodging taxes.

Now she says that work, which made her a hero among tech critics, did not go far enough. The biggest tech companies continue to test the limits of antitrust laws, behave unethically and push back against government intervention, she said.

But she said the public’s growing skepticism about technology has given her an opportunity for a tougher approach.

“In the last five years,” Ms. Vestager said in an extended interview, “some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible.”

So Ms. Vestager, a 51-year-old former Danish lawmaker, is doubling down. She has signed on for a rare second five-year term as the head of the European Commission’s antitrust division, and assumed expanded responsibility over digital policy across the 28-nation bloc.

With the new power, she has outlined an agenda that squarely targets the tech giants. She’s weighing whether to remove some protections that shield large internet platforms from liability for content posted by users. She is also working on policies to make companies pay more taxes in Europe and investigating how the companies use data to box out competitors.

Ms. Vestager has pledged to create the world’s first regulations around artificial intelligence and called for giving collective bargaining rights to so-called gig economy workers like Uber drivers. The push comes on top of an investigation into Amazon’s use of data to gain an edge on competitors that had already started, and her look into accusations of unfair business practices by Facebook and Apple.

“She has these accomplishments, but she didn’t get as much as she wanted,” said David Balto, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s antitrust division whose clients now include large tech companies. “Now she can be more aggressive.”

But Ms. Vestager’s agenda amounts to a wish list. Her success will depend on support and collaboration from other European officials who are already grappling with challenges like Britain’s exit from the European Union, the rise of populism and fraying diplomatic relations with the United States.

It will require standing up to relentless resistance from the tech companies, too.

“One of the important things is, of course, to prioritize because otherwise you will be in the process of back and forth for a very, very long time,” Ms. Vestager said.

In person, Ms. Vestager’s manner defies her tough enforcer reputation. She is unfailingly polite, meeting guests by offering tea and apologizing for a lingering cold. (She assured everyone that she had just washed her hands.)

She is a challenging interview subject, prone to filibuster and rarely veering from oft-repeated talking points. A skilled politician, she projects modesty while not exactly turning away from the spotlight. A sign in the hallway outside her office says, in Danish, “Vestager Street.”

She is also fast to shrug off criticism, including by numerous tech executives and President Trump, that she has been unfair to American tech companies.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, called the penalty against his company in 2016 for skirting Irish taxes “total political crap.” Google is appealing her three decisions against the company.

“She hates the United States,” President Trump said in a television interview in June, “perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met.”

Ms. Vestager feigns to hardly remember the president’s comment. “Since I know the very good relationship I have with the United States, then he must only meet people who really like the States if I am the one who likes you the least,” she said.

If anything, American authorities are coming around to share her tech skepticism. Federal, state and congressional investigators are scrutinizing the tech industry over unfair business practices. Ms. Vestager said she saw opportunities to collaborate, but was waiting to see how the inquiries unfolded.

“Obviously it’s very interesting to see what will come of it,” she said.

As the United States begins to investigate Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, some American officials are trying to learn lessons from Europe’s efforts. The investigations of Google and others took years to complete, giving the companies extra time to solidify their dominance. And once the inquiries were completed, critics said, the penalties focused on large fines that the companies could easily afford, rather than enforcing structural changes that would restore competition.

Luther Lowe, the head of public policy at Yelp, the reviews website that has been a frequent critic of Google’s behavior, praised Ms. Vestager’s efforts. But he said companies like Yelp “have to date still not seen a shred of practical relief, despite having prevailed in concept.”

Ms. Vestager needs to use all powers at her disposal, he said, “or be granted new ones.”

Ms. Vestager said some of the criticism was valid. She is taking steps to speed up investigations and is applying a rarely used rule known as “interim measures,” that acts as a cease-and-desist order for companies to stop acting a certain way while an investigation can be conducted.

She will play a leading role in the European Union’s debate over a new Digital Services Act, which could bring sweeping reforms to how the internet operates, including forcing online platforms to remove illegal content or risk fines and other penalties. Facebook, she said, must be quicker to stop the spread of false and misleading information, violent material and hate speech.

“You have to take it down because it spreads like a virus,” she said. “But if it’s not fast enough, of course, eventually we will have to regulate this.”

And she remains focused on whether the largest technology companies squeezed out businesses that rely on them to reach customers. Amazon is under investigation for mistreating third-party sellers that offer products similar to what it sells. Apple is being questioned over accusations that it uses the App Store to harm rivals such as Spotify.

“Some of these platforms, they have the role both as player and referee, and how can that be fair?” she asked. “You would never accept a football match where the one team was also being the referee.”

In Europe, a broader debate is underway about a lack of homegrown tech giants. President Emmanuel Macron of France, for instance, has called for more government support of European companies. Ursula von der Leyen, the new head of the European Commission, who appointed Ms. Vestager, has called for Europe to achieve “technological sovereignty.”

The companies facing Ms. Vestager’s scrutiny are warning about taking regulation too far.

Christian Borggreen, vice president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association in Brussels, a trade group representing Apple, Google and other companies, warned that new laws could put Europe at a disadvantage.

“We hope future E.U. legislation will be evidence-based and never become an excuse for protectionism,” he said.

Ms. Vestager has said that European companies must compete on their merits.

“One of the main reasons that U.S. tech companies are popular in Europe is that their products are good,” she said. Her job, she added, has been to step in when companies “cut corners.”

Ms. Vestager said Europe had a different view of technology than the wide-open policies of the United States and government control of China. Europe, she said, must forge its own approach.

“Market forces are more than welcome, but we do not leave it to market forces to have the final say,” she said. “Markets are not perfect.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Made-for-TV Trade War Keeps World Guessing

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164275284_1ba88126-ff22-41f4-a606-d6c65fb638b4-facebookJumbo Trump’s Made-for-TV Trade War Keeps World Guessing United States International Relations United States Economy United States Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

When President Trump’s advisers suggested that Beijing resume buying around $20 billion in American farm products as part of a trade deal, Mr. Trump wasn’t satisfied. In a dramatic public retelling in the Cabinet Room, he said he pressed his team to more than triple that figure, then trimmed that a little and asked for up to $50 billion in annual purchases.

“My people had $20 billion done,” Mr. Trump recounted in an Oct. 21 cabinet meeting. “And I said, ‘I want more.’ They said, ‘The farmers can’t handle it.’ I said, ‘Tell them to buy larger tractors. It’s very simple.’” The cabinet members gathered around Mr. Trump laughed.

Mr. Trump has brought his characteristic love of show business to trade talks with China, injecting public drama into typically staid proceedings. He has alternated displays of anger and warmth toward Beijing and assumed the role of the insatiable negotiator, pairing ambitious goals for a trade pact with even bigger threats should China not accede to his terms.

But more than a year and a half into the biggest trade war in modern history, Mr. Trump’s approach has not yet produced the grand finale he hoped for. Instead, the president’s cliffhanger tactics appear to have made it even harder to bring complex trade talks to a close and exacerbated economic uncertainty across the globe.

Despite Mr. Trump’s Oct. 11 announcement that the United States and China had reached a “historic” Phase 1 trade agreement, actually signing a deal has proved elusive. The two sides continue to negotiate and could finalize an agreement in the next few weeks, if negotiators decide to compromise. But Mr. Trump continues to give mixed signals about whether he actually wants a deal and if any of his tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods will ever be removed.

“We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariff money from China,” Mr. Trump said on Nov. 8. “I like our situation very much. They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we could have a deal.”

A prolonged trade war offers Mr. Trump some political advantages: It allows him to maintain a tough public stance toward China and avoid Democratic criticism that he is caving to Beijing.

But businesses are not entertained. The unrelenting trade fight has prolonged financial pain for American farmers, companies and consumers, paralyzing firms that rely on robust trade flows between the world’s two largest economies.

Executives across the world say they have no choice but to postpone some hiring and investment, make sure any new expansions are not crippled by unforeseen policies, and conserve cash.

The uncertainty is weighing on the United States economy, particularly manufacturing, which has slumped over the past several months. Chinese economic growth has slowed to its lowest rate in nearly three decades, while Germany has barely avoided falling into recession.

“It’s striking that in almost every corner of the world geopolitical tensions are threatening to put the brakes on growth,” John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a speech last week. “The uncertainty created by current events is no doubt having a lasting effect on the economic conditions we’re experiencing today.”

Mr. Trump’s theatrical embrace is not limited to China. He has injected similar drama into trade talks with other partners, including Europe, Japan, Canada and Mexico, publicly threatening them with tariffs and suggesting he might leave some trading partners behind.

