China will continue to exempt certain US goods from additional tariffs for another year, the Chinese Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said Tuesday.
The country announced in September last year that 16 items from the United States would be excluded from the first round of tariff countermeasures against the U.S. Section 301 measures, effective from Sept. 17, 2019 to Sept. 16, 2020.
After the extension, the exemption will last until Sept. 16, 2021, the commission said in a statement.
Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said she was confirming remarks made by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told CNBC on Monday that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, submitted its proposal to the US government for approval.
“We did get a proposal over the weekend that includes Oracle as the trusted technology partner with Oracle making many representations for national security issues,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin said there’s also a commitment to make TikTok’s global operations a U.S.-headquartered company with 20,000 new jobs.
President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened to ban TikTok by Sept. 20 and ordered owner ByteDance to sell its U.S. business, claiming national security risks due to its Chinese ownership. The government worries about user data being funneled to Chinese authorities. TikTok denies it is a national security risk and is suing to stop the administration from enacting the threatened ban.
Much remains unclear about the proposed deal with Oracle, which is pointedly not referring to it as a sale or acquisition.
Any deal must still be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, a U.S. government group chaired by the Treasury Secretary that studies mergers for national security reasons. Mnuchin said he expects the group to review the proposal this week and later make a recommendation to the president.
The president can approve or deny a transaction recommended by the panel, though Trump has already voiced support for Oracle as a “great company” that could handle the acquisition.
Microsoft said in a Sunday statement that ByteDance “let us know today they would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft.”
Proposals to acquire TikTok’s U.S. business raised questions among outside observers about how it would be split from the rest of TikTok’s social media platform, which is popular worldwide. ByteDance also owns a similar video app, Douyin, for the Chinese market.
Microsoft added it was “confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests.” The company said it “would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combating disinformation.”
Walmart, which had planned to partner with Microsoft on the acquisition, said Sunday it “continues to have an interest in a TikTok investment” and is talking about it with ByteDance and other parties.
TikTok, which says it has 100 million U.S. users and about 700 million globally, is known for its fun, goofy videos of dancing, lip-syncing, pranks and jokes. It’s recently become home to more political content such as the comedian Sarah Cooper, who drew a large audience by lip-syncing Trump’s often-disjointed statements from public appearances.
But the app has also raised concerns because of its Chinese ownership. The White House has cracked down on a range of Chinese businesses, including telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE and messaging app WeChat, over worries that they would enable Chinese authorities to access U.S. user data. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns about censorship and children’s privacy.
TikTok denies that it has shared user data with the Chinese government or that it would do so if asked. The company says it has not censored videos at the request of Chinese authorities and insists it is not a national-security threat.
TikTok has sued to stop the ban, but not the sale order. The negotiations have been complicated by several factors, including Trump’s repeated demands that the U.S. government should get a “cut” of any deal, a stipulation and role for the president that experts say is unprecedented.
In addition, the Chinese government in late August unveiled new regulations that restrict exports of technology, likely including the artificial intelligence system TikTok uses to choose which videos to spool up to its users. That means ByteDance would have to obtain a license from China to export such technology to a foreign company.
“The Chinese government has implied it may block export of TikTok’s AI systems, so that might complicate a direct sale,” said Tiffany Li, a visiting professor at the Boston University School of Law.
She said that TikTok’s AI-backed video recommendation system is one of the app’s competitive advantages.
Whether the Oracle-TikTok deal will allow the sidestepping of Chinese export restrictions depends on which entity retains control of TikTok in the U.S., said Paul Haswell, a Hong Kong-based partner at law firm Pinsent Masons.
The deal had come together rapidly after the administration ramped up its threats against TikTok this summer, despite TikTok’s efforts to put distance between its app and its Chinese ownership. It installed former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its American CEO, but he resigned in August after just a few months on the job, saying the “political environment has sharply changed.”
Both Microsoft and Oracle are known more for their business software offerings than for those intended for consumers.
Oracle primarily makes database software. It competes with tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon that provide cloud services as well as business-software specialists like Salesforce.
