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Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during the National Education Association (NEA) #StrongPublicSchools Presidential Forum in Houston, Texas, July 5, 2019.

Sergio Flores | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden knocked President Donald Trump’s trade policy Thursday even as he argued the U.S. needs to curb China’s “abusive” economic behavior.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate slammed Trump for tariffs on Chinese goods that sparked retaliation from Beijing and pain for American farmers. Still, he called for the U.S. to “get tough on China” — taking a more aggressive stance than he did when he downplayed the threat China poses earlier this year.

“President Trump may think he’s being tough on China. All that he’s delivered as a consequence of that is American farmers, manufacturers and consumers losing and paying more,” Biden said during a speech outlining his foreign policy plans at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. “His economic decision-making is so shortsighted and as shortsighted as the rest of his foreign policy.”

Biden said the U.S. needs to act to counter China or it will “keep moving and robbing U.S. firms” of technology and intellectual property. But the former vice president — who supported the North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deals that some of his Democratic rivals oppose — called for “new rules” and “new processes” to craft trade relationships.

Biden, who has led most early primary polls, called to “build a united front” of economic partners to hold China accountable.

“China can’t afford to ignore half the global economy if we’re united. That gives us substantial leverage to shape the future rules of the road on everything from the environment to labor to trade to technology to transparency,” Biden said.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the president “has repeatedly advocated for the American worker on the world stage by taking on unfair trade practices across the world.” She cited Trump’s replacement for NAFTA, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, his decision to leave TPP and his China policy. She argued Biden “has a history of blue collar betrayals.”

Few Democratic candidates have targeted Trump over his trade policy. But Biden previously slammed him in the key agricultural state of Iowa — which will hold the first Democratic nominating contest in February. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., criticized Biden earlier this year for questioning how much of a threat China posed to the U.S.

Trump’s trade conflict with China has raised fears about damage to U.S. businesses, farmers and the broader global economy. Trade is a thorny issue for 2020 Democratic candidates. Contenders such as Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., agree with Trump that free trade has harmed American workers and sapped manufacturing jobs.

Biden has typically supported U.S. trade policy. But he said Thursday that “there’s no going back to business as usual on trade with me.” His comments come as Democrats express reservations about Trump’s NAFTA replacement due to concerns about labor and environmental protections and pharmaceutical prices.

The remarks also come as the U.S. scrambles to strike a trade deal with China. The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods during the ongoing trade war. China has responded with duties on $110 billion in American products.

Washington and Beijing restarted talks in recent weeks after efforts to strike a deal stalled. But earlier Thursday, Trump said China is “letting us down” by not buying more agricultural products. The Trump administration has considered farm product purchases to be a key part of moving forward with discussions.

Biden made the comments Thursday during a broader speech about his foreign policy strategy. He also criticized the president for favorable comments about authoritarian leaders and tweeted threats of military force.

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Europe is at odds over who will replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018.

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

European officials are still scratching their heads over Christine Lagarde’s successor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to several people with knowledge of the discussions, with no standout candidate for the role.

Lagarde is due to start her new job as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November, leaving the IMF’s chair empty. In Europe, EU member states agree that the next IMF managing director needs to be from the continent — but they’re struggling to rally behind one particular name.

“The truth is that there is no readily available tried and tested European all-rounder,” a European minister, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC.

There is no official shortlist of candidates, but many governments of EU nations have put forward a name to take the top job. Some of the non-official candidates are:

  • Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former Dutch finance minister and president of the Eurogroup (which brings together the 19-euro zone finance ministers).
  • Mario Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and currently Eurogroup chief.
  • Nadia Calvino, the Spanish finance minister.
  • Olli Rehn, central bank governor of Finland and former European commissioner for the euro.
  • Mark Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England — a Canadian citizen who also has Irish and English passports.
  • Kristalina Georgieva, from Bulgaria, who is currently serving as chief executive of the World Bank.
  • Mario Draghi, the outgoing ECB president.

According to two other European officials, who also preferred to remain anonymous, none of the candidates have the right profile at this stage. Some names also don’t have enough experience or they are not liked by certain governments due to their political affiliation, their past comments or their background, the officials told CNBC. Since the IMF’s formation back in 1945, the managing director has always been from Europe.

There is also an age restriction to deal with. The IMF’s rules state that managing directors must be under 65 years of age when appointed and cannot serve beyond their 70th birthday. As such, the chances of certain candidates, such as Kristalina Georgieva, become much smaller.

“If (the) age limit is adapted to today’s realities, there is Georgieva and Draghi,” the European minister told CNBC.

France, who’s chairing the discussions across the different EU capitals, is reportedly looking at ways to change the laws. However, it is unclear whether that idea would be approved inside the IMF.

A source within the French government told CNBC that Paris “does not have a preferred candidate and will play its coordination role impartially.” Meanwhile, a separate EU official confirmed to CNBC that the aim is to have an agreement by the end of the month.

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EU has 35 billion euro list ready if US hits EU cars: EU trade chief

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European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium March 7, 2018.

Eric Vidal | Reuters

The European Union would retaliate with extra duties on 35 billion euros ($39.1 billion) worth of U.S. goods if Washington went ahead with tariffs on EU cars, the bloc’s trade chief said on Tuesday.

“We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a committee of the European Parliament.

“It is already basically prepared, worth 35 billion euros. I do hope we do not have to use that one,” she continued.

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GE reveals new parts for the ‘world’s largest offshore wind turbine’

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GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric based in Paris, revealed “the first manufactured components” for its gigantic Haliade-X 12 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine.

On Monday, the firm displayed the first nacelle for the turbine, which will now be shipped from Saint-Nazaire in France to Rotterdam-Maasvlakte in the Netherlands. A nacelle sits directly behind a turbine’s blades and is a shell-like structure that contains crucial pieces of kit. These include the turbine’s gearbox, controller, generator and brake.

GE Renewable Energy said that a prototype of the Haliade-X 12 MW would be installed onshore in the Netherlands in order to “simplify access for testing.” Another nacelle is being assembled with a view to testing it in “actual operational conditions” at a site in the U.K.

John Lavelle, the CEO of GE Renewable Energy Offshore Wind, said the firm was “on track to start commercializing this new product very shortly.”

As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing. In September 2018, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a major player in the sector, launched the first commercially available double digit turbine, the V164-10.0 MW. The turbine has 80-meter long blades which weigh 35 tons each, and a tip height of around 187 meters.

The scale of GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW turbine is also considerable. It will have a capacity of 12 megawatts, a height of 260 meters and a blade length of 107 meters. The turbine will generate 67 gigawatt hours of gross annual energy. The company has repeatedly described it as “the world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”

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