Biden moves to ease trade turmoil threatening his solar energy ambitions

“President Joe Biden won’t impose new tariffs on imports of solar power equipment for two years to help ease the fears that have slowed the growth in the renewable energy sector, and will invoke the Defense Production Act to spur domestic manufacturing of critical clean energy technologies, including solar panel parts.

The moves come as the solar energy industry has been roiled by a Commerce Department probe into whether companies in four Southeast Asian countries have circumvented the tariffs on Chinese shipments of solar equipment to the U.S. Those fears have slowed the development of large projects that are crucial to meeting the Biden administration’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector by 2035.”

Sony loses millions after rejecting China’s demand to remove Statue of Liberty from new ‘Spider-Man’ film

“In China, films are reviewed by the China Film Administration under the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Chinese authorities initially wanted Sony and Marvel Studios to take out the American landmark, which is prominently featured during the film’s third act, according to multiple sources.

Chinese regulators reportedly modified the original request to remove the action-packed sequence, instead asking for the removal of certain shots from the sequence that they deemed too “patriotic,” such as the scenes where Tom Holland’s Spider-Man stands on the Statue of Liberty’s crown. The regulators also suggested dimming the parts when the statue is shown to make it less noticeable.

Sony ultimately rejected the request, resulting in Chinese authorities preventing the latest Spider-Man film from being released in the biggest film market in the world. The film lost a potential $170 million-$340 million in sales from China, according to reports.”

Was Russia’s decision to cut off natural gas exports a mistake?

“Despite Western powers’ broad condemnation of and efforts to isolate Russia, the country has managed to maintain ties and partnerships elsewhere around the world. In April, the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over its invasion of Ukraine. The resolution succeeded after it received a two-thirds majority of votes from member states with 93 nations voting in favor of Russia’s suspension from the body. But 24 of the body’s members voted against the action while 58 members abstained from the vote altogether.

Results of the UN vote signify the complexities of real-world diplomacy even in the face of war. Countries in Africa, South America, and Asia have increasingly sought to resist taking sides as the Russia-Ukraine war threatens to shape the world into political factions. But the West’s waning influence in other parts of the globe, combined with economic and political interests at stake, has resulted in many nations opting to maintain their independence when it comes to relations with Russia.

In Asia, where growing vigilance over China’s increasing influence is shared across borders, nations in the southeast and the south of the continent have expressed their intentions to remain on good terms with Russia in spite of the situation with Ukraine. Among Russia’s most loyal partners is India, with whom it has maintained a strong relationship since the Soviet Union’s backing of India during the 1971 war with Pakistan, even as India remained officially non-aligned during the Cold War.

Another factor behind their continued friendship is India’s reliance on Russia as a military arms supplier — from the 1950s to now the country has received an estimated 65 percent of firearms exports from the Soviet Union or Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. India’s border disputes in the Himalayas with China, which triggered a bloody clash in 2020, is another motivating factor for India as Russia has functioned as an important mediator in the conflict with China.

China, another key Russian partner, has refrained from condemning Russia outright, instead asking for the warring countries to reach a peaceful resolution. In a March virtual meeting with France and Germany, President Xi Jinping called for “maximum restraint” on the issue and expressed concerns over the broader impact of sanctions on Russia. But some, like Herrera, doubt how far China will continue to toe the line if the situation worsens.

“China has not said they would not abide by the sanctions and they are so far going along with the sanctions against Russia,” Herrera said. A potential turning point, she said, could be Europe’s next sanctions, particularly any secondary sanctions it puts out, which will be “a big crossroads for China to decide whether to participate with those.”

But its ties with Russia could still end up serving China economically. President Vladimir Putin has stated Russia will “redirect” its energy exports to “rapidly growing markets” elsewhere to help buttress against sanctions, perhaps an effort to maintain support from its key ally.”

Biden’s Protectionist Trade Agenda Will Increase Prices. In Fact, It Already Has.

“If concentration in the marketplace was somehow to blame for rising prices, then it would make sense to attack that problem by expanding competition. Give consumers more choices and they will naturally flock to lower-priced alternatives, putting pressure on other sellers to keep prices down.

