Brüderle warns of trade war on China visit

German Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle cautioned upon arriving in China Tuesday that a global trade war was brewing, amid wide differences between key trading nations on currency policy.

Brüderle warns of trade war on China visit
Photo: DPA

“The danger of a trade war has appeared on the horizon,” Brüderle told reporters travelling with him on his two-day trip to China, which was to include stops in Beijing and Shanghai.

“The danger is that complaints about currency undervaluing lead to retaliatory measures, which could eventually turn into a trade war,” the minister said, without naming a specific country.

Beijing has come under increasing pressure from its trading partners in the United States and Europe to allow the yuan to appreciate at a faster pace. Critics say the unit could be undervalued by as much as 40 percent.

The US House of Representatives last month passed a bill that would expand the Commerce Department’s powers to slap tariffs on China for currency manipulation, rather than just outright subsidies.

The legislation must still go through the Senate and eventually be signed by President Barack Obama in order to pass into law.

The spectre of a global currency war dominated the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington over the weekend, but no agreements were reached.

“We must not allow the situation to get out of hand, or turn our backs on free trade,” Brüderle said, adding that he saw himself as an “ambassador, perhaps even a missionary, for the fight against protectionism.”

Brüderle will replace ailing German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble at upcoming Group of 20 meetings in South Korea, where he said he hoped the world’s major economies would come up with “reasonable solutions.”

After his stop in China, which will include meetings with key officials in Beijing and a stop at the World Expo in Shanghai, Brüderle will head to Japan.


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Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal

Norway and the United Kingdom have struck an agreement on a free trade deal, the Norwegian government announced on Friday.

Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal
Erna Solberg outside 10 Downing Street in 2019. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Negotiations over the agreement have been ongoing since last summer, and the Norwegian government said that the deal is the largest free trade agreement Norway has entered into, outside of the EEA agreement. 

“The agreement entails a continuation of all previous tariff preferences for seafood and improved market access for white fish, shrimp, and several other products,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.  

One of the sticking points of the negotiations was Norway wanting more access to sell seafood in the UK, while the UK wanted more access to sell agricultural products like cheese.

The latter was a problem due to Norway having import protection against agricultural goods. 

“This agreement secures Norwegian jobs and value creation and marks an important step forward in our relationship with the UK after Brexit. This is a long-term agreement, which at the same time helps to accelerate the Norwegian economy,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.  

 The United Kingdom is Norway’s second most important single market, after the EU. In 2020 Norwegian companies exported goods worth 135 billion kroner to the UK and imported around 42 billion kroner of goods from the UK. 

Norway has given Britain 26 quotas on agricultural products, but not for mutton and beef. The agreement does not increase the UK’s cheese quotas, state broadcaster NRK have reported. 

The agreement will still need to be signed by both the Norwegian and UK parliament.