Asian Insider, Sept 16: WTO slams US for trade war tariffs on China; Japanese premier Suga’s new Cabinet & successor; China's aggressive push for coronavirus vaccine

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In today’s bulletin: WTO accuses the Trump administration of breaking global trading rules two years ago when it imposed trade tariffs on China, Japanese premier Yoshihide Suga announces new cabinet & successor, China inoculates tens of thousands of people before trials are complete, the world’s economies probably won’t contract as much as earlier anticipated, ‘love letters’ between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un revealed, and more.

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WTO SAYS US TRADE WAR TARIFFS ON CHINA VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL RULES

The United States breached global trading rules when it imposed multibillion-dollar tariffs on China two years ago, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said in a significant 66-page ruling on Tuesday, that is set to be eagerly watched by a long line of countries that have filed complaints over the Trump administration's decision to impose steep tariffs on imports.

The three-member WTO panel said the US duties broke trading rules because they applied only to China and were above maximum rates agreed to by the United States. It said Washington had not then adequately explained why its measures were a justified exception.  

The Trump administration, in 2018, imposed fresh tariffs on more than US$200 billion in Chinese goods. Washington justified its move on grounds that China was stealing intellectual property and forcing US companies to transfer technology for access to China’s markets.

Asked to comment on the ruling, President Donald Trump said he hadn’t seen it but he added: "We'll have to do something about the WTO because they've let China get away with murder." 

Also read: 

Nirmal Ghosh, US Bureau Chief: Opinion of US, Trump plummets in Europe, Asia

YOSHIHIDE SUGA FORMS CONTINUITY CABINET WITH NEW SUCCESSOR

Mr Yoshihide Suga, who won 314 votes out of 462 cast by Lower House members and 142 votes out of 240 cast by Upper House lawmakers, was formally named Prime Minister today. 

He named a continuity Cabinet with eight ministers from his predecessor's team and Mr Katsunobu Kato, 64, another close ally of Mr Abe’s who stepped down as the minister of health, labour and welfare, as his successor.

In doing so, Mr Suga sidelined his two contenders – former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, 63, and former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba, 63, who both have no part to play whether in the government administration or as top brass in the party, writes our Japan Correspondent Walter Sim. 

Have you read? 

Questions remain on incoming Japanese PM Suga's policy pledges despite promise to 'reform'  (premium content) 

Ministers in Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga's first Cabinet team

Ageing and empty: Next Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga's home town shows challenges ahead

CHINA INOCULATES THOUSANDS WITH CORONAVIRUS VACCINE WITH TRIALS STILL ON

China is inoculating tens of thousands of its citizens with experimental coronavirus vaccines despite experts' concerns over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing, reports said.

Four vaccines are in the works - with three shots being developed by a unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and United States-listed Sinovac Biotech and a fourth being developed by CanSino Biologics. 

Beijing seems to have taken a public, top-down approach and has found support from senior officials that include the chief executives of Sinovac and Sinopharm and the military's research chief. Experts, in the West particularly, shared their concerns and described the approach as "problematic". 

Go deeper: 

China coronavirus vaccine may be ready for public in November

Coronavirus vaccine-makers keep safety details quiet, alarming scientists

WORLD ECONOMIC SLUMP WON'T BE AS BAD AS PREVIOUSLY FEARED

Just a day after the Asian Development Bank said regional economies will make a "swoosh-shaped" recovery next year, if further restrictions are not put in place, Paris-based OECD said the global economic slump won't be as sharp as previously feared this year even as it urged governments and central banks to do more.

The world economy will shrink 4.5 per cent this year, less than the 6 per cent forecast in June, it said. There were big revisions for the US and the euro area, as well as China, which is now forecast to grow modestly, the only Group of 20 country with such a prospect.

One bright spot in the region was trade, according to the ADB. While the region's exports had contracted, they had fared better than the rest of the world, thanks to stronger demand for coronavirus-related health supplies and electronics.

'LOVE LETTERS' BETWEEN TRUMP & KIM TELL OF PERSONAL BOND, SAYS WOODWARD'S NEW BOOK

The letters which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump exchanged before and after their meetings in 2018 and 2019 were effusive in their praise of each other, according to investigative journalist Bob Woodward's new book released on Tuesday. Mr Kim's letters were masterpieces of verbose flattery that bordered on romantic prose and Mr Trump described them as 'love letters', US Correspondent Charissa Yong reports. 

IN OTHER NEWS

EX-JAKARTA GOVERNOR AHOK BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT: Outspoken former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama seems back in the news after taking to YouTube to lambast bad bureaucracy, rent-seeking and systematic inefficiency in Indonesia's state-owned companies. Speaking on YouTube channel "Poin", which has more than a million subscribers, Mr Basuki - who is popularly known by his Chinese nickname Ahok - expressed his frustration over the management of state-owned oil company Pertamina for acquiring overseas oil fields on borrowed money while ignoring prospective businesses domestically. Our Indonesia Correspondent Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja reports.

SOUTH KOREAN MINISTER TRIES TO REVIVE TIES WITH PYONGYANG: South Korea's unification minister sought to reopen dialogue with the North today, with relations in the deep freeze just days before the second anniversary of a wide-ranging cooperation agreement. The Unification Minister Lee In-young said he hoped the two countries would be able to resume open-minded dialogue soon. 

CHINA'S FIRST SEA-BASED COMMERCIAL LAUNCH OF SATELLITES: China successfully sent nine satellites into orbit in its first commercial launch of a rocket from a platform at sea, state media reported. The satellites, one of which belonged to video-sharing platform Bilibili, were deployed by a Long March 11 rocket from the Yellow Sea on Tuesday.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with you tomorrow. 

Shefali

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