The problem, for Biden, is that so much of his economic agenda is pointed in exactly the opposite direction. In one breath, he complains about the lack of consumer choice driving up prices. With the next, he proposes to further restrict consumer choice.

“We will buy American to make sure everything from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the steel on highway guardrails are made in America,” Biden said, before promising that his administration would make some of the “biggest investments in manufacturing in American history” to bring about “the revitalization of American manufacturing.””

“”Shifting demand to American producers with ‘Buy America’ polices [sic] that stop firms and consumers from buying at the lowest cost, no matter how politically attractive, are inflationary. This is something all economists should agree on,” Summers tweeted. “Blaming inflation on corporate greed or holding out the prospect that capacity can be expanded rapidly is at best diversionary.””

“Tariffs are also contributing to inflation by artificially raising the prices of imported goods, including products like raw steel, aluminum, and lumber that are necessary inputs for American manufacturers and home builders.”

“The two researchers found that costs imposed by trade barriers were passing along nearly in full to consumers. For every 1 percentage point increase in the cost of imported construction materials caused by tariffs, for example, they found domestic price increases of 0.9 percent after six months.”

How high can gas prices go?

“The US is not a major consumer of Russian crude oil, which makes up less than 4 percent of US consumption, so banning imports shouldn’t have a huge effect; the US doesn’t import any Russian gas. The US can make up the oil gap with imports from other countries, and the Biden administration already is pursuing that path by opening talks with Venezuela. Nor is Russia all that reliant on the US, because US purchases account for about 9 percent of its exports.

The bigger impact on the price of oil comes from what Biden’s announcement portends. Global oil prices have been fluctuating wildly in recent days, reflecting that there is a wide range of uncertainty over what could happen next. One of the uncertainties is whether more countries will follow the US’s move to ban imports, taking Russian oil off the table for a number of foreign markets. Cutting out Russia makes oil more expensive, because it upends the existing network of pipelines and makes countries’ paths to getting oil longer and more expensive.”

Trump’s Trade Deal With China Was an Abject Failure, Just Like the Trade War

“The so-called “phase one” trade deal inked in December 2019 by former President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping might have put an end to the spiraling trade war between the two countries, but the agreement did not result in China buying more American goods, as both leaders promised it would. In fact, during the two years covered by the deal, China imported fewer American goods than before the trade war began—meaning that the deal did not even succeed at patching up the damage caused by Trump’s bellicose trade policies.”

“We now know that the promised benefits did not materialize. But the costs certainly keep adding up. Auto manufacturers, for example, shifted supply chains to avoid the cost of tariffs and economic uncertainty created by the trade war—by relocating some American manufacturing jobs to China, which has become a large and growing market for auto sales. BMW, for example, shifted much of the production of its X3 sport-utility vehicle from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to China after reporting that tariffs had cut the company’s American profits by about $338 million in 2018. The higher costs imposed by the trade war caused Tesla to announce that it was “accelerating construction” of a new plant in Shanghai.
Overall, Bown estimates, exports to China would have been $26 billion higher in 2020 and $39 billion higher in 2021 if not for the impact of the trade war and subsequent trade deal. That doesn’t account for other losses sustained during the trade war, like the increased farm subsidies paid for by American taxpayers and the run-of-the-mill cost increases created by tariffs.

Aside from some positive developments with regard to China’s treatment of intellectual property and financial services, probably the only good thing about Trump’s “phase one” trade deal is that it has now expired.

“President Trump’s trade war and phase one agreement did little to change China’s economic policymaking,” Bown concludes. “Beijing seems intent on becoming more state-centered and less market oriented.””

China bought none of the $200 billion it promised from the U.S. under ‘Phase 1’ trade deal, study reveals

“Even on the day two years ago that the trade deal was inked, there was skepticism that China would live up to its pledge to spend $200 billion more on U.S. goods and services.

But a new study finds China didn’t even spend an additional dime on U.S. products.”

“China agreed to buy at least $227.9 billion of U.S. exports in 2020 and $274.5 billion in 2021, for a total of $502.4 billion over the pact’s two years, he noted. In reality: U.S. exports of covered goods and services to China over the two years totaled $288.8 billion.”