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China Says World Trade System Not Perfect, Needs Reform

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  • China Says World Trade System Not Perfect, Needs Reform

The current world trade system is not perfect and China supports reforms to it, including to the World Trade Organization, to make it fairer and more effective, Beijing’s top diplomat said.

China is locked in a bitter trade war with the United States and has vowed repeatedly to uphold the multilateral trading system and free trade, with the WTO at its center.

But speaking late on Thursday to reporters after meeting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said some reforms could be good.

While certain doubts have been raised about the current international trading system, China has always supported the protection of free trade and believes that multilateralism with the WTO at its core should be strengthened, Wang added.

“At the same time, we do not believe that the current system is perfect and without flaws,” he said.

“China supports necessary reforms and perfection of the current system, including to the WTO, to make it fairer, more effective and more rational,” Wang added.

The basic tenets of the WTO, in opposing protectionism and supporting free trade should not change, but the rights of developing nations should also not be overlooked, he said.

“The aim of reform should be to allow countries to enjoy the development fruits of globalization more fairly, not to further widen the differences between south and north,” Wang said.

WTO reforms need to include listening to voices from all parties and broad consultation, and should especially listen to a respect the opinions of developing countries, rather than just allowing “one person to have a say”, he added.

“The issue of WTO reform is extremely complex, and involves many areas. (China) hopes all parties remain patient, and advance step by step.”

His remarks come as China and the United States may return to the negotiating table with the threat of new U.S. tariffs looming. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has extended an invitation to talks to his counterparts in Beijing.

“TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHOULD NOT BE MISTAKEN”

But China will not buckle to U.S. demands in any trade negotiations, the major state-run China Daily newspaper said in an editorial on Friday, after Chinese officials welcomed an invitation from Washington for a new round of talks.

The official China Daily said that while China was “serious” about resolving the stand-off through talks, it would not be rolled over, despite concerns over a slowing economy and a falling stock market at home.

“The Trump administration should not be mistaken that China will surrender to the U.S. demands. It has enough fuel to drive its economy even if a trade war is prolonged,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

If the United States imposed new levies on Chinese imports then Beijing “will not hesitate to take countermeasures against U.S. tariffs to safeguard China’s interests,” it added.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Thursday that the United States holds the upper hand in talks.

“We are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us,” Trump tweeted. “Our markets are surging, theirs are collapsing.”

The U.S. administration is readying a final list of $200 billion in Chinese imports on which it plans to levy tariffs of 10-25 percent in coming days, which would ramp up the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Trump said last week that he also had tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of goods ready “on short notice if I want.”

A meeting among Cabinet-level officials could ease market worries over the escalating tariff war that threatens to engulf all trade between the world’s two largest economies and raise costs for companies and consumers.

However, the last round of talks, between mid-level U.S. and Chinese officials in August, failed to reach any agreement.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Oil Prices Slide on China Demand Concerns, Brent Falls to $83.73

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Oil prices declined on Tuesday for the third consecutive day on growing concerns over a slowing Chinese economy and its impact on global oil demand.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dipped by $1.12, or 1.3% at $83.73 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped $1.15, or 1.4%, to close at $80.76.

The dip in oil prices is largely attributed to disappointing economic data from China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Official figures revealed a 4.7% growth in China’s GDP for the April-June period, the slowest since the first quarter of 2023, and below the forecasted 5.1% growth expected in a Reuters poll.

This slowdown was compounded by a protracted property downturn and widespread job insecurity, which have dampened fuel demand and led many Chinese refineries to cut back on production.

“Weaker economic data continues to flow from China as continued government support programs have been disappointing,” said Dennis Kissler, Senior Vice President of Trading at BOK Financial. “Many of China’s refineries are cutting back on weaker fuel demand.”

Despite the bearish sentiment from China, there is a growing consensus among market participants that the U.S. Federal Reserve could begin cutting its key interest rates as soon as September.

This speculation has helped stem the decline in oil prices, as lower interest rates reduce the cost of borrowing, potentially boosting economic activity and oil demand.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell noted on Monday that the three U.S. inflation readings over the second quarter “add somewhat to confidence” that the pace of price increases is returning to the central bank’s target in a sustainable fashion.

This has led market participants to believe that a turn to interest rate cuts may be imminent.

Also, U.S. crude oil inventories provided a silver lining for the oil market. According to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures, U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels last week.