The president says his approach has created leverage — and in some cases, he is right. The threat of tariffs has prompted officials from Mexico, Canada, Japan and elsewhere to make concessions they might not otherwise have agreed to. It has also brought China, which is heavily reliant on exports to the United States, to the negotiating table.

But that strategy may now be discouraging China from bringing the talks to a close. Mr. Trump’s tendency to waver and increase his demands have made China wary of offering concessions, for fear that he will only demand more, people familiar with Chinese trade policy said.

Eswar Prasad, a trade professor at Cornell, said the president’s “mercurial temperament and predilection to undercutting his own negotiating team” had complicated the already challenging task of striking a deal. “By hyping up expectations and setting unrealistic goals for the trade talks, Trump makes the prospects for any sort of trade deal with China more uncertain and volatile,” he said.

The two sides have been unable to reschedule a meeting between Mr. Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Chile that was canceled because of domestic protests. Mr. Trump has since said that a deal signing would take place in United States “farm country,” but the Chinese have been reluctant to commit to a meeting until a deal that includes tariff reductions is finalized.

Without a set deadline, the two sides have lost a source of external pressure to get the deal done. Beijing is also concerned about the president’s unpredictable behavior — as demonstrated by his abrupt departure from a high-profile meeting last February in Hanoi with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. They fear that Mr. Trump may end up giving fewer concessions than they anticipate, resulting in an embarrassing trip for Mr. Xi, according to people familiar with their thinking.

Mr. Trump continues to insist his tactics will be worth it, saying he is the only president tough enough to take on China without fear of repercussions and that the United States will be better off. Many businesses agree that China has long taken advantage of the United States and support Mr. Trump’s efforts to remove trade barriers and end coercive practices that have disadvantaged American firms operating in China.

But they have struggled with his approach, which has repeatedly escalated tensions, prolonging the trade fight far longer than most expected. The lack of resolution has been discouraging, given that many analysts believe that the administration is tackling only the easiest issues in its Phase 1 deal, and leaving more contentious topics, like the subsidies that China gives to its industry, for later talks.

The roller-coaster ride has been exasperating for businesses that thrive on certainty and cannot easily shift supply chains or adjust shipments of products that need weeks to cross oceans. The most recent twists in the China trade talks have left firms uncertain whether a 15 percent tariff that the Trump administration had planned to impose Dec. 15 on another $160 billion of goods, including smartphones, laptops and footwear, would go into effect — or whether a 15 percent tariff imposed on consumer goods in September would remain.

“It makes for better theater to hold this to the last minute,” said Phil Levy, the chief economist at Flexport, which coordinates international shipments for companies. “It really doesn’t fit well with the world of global supply chains. And we’re talking to a lot of businesses who are having difficulty with that.

Even Mr. Trump’s supporters have trouble at times disguising their frustration with his focus on showmanship over substance and a nagging feeling that the president doesn’t want the show to end.

In a letter to the president in May, Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau, said farmers faced “near-unprecedented economic uncertainty and hardship” stemming from the escalation of tariffs in China and other key markets. He urged Mr. Trump to make a deal as soon as possible, saying “time is running out for many in agriculture.”

But Mr. Trump’s approach has complicated his ability to get a final deal, including securing the big farm commitments that he showcased last month. American negotiators are now left with the difficult task of translating the massive purchases Mr. Trump requested — larger purchases “than any time in our history, by far” — into the actual text of a trade agreement.

While China needs and wants to buy agricultural goods like soybeans and pork, it has balked on terms that would leave it exposed to accusations that it favors American products over other countries’, as well as agreements that could result in more American tariffs if its purchases do not come through.

Even if American negotiators secure better market access for beef, pork, dairy and genetically modified products, Washington-based analysts who have done the calculations say they have difficulty figuring out how the United States could increase its agricultural exports to China to much more than $30 billion a year, without diverting trade from elsewhere.

Mr. Trump’s tariffs also remain a source of uncertainty, with his administration sending mixed signals about whether any of the existing levies will be removed if a deal is reached.

The president announced the Phase 1 trade deal during a meeting in the Oval Office with Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator. While Mr. Trump canceled an increase in tariffs planned for Oct. 15, he made no mention of rolling back any levies. That has not gone over well with the Chinese, who have since been under pressure domestically for seemingly giving away too much to the United States.

“Without rolling back some of the tariffs, or reducing the uncertainty of not raising additional tariffs, then I would ask what is the additional incentive of implementing this deal on the Chinese part?” He Jianxiong, the former executive director for China at the International Monetary Fund, said at a Nov. 6 event at the Peterson Institute in Washington.

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Made-for-TV Trade War Has Few Entertained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164275284_1ba88126-ff22-41f4-a606-d6c65fb638b4-facebookJumbo Trump’s Made-for-TV Trade War Has Few Entertained United States International Relations United States Economy United States Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

When President Trump’s advisers suggested that Beijing resume buying around $20 billion in American farm products as part of a trade deal, Mr. Trump wasn’t satisfied. In a dramatic public retelling in the Cabinet Room, he said he pressed his team to more than triple that figure, then trimmed that a little and asked for up to $50 billion in annual purchases.

“My people had $20 billion done,” Mr. Trump recounted in an Oct. 21 cabinet meeting. “And I said, ‘I want more.’ They said, ‘The farmers can’t handle it.’ I said, ‘Tell them to buy larger tractors. It’s very simple.’” The cabinet members gathered around Mr. Trump laughed.

Mr. Trump has brought his characteristic love of show business to trade talks with China, injecting public drama into typically staid proceedings. He has alternated displays of anger and warmth toward Beijing and assumed the role of the insatiable negotiator, pairing ambitious goals for a trade pact with even bigger threats should China not accede to his terms.

But more than a year and a half into the biggest trade war in modern history, Mr. Trump’s approach has not yet produced the grand finale he hoped for. Instead, the president’s cliffhanger tactics appear to have made it even harder to bring complex trade talks to a close and exacerbated economic uncertainty across the globe.

Despite Mr. Trump’s Oct. 11 announcement that the United States and China had reached a “historic” Phase 1 trade agreement, actually signing a deal has proved elusive. The two sides continue to negotiate and a final agreement could be reached in the next few weeks, if negotiators decide to compromise. But Mr. Trump continues to give mixed signals about whether he actually wants a deal and if any of his tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods will ever be removed.

“We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariff money from China,” Mr. Trump said on Nov. 8. “I like our situation very much. They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we could have a deal.”

A prolonged trade war offers Mr. Trump some political advantages: It allows him to maintain a tough public stance toward China and avoid Democratic criticism that he is caving to Beijing.

But businesses are not entertained. The unrelenting trade fight has prolonged financial pain for American farmers, companies and consumers, paralyzing firms that rely on robust trade flows between the world’s two largest economies.

Executives across the world say they have no choice but to postpone some hiring and investment, make sure any new expansions are not crippled by unforeseen policies, and conserve cash.

The uncertainty is weighing on the United States economy, particularly manufacturing, which has slumped over the past several months. Chinese economic growth has slowed to its lowest rate in nearly three decades, while Germany has barely avoided falling into recession.

“It’s striking that in almost every corner of the world geopolitical tensions are threatening to put the brakes on growth,” John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a speech last week. “The uncertainty created by current events is no doubt having a lasting effect on the economic conditions we’re experiencing today.”

Mr. Trump’s theatrical embrace is not limited to China. He has injected similar drama into trade talks with other partners, including Europe, Japan, Canada and Mexico, publicly threatening them with tariffs and suggesting he might leave some trading partners behind.

The president says his approach has created leverage — and in some cases, he is right. The threat of tariffs has prompted officials from Mexico, Canada, Japan and elsewhere to make concessions they might not otherwise have agreed to. It has also brought China, which is heavily reliant on exports to the United States, to the negotiating table.

But that strategy may now be discouraging China from bringing the talks to a close. Mr. Trump’s tendency to waver and increase his demands have made China wary of offering concessions, for fear that he will only demand more, people familiar with Chinese trade policy said.

Eswar Prasad, a trade professor at Cornell, said the president’s “mercurial temperament and predilection to undercutting his own negotiating team” had complicated the already challenging task of striking a deal. “By hyping up expectations and setting unrealistic goals for the trade talks, Trump makes the prospects for any sort of trade deal with China more uncertain and volatile,” he said.

The two sides have been unable to reschedule a meeting between Mr. Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Chile that was canceled because of domestic protests. Mr. Trump has since said that a deal signing would take place in United States “farm country,” but the Chinese have been reluctant to commit to a meeting until a deal that includes tariff reductions is finalized.

