China’s Xi promises market opening as import fair begins
By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer
Monday, November 5
SHANGHAI (AP) — President Xi Jinping promised Monday to open China’s growing consumer market wider at an import fair meant to help defuse complaints Beijing abuses the global trading system. But he offered no response to U.S. and European complaints about technology policy and investment curbs.
The China International Import Expo is part of efforts to develop China-centered trading networks while resisting pressure to roll back industry plans that Washington, Europe, Japan and other governments say violate its market-opening obligations.
“It is our sincere commitment to open the Chinese market,” Xi said in a speech to a VIP audience that included Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Xi promised to cut costs for importers and improve consumer spending power to help boost imports.
The president made no mention of the standoff with U.S. President Donald Trump over Chinese plans for state-led development of technology industries. But in an indirect reference to Trump’s “America first” policies and threats of import controls, Xi appealed to other governments to “jointly safeguard free trade.”
Some 3,600 companies from 152 countries selling everything from Egyptian dates to German factory machinery are attending the five-day event at a cavernous convention center that bills itself as one of the world’s biggest buildings.
Prime ministers and other senior officials of governments including Egypt, Pakistan and Vietnam also were attending the fair. The United States – China’s biggest trading partner – did not send a high-level envoy.
Xi’s government is emphasizing the promise of a growing consumer market of 1.4 billion people to help deflect complaints that it subsidizes fledgling technology suppliers and shields them from competition.
Business groups say China still hampers access to industries including finance and logistics. They say regulators are trying to squeeze foreign competitors out of promising fields such as information security.
Xi promised steps that might address such complaints if carried out, including easing restrictions on foreign competitors in finance, education, telecoms and health care. He gave no details or a timetable but said the ruling party already was carrying out changes promised over the past year.
Businesspeople and economists welcomed the promises but said Beijing needs to act promptly to dispel concern about the cooling, state-dominated economy.
The speech “is at least a tacit acknowledgement that much needs to be done,” the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, William Zarit, said in an email. “We will see if this leads to the timely sweeping reforms needed for a fair and reciprocal bilateral commercial relationship.”
The ruling Communist Party is trying to restore public confidence after economic growth sank to a post-global crisis low of 6.5 percent over a year earlier in the last quarter. The country’s stock market has sunk 25 percent this year, becoming the world’s worst performer.
Xi acknowledged some Chinese industries face “growing risks” but said efforts to shore up growth are already paying off.
China’s $12 trillion-a-year economy is “a sea, not a small pond” and can withstand shocks, he said.
“A storm can overturn a small pond, but not a sea,” he said. “After more than 5,000 years of hardship, China is still here. Facing the future, China will always be here.”
China has cut tariffs and announced other measures this year to boost imports, which rose 15.9 percent in 2017 to $1.8 trillion. But none addresses U.S. complaints that prompted Trump to impose penalty tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports. Beijing has responded with tariff hikes on $110 billion of American goods.
The fair lets Beijing show it is “making efforts to boost imports,” said Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia economist for IHS Markit. But a deal with Washington “will require significant measures by authorities to reduce bilateral trade imbalances and to protect U.S. intellectual property rights,” he said.
Chinese leaders have rejected pressure to scale back plans such as “Made in China 2025,” which calls for state-led creation of global champions in robotics and other fields that might challenge U.S. industrial leadership.
Last week, Trump and Xi had what China’s foreign ministry called an “extremely positive” phone conversation. They plan to meet during this month’s Group of 20 gathering of major economies in Argentina, but private sector analysts say a breakthrough is unlikely.
Already the No. 1 market for its Asian neighbors, China is promoting its “Belt and Road” initiative to expand commerce by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across 65 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Europe and Africa.
The Shanghai expo also gives Beijing a chance to repair its image as a positive force for global development following complaints that “Belt and Road” projects leave host countries with too much debt, with too little work going to local companies.