This was a much steeper drop than the 33,000 barrels decline that was anticipated, indicating strong domestic demand.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also weighed in, suggesting that while the global economy is set for modest growth over the next two years, risks remain.

The IMF noted cooling activity in the U.S., a bottoming-out in Europe, and stronger consumption and exports for China as key factors in the global economic landscape.

In summary, while oil prices are currently pressured by concerns over China’s economic slowdown, the potential for U.S. interest rate cuts and stronger domestic demand for crude are providing some support.

Market watchers will continue to monitor economic indicators and inventory levels closely as they gauge the future direction of oil prices.

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OPEC+ Production Cuts Set to Balance Global Oil Market, Says Russian Deputy PM

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In a statement on Monday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak expressed confidence that the global oil market will achieve balance in the second half of 2024, thanks to the production cut strategies implemented by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+.

OPEC+, which includes major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, has been actively managing oil output to stabilize the market since late 2022.

In their most recent meeting on June 2, the group agreed to extend their latest production cut of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of September. This cut is scheduled to be gradually phased out starting in October.

“The market will always be balanced thanks to our actions,” Novak stated, emphasizing the importance of the coordinated efforts by OPEC+ in maintaining market equilibrium.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that global oil demand will surpass supply by approximately 750,000 bpd in the latter half of 2024 due to the continued reduction in OPEC+ output.

This outlook was echoed in a report by OPEC last week, which highlighted an anticipated oil supply deficit in the coming months and into 2025.

Novak’s remarks come at a crucial time for the global oil market, which has experienced significant volatility over the past year.

The OPEC+ alliance has been pivotal in mitigating some of this instability by adjusting production levels in response to fluctuating demand and other market dynamics.

Analysts suggest that the measures taken by OPEC+ will play a vital role in ensuring that the oil market remains stable as the world continues to navigate economic uncertainties and fluctuating energy demands.

The production cuts are expected to support oil prices by limiting supply, thereby helping to balance the market.

The impact of these production cuts is already being felt, with oil prices showing signs of stabilization.

However, the market remains sensitive to geopolitical developments and economic trends, which could influence future supply and demand dynamics.

As OPEC+ prepares to unwind some of its production cuts in the coming months, industry observers will be closely monitoring the market’s response.

The gradual phasing out of the cuts is designed to prevent any sudden shocks to the market, allowing for a smoother transition and sustained balance.

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Oil Prices Steady Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty and Middle East Tensions

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Oil prices held firm on Monday as the political uncertainty in the United States and ongoing tensions in the Middle East persist.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced,  fell slightly by 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $84.90 a barrel after a 37-cent drop on Friday.

Similarly, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude stood at $82.15 a barrel, down 6 cents, or 0.1%.

The dollar’s strength, which followed a failed assassination attempt on U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exerted some pressure on oil prices.

A stronger dollar typically makes oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies, leading to reduced demand.

“I don’t think you can ignore the uncertainty that the weekend’s assassination attempt will cast across a deeply divided country in the lead-up to the election,” said Tony Sycamore, market analyst at IG.

In the Middle East, efforts to end the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas stalled over the weekend.

Talks were halted after three days, although a Hamas official indicated that the group had not withdrawn from discussions.

The situation escalated further when an Israeli attack targeting a Hamas military leader killed 90 people on Saturday, maintaining the geopolitical premium on oil.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, oil markets remain supported by supply cuts from OPEC+. Iraq’s oil ministry has pledged to compensate for any overproduction since the beginning of the year, reinforcing the market’s stability.

Last week, Brent fell more than 1.7% after four weeks of gains, while WTI futures slid 1.1%. The decline was largely attributed to a fall in China’s crude imports, which countered robust summer consumption in the United States.

“While fundamentals are still supportive, there are growing demand concerns, largely emanating from China,” noted ING analysts led by Warren Patterson.

China’s crude oil imports fell 2.3% in the first half of this year to 11.05 million barrels a day, with disappointing fuel demand and reduced output by independent refiners due to weak profit margins.

Also, crude throughput at Chinese refineries dropped 3.7% in June from a year earlier to 14.19 million barrels per day, marking the lowest level this year, according to customs data.

China’s economy has slowed in the second quarter, weighed down by a protracted property downturn and job insecurity, keeping alive expectations that Beijing will need to implement more stimulus measures.

In the United States, the active oil rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by one to 478 last week, marking the lowest level since December 2021, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes.

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