Biden Escalates Trade War With China

“Biden declared a new national emergency and immediately used it as the justification for creating a new screening system that will limit Americans’ ability to invest overseas.
The new rules, which have been in development since last year, will prohibit private equity and venture capital firms from investing in China-based businesses working in a variety of high-tech fields”

“Narrow or not, this is the first time that the U.S. government has targeted outgoing investments in such a manner.”

“There are only two other countries—South Korea and Taiwan—that have outbound investment screening systems”

Putin’s War Is Slowly Destroying Europe’s Breadbasket

“it isn’t a time of plenty in the breadbasket of Europe, and not only because Russia, for now, says it won’t continue the arrangement it made with the United Nations and Turkey that for a year permitted 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain to be exported from the country’s massive southern ports. The present war has stunted Ukraine’s grain industry at every stage, beginning months before harvest time.
Though blessed with an abundance of wheat-friendly chernozem — the Russian term for “black earth” — most Ukrainians fertilize their soil. “There’s a great shortage of nitrogen fertilizers,” says Denis Tkachenko, who helps run a trade association of Odesa region farms including about 12,000 acres. Fertilization means more grain enriched with the proteins enabling wheat to be baked into bread; poorer crops can be sold more cheaply for animal feed.”

“there are many fewer fields. More than a quarter of Ukraine’s grain country lies east of the Dnieper River, and has been controlled or threatened by Russia since the February 2022 invasion. Even in the relatively safe southwest, the Ukrainian military has commandeered — thereby disabling — a lot of farmland. Tkachenko says that about 3 to 5 percent of the fields in his region were fortified early in the war against a possible Russian sea invasion. Another farmer in the area tells me that a third of his nearly 10,000 acres have been used for trenches, mining and the like.”

Trade War Heats Up With China’s Export Restrictions on Two Critical Minerals

“”China will impose export restrictions on industrial products and materials containing gallium and germanium from August 1 to ensure its national security and interests,” China Daily, a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, announced this week. “According to the relevant provisions of China’s Export Control Law, Foreign Trade Law and Customs Law, gallium, which is used in the production of semiconductors and optoelectronic devices, and germanium, an important raw material for the semiconductor industry, as well as their related products, cannot be exported without permission after July. Export of other industrial materials such as gallium nitride, gallium oxide and zone-refined germanium ingot have also been prohibited.”
That’s a big deal because, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, “in 2021 the top exporters of Gallium, germanium, hafnium, indium, niobium (columbium), rhenium and vanadium: articles thereof, unwrought, including waste and scrap, powders were China ($170M), Chinese Taipei ($53.2M), Germany ($52.4M), Brazil ($43.1M), and South Korea ($32.4M).” China alone is responsible for 29.4 percent of the total (the U.S. is also an exporter, with a 5.47 percent share.)

Specifically breaking out the two restricted minerals, Reuters adds that China produces roughly 60 percent of the world’s germanium and 80 percent of gallium. So, there’s a lot at stake here for computer chip producers and for governments trying to promote domestic producers at the expense of Chinese competitors.”

Do tariffs increase inflation? — Video Sources

How Tariffs and the Trade War Hurt U.S. Agriculture Alex Durante. 2022 7 25. Tax Foundation. Tracking the Economic Impact of U.S. Tariffs and Retaliatory Actions Erica York. 2022 4 1. Tax Foundation. Lessons from the 2002 Bush Steel Tariffs Erica York.

Trump’s tariff time bomb threatens to blow up transatlantic trade

“Negotiators from Brussels and Washington are scrambling to solve a five-year dispute over steel and aluminum dating back to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European imports. They have until October to get a deal but are still so far apart that European officials now fear the chances of an agreement are slim.
Without a deal, both sides could reimpose billions of dollars worth of trade tariffs on each other’s goods — potentially spreading well beyond steel to hit products including French wines, U.S. rum, vodka and denim jeans.”

“Officials in Brussels see the ongoing negotiations as just another push from the U.S. to force them into taking a harder line against China. “The language just seems written to tackle one country specifically,” said one of the European officials.

Discussions only recently picked up pace through the exchange of a U.S. concept paper and then an EU response. Those texts showed how far apart the two sides are on key issues, the officials said.

Washington wants to impose tariffs on imported steel or aluminum products, which would increase progressively based on how carbon-intensive the manufacturing process is, according to the proposal seen by POLITICO. Countries that join the agreement, which would be open to nations outside the EU, would face lower tariffs, or none at all, compared to those that do not.

The EU’s response — also seen by POLITICO — does not include any form of tariffs, according to the officials. Brussels fears the American plan for tariffs goes against the rules of the World Trade Organization, which is a no-go for the EU.

But a senior Biden administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations, told POLITICO that tariffs should not be off the table.

“That’s a pretty powerful tool for driving the market both to reduce carbon intensity as well as to reset the playing field to counteract non-market practices and excess capacity,” the U.S. official said. “What we’ve been trying to understand and respond to, in part, is what are those reasons that the EU has to have concerns about a tariff-type structure.””

“Several officials said Washington is also seeking an exemption from the EU’s carbon border tax, which imposes a tax on some imported goods to make sure European businesses are not undercut by cheaper products made in countries with weaker environmental rules.

Such an exemption for the U.S. is another no-go for Brussels. A European Commission spokesperson said giving the U.S. a pass on the carbon border tax would constitute a breach of WTO rules and “cannot be compared with” the U.S. steel and aluminum measures.”

Why oil prices are up and what it ~ means ~ for you

“OPEC+, meaning the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and its allies, the plus sign, announced it would cut production by over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day. For some context, there are about 100 million barrels of oil produced worldwide each