Without a set deadline, the two sides have lost a source of external pressure to get the deal done. Beijing is also concerned about the president’s unpredictable behavior — as demonstrated by his abrupt departure from a high-profile meeting last February in Hanoi with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. They fear that Mr. Trump may end up giving fewer concessions than they anticipate, resulting in an embarrassing trip for Mr. Xi, according to people familiar with their thinking.

Mr. Trump continues to insist his tactics will be worth it, saying he is the only president tough enough to take on China without fear of repercussions and that the United States will be better off. Many businesses agree that China has long taken advantage of the United States and support Mr. Trump’s efforts to remove trade barriers and end coercive practices that have disadvantaged American firms operating in China.

But they have struggled with his approach, which has repeatedly escalated tensions, prolonging the trade fight far longer than most expected. The lack of resolution has been discouraging, given that many analysts believe that the administration is tackling only the easiest issues in its Phase 1 deal, and leaving more contentious topics, like the subsidies that China gives to its industry, for later talks.

The roller-coaster ride has been exasperating for businesses that thrive on certainty and cannot easily shift supply chains or adjust shipments of products that need weeks to cross oceans. The most recent twists in the China trade talks have left firms uncertain whether a 15 percent tariff that the Trump administration had planned to impose Dec. 15 on another $160 billion of goods, including smartphones, laptops and footwear, would go into effect — or whether a 15 percent tariff imposed on consumer goods in September would remain.

“It makes for better theater to hold this to the last minute,” said Phil Levy, the chief economist at Flexport, which coordinates international shipments for companies. “It really doesn’t fit well with the world of global supply chains. And we’re talking to a lot of businesses who are having difficulty with that.

Even Mr. Trump’s supporters have trouble at times disguising their frustration with his focus on showmanship over substance and a nagging feeling that the president doesn’t want the show to end.

In a letter to the president in May, Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau, said farmers faced “near-unprecedented economic uncertainty and hardship” stemming from the escalation of tariffs in China and other key markets. He urged Mr. Trump to make a deal as soon as possible, saying “time is running out for many in agriculture.”

But Mr. Trump’s approach has complicated his ability to get a final deal, including securing the big farm commitments that he showcased last month. American negotiators are now left with the difficult task of translating the massive purchases Mr. Trump requested — larger purchases “than any time in our history, by far” — into the actual text of a trade agreement.

While China needs and wants to buy agricultural goods like soybeans and pork, it has balked on terms that would leave it exposed to accusations that it favors American products over other countries’, as well as agreements that could result in more American tariffs if its purchases do not come through.

Even if American negotiators secure better market access for beef, pork, dairy and genetically modified products, Washington-based analysts who have done the calculations say they have difficulty figuring out how the United States could increase its agricultural exports to China to much more than $30 billion a year, without diverting trade from elsewhere.

Mr. Trump’s tariffs also remain a source of uncertainty, with his administration sending mixed signals about whether any of the existing levies will be removed if a deal is reached.

The president announced the Phase 1 trade deal during a meeting in the Oval Office with Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator. While Mr. Trump canceled an increase in tariffs planned for Oct. 15, he made no mention of rolling back any levies. That has not gone over well with the Chinese, who have since been under pressure domestically for seemingly giving away too much to the United States.

“Without rolling back some of the tariffs, or reducing the uncertainty of not raising additional tariffs, then I would ask what is the additional incentive of implementing this deal on the Chinese part?” He Jianxiong, the former executive director for China at the International Monetary Fund, said at a Nov. 6 event at the Peterson Institute in Washington.

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Made-for-TV Trade War Has No One Entertained

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164275284_1ba88126-ff22-41f4-a606-d6c65fb638b4-facebookJumbo Trump’s Made-for-TV Trade War Has No One Entertained United States International Relations United States Economy United States Politics and Government International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff) China Agriculture and Farming

When President Trump’s advisers suggested that Beijing resume buying around $20 billion in American farm products as part of a trade deal, Mr. Trump wasn’t satisfied. In a dramatic public retelling in the Cabinet Room, he said he pressed his team to more than triple that figure, then trimmed that a little and asked for up to $50 billion in annual purchases.

“My people had $20 billion done,” Mr. Trump recounted in an Oct. 21 cabinet meeting. “And I said, ‘I want more.’ They said, ‘The farmers can’t handle it.’ I said, ‘Tell them to buy larger tractors. It’s very simple.’” The cabinet members gathered around Mr. Trump laughed.

Mr. Trump has brought his characteristic love of show business to trade talks with China, injecting public drama into typically staid proceedings. He has alternated displays of anger and warmth toward Beijing and assumed the role of the insatiable negotiator, pairing ambitious goals for a trade pact with even bigger threats should China not accede to his terms.

But more than a year and a half into the biggest trade war in modern history, Mr. Trump’s approach has not yet produced the grand finale he hoped for. Instead, the president’s cliffhanger tactics appear to have made it even harder to bring complex trade talks to a close and exacerbated economic uncertainty across the globe.

Despite Mr. Trump’s Oct. 11 announcement that the United States and China had reached a “historic” Phase 1 trade agreement, actually signing a deal has proved elusive. The two sides continue to negotiate and a final agreement could be reached in the next few weeks, if negotiators decide to compromise. But Mr. Trump continues to give mixed signals about whether he actually wants a deal and if any of his tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods will ever be removed.

“We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariff money from China,” Mr. Trump said on Nov. 8. “I like our situation very much. They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we could have a deal.”

Businesses are not entertained. The unrelenting trade fight has prolonged financial pain for American farmers, companies and consumers, paralyzing firms that rely on robust trade flows between the world’s two largest economies.

Executives across the world say they have no choice but to postpone some hiring and investment, make sure any new expansions are not crippled by unforeseen policies, and conserve cash.

The uncertainty is weighing on the United States economy, particularly manufacturing, which has slumped over the past several months. Chinese economic growth has slowed to its lowest rate in nearly three decades, while Germany has barely avoided falling into recession.

“It’s striking that in almost every corner of the world geopolitical tensions are threatening to put the brakes on growth,” John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in a speech last week. “The uncertainty created by current events is no doubt having a lasting effect on the economic conditions we’re experiencing today.”

Mr. Trump’s theatrical embrace is not limited to China. He has injected similar drama into trade talks with other partners, including Europe, Japan, Canada and Mexico, publicly threatening them with tariffs and suggesting he might leave some trading partners behind.

The president says his approach has created leverage — and in some cases, he is right. The threat of tariffs has prompted officials from Mexico, Canada, Japan and elsewhere to make concessions they might not otherwise have agreed to. It has also brought China, which is heavily reliant on exports to the United States, to the negotiating table.

But that strategy may now be discouraging China from bringing the talks to a close. Mr. Trump’s tendency to waver and increase his demands have made China wary of offering concessions, for fear that he will only demand more, people familiar with Chinese trade policy said.

Eswar Prasad, a trade professor at Cornell, said the president’s “mercurial temperament and predilection to undercutting his own negotiating team” had complicated the already challenging task of striking a deal. “By hyping up expectations and setting unrealistic goals for the trade talks, Trump makes the prospects for any sort of trade deal with China more uncertain and volatile,” he said.

The two sides have been unable to reschedule a meeting between Mr. Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Chile that was canceled because of domestic protests. Mr. Trump has since said that a deal signing would take place in United States “farm country,” but the Chinese have been reluctant to commit to a meeting until a deal that includes tariff reductions is finalized.

Without a set deadline, the two sides have lost a source of external pressure to get the deal done. Beijing is also concerned about the president’s unpredictable behavior — as demonstrated by his abrupt departure from a high-profile meeting last February in Hanoi with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. They fear that Mr. Trump may end up giving fewer concessions than they anticipate, resulting in an embarrassing trip for Mr. Xi, according to people familiar with their thinking.

Mr. Trump continues to insist his tactics will be worth it, saying he is the only president tough enough to take on China without fear of repercussions and that the United States will be better off. Many businesses agree that China has long taken advantage of the United States and support Mr. Trump’s efforts to remove trade barriers and end coercive practices that have disadvantaged American firms operating in China.

But they have struggled with his approach, which has repeatedly escalated tensions, prolonging the trade fight far longer than most expected. The lack of resolution has been discouraging, given that many analysts believe that the administration is tackling only the easiest issues in its Phase 1 deal, and leaving more contentious topics, like the subsidies that China gives to its industry, for later talks.

The roller-coaster ride has been exasperating for businesses that thrive on certainty and cannot easily shift supply chains or adjust shipments of products that need weeks to cross oceans. The most recent twists in the China trade talks have left firms uncertain whether a 15 percent tariff that the Trump administration had planned to impose Dec. 15 on another $160 billion of goods, including smartphones, laptops and footwear, would go into effect — or whether a 15 percent tariff imposed on consumer goods in September would remain.

