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Tue, 25th April 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “Economy of the People’s Republic of China” Tag

China greasing economy with $55bn in tax breaks

China’s State Council on Wednesday approved 380 billion yuan ($55.1 billion) in tax relief that will mainly favor farmers and small businesses in a move that is seen as both economic and political.

The second large-scale tax cut to follow last year’s comes as China’s economy is forecast to slow down in the latter half of 2017, during which the Communist Party will convene its 19th National Congress and reshuffle top leadership.

China will modify its value-added tax this July by removing the 13% bracket while retaining the 6%, 11% and 17% tiers. The 13% rate currently applies to farm products and natural gas, but they will move to the 11% category. Farmers as well as households that purchase rice and vegetables will likely benefit from this change.

For smaller companies, those that pay 300,000 yuan or less in annual taxable revenue qualify for preferential tax treatment. The ceiling will be lifted to 500,000 yuan. Furthermore, small businesses and startups will be allowed to deduct 75% of research and development costs, up from 50%. These tax breaks will remain in effect until the end of 2019.

The Chinese government enacted about 500 billion yuan worth of corporate tax cuts in 2016. Helped also by a surge in infrastructure spending, the real economy grew 6.9% during the January-March period this year, marking the second quarter of economic acceleration. However, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has been gradually raising market interest rates in order to rein in the real estate bubble.

Japan – Trade balance for March: Y 614.7bn (expected Y 608.0bn)

Here’s the Trade balance for March, from the Ministry of Finance
Y 614.7bn
  • expected Y 608.0bn, prior was Y 813.5bn
Trade balance (adjusted): Y 172.2bn
  • expected Y172.0 bn, prior was Y 680.3bn
Exports for March y/y:  12.0% big BEAT
  • expected 6.2%, prior was 11.3%
  • fastest rise in exports since January of 2015
  • exports to US +3.5% y/y
  • to China +16.4% y/y
  • to Asia +16.3% y/y
  • to EU +1.4% y/y
Imports for March y/y:  15.8% and another big BEAT
  • expected 10.2%, prior was 1.2%
The improvement in Japanese exports continued in March.

China’s A-shares have better shot at MSCI index

Shanghai and Shenzhen shares have a greater chance at joining a major emerging-market stock index after recent market reforms, though a smaller pool of issues under consideration means entrance will do less than investors and China’s government would like.

MSCI of the U.S. is soliciting institutional investors’ input on whether to include A-shares, or yuan-denominated shares listed on the Chinese mainland, in its Emerging Markets Index. Citigroup gives China’s bid a 51% chance of success, in light of recent reforms.

 These odds are a good deal better than when the question was first considered in 2014. A-shares have been kept out of the mix three years running amid concerns that China’s capital markets are insufficiently open.

The so-called Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor, or QFII, scheme was one key factor. This scheme was long foreign institutions’ only option for buying A-shares. Each entity’s dealings were subject to strict quotas, and the value of remittances was capped at 20% of net assets each month. MSCI naturally refused to include shares in its index that could not be freely bought and sold, and Beijing was slow to change the system to address those concerns.

The index operator has also looked askance at Chinese listed companies’ ability to halt trading of their shares at will — an option that, at one point, roughly 50% of companies had taken. A need for prior approval to create products incorporating A-shares also left MSCI leery.

China’s top securities regulator vows to punish “iron roosters” with no dividend payout

China’s top securities regulator urged listed companies to reward investors with cash dividends, vowing to punish stingy “iron roosters.”

Liu Shiyu, Chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) also warned listed firms against raising money for blind investments, or designing complicated share structures that facilitate insider trading and other malpractices.

 “Paying cash dividends is a basic way to reward investors … and the ultimate source of a stock’s intrinsic value,” Liu said in a recent speech, a transcript of which was posted on CSRC’s website on Saturday.

CSRC will take “tough measures” against those “iron roosters” who haven’t plucked a single feature for many years, even though they have the ability to pay dividends, Liu said.

Liu, installed as head of China’s securities watchdog following the 2015 stock market crash, has made investor protection his priority, having stepped up a crackdown on market manipulation and tightened disclosure rules.

China Starts 2017 With Highest Number Of Corporate Defaults In History

Back in October 2015, roughly around the bottom of the recent commodity cycle, we reported a stunning statistic: more than half of Chinese companies did not generate enough cash flow to even cover the interest on their cash flow, and as we concluded “it is safe to assume that up to two-third of Chinese commodity companies are now at imminent danger of default, as they can’t even generate the cash to pay down the interest on their debt, let alone fund repayments.

While commodity prices have staged a powerful bounce over the past 18 months, and despite the government’s powerful drive to avoid major defaults over concerns about resulting mass unemployment, the inevitable default wave has finally arrived, and as Bloomberg reports overnight, “China’s deleveraging push has racked up the most defaults on corporate bonds ever for a first quarter, and the identity of the debtors is pretty revealing.”

 Seven companies have defaulted on a total of nine bonds onshore so far in 2017, versus 29 for all of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In a sign of the struggles facing China’s old economic model, most of them depend on heavy industry and construction. While it’s still far from a crisis point, the defaults shows how policy makers’ efforts to reduce the liquidity that had propelled the bond market until late last year is exacting casualties.

Cited by Bloomberg, Liu Dongliang, a senior analyst at China Merchants Bank Co. in Shenzhen said that “weak companies can’t sell bonds, which adds to the pressure on their cash flow.” As a result, “the pace of defaults will continue. It will be even more difficult for weak companies to sell bonds because corporate bond yields may rise further — the current yield premium doesn’t provide enough protection against credit risks.”

