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Daily Archives: November 7, 2008

China urges Obama to respect free trade

 Image China said yesterday it hoped the United States would adhere to free trade under Barack Obama, while defending exchange rate policies criticised by the president-elect during his campaign.

“We will continue to follow a mutually beneficial foreign policy, we believe in free trade, and we believe America also believes in free trade,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. “We hope that the policy of free trade will continue to be adhered to. We must prevent trade protectionism, which is no good for either side,” he said, when asked if he thought Obama would be more protectionist. Obama, who won the US presidential election Tuesday, said during his campaign that China’s huge trade surplus with the United States
was related to its manipulation of its currency. In a letter to the US National Council of Textile Organisations published last month, Obama called for China to change its foreign exchange policies to rely less on exports and more on domestic demand for growth. “Some people in America think the trade imbalance between China and America is caused by the yuan exchange rate, but as a matter of fact, I believe we should have a correct understanding of trade between China and the US,” Qin said. “We admit there’s a trade imbalance between China and the US… but you cannot put the blame on China. It’s the result of the division of labour against the backdrop of economic globalisation.” China’s currency was pegged to the US dollar until 2005, when it was allowed to gradually rise against the greenback. Since April, however, it has moved very little from about 6.85 to the dollar. “We have taken a series of actions to tackle this issue. For example, the yuan exchange rate is not rigid. As you can see in the past few years, the exchange rate has been rising,” Qin said. Qin reiterated China’s argument that the United States could reduce the deficit by lifting restrictions on high-tech exports. “We’d like to also introduce more products from the United States, especially those high-tech products,” he said. “We hope the United States can lift commercial restrictions on high-tech products. It could contribute to balanced trade between the two countries.”

Workers union proposes social, economic measures to CE

by Natalie Leung

The Macau General Union of Workers Associations yesterday proposed to Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah short and long term measures the government should adopt in response to the change of the local economy as affected by the global financial crisis.
President of the workers group, Ho Sut Heng, told media at the government headquarters before the meeting that tourism and gaming, construction and manufacturing industries were expected to "experience declines first", which would then be followed by other sectors.
Thus, the SAR government was yesterday called for reduction of imported labourers, promotion of vocational training, as well as adoption of other measures in order to relieve residents' living costs and upgrade their social security.
Facing the global economic downturn which could lead to pay cuts and sacking of staff, the General Union said the government should "significantly reduce" the number of imported labourers especially in the "over-supplied" construction sector which had some 28,000 non local workers and also the gaming enterprises which "local workers wish to work at".
Through reviewing local unemployment rate and statistics that showed the "most-wanted" kinds of jobs and the related number of imported labourers, Ms Ho said corresponding training programs should be introduced and at the same time the government had to reinforce services of job referrals and job counselling.
In addition, the Chief Executive was urged to restrict the number of imported labourers on the management level and the duration of their stay in Macau in order to ensure enterprises' corporate social responsibility in training and promoting local human resources.
The workers group's president also said that they demanded the government to expand the minimum wage system to all other industries in addition to cleaning and security services which could "encourage employment and alleviate the problem of working poor in Macau".
Prior to the full adoption of a minimum wage system, Ms Ho added that the government should prolong the existing income subsidy scheme.
On the other hand, in the view of the five percent drop of local residents' median income from 9,500 patacas to 9,000 patacas between the first and second quarter this year, the General Union called for an immediate abolishment of the property investment immigration scheme as well as lower rates of public utilities.
Ms Ho also said that public construction projects on public housing and improvement of transport facilities should begin "immediately" which at the same time should refrain from hiring non local workers.
As for the dual social security system which the government had proposed this year, Ms Ho said the General Union supported the idea but wanted the legislation to be completed within the current term of the Chief Executive which will be finished at the end of 2009.
The president also said that they would suggest to the Chief Executive the introduction of special mechanisms to cover Macau people's retirement life who for some reasons were not eligible to receive pensions after reaching 65 years old.