“It makes for better theater to hold this to the last minute,” said Phil Levy, the chief economist at Flexport, which coordinates international shipments for companies. “It really doesn’t fit well with the world of global supply chains. And we’re talking to a lot of businesses who are having difficulty with that.

Even Mr. Trump’s supporters have trouble at times disguising their frustration with his focus on showmanship over substance and a nagging feeling that the president doesn’t want the show to end.

In a letter to the president in May, Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau, said farmers faced “near-unprecedented economic uncertainty and hardship” stemming from the escalation of tariffs in China and other key markets. He urged Mr. Trump to make a deal as soon as possible, saying “time is running out for many in agriculture.”

But Mr. Trump’s approach has complicated his ability to get a final deal, including securing the big farm commitments that he showcased last month. American negotiators are now left with the difficult task of translating the massive purchases Mr. Trump requested — larger purchases “than any time in our history, by far” — into the actual text of a trade agreement.

While China needs and wants to buy agricultural goods like soybeans and pork, it has balked on terms that would leave it exposed to accusations that it favors American products over other countries’, as well as agreements that could result in more American tariffs if its purchases do not come through.

Even if American negotiators secure better market access for beef, pork, dairy and genetically modified products, Washington-based analysts who have done the calculations say they have difficulty figuring out how the United States could increase its agricultural exports to China to much more than $30 billion a year, without diverting trade from elsewhere.

Mr. Trump’s tariffs also remain a source of uncertainty, with his administration sending mixed signals about whether any of the existing levies will be removed if a deal is reached.

The president announced the Phase 1 trade deal during a meeting in the Oval Office with Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator. While Mr. Trump canceled an increase in tariffs planned for Oct. 15, he made no mention of rolling back any levies. That has not gone over well with the Chinese, who have since been under pressure domestically for seemingly giving away too much to the United States.

“Without rolling back some of the tariffs, or reducing the uncertainty of not raising additional tariffs, then I would ask what is the additional incentive of implementing this deal on the Chinese part?” He Jianxiong, the former executive director for China at the International Monetary Fund, said at a Nov. 6 event at the Peterson Institute in Washington.

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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Why the Economy Might Not Sway 2020 Voters

Westlake Legal Group 29survey1-facebookJumbo Why the Economy Might Not Sway 2020 Voters United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion International Trade and World Market Democratic Party Consumer Confidence (Economic Indicator)

Americans’ views of the economy have become so hardened along partisan lines that the economy may matter less in next year’s presidential election than in the past.

Both major political parties have emphasized the economy in the early stages of the campaign. Republicans hope that a rock-bottom unemployment rate and rising wages will cause voters to stick with President Trump despite the various scandals enveloping his administration. Democrats believe high levels of income inequality and fears of a looming recession will make voters willing to consider a new direction.

Surveys suggest that those arguments are resonating — but only with voters already inclined to agree with them. Republicans consistently say the economy is doing well and give Mr. Trump strong marks for his stewardship. Democrats are much more pessimistic, and, to the extent they do believe the economy is strong, doubt that Mr. Trump deserves much credit.

And notably, neither group’s views have shifted much in response to changing economic conditions. Earlier this month, for example, 71 percent of Republicans said they expected business conditions to be “very” or “somewhat” good over the next year, compared with just 15 percent of Democrats who said so, according to a survey conducted for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey. Those numbers are virtually unchanged from two years ago, before trade tensions and other factors began to drag down the manufacturing sector and weaken the broader economy.

Economic conditions have historically been among the best predictors of presidential elections, and models based on those patterns suggest that Mr. Trump would be favored to win re-election if the economy remains more or less on its current path through Election Day.

But it is unclear whether historical lessons hold in an era of heightened partisanship.

“The predictive power of the economy is weakening as polarization increases,” said Amber Wichowsky, a political scientist at Marquette University who has studied how economic issues affect voters’ political views. “Partisans have a strong desire to interpret the economy in a way that benefits their ‘team.’”

Franklin Fullerton works in sales for a conveyor-belt manufacturer outside Charlotte, N.C. David Kugler is a materials manager for a packaging manufacturer near Allentown, Pa. The two men, both participants in the Times survey, are close in age — 61 and 58 — and say they are financially stable. But they have very different political views, and very different views of the economy.

Mr. Fullerton, who usually votes for Democrats, said business had slowed since last year. His company imports many of its parts, he said, and it has had to raise prices to cover the cost of tariffs, in some cases by as much as 15 percent. He said that he did not yet see evidence of a recession, but that he was watching warily.

“I would think twice about doing any major home renovation or anything, probably,” he said. “It enters your mind, whereas last year it wouldn’t really have entered your mind.”

Mr. Kugler’s company has also been affected by tariffs. But he said that business over all remained strong, and that the local economy had improved since Mr. Trump took office. And Mr. Kugler, a conservative Republican, said Mr. Trump’s trade policies were worth any short-term cost.

“It’s hard sometimes, but for the long haul I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “What China’s doing to us is just outright criminal.”

Mr. Kugler said the economy was the most important issue to him, and said he would consider rethinking his support for Mr. Trump if conditions soured — he just doesn’t expect that to happen. Mr. Fullerton, too, said he tried to evaluate evidence objectively, though he acknowledged that his political views probably affected his interpretation.

“I’m sure I’m human, and I probably don’t always see both sides of everything,” Mr. Fullerton said. “I think I’m guilty of it. But I try to be aware of it.”

The partisan divide in consumer confidence is a relatively new phenomenon. In the early 1980s, Democrats and Republicans largely saw eye to eye on the state of the economy, according to the University of Michigan’s long-running survey of consumer sentiment. By the 2000s, a gap had emerged, with partisans tending to view the economy more positively when their preferred party was in power. The gulf has only widened since.

“They’re seeing everything through the partisan lens right now,” said Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey. She noted that the partisanship dwarfed even factors likely to have a bigger impact on people’s financial well-being, like education, income and employment status.

Partisanship hasn’t completely drowned out economic reality. Measures of consumer confidence have ebbed a bit over the past year, as tariffs and other factors have led to slower growth. And confidence dipped more substantially in January, when the partial government shutdown temporarily idled hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and again when recession fears dominated headlines in late summer. In both cases, however, confidence quickly rebounded.

Economists and political scientists say an outright recession would almost certainly erode consumers’ confidence, regardless of their political views. But the current economy leaves enough room for interpretation. Republicans can point to the low unemployment rate and strong stock market. Democrats can point to slower hiring and a weakening manufacturing sector.

“You could see how different people who aren’t experts could look at the economy and reach different conclusions based on their partisanship,” said Peter K. Enns, who leads the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University.

One group of voters is less likely to view the economy through a partisan lens: independents. Only about 15 percent of registered voters report being independents without a preference for either party, but they could prove decisive in next year’s election. Their assessment of the economy hasn’t moved much during Mr. Trump’s term, either, but their views have generally been closer to those of Democrats than of Republicans.

“Independents seem to register the onset of a recession more quickly,” he said. “If independents are leaning closer to Democrats on the pessimism side, that bodes poorly for Trump.”

Scott Baughan, an independent voter and self-described moderate in Detroit, said he had mixed feelings about Mr. Trump’s economic stewardship. He said the 2017 tax law had helped the economy, but he criticized it for not doing more to help the middle class. He said Mr. Trump was right to get tough on China, but said he didn’t think the tariffs had been executed effectively.

“It’s not exactly what I’d call a coherent strategy,” he said.

Mr. Baughan, a 27-year-old medical student, didn’t vote for either major-party candidate in 2016 and hasn’t decided how he will vote in 2020. The economy will be one factor in his decision, he said, but right now it isn’t pushing him strongly in either direction. He dismissed the claims of Trump supporters who say the economy is the best it’s ever been, and those of critics who have been predicting a recession for months. He compared Democrats and Republicans to two people each looking through one lens of a pair of 3-D glasses.

“Each side is seeing half the picture and completely unaware that the other half exists,” he said.

About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 2,701 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Oct. 7 to Oct. 13. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus three percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

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Chinese Investment Pits Wall Street Against Washington

Westlake Legal Group 00DC-CHINAMONEY-facebookJumbo Chinese Investment Pits Wall Street Against Washington ZTE Corp United States Economy Trump, Donald J Stocks and Bonds Shaheen, Jeanne Securities and Exchange Commission Securities and Commodities Violations Rubio, Marco Romney, Mitt Pensions and Retirement Plans New York State Common Retirement Fund MSCI Inc Morgan Stanley Law and Legislation International Trade and World Market Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd Government Employees Gillibrand, Kirsten E Gazprom China Mobile Ltd China Communications Construction Co China California Public Employees Retirement System BlackRock Inc

WASHINGTON — The rivalry between the United States and China has spread to a fight over financial ties between the countries, pitting Washington security hawks against Wall Street investors.