As discussed in recent months, the Chinese central bank has been curbing leverage in money markets leading to a spike in borrowing costs…

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for more global trade with China

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook expressed support for globalisation and said China should continue to open its economy to foreign firms, while speaking at a forum in Beijing on Saturday.

“I think it’s important that China continues to open itself and widens the door if you will,” said Cook, speaking at the government-sponsored China Development Forum.

 Cook’s comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China, with protectionist rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump sparking concern of increased trade friction between the two countries.

“The reality is countries that are closed, that isolate themselves, it’s not good for their people,” said Cook, in a rare public speech.

Apple said on Friday it will set up two new research and development centres in Shanghai and Suzhou in China.

It has pledged to invest more than 3.5 billion yuan ($508 million) in research and development in China.

Apple has been singled out in Chinese media as a potential target for retaliation in the event of a trade war.

The Global Times warned last November if Trump triggered a trade war with China, Beijing would then target firms from Boeing to Apple in a “tit-for-tat” approach.

China claims transparency on defense spending in its budget

Apart from saying its military budget will grow “roughly 7%” this year, China dropped no more hints on how much it was planning to spend on defense and foreign affairs amid rising tensions on both sides of the Pacific.

In the budget, the item “national defense” is substantiated by a guiding principle devoid of specific figures, while “foreign affairs” as an accounting item is not mentioned in the report.

 The Ministry of Finance said in the English version of the document that the department will ensure adequate funds to support China’s aim of “building a solid national defense and strong armed forces that are commensurate with China’s international standing and are suited to our national security and development interests.”

The two figures are usually disclosed in the country’s most important political event known as the “Two Sessions” every March, where its rubber-stamp legislature National’s People Congress and advisory Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference converge.

Despite that, state mouthpiece Xinhua said on Monday that China’s total military budget for 2017 is 1.044 trillion yuan ($151.4 billion), citing an official at the Ministry of Finance. This compares with last year’s 954.35 billion yuan.

Premier Li Keqiang’s state-of-the-nation address and budget announcement on Sunday was the first time in decades that specific spending figures were not mentioned.

Trump takes the world on a wild trade ride

Anyone who has taken their children to Disney world in the U.S. has felt the pressure to go on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” Based on the character from the children’s classic, “The Wind in the Willows,” Mr. Toad is the reckless scion of the largest building in the forest, Toad Hall. Fabulously wealthy, he buys a car to impress his friends, although he has no idea how to drive. He loads his companions into the vehicle, liberally honking the horn as he careens on a path of destruction, heedless of the damage he does and exhilarated by the fear he engenders.

U.S. trade policy is now on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” with the difference being that the Disney version ends where it began, with no harm done. The Trump administration’s lack of predictability and indifference to global risk is the new normal. Nowhere does President Donald Trump’s trade policy carry a greater risk than in the interplay of the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China.

 Out of disbelief or disorientation, markets have examined the Trump challenge to U.S.-China trade and concluded it is manageable. That conclusion ignores the consequences of a decisive turn in U.S. policy toward Trump’s version of “America First” isolationism and trade protection, coupled with his apparent animosity toward China and his failure to view the relationship within a wider context.  Further, it rejects the belief that the direction of Trump’s China and trade policy is real and durable, even though it was central to the argument that won him the presidency. 

Even before he seeks new legislation from Congress, Trump has an impressive range of options in dealing with Chinese trade issues. These include:

– Imposing tariffs on all Chinese imports.

Japan resurfaces as No. 2 contributor to US trade deficit

Japan accounted for $68.9 billion of the U.S. trade deficit on goods in 2016, re-emerging as the second-largest contributor for the first time in three years for a potential flashpoint when the leaders of the two nations meet Friday.

The overall U.S. trade deficit on goods shrank by 1.5% to $734.3 billion last year on a Census basis, according to Department of Commerce data released Tuesday. Exports fell 3.2% to $1.45 trillion on a strong dollar, but imports decreased 2.6% to $2.18 trillion.

 The country logged a $247.8 billion surplus on services, bringing the overall U.S. trade deficit to $502.3 billion on a balance of payments basis.

The goods deficit with Japan remained roughly flat and accounted for 9% of the U.S. total. The deficit on motor vehicles and parts — an area in which President Donald Trump claims Japan engages in unfair practices — jumped to $52.6 billion from $48.9 billion in 2015, making up nearly 80% of the total American deficit with Japan.

Japanese automakers are increasing production in North America. But cars sold from Japan to the U.S. tend to be higher-end models, and the average price per unit is rising.

China was the top contributor to the U.S. trade deficit on goods, accounting for $347 billion, or 47%. Germany ranked third and Mexico fourth. Trump, seeking to curb the deficit, has accused Japan, China and Germany of manipulating their currencies. The president also demands a renegotiation of NAFTA with Mexico.

China press (Xinhua): “China collapse” would be good for no one

A commentary piece in Xinhua that outloines current challenges facing the Chinese economy:

  • Such as a weak global recovery, rising trade protectionism, domestic debt overhang & excess capacity
But still, it says:
  • China’s contribution to world growth in 2016 is again poised to top that of all other countries, exceeding the figure for all developed economies combined
  • The IMF has projected China’s growth to be 6.6 percent with global growth at 3.1 percent in 2016
  • However, China’s growth last year appears set to hit 6.7 percent
It concludes with a projection on growth at 6.5%
( Xinhua News Agency is the official press agency of China, it is a ministry-level institution subordinate to the central government and its head is a member of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party.)