CX Daily: Two More Rounds of U.S.-China Trade Talks Announced
U.S. trade delegation to visit Beijing March 28-29, China says
An American delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will visit Beijing March 28-29 for trade negotiations, China's Ministry of Commerce announced Thursday, while China’s Vice Premier Liu He will head to Washington in early April.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported last week that Liu, Mnuchin and Lighthizer have been talking by phone since their last meet-up in February and have achieved some progress on a draft agreement.
Despite reportedly making important progress in recent negotiation rounds, the two sides are at loggerheads over an enforcement mechanism the U.S. is trying to impose on China to ensure Beijing lives up to its promises. Trump has also said he will not remove tariffs on China until the country proves its compliance with any trade agreement.
FINANCE & ECONOMICS
A total of 48 "abnormal transactions" were reported on the two bourses last week, up from 28 in the trading week ended March 8. Photo: VCG
The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges have ordered brokerages to keep a closer eye on their customers for any shady trading practices, we've learned, highlighting official concerns over a possible bubble in the mainland’s stock market.
Forms of illicit activity include spoofing, when a trader places a large buy or sell order with no intention of executing it to create a phony impression about a stock, and pump-and-dump schemes, which involve making false or misleading statements about a stock one owns to inflate its value. Since the notice was issued, the number of abnormal transactions published by the stock exchanges has soared.
China's property tax law yet keeps pace
When the Ministry of Finance didn't mention the long-awaited property tax law in its 2019 regulatory work plan released Wednesday, it fueled speculation that the draft of the law was a long way from being finished. But those worries may be unfounded.
Rather than the ministry being the sole authority responsible for the draft, the NPC's Budgetary Affairs Committee is taking the lead in drafting the law. Meanwhile, though the ministry didn’t mention the legislation, this is nothing new, since it hadn't mentioned the property tax law in its last two regulatory work plans.
Check out our analysis on where we think the law currently stands.
China to draft value-added tax law this year
Other forthcoming laws are China's updates to VAT and consumption tax, which the country will try to finish drafting this year, according to the Ministry of Finance.
VAT is the largest source of government tax revenues and will be a major part of nearly 2 trillion yuan ($300 billion) of tax and fee cuts this year. Beijing promised to cut the VAT rate from 16% to 13% for manufacturers, and for transportation and construction companies from 10% to 9%, according to the government work report released earlier this month.
Regional integration /
Hong Kong residents cleared for mainland bank accounts
A trial approved Wednesday by the China's central bank as part of the integration of the Greater Bay Area's financial services will allow Hong Kong residents to open mainland accounts at Hong Kong branches of Bank of China without having to visit the mainland in person.
Having mainland accounts will make travel more convenient for Hong Kong residents as many mobile service apps such as ride sharing and food delivery require links to Chinese bank accounts. Bank of China said customers will be able to link their accounts to ubiquitous mainland mobile payment systems such as Tencent Holding’s WeChat Pay and Ant Financial Services Group’s Alipay.
Coming up /
Thursday, March 21: President Xi Jinping pays state visit to Italy, Monaco and France from March 21 to 26.
Saturday, March 23: The 20th China Development Forum will be held in Beijing from March 23 to 25.
Tuesday, March 26: Boao Forum for Asia will be held in Boao, Hainan from March 26 to 29.
Wednesday, March 27: NBS will release its March report on industrial profits of companies above a designated size.
Quick hits /
The World Bank’s role in the transformation of China’s state sector: Part four
Hong Kong-based brokerage loses second senior executive in two months
BUSINESS & TECH
Tencent quarterly profit sags, to pay dividend
Gaming and social networking giant Tencent turned in a solid performance for 2018, with annual revenue up 32% to a cool 312.7 billion yuan ($46.80 billion), and annual operating profit up a less impressive 8% to 97.7 billion yuan, according to its latest financial report. But its profit tumbled more than 30% in Q4, as gaming suffered under a regulatory freeze, which was finally lifted in January.
In a bid to boost sentiment toward its sagging stock, the company proposed a dividend of HK$1 ($0.13) per share, turning to a commonly used corporate tactic to make its stock more attractive. Tencent’s Hong Kong-listed shares shed nearly 30% last year as investors fretted about the gaming approval freeze. They have gained back some of that this year amid a broader rally on China’s domestic stock markets.
The great selloff /
HNA’s latest asset sale attracts U.S., Indian bidders: sources
U.S. private equity firm Advent International, China UnionPay and Indian IT services company Tech Mahindra are among those participating in late-stage bidding for IT outsourcing firm Pactera Technology, which is being sold by the cash-strapped HNA Group, we've learned.
Following a Beijing crackdown on private companies with excessive debt, HNA has been under pressure to sell many of its assets to raise cash since the second half of 2017. The bidding for Pactera has entered a second round, following an initial round in which bids ranged between $400 million and $700 million, said a source.
One year later, ZTE is still recovering from U.S. sanctions
At the height of its clash with the U.S. government, telecom equipment maker ZTE ceased most operations and said its viability was in doubt. The company has been in a state of rebuilding ever since reaching its latest settlement involving new leadership and a $1 billion fine, executives said at a Wednesday shareholders meeting in its hometown of Shenzhen.
Chairman Li Zixue said that following a difficult second half of 2018, ZTE is in a “slowing-down mode.” The company’s strategy hasn’t changed and will focus on “recovery, development and excelling,” he said.
Alternative fuel /
China backs methanol-powered cars as part of cleaner energy drive
The central government has announced a policy to promote methanol-fueled vehicles as part of an official drive to reduce the country’s reliance on gasoline and diesel.
Methanol can be produced from renewable resources, such as biomass and natural gas, and is believed to reduce emissions by increasing engine efficiency. The policy will target regions where methanol is an abundant resource, such as the provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou and Gansu, according to an official document.
Coming up /
Wednesday, March 27: China Mengniu Dairy Co. Ltd. is expected to report annual results for the year ended Dec. 31.
Quick hits /
At 91, Hong Kong real estate tycoon signals his sons will succeed him
Former Tencent AI chief to head new Sinovation-backed Hong Kong lab
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