Exhibitors at the event included U.S. automakers and technology suppliers European pharmaceutical and clothing brands, African tea exporters and Japanese electronics manufacturers.
At a stand for Nicolas Correa SA, a Spanish maker of factory equipment, salesman Carl Che showed potential customers a milling machine the size of a bus that can cost 1 million to 5 million euros ($1.2 million to 6 million). Che said Chinese manufacturers of wind turbines, aircraft and nuclear power equipment have bought 406 of the machines since 2003 and the company is looking to expand to food, health and other industries.
The expo is “a good chance to show ourselves to the whole of China,” said Che. “Today, we received five customers who are very interested. It is just a matter of price.”
The China agent for Metal Shark Boats, a New Orleans-based builder of heavy-duty vessels for law enforcement and fire agencies, had two 13-meter-long (40-foot-long) patrol boats sitting in metal cradles.
It has sold five boats to China’s customs agency and is marketing itself to environmental and other regulators, said Sherman Ge, chairman of Shanghai-based Breeze Tech.
The expo also highlights the blurring of lines between Chinese and foreign industry as China’s companies expand abroad.
Exhibitors promoting imports into China included Sweden’s Volvo Cars, a unit of Chinese automaker Geely Holding; General Electric Appliances, part of China’s Haier Group in 2016, and California-based solar supplier MiaSole, part of Beijing-based Hanergy Group.
The unimaginable costs of sexual assault
October 31, 2018
Sarah L. Cook
Professor of Psychology & Associate Dean, Georgia State University
Sarah L. Cook has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Justice.
Georgia State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
What is the cost of sexual assault? The answer depends on whom you ask.
Social and behavioral scientists like me measure the consequences of sexual assault in terms of mental health, physical health and educational outcomes. We know that post-traumatic stress symptoms may last for years and even decades. Health is compromised indirectly, in ways unknown and unknowable to victims.
Economists measure the cost of health and mental health care and days of productivity lost.
Other costs, however, are intangible, harder to quantify. We might call them quality-of-life issues. What might these costs include?
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford might put her desire to have two doors in the front of her house – and the couple’s therapy bills that followed that panic-driven request – into the intangible category.
As for me, I have lived in a single-story house for 25 years. I have avoided leaving my home after dark so that I don’t have to re-enter it. Errands I don’t complete in daylight stray into the next day. I ask for restaurant seats against the wall, arrange my desk to face the door, and am always aware of the nearest exits. I have loved successive German shepherd dogs who gave me comfort while I slept and security to stroll my neighborhood.
Twenty-five years ago, I descended a staircase and encountered a man wielding a tire iron. He bludgeoned my head and tried to rape me.
I suffered multiple surgeries, endured years of therapy, and still startle more easily than a cat. But far from being damaged, I consider myself thriving, some might say flourishing – despite the costs I incur. I have fixed the problem of who lurks on the first floor by not having a second one. But the problem of entering my house after dark remains. I am wary of who may be there when I return, even with multiple locks, an alarm system and those sweet German shepherds.
I do these things because I will never forget the depth of horror that invaded my mind, body and soul when I thought the man with the tire iron was going to kill me. I understand in ways I wish I could not why Ford’s voice cracked when she gave voice to her realization that she could be suffocated.
Friends and family accommodate my quirks. I’m lucky I don’t have to devise novel explanations for seemingly irrational behavior. Others bear an additional burden of creatively explaining away lasting fears.
Describing and measuring violence
The heinous assault against me occurred in the midst of my doctoral studies on violence against women at the University of Virginia. Then, and many times later, I vowed to continue my research. If I changed focus, the man who tried to kill me would have silenced me. I persisted despite concerns I would be perceived as unobjective.
And yet, the nature of my research changed over time. I began to focus on the conceptualization and the measurement of aggression against women, a far more basic question than I had imagined for myself. Maybe this pivot to theoretical territory felt safer, less visceral. My goal was to name the various ways in which women were violated, to help the public understand myriad ways in which women lost autonomy due to violence and the threat of it.