Members of Congress and the Trump administration are warning that Chinese companies are raising money from American investors and stock exchanges for purposes that run counter to American interests. To help curb the flow of dollars into China, they have turned their sights on an unlikely target: their own retirement fund.

The Thrift Savings Plan is the retirement savings vehicle for federal government employees, including lawmakers, White House officials and members of the military. Beginning next year, the fund is scheduled to switch to a different mix of investments that would increase its exposure to China and other emerging markets. Lawmakers and some in the Trump administration are trying to stop that move, saying the change would pump federal workers’ savings into companies that could undermine American national security or have been sanctioned by the United States.

Last Tuesday, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the plan’s governing board urging it to reverse its decision.

“For China, this is the greatest free lunch program for capital they’ve ever known, because they’re able to penetrate the investment portfolios of scores of millions of Americans in basically one shot,” said Roger Robinson, the president of the consulting firm RWR Advisory Group, which has distributed research on the subject to lawmakers and members of the Trump administration.

The push to forestall more investment in China is part of a broader effort by some officials in Washington to separate ties between the world’s two largest economies. It is also another indication that President Trump’s conflict with China will persist, even if the United States signs a limited trade deal with Beijing later this year.

Some China critics are pressing Mr. Trump to go beyond the tariffs he has already imposed and erect larger barriers between the two countries, including restrictions on the flow of technology and investment.

In recent months, officials have been making more frequent calls to re-examine China’s presence in the stock portfolios of American investors. Administration officials, including members of the National Security Council, have begun pressing the Securities and Exchange Commission to increase scrutiny of Chinese firms, which have long skirted the auditing and disclosure requirements of American stock exchanges, putting investors at risk. Chinese law restricts the company documentation that auditors can transfer out of the country, limiting their visibility to American regulators.

Policymakers are considering more stringent proposals. In June, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would delist foreign firms that do not comply with American financial regulators for a period of three years.

Another area of concern is the decision by companies that compile major stock indexes to include more firms that are listed on Chinese exchanges. While investors can’t put money directly into an index, they can invest in a fund that mirrors an index’s particular basket of securities.

As global stock markets have steadily trended upward in recent years, more investors have turned to passive investing, in which a fund simply mirrors a major index, rather than active investing, in which fund managers try to pick certain stocks to outperform the market.

And as China’s economy has continued to grow, index providers have increased the weighting of Chinese stocks. The move has been a win for Beijing, funneling money into the Chinese market and helping to enhance the international profile of its companies and its currency, the renminbi.

Like many retirement vehicles, the Thrift Savings Plan, which manages $600 billion of savings by millions of federal government employees, offers participants the option of investing in an index fund.

The plan, which is similar to a 401(k), gives federal workers the option to invest in a fund with international exposure. If they do, their savings go to a fund featuring the same securities as a popular index developed by Morgan Stanley.

Currently, the fund mirrors an index with stocks solely from developed countries, called the MSCI Europe, Australasia, Far East Index. But on the advice of an outside consultant, Aon Hewitt, the board decided to shift those investments to better diversify its portfolio and obtain a higher return. In mid-2020, the fund is to begin mirroring Morgan Stanley’s MSCI All Country World ex-U.S.A. Index, which includes shares of more than 2,000 companies from dozens of developed and emerging countries, including China.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have joined Democrats and Republicans in Congress in expressing concerns about the planned change. They say it will funnel the savings of Americans into some companies that have murky financial records, or pursue activities that run counter to America’s national interest.

Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire, sent a letter last week to the body that manages the plan, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, urging it to reverse a decision that they said would invest retirement funds in companies “that assist in the Chinese government’s military activities, espionage, and human rights abuses, as well as many other Chinese companies that lack basic financial transparency.”

The letter, which was also signed by Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic senator from New York, as well as the Republican senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rick Scott of Florida, said, “It is our responsibility to these public servants to ensure that the investment of their retirement savings does not undermine the American interests for which they serve.”

A spokeswoman for Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said it was reviewing the letter and had invited the consultant, Aon Hewitt, to review its previous recommendations at a meeting on Monday.

One company in the new index that the senators have pointed to is Hikvision, a Chinese manufacturer of video surveillance products that the United States placed on a blacklist earlier this month. The Trump administration says the company has provided surveillance equipment that aided China in a campaign targeting a Muslim minority, including in constructing large internment camps in the autonomous region of Xinjiang.

The MSCI All Country World ex U.S.A. Index also includes AviChina Industry & Technology Company Ltd., a subsidiary of China’s state-owned manufacturer of aircraft and airborne weapons, which manufactured planes and missiles that were the centerpiece of a military parade in Beijing earlier this month. Also included in the index is China Mobile, which is blocked from providing international services in the United States; ZTE, which the United States fined last year for violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea; and China Communications Construction Company, which is reportedly involved in island building in the South China Sea.

The index also includes Russian companies that have been sanctioned over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, cyberespionage and other issues. A December 2018 report by RWR Advisory Group found that five of the 11 Russian constituents of the index had been sanctioned by the Treasury Department, including the Russian gas companies Gazprom and Novatek.

Richard V. Spencer, secretary of the Navy, said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article last week that the savings of members of the military should not be “unwittingly helping to underwrite the threats China and Russia pose to their lives.” Mr. Spencer said the board must reverse its decision “for the good of the country and those who serve it.”

Business leaders and Wall Street executives have started pushing back, saying efforts to restrict investment constitute government interference and could destabilize financial markets. When policymakers begin to pull the threads of financial connections between the United States and China, it’s not clear how much they will unwind, they say.

“There are certainly reasons why the U.S. should be concerned about various things China is doing and the rivalry it presents,” said Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at the investment advisory firm Silvercrest Asset Management. “But by the same token, they’re the second-biggest economy in the world. If you push them off a cliff, you better make sure you’re not handcuffed to them.”

Reversing the decision could cost federal employees who are saving for retirement. China is now home to more companies in the global Fortune 500 than the United States. And while China’s growth has slowed sharply in recent years, its economy is still expanding at about 6 percent annually, roughly three times as fast as the United States’.

Fast-growing economies tend to be favorable for stock investing, suggesting that investors could be giving up some gains if they’re blocked from the Chinese markets. In an analysis for the Thrift Retirement Board, Aon Hewitt found that $1 invested in the securities on the new index would have returned $3.28 after 23 years, while $1 invested in the securities of the original index would have returned $3.05.

“At the end of the day, stock investing is about being exposed to growth,” said Lisa Shalett, chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. “That is where the growth is.”

— Alan Rappeport contributed reporting. Matt Phillips contributed from New York.

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China’s Economic Growth Slows as Challenges Mount

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SHANGHAI — China’s economic slowdown worsened in the July-to-September period, according to data released on Friday, as the trade war with the United States and a host of other problems leave Beijing struggling to meet its goals.

The figures show China continues to grow at its slowest pace in nearly three decades of modern record-keeping. While China is still expanding faster than any other major economy, Friday’s data suggest that the pace could come in at the low end of Beijing’s official target, which could add to worries about broader prospects for global growth.

China’s efforts to tame its addiction to lending and the deepening impact of the trade war have been major drags on the economy. Other problems are worsening, as the country’s vast automotive sector shrinks, as its real estate sector levels off and as its pigs die in vast numbers from a swine fever epidemic.

China’s economic output grew 6 percent in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, according to official statistics, the bottom end of Beijing’s full-year target of 6 percent to 6.5 percent. In the first three-quarters of the year, its output grew 6.2 percent compared with a year ago.

China’s growth was set to slow down from the torrid pace of past years. Its economy is now twice the size it was about a decade ago. Its labor force is shrinking, and the country is already full of roads, rails and factories, limiting potential new investment.

The question is whether there are any sharp dips along the path to ever-slower growth.

“What policymakers want is to make the process as long and as gradual as possible,” said Larry Hu, the head of China economics at the Macquarie Group, a big Australian financial services company. “The biggest challenge is to find new growth drivers from consumption and technology, as old ones such as property and globalization are fading out.”

The trade war is adding to that uncertainty, though China’s problems go beyond that.

The conflict heated up in the third quarter of this year, when President Trump broadened his tariffs at the start of September to hit many consumer goods from China. Its exports to the United States plunged 22 percent in September compared with September 2018, when exporters were racing to ship their goods ahead of a previous set of tariffs.

