Supply Lines: How Biden deals with China

Supply Lines
Bloomberg

As the first presidential debate kicks off in Cleveland, Ohio, tonight, both candidates feel confident they can convince voters that they've got a leg up on one crucial economic issue: how to deal with China.

Advisers to Democratic nominee Joe Biden expect the topic to be a focus when the two men face each other on stage, and have prepared the former vice president for tough questions and attacks from Donald Trump, who has accused Biden of being soft on Beijing.

Trump paints himself as the first U.S. president to take on China and level the playing field for American companies and workers who've been hurt by the Asian nation's trade practices.

Biden, on the other hand, said Trump has caused chaos and pain for U.S. workers when he started a trade war that resulted in a partial deal without addressing the core irritants in the economic relationship.

While Biden continues to give little detail on what policies he'd pursue — likely so he can maintain flexibility on the campaign trail — his advisers are vocal about the importance of finding ways to deal with Beijing's rising economic and military might.

If the former vice president gets elected, he will inherit a long list of China actions the Trump team has taken over the past four years. Biden would have to determine if he wants to keep or renegotiate the phase one trade deal, what to do about the tariffs on more than $350 billion in Chinese imports, the ever-growing technology restrictions and sanctions imposed on human rights grounds.

Tony Blinken, a senior adviser to Biden and former deputy secretary of state, said the new administration would have to finish what's left undone on Trump's trade deal and that they'd take a tougher stance on cyber espionage. But in contrast to the current White House, he said a full decoupling from China is "unrealistic and ultimately counterproductive."

Jenny Leonard in Washington and Michelle Jamrisko in Singapore

Charted Territory

For tens of millions, the pandemic has exposed just how fragile economic status is worldwide. In many ways, nowhere has that been more apparent than in Latin America, where a resurgence of poverty is bringing a vicious wave of hunger in a region that was supposed to have mostly eradicated that kind of malnutrition decades ago. From Buenos Aires to Mexico City, families are skipping on meals and swapping fresh produce for starchy and sugary items. Even in Chile, a developing-world success story, some neighborhoods are turning to community cook-ups in a throwback to the dictatorship era of the 1980s.

Today's Must Reads

  • Oxygen shortfall | Hospitals in several Indian states are struggling for medical oxygen as the country's pandemic surges at the fastest rate in the world and manufacturers scramble to plug the gaps in supply and transportation.
  • Cars united | Carmakers including Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan have joined with lenders to create a network to protect the industry's supply chain from succumbing to Covid-19 and a no-deal Brexit.
  • Drug delay | U.K. and European Union pharmaceutical groups called on politicians to prioritize medicines in last-ditch Brexit trade talks this week, as the industry grapples with political and regulatory uncertainty and pressure from the pandemic.
  • Crisis at sea | Authorities in Australia are contending with a rising number of coronavirus cases among the crew of a bulk carrier anchored off Port Hedland, the key export hub for the country's $70 billion iron ore sector.
  • Indo-Pacific bloc | Japan will host a meeting next week of the foreign ministers of four of the Indo-Pacific region's biggest democracies, in the so-called Quad group seen as a counter to China's influence in the region.
  • 10-year plan | South Africa and China are working on a new 10-year strategic program for cooperation as the current deal nears its end.
  • Santions threat I | The Trump administration is considering fresh sanctions to sever Iran's economy from the outside world except in limited circumstances, by targeting more than a dozen banks and labeling the entire financial sector off-limits.
  • Sanctions threat II | Russian markets are once again being plagued by multiple sanctions threats that could materialize before the end of the year. That prospect has helped drive the ruble back toward a four-year low reached during the oil price crash in March.

On the Bloomberg Terminal

  • Farmer bonus | Biden's trade and energy policies may be more favorable for U.S. farmers than Trump's, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Soybean exports to China could regain some lost market share on Biden's more diplomatic approach. Corn may benefit from a rise in ethanol usage, which has stagnated in the past four years.
  • Stare-down contest | Automakers and airlines may be the two sectors most affected by the threat of billions of euros in tariffs and the loss of air rights if the EU and U.K. are incapable of resolving their differences, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
  • Use the AHOY function to track global commodities trade flows.
  • Click HERE for automated stories about supply chains.
  • See BNEF for BloombergNEF's analysis of clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials, and commodities.
  • Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts.

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