I have written about the importance of language and naming in scholarly journals as well as in The Conversation. I wanted the problem to enter into the public discourse with less shame and stigma. In retrospect, maybe these goals were personally motivated.
In light of this work, it may seem surprising that the sustained and exponential growth of #metoo disclosures both on campus and off – and society’s reaction – have shocked me. Often I am heartened by what I hear – particularly from the youth whose sexual values and ethics reflect substantial norms change from my generation of Xers – but it has also taken a toll.
When Harvey Weinstein was arrested, I fell to the floor in tears. I cried most of the morning. You can bet it wasn’t for Weinstein. It was for me. It was for other women. I was happy and grieving at the same time. The unimaginable was happening. Society was holding a man of great power and wealth accountable. His arrest was a chink in the stigma of sexual violation. I have lived to see happen what I never thought I would. Women who had much to lose by doing so were disclosing their experiences, and society was believing them.
But now, after Ford’s testimony in front of the Senate judiciary committee, I myself am looking for a safe “second exit” – surprisingly, from research on sexual assault that has been my focus for so long. Has my work kept some healing at bay, or has it healed more than I know? Have I incurred costs I cannot name? Each new public or private disclosure is more wrenching for me than the previous. I turn the newspaper over, the radio off. I am nauseated, no longer in the abstract realm of theory, data and statistical inference.
I have worked for nearly 30 years on naming and identifying harms to women. I’m not sure what direction I will take next. If my work has, in some way, even indirectly, contributed to the social change we are now awash in, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment. If just one woman is spared from blame for just being in her home, for inadequately locking a faulty glass door or for creatively saving her life, I have great return on my investment.
We will never be able to estimate the true cost of sexual assault. The ways in which women – even those who flourish – arrange their lives after an assault are impossible to imagine. Two front doors – who could have imagined? We can’t measure what we can’t imagine. But we can begin to name.
State cap-and-trade systems offer evidence that carbon pricing can work
November 5, 2018
Author: Kelly Sims Gallagher, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy and Director of Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at The Fletcher School, Tufts University
Disclosure statement: Kelly Sims Gallagher receives funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Breakthrough Energy Coalition, BP, and ClimateWorks. She is affiliated with the Belfer Center of Science & International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard University Center for Environment, The Tyler Prize, and The Energy Foundation.
Partners: Tufts University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report argues that carbon pollution must be cut to zero by 2050 to avoid devastating levels of climate change.
Achieving that goal will require swiftly transforming the energy, transportation, housing and food industries, and more. Although these tasks are daunting and the Trump administration is dismantling federal regulations aimed at reducing climate-changing emissions, cost-effective policy tools that could help do exist. And individual U.S. states and regions are using them to make significant progress to reduce emissions.
I led a Fletcher School Climate Policy Lab team that reviewed carbon pricing policies in 15 jurisdictions to see how they work in the real world, not just in theory. We found that in all cases carbon pricing seems to be a cost-effective method to cut carbon pollution.
States including New York, Delaware and California are keeping up the experiments with carbon pricing they began as many as nine years ago.
Along with the results from similar efforts in Europe, Asia and Latin America in more than 40 countries, these policies have amassed ample evidence about what works in practice, what doesn’t and why.
As my team explained in Climate Policy, an academic journal, there are two basic flavors of carbon pricing: cap-and-trade – otherwise known as emissions trading systems – and carbon fees or taxes. Some jurisdictions also use hybrid blends of the two approaches.
U.S. carbon emissions trading until now has been limited to the Northeast, some mid-Atlantic states and California. But many countries, including Canada, Mexico, China and the entire European Union, are levying carbon taxes, running emissions trading systems or using a mix of the two. Washington State’s citizens will soon vote on a ballot initiative that would impose a carbon pollution fee on major emitters and collect revenue to be mostly spent on clean air and clean energy investments.