Still, American tariffs account for only part of China’s overall economic slowdown. Exports to the United States are about 4 percent of the Chinese economy. Roughly half the value of those exports stems from imported goods like semiconductors and oil, said Nicholas Lardy, a longtime China specialist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, so the net impact of exports to the United States is even less.

China also has ramped up exports to the developing world. As a result, its overall exports in September were down only 3.8 percent.

In fact, much of the slowdown has been domestic. China has been reluctant to plow more money into its economy in the form of lending, which has already saddled its financial system with burdensome debt.

Other areas have weakened, too, like the auto industry, as consumer confidence has eroded. Car sales are 5 percent of China’s economic output, according to official statistics, meaning they play a bigger role in China’s growth than exports to the United States. Even foreign companies like General Motors assemble practically all their cars locally, with almost entirely Chinese-made parts.

But these days, households in China just aren’t buying cars the way they used to.

The Chinese Passenger Car Association announced on Saturday that retail car sales fell 6.6 percent in September from a year earlier, a sharp drop for an industry once accustomed to double-digit annual percentage growth.

The car sales slump started in the summer of 2018 and became severe by winter. While most auto industry experts expected sales to start looking better by this summer, that has not happened.

Cui Dongshu, the secretary general of the car association, said September at least was not as bad as some recent months. “The sales are recovering but very slowly, due to weak consumption,” he said. “The purchasing power of families is still not enough.”

Chinese automakers had planned to export a lot of cars to the United States starting this winter. But Mr. Trump’s tariffs have made that much harder and have prompted one carmaker, Guangzhou Auto, to suspend indefinitely its plans to enter the American market.

Property market weakness has also pinched growth, hurting consumer sentiment. A decades-long run-up in home prices gave many in China, where the homeownership rate is high, the feeling that they were becoming prosperous enough to splurge on other purchases. But prices have mostly stabilized, and even fallen in some smaller cities, and many families are struggling with large mortgage payments.

China’s biggest challenge may be slower investment. The country’s roads, bridges, high-speed rail lines and ports are superb. Its factories are among the largest in the world. But having already spent so much, government agencies and companies alike are having more and more trouble finding opportunities to invest more.

Global firms are showing less interest in the Chinese market, and in some cases even starting to pull back.

“We have seen a significant divestment by multinationals in this part of the world in the past 18 months,” said Mark Webster, a partner in the Shanghai office of BDA Partners, a New York investment bank that specializes in Asia deals.

The trade war is just part of the problem. Multinationals complain of much tighter regulatory actions in China, particularly antitrust cases. They also encounter extensive overcapacity in many industrial sectors, forcing companies to cut prices repeatedly to stay in business and destroying profit margins.

The volume of mergers and acquisitions by foreign companies investing in China tumbled 89 percent in the first half of this year from the same period last year, to just $6.3 billion, Mr. Webster said.

Ailin Tang contributed research.

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Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_162846636_c8087e13-43fa-4607-aca6-709e177763a1-articleLarge Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement Politics and Government Northern Ireland Johnson, Boris International Trade and World Market Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain European Union Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) British Pound (Currency)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, left, and the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, at a news conference in the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.CreditFrancisco Seco/Associated Press

Britain and the European Union announced on Thursday that an agreement on the draft text of a Brexit deal had been reached, a last-minute breakthrough for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he works to map out Britain’s departure from the bloc.

Writing on Twitter, Mr. Johnson called the agreement a “great new deal that takes back control,” and said that Parliament would vote on the deal on Saturday.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president, confirmed that a deal had been reached and noted that a revised arrangement on Northern Ireland was part of the agreement.

Writing on Twitter, Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, called the agreement a “unique solution” for Northern Ireland that respects its “unique history and geography.”

Ireland’s approval has been a key element in securing European agreement on any deal and ensuring that there will not be a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the European Union, and Northern Ireland which is a part of the United Kingdom.

During a joint news conference with Mr. Johnson in Brussels later in the day, Mr. Juncker said that after much hard work they had reached a “fair, balanced agreement” that “provided certainty where Brexit provide uncertainty.”

Mr. Johnson also had kind words for his European partners, saying that the agreement represented a very good deal for both Britain and the European Union. He did not address questions about how he would gather the needed support from fellow lawmakers at home to get the deal through Parliament.

Mr. Johnson said the agreement would result in “a real Brexit that achieves our objective,” and vowed that “the U.K. leaves whole and entire on Oct. 31.”

With a roomful of reporters eager to ask the two leaders questions, Mr. Juncker silenced them before offering a parting thought: “I am happy about the deal, but I am sad about Brexit.”

Mr. Johnson may have struck a deal with Brussels, but in doing so he appears to have turned his back on a group of 10 lawmakers from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, who said on Thursday that they did not support the agreement. The party has been a crucial ally in the British Parliament, helping the Conservatives to remain in government despite not holding a majority.

The question now is whether Mr. Johnson can persuade those lawmakers to support his deal before Saturday — or whether he can get it through a fractious Parliament without them.

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, laid out what he saw as the most important elements of the deal in an address to the news media shortly after the announcement.

In the deal, Northern Ireland would remain aligned to a “limited set of E.U. rules, notably related to goods,” he said. As a result, all procedures on goods will take place within the United Kingdom, and not between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The British authorities would be in charge of carrying out the controls.

Mr. Barnier added that to “square the circle” on the question of customs duties, negotiators had decided that the British authorities would apply tariffs “on products coming from third countries, so long as those goods entering Northern Ireland are not at risk” of entering Europe’s single market.

Read the Draft Withdrawal Agreement

The European Commission released a copy of the draft withdrawal agreement shortly after the deal was announced.


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Westlake Legal Group thumbnail Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement Politics and Government Northern Ireland Johnson, Boris International Trade and World Market Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain European Union Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) British Pound (Currency)

For goods traded into the European Union’s single market — including those traded across the border into Ireland, a member of the bloc — Mr. Barnier said that the British authorities would be responsible for imposing European Union tariffs.

Mr. Barnier also said that four years after the protocol begins, Northern Ireland’s legislature — which has been dissolved since January 2017 amid sectarian disagreements — would be able to decide by a simple majority whether to continue applying the rules.

The Northern-Ireland based Democratic Unionist Party presented a stumbling block to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal for Britain’s withdrawal, announcing its opposition just hours before he was set to travel to Brussels for a European Union summit meeting.

In an early-morning statement on Thursday, the party said that it would continue to work with the government toward a “sensible deal,” but that it could not support the current proposal because of the tax arrangements involved.

“As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues and there is a lack of clarity on VAT,” a statement from the party said, referring to the value-added tax.

After the announcement of the deal, the D.U.P. said it still did not support the agreement — and said it “drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast Agreement,” also known as the Good Friday Agreement, which in 1998 laid out the framework for peace in Northern Ireland.

The D.U.P. said the Brexit deal was not in Northern Ireland’s long-term interest, and that it would hurt Northern Ireland’s economy and undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom.

The Conservative Party has relied on the Democratic Unionists to remain in government since it lost its majority in a 2017 election, and their support for a Brexit deal is thought to be crucial for Mr. Johnson to get his deal through Parliament.

D.U.P. lawmakers have long sought a veto on post-Brexit trading rules, seeing that provision as the only way to ensure that the territory does not diverge from the rest of the United Kingdom — but Mr. Johnson’s deal does not provide one.

Opposition from the Northern Irish lawmakers could also spell trouble for Mr. Johnson in winning the support of staunch Brexit supporters who have said that they would support a deal only if the D.U.P. did as well. But some of those Brexit supporters hinted on Thursday that they would be willing to back a deal even without the D.U.P. onboard.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party slammed the proposed deal and said it wanted to put the agreement to a public vote, giving voters a chance to support either leaving the European Union on Mr. Johnson’s terms or abandoning Brexit altogether.

It was among the strongest endorsements yet from Labour of a second Brexit referendum, and a signal that the party would back remaining in the European Union in a public vote on Mr. Johnson’s deal.

Labour said it would attach an amendment to Mr. Johnson’s deal in Parliament that would allow the deal to pass only on the condition that it is backed by a majority of voters in a referendum.

Previous attempts in Parliament to make way for a second public vote on Brexit have failed, and it was not clear that pro-referendum lawmakers would have enough support this time either.

Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called Mr. Johnson’s proposal a “sell-out deal” and said it was worse than the deal negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May. “The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote,” he said

First came the tweets: A deal with the European Union had been reached. Within minutes, the pound surged against the dollar — at one point trading at nearly $1.30.

But its value headed downward as word of the Democratic Unionist Party’s opposition to the agreement spread, and by the afternoon the pound’s value had fallen below where it started the day.

The New York Times has looked at why the pound’s value has been a barometer for Brexit talks over the past three years.





