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Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Following what was a mostly quiet holiday weekend for trade-war-related rhetoric (other than a dollop of trade-deal optimism offer by President Trump, little was said by either side), Beijing has started the holiday-shortened week by reiterating threats to embrace what we have described as a ‘nuclear’ option: restricting exports of rare earth metals to the US.

Global Times editor Hu Xijin, who has emerged as one of the most influential Communist Party mouthpieces since President Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, tweeted that China is “seriously considering restricting rare earths exports to the US.”

Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. . China may also take other countermeasures in the future.

There are signs that these warnings should be taken seriously: One week ago, President Xi and Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator, visited a rare earth metals mine in Jiangxi province. Rare earths, which are vital for the manufacture of everything from microchips to batteries, to LED displays to night-vision goggles, have been excluded from US tariffs.


Though other Chinese officials have denied that export curbs were being considered, Xi’s visit was widely viewed as a symbolic warning. Seven out of every 10 tons of rare earth metals mined last year were produced by Chinese mines. One analyst warned that Xi’s visit was intended to send “a strong message” to the US.

Beijing is limited in its ability to retaliate against Washington’s tariffs by the fact that there simply aren’t enough American-made goods flowing into the Chinese market. Because of these limits, it’s widely suspected that Beijing will find other ways to retaliate. Though they are more plentiful than precious metals like gold and platinum, rare earths can be expensive to refine and extract.


The tension has sparked a 30% increase in ‘heavy rare earth’ metals.

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Are You Kidding Me? Chinese Exports Plunge 25.4 Percent Compared To Last Year

Are You Kidding Me? Chinese Exports Plunge 25.4 Percent Compared To Last Year

Exports Declining - Public DomainWe just got more evidence that global trade is absolutely imploding.  Chinese exports dropped 25.4 percent during the month of February compared to a year ago, and Chinese imports fell 13.8 percent compared to a year ago.  For Chinese exports, that was the worst decline that we have seen since 2009, and Chinese imports have now fallen for 16 months in a row on a year over year basis.  The last time we saw numbers like this, we were in the depths of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  China accounts for more global trade than any other nation (including the United States), and so this is a major red flag.  Anyone that is saying that the global economy is in “good shape” is clearly not paying attention.

If someone would have told me a year ago that Chinese exports would be 25 percent lower next February, I would not have believed it.  This is not just a slowdown – this is a historic implosion.  The following comes from Zero Hedge

Things are not getting better in China as Exports crashed 25.4% YoY (the 3rd largest drop in history), almost double the 14.5% expectation and Imports tumbled 13.8%, the 16th month of YoY decline – the longest ever.Altogether this sent the trade surplus down to $32.6bn (missing expectations of $51bn) to 11-month lows.

Chinese Exports - Zero Hedge

So much for that whole “devalue yourself to export growth” idea…

I don’t know how anyone can possibly dismiss the importance of these numbers.  As you can see, this is not just a one month aberration.  Chinese trade numbers have been declining for months, and that decline appears to be accelerating.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Week In Energy: The Growing Threat From China

This Week In Energy: The Growing Threat From China

Oil prices dropped to new six-year lows this week as WTI dipped below $42 per barrel. The big piece of news this week was the currency depreciation in China. It seems we are talking more and more these days about the warning signs coming from China’s economy and how the trouble there is depressing oil prices. In June and July, it was the stock market crash, and this week it is the currency depreciation. The yuan dropped 3 percent by the end of the week after stabilizingat 6.3975 per dollar.

The move to devalue the yuan was aimed at providing a jolt to Chinese exports. But a more pessimistic take on the move is that China’s economy is starting to raise some red flags. The grip that the central government has had on the economy appears to be slipping. The Chinese government has carefully crafted a reputation of control, backed up by two decades of phenomenal growth.

Presiding over such a period of unprecedented economic expansion has created an aura of invincibility and inevitability. But the economy is starting to appear fragile, with high levels of provincial debt, an inflated stock market, and growing unease about environmental pollution that could force the government to pullback on growth. To make matters worse, the port city of Tianjin suffered a massive explosion this week that killed dozens of people and spewed toxic chemicals into the air. The incident is emblematic of China’s growth-at-all-costs model, which is starting to run its course as people become fed up.

Related: Energy Investors May Have A Long Wait Ahead

That is the backdrop for the currency move this week, and the devaluation sent a shock through the oil markets. Oil demand has been growing, but not quick enough to soak up extra crude supplies. A weaker Chinese currency will make oil comparatively more expensive, so could knock Chinese oil demand down a bit, a bearish development for oil.



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