Emissions trading systems cap the total emissions allowed at a certain level. The government then allocates emissions permits to factories, utilities and other polluters either for free or through auctions.
Each permit usually covers 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide. Permit holders, typically, may buy and sell their permits as needed.
Companies capable of cutting their own emissions may choose to do so, and then sell their permits to other polluters to make money. Conversely, businesses can buy permits at the prevailing market price to avoid having to directly cut their own emissions in their business operations.
As you might expect in carbon markets that depend on willing buyers and sellers, the cheapest emissions reductions usually happen first.
The American track record
The results look promising so far.
In the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which includes nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states like Delaware, Massachusetts and Maine, carbon emissions from electricity generation fell by 36 percent between 2005 and 2015, the most recent comprehensive data available.
More recent data shows that carbon emissions allowed under the cap imposed by regulators will have fallen from 188 million metric tons in 2009 to 60.3 million metric tons by the end of 2018, representing a 68 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector in this region.
One reason for this progress may be that utilities operating in this region have found that pricing carbon has shifted what the industry calls the “power plant dispatch order.” That is, sources of power like wind and natural gas that emit less carbon than coal are tapped first.
And California’s carbon emissions are on track to fall to 1990 levels by 2020.
In no jurisdiction anywhere in the world that we studied did emissions increase as a result of carbon pricing.
With subsidies, tax incentives, regulatory policies, fiscal incentives, innovation investments and other efforts to slow the pace of climate change being deployed at once, it is hard to know which of them is best at reducing emissions.
But it is possible to see that the two regions that have implemented carbon pricing have often reduced their emissions faster or in greater absolute terms than regions that have not. Massachusetts and New York, for example, reduced their emissions by more than 20 percent overall between 2000 and 2015, about twice the U.S. average of 10.3 percent.
Carbon pricing policies can help governments raise money. But revenue from carbon taxes or the proceeds from permit auctions can be returned to taxpayers as well.
All of the states and countries using carbon pricing policies also have additional policies working alongside the carbon taxes or cap-and-trade programs to reduce emissions, ranging from performance standards for energy efficiency to tax incentives. These policies can also work well, but they can be more expensive approaches to reduce emissions, and sometimes they even undermine the carbon pricing policy.
The federal tax credits for wind and solar energy, for example, cost taxpayers an estimated US$3.4 billion in 2016.
No toll on growth
What’s more, statewide economies do not appear to suffer from carbon pricing.
California’s economy expanded an average rate of 5.2 percent between 2012 and 2017, faster than the national annual 3.7 percent average. In July 2018, California’s emissions fell below 1990 levels for the first time, representing a 13 percent reduction from their 2004 peak even while the California economy grew 26 percent.
The Northeastern states averaged 3.2 percent annual growth between 2012 and 2017 – near the U.S. norm. But their Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative led to $1.4 billion of net positive economic activity because of the reinvestment of the auction proceeds in activities that generate economic benefits for the region between 2015 and 2017, a recent study found.
Critics of emissions trading policies have argued that the prices that have emerged in these systems are too low to spur emissions reductions. The evidence presented above shows that, in fact, they do cause pollution to decline. If advocates prefer steeper emissions reductions, then the emissions cap must be tightened.
Alternatively, governments can switch to carbon fees or taxes, which creates greater price certainty in the market – and which can also be ratcheted up as desired to achieve faster cuts in pollution. Either way, I believe that it is now clear that carbon taxes and emissions trading programs create a long-term signal for the marketplace that induces changes in consumer and firm behavior.
Given the strong real-world record on the effectiveness of carbon pricing policies and the fact that they don’t have to cost taxpayers or take a toll on the economy, I expect more states will adopt them in the coming years.
A federal approach would of course be much more efficient and effective. But it would require congressional action and a presidential signature, neither of which appear to be imminent especially when President Donald Trump says he is not even sure that climate change is man-made.