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Westlake Legal Group gbp-chart-1050 Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement Politics and Government Northern Ireland Johnson, Boris International Trade and World Market Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain European Union Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) British Pound (Currency)

$1.48 Britain votes to leave the European Union by a narrow margin.

$1.40 E.U. and British negotiators agree on terms for a smooth transition.

$1.45

$1.29 Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain may cut important economic ties with the E.U.

$1.32 A series of resignations rattles Mrs. May’s cabinet.

$1.29 Mrs. May’s party loses loses its majority in Parliament.

1.40

$1.26 Mrs. May postpones the first vote on Brexit deal.

$1.27 Mrs. May says she will step down, reviving fears of a no-deal Brexit.

$1.24 Departure process officially begins, starting a two-year deadline.

1.35

1.30

1.25

$1.25

The British pound in dollars

1.20

Jul ’16

Oct ’16

Jan ’17

Apr ’17

Jul ’17

Oct ’17

Jan ’18

Apr ’18

Jul ’18

Oct ’18

Jan ’19

Apr ’19

Jul ’19

Westlake Legal Group gbp-chart-600 Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement Politics and Government Northern Ireland Johnson, Boris International Trade and World Market Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain European Union Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) British Pound (Currency)

$1.48 Britain votes to leave the European Union by a narrow margin.

$1.40 E.U. and British negotiators agree on terms for a smooth transiton.

$1.29 Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain may cut important economic ties with the E.U.

$1.32 A series of resignations rattles Mrs. May’s cabinet.

$1.45

$1.26 Mrs. May postpones the first vote on Brexit deal.

1.40

$1.29 Mrs. May’s party loses loses its majority in Parliament.

$1.27 Mrs. May says she will step down, reviving fears of a no-deal Brexit.

1.35

$1.24 Departure process officially begins, starting a two-year deadline.

1.30

1.25

$1.25

The British pound in dollars

1.20

Jul ’16

Jan ’17

Jul ’17

Jan ’18

Jul ’18

Jan ’19

Jul ’19

Westlake Legal Group gbp-chart-375 Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement Politics and Government Northern Ireland Johnson, Boris International Trade and World Market Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain European Union Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) British Pound (Currency)

1.25

1.40

$1.20

1.30

1.35

1.45

Jul ’16

$1.48 Britain votes to leave the European Union by a narrow margin.

Oct ’16

$1.29 Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain may cut important economic ties with the E.U.

Jan ’17

$1.24 Departure process officially begins, starting a two-year deadline.

Apr ’17

$1.29 Mrs. May’s party loses loses its majority in Parliament.

Jul ’17

Oct ’17

$1.40 E.U. and British negotiators agree on terms for smooth transition.

Jan ’18

The British pound

in dollars

Apr ’18

Jul ’18

$1.32 A series of resignations rattles Mrs. May’s cabinet.

Oct ’18

$1.26 Mrs. May postpones the first vote on Brexit deal.

Jan ’19

Apr ’19

$1.27 Mrs. May says she will step down, reviving fears of a no-deal Brexit.

Jul ’19

$1.25

Westlake Legal Group gbp-chart-300 Brexit Live Updates: E.U. and U.K. Come to an Agreement Politics and Government Northern Ireland Johnson, Boris International Trade and World Market Great Britain Withdrawal from EU (Brexit) Great Britain European Union Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Ireland) British Pound (Currency)

1.25

1.40

$1.20

1.30

1.35

1.45

Jul ’16

$1.48 Britain votes to leave the European Union by a narrow margin.

Oct ’16

$1.29 Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain may cut important economic ties with the E.U.

Jan ’17

$1.24 Departure process officially begins, starting a two-year deadline.

Apr ’17

$1.29 Mrs. May’s party loses loses its majority in Parliament.

Jul ’17

Oct ’17

$1.40 E.U. and British negotiators agree on terms for smooth transition.

Jan ’18

The British pound

in dollars

Apr ’18

Jul ’18

$1.32 A series of resignations rattles Mrs. May’s cabinet.

Oct ’18

$1.26 Mrs. May postpones the first vote on Brexit deal.

Jan ’19

Apr ’19

$1.27 Mrs. May says she will step down, reviving fears of a no-deal Brexit.

Jul ’19

$1.25


Source: Refinitiv

By The New York Times

Business groups reacted to the news of a draft deal with a mix of relief that it might prevent Britain from crashing out of the bloc without a plan, and caution over potential long-term consequences.

Many industries, including car manufacturers and aerospace companies, have warned that leaving the European Union without preserving smooth and favorable trade terms would damage their operations in Britain.

For small businesses owners, who have long voiced worries about supply shortages and the loss of markets in Europe, a deal that includes a transition period would at least delay the risk of such dangers.

“Many small businesses will be relieved that there now appears to be a credible pathway toward securing a deal that avoids a chaotic no-deal on 31 October,” Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said in a statement on Thursday.

At the same time, business groups warned against rushing into a poorly thought-through deal that could have damage the economy in the long term.

“If a passable deal is in touching distance, then politicians on all sides should be pragmatic about giving us the time to get there,” Jonathan Geldart, the director general of the Institute of Directors, a British business group, said in a statement.

Reporting was contributed by Mark Landler, Stephen Castle, Ben Mueller, Marc Santora, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Megan Specia, Ceylan Yeginsu, Stanley Reed and Anna Schaverien.

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Peter Navarro Invented an Expert for His Books, Based on Himself

Westlake Legal Group 16DC-RONVARA-01-facebookJumbo Peter Navarro Invented an Expert for His Books, Based on Himself Navarro, Peter International Trade and World Market China

Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser, has developed a reputation in Washington as a Rasputin-like China hawk who whispers anti-China musings in President Trump’s ear.

This week, Washington learned about the mysterious anti-China voice that has long whispered in Mr. Navarro’s ear: Ron Vara.

Ron Vara has appeared as a cryptic voice of economic wisdom more than a dozen times in five of Mr. Navarro’s 13 books, dispensing musings like “You’ve got to be nuts to eat Chinese food” and “Only the Chinese can turn a leather sofa into an acid bath, a baby crib into a lethal weapon and a cellphone battery into heart-piercing shrapnel.”

But Ron Vara, it turns out, does not exist. At least not in corporeal form. He is apparently a figment of Mr. Navarro’s imagination — an anagram of Mr. Navarro’s surname that the trade adviser created as a Hitchcockian writing device and stuck with as something of an inside joke with himself.

Mr. Navarro’s imaginary source surfaced this week when The Chronicle of Higher Education published some of the findings of Tessa Morris-Suzuki, an emeritus professor at Australian National University.

Ms. Morris-Suzuki, concerned about Mr. Navarro’s statements on China, started digging into his earlier work. She unearthed about a dozen instances when Mr. Navarro, previously a business school professor at the University of California, Irvine, had invoked Ron Vara. Curious why she could find no record of such a person, she soon discovered he was not real.

“I think it’s a very strange thing for an academic to do in books that he is presenting as factual,” Ms. Morris-Suzuki said in an email. “It might be different if a writer — even a university-based one — were writing something that was obviously lighthearted and comical and in a nonacademic context.”

Mr. Navarro holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard University. His interests shifted from utility regulation to investment strategy before he latched on to China, becoming a notorious hawk whose anti-China screeds like his book and documentary film “Death by China” caught the eye of Mr. Trump.

Ron Vara first appeared in Mr. Navarro’s 2001 book, “If It’s Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks.” He was described as a gulf war reservist who, like Mr. Navarro, had studied economics at Harvard.

Some of Mr. Navarro’s insights in that book are attributed to Ron Vara in later works, Ms. Morris-Suzuki said. For instance, Mr. Navarro advised in his 2001 book, “Don’t play checkers in a chess world.” That same wisdom is attributed to Ron Vara in “The Well-Timed Strategy” (2006) and “Always a Winner” (2009).

Far from an investing oracle, Ron Vara tended to offer advice in bite-size clichés, such as “Ride the stock market cycle — or be run over,” which appeared in Mr. Navarro’s book “When the Market Moves, Will You Be Ready?”

By the time Mr. Navarro’s musings turned to China, so did, naturally, those of Ron Vara. In “The Coming China Wars,” a section about China’s “poisoned food chain” warned about toxic Chinese fish being exported to the United States. A quote from Ron Vara drove the point home: “You’ve got to be nuts to eat Chinese food.”

“Death by China,” Mr. Navarro’s seminal book, which he wrote with Greg Autry, used a Ron Vara quote to set up a section about how the American eagle had become the world’s biggest pigeon: “The Manufacturing Dragon is voracious. The Colonial Dragon is relentless. The American Eagle is asleep at the wheel.”

