China on Wednesday imposed a $23.6 million fine on US auto giant Ford’s joint venture with Changan Automobile for “price fixing” in the latest incident of Beijing targeting an American company amid a festering trade war.
The fine, amounting to four percent of Changan Ford Automobile’s sales in the southwestern city of Chongqing, was levied over violations of China’s anti-monopoly laws.
Changan Ford “set a minimum resale price” since 2013 for vehicles sold in Chongqing that “deprived dealers of pricing autonomy… and damaged fair competition and legitimate interests of consumers”, the State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement.
Over the weekend Chinese authorities also targeted US courier and logistics firm FedEx, with state media announcing an investigation into the company over misdelivered packages.
FedEx had earlier apologised for misrouteing some parcels of Chinese telecom giant Huawei — which was added to the US commerce department blacklist last month, cutting it off from American-made components it needs for its products.
Beijing fired back on Friday, announcing its own list of “unreliable entities” that break their commercial contracts and stop supplying Chinese firms.
A Chinese expert writing in state media Saturday said the new list will function like the US entity list and ban Chinese companies from selling or cooperating with listed firms.
Analysts expect US firms to be among the first added to the list, which Beijing has pledged to release soon.
Ford’s China joint venture is a 50-50 split between the US auto giant and state-owned Changan Automobile Group. It makes Ford passenger vehicles for the domestic market.
“Changan Ford respects the decision taken by the State Administration for Market Regulation,” said a Ford spokesman, adding it has taken “corrective action in its regional sales management together with its dealers”.
The anti-monopoly fine adds to Ford’s mounting problems in China. In recent months, it has laid off workers as its China sales have plummeted.
Ford’s first-quarter China sales fell to 136,279 vehicles, down 35.8 percent from the same period last year.
And it is not the only automaker to suffer a sales slump in China.
After years of strong growth, the world’s largest auto market saw its first slowdown last year, with car sales declining for the first time since the 1990s, hit by a slowing economy, US trade tensions, and a Chinese crackdown on shady credit practices that have crimped car-financing channels.
Sales dipped 2.8 percent in 2018 to 28.1 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), a pace that has accelerated in recent months.
Government subsidies and pollution concerns have also pushed Chinese consumers to drop gas-guzzling vehicles in favour of electric cars.
Trump welcomed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to the White House — to humiliate us all
Despite the fact that President Donald Trump still refuses to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington for an officials meeting — a topic at the center of the scandal driving Trump’s impeachment — the White House hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
And while Lavrov was honored with his second private Oval Office meeting (the first one was a cataclysmic disaster) and a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the foreign minister took his opportunity here to repeatedly humiliate the United States.
United States, Mexico, Canada finalize Donald Trump’s USMCA trade deal
The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.
However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay Congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In reality, it is the second time the three countries have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, which President Donald Trump complains has been "a disaster" for the US.
WATCH: Maddow hilariously recaps Trump’s ‘shenanigans in the Oval Office’ with the Russian foreign minister
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Tuesday examined President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov -- on the same day that the House of Representatives unveiled articles of impeachment against the commander-in-chief.
Following the meeting, Lavrov trolled Trump on the issues of foreign election interference and Trump's habit of revealing classified intelligence.
"Given that, given the way the president is being impeached for having done all those things to Ukraine in and way that undermined our alliance with them and specifically their fight against Russian aggression -- which has, you know, led to a five-year-long war in Ukraine -- I mean given the fact he's being impeached for undermining Ukraine in its war against Russia, this is heck of a day to choose to have the Russian foreign minister sitting on your lap in the Oval Office," Maddow said.