A White House spokesman had no comment on Mr. Navarro’s work. A spokesman for the University of California, Irvine, declined to weigh in.

“Mr. Navarro is on leave and no longer represents the university, so we do not have a comment,” said Tom Vasich, the university’s director of media relations. We appreciate your interest in U.C.I.”

In a statement to The Chronicle, Mr. Navarro likened Ron Vara to “Alfred Hitchcock appearing briefly in cameo in his movies” and said it was “refreshing” that someone finally figured out his joke.

The fact that Ron Vara was fake was lost on those who know Mr. Navarro, including some who collaborated with him on writings that attributed comments to the fake source.

Glenn Hubbard, who co-wrote “Seeds of Destruction” with him, told The New York Times that he had been unaware of the creative license that Mr. Navarro had taken.

Michael Pillsbury, a China scholar at the Hudson Institute who occasionally plays tennis with Mr. Navarro, said he hadn’t realized that Mr. Navarro had dabbled in fiction.

“I always knew Peter was creative and imaginative, but I badly misunderestimated him,” Mr. Pillsbury said.

Mr. Navarro declined to elaborate further to The Times. He did, however, invoke his alter-ego once more.

“As Ron Vara might say, ‘Lighten up and have fun reading the books,’” Mr. Navarro said in a text message.

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What’s Really in the Trade Deal Trump Announced With China

Westlake Legal Group 00DC-CHINATRADE-01-facebookJumbo What’s Really in the Trade Deal Trump Announced With China Xi Jinping United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Protectionism (Trade) International Trade and World Market Foreign Investments Customs (Tariff) Currency Agriculture and Farming

President Trump portrayed the “Phase 1” agreement he announced on Friday with China with typical fanfare, describing the pact as “massive” and “the largest contract” ever signed.

“We made a fantastic deal,” Mr. Trump said during remarks on Tuesday at the White House.

There are good reasons to be skeptical about those claims. The deal appears likely to benefit American farmers by increasing Chinese purchases of agricultural goods and gives some other businesses more access to the Chinese market. But the “agreement in principle” is limited in scope and exact details have yet to be put in writing — a process that has derailed negotiations with China in the past.

American officials said Friday that they would work with China on completing an initial agreement in the coming weeks, with hopes of signing a deal when Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping attend a summit of global leaders in Chile in mid-November.

Here’s what we know so far about what the agreement might contain.

From Mr. Trump’s perspective, the centerpiece of the pact is a commitment by China to purchase $40 billion to $50 billion of American agricultural products per year. Administration officials said that target would be reached in the second year of the pact’s enactment.

That volume would be a huge increase over what China was purchasing before the start of the trade war. American farm exports to China peaked at around $25.5 billion in 2016, according to the American Farm Bureau, then dipped to $24.3 billion in 2017.

Since then, exports of soybeans, pork and other products have collapsed under pressure from the trade war. American farm exports to China fell to just $13.4 billion in 2018, and are on track for a similar total this year, according to the same data.

American officials have not specified which products would be purchased, or how they arrived at a $50 billion figure. But to many analysts, that level of exports seems hard to achieve. Mr. Trump himself acknowledged this on Saturday, saying in a tweet that “there is a question as to whether or not this much product can be produced.”

“Our farmers will figure it out. Thank you China!” the president added.

One factor that could sharply drive up China’s imports is its African swine fever epidemic. China has already lost about 40 percent of its hog herd to the sickness, increasing demand for foreign pork and other meats.

The $50 billion target may also include a generous estimate of how other parts of the agreement would affect sales. American officials said they had negotiated speedier food safety checks for imports into China and approvals for genetically modified products, both of which could bolster trade.

Geng Shuang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, confirmed at a news conference Tuesday that China would speed up its purchases of American farm goods. “What the U.S. is saying is the actual situation, which is consistent with what we know,” he said.

From China’s perspective, the biggest win is a promise by Mr. Trump to cancel an Oct. 15 tariff increase, when taxes on $250 billion of Chinese goods were set to rise to 30 percent from 25 percent.

American officials could also cancel plans to impose a 15 percent tax on another roughly $150 billion of goods in December if things go well.

But that still leaves a huge part of tariffs intact. Since the start of the trade war, the United States has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of Chinese products, while China has placed tariffs on roughly $100 billion of American imports.

Trump administration officials said that China had pledged to open its markets to American financial services firms, and that banks and credit card companies would be the primary beneficiaries. But few details have been offered and many of these changes are already in the works for other countries.

Under heavy American pressure, China has announced a series of moves over the past two years to open up its banking and other financial services sectors, allowing higher levels of foreign ownership or even removing ownership caps entirely. But China is unilaterally opening up its financial services sector to businesses from all over the world, not just from the United States.

Some trade experts say the gains to American companies may be limited, pointing out that China has delayed opening its markets for so long that Chinese companies already dominate the financial sector.

The White House initially began the trade war over concerns about China’s treatment of American intellectual property, including what the administration called outright theft of technology and trade secrets.

Mr. Trump said Friday that some measures concerning intellectual property and technology transfer would be included in the “Phase 1” agreement, with additional protections included in later phases. Officials have given few details, though people briefed on the negotiations said the measures include stronger protection for copyrights and patents.

Chinese negotiators have pointed to a foreign investment law passed this year as evidence that they have resolved some of the Trump administration’s concerns. That law contained assurances that China would even the playing field for foreign and domestic businesses, but it had few details. The crucial enforcement regulations are not scheduled to be issued until January.

The agreement also includes new guidelines for how China manages its currency — provisions aimed at resolving American complaints that China has intentionally weakened its currency to make its exports cheaper.

People briefed on the agreement said the provisions looked similar to the currency chapter in the Trump administration’s revised North American Free Trade Agreement. It also closely resembles a pledge that China gave when the Group of 20 nations’ finance ministers gathered in Shanghai in February 2016. Both texts call for countries not to devalue their currencies to achieve a trade advantage and to inform each other if they intervene by buying and selling large amounts of currency.

Some experts question whether requiring the Chinese government to disclose more data will do much to curb intervention. Beijing could respond by doing more of its intervention almost invisibly through state-owned banks, and there are some signs in Chinese data it has already begun doing so.

“The more disclosure there is of China’s formal intervention, the more China is likely to rely on shadow intervention,” said Brad W. Setser, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Obama administration Treasury official.

A big question has been whether China will stick to the promises it makes. Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s top trade negotiator, said the pact would set up “a very elaborate consultation process” with “escalation in various areas so that difficulties can be resolved.” But he added that the details were still being worked out.

American officials have emphasized that their current tariffs, and the threat of future ones, will act as an enforcement mechanism. If China violates the agreement, the Trump administration could move forward with additional tariffs on Chinese products. And if China follows through on its promises, some of Mr. Trump’s existing tariffs could be rolled back.

No agreement has yet been signed and some of it remains unwritten. Mr. Trump said Friday that the deal was “subject to getting everything papered,” but added he did not foresee a problem with that process.

But the United States and China have reached trade truces before — in Buenos Aires last December, and in Osaka, Japan in June — only to see them quickly crumble. That has left some critics hesitant.

“A deal that isn’t written down isn’t a real deal,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said in a statement.

Longstanding concerns about Chinese economic policies that disadvantage American companies do not appear to have been addressed.

These policies, which are often called “structural issues,” include China’s generous subsidies to certain companies, the outsized role of the government in the economy and its systematic discrimination against foreign firms. In particular, the Trump administration has often criticized Beijing’s ambitious plan to dominate cutting-edge technologies like advanced microchips, artificial intelligence and electric cars, called Made in China 2025.

China has fiercely resisted any American demands that it sees as efforts to interfere with how it runs its economy. Negotiators have discussed some measures, like requiring China to disclose more information about how it subsidizes its industries, and people familiar with the talks say such talks will continue. But American officials made no mention of these issues with regard to the initial agreement.

The agreement also excludes provisions related to the manufacturing sector. And it appears to allow China to retain, for now, its high tariffs on American-made cars.

That is notable, because nonagricultural goods — including cars, car parts and aircraft — account for both the bulk of American exports to China, as well as the very large American trade deficit with China that Mr. Trump has criticized.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Saturday that the deal would include $16 billion to $20 billion in purchases of Boeing planes, but American officials have not shared any other details.

Officials have made no mention of a point that is as crucial for American competitiveness as it is hard to resolve: China’s treatment of data.

Chinese laws block multinational companies from moving much of the data they gather on Chinese customers out of the country, meaning that many technology and retail companies must silo off their China business from the rest of their global operations. Chinese officials insist this is a matter of national security and have signaled they are unlikely to yield on this point.

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