Some analysts see Oracle’s interest in a consumer business as misguided. Oracle should focus on enterprise-market acquisitions and not invest in a consumer app like TikTok that doesn’t fit with the rest of its business, said Jefferies analyst Brent Thill, who compares the idea to Delta Airlines buying a motorcycle company. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Thill suggested that TikTok competitors like Facebook and Snapchat should be “cheering on Oracle” as a buyer, because Oracle wouldn’t “add a lot of value to the app.”
Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is unusual among tech executives for his public support of Trump, hosting a fundraiser for him in February at his Rancho Mirage, California, estate. The company also hired a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence; its CEO, Safra Catz, also served on Trump’s transition team.
The president said on Aug. 18 that Oracle was “a great company” that “could handle” buying TikTok. He declined to state his preference between Oracle and Microsoft as buyers.
“We have a lot of confidence in both Microsoft and Oracle,” Mnuchin said Monday. “They’ve chosen Oracle.”
Amazon will be hiring another 100,000 people to keep up with a surge of online orders.
The company said the new hires will help pack, ship or sort orders, working in part-time and full-time roles, reports AP. Amazon said the jobs are not related to its typical holiday hiring.
Business has been booming for the Seattle-based online behemoth.
Amazon made record profit and revenue between April and June, as more people turned to it during the pandemic to buy groceries and supplies.
The company already had to hire 175,000 people earlier this year to keep up with the rush of orders, and last week said it had 33,000 corporate and tech jobs it needed to fill.
This time around, Amazon said it needs the people at the 100 new warehouses, package sorting centers and other facilities it's opening this month.
Alicia Boler Davis, who oversees Amazon’s warehouses, said the company is offering $1,000 sign-on bonuses in some cities where it may be harder for it to find workers, such as Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Louisville, Kentucky.
Starting pay at Amazon is $15 an hour.
Things are about to get a lot busier at Amazon's warehouses. In addition to the holiday shopping rush, Amazon plans to hold its one of its busiest shopping days, Prime Day, in the fall this year after postponing it from July.
Amazon will be monitoring whether it needs to hire more workers for the holidays, but doesn't have anything to announce yet, Boler Davis said.
Last year, it hired 200,000 ahead of the holidays.
The parent company of TikTok, a Chinese video-sharing app, has announced it is taking legal action against the US government, in an effort to safeguard its rights and interests.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports, ByteDance, the parent company, is likely to file a lawsuit against the federal government U.S. government.
In a statement, ByteDance said "To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded, and that our company and users are treated fairly, we announce that we will officially file a lawsuit to safeguard our interests."
It also said they have earnestly sought to communicate with the US government over the past year and provided solutions regarding its concerns.
But the US administration disregarded facts, disobeyed necessary legal procedures, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses, ByteDance alleged.
As part of the Trump administration’s signature economic and foreign policy strategy of decoupling with China, the president announced at the start of this month that he would be banning the popular Chinese video blogging app in the US, where it has 90 million users.
It prompted US tech giant Microsoft to enter the picture and offer to buy TikTok in order to save its American business. Trump initially entertained the idea but soon started demanding a ‘substantial cut’ of whatever price Microsoft managed to agree with Bytedance.
A few days later Trump doubled down on the ban and banned US companies from even interacting with Bytedance.
Apple is the first U.S. company to boast a market value of $2 trillion, just two years after it became the first to reach $1 trillion.
Apple shares have gained nearly 60% this year as the company overcame the shutdown of factories in China that produce the iPhone and the closure of its retail sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The company's hugely loyal customer base trusts its products so much that they continued to buy iPhones and other devices online while stuck at home. Apple recently reported blowout earnings for the April-June quarter.
An upcoming four-for-one stock split that will make Apple’s shares more affordable to more investors also sparked a rally after it was announced three weeks ago.
Apple has been at the vanguard of a group of Big Tech companies that are increasingly taking over people’s lives — and the stock market. Just five companies — Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google’s parent company — account for nearly 23% of the S&P 500’s entire value.
Saudi Aramco reached a market value of $2 trillion shortly after becoming a public company in December 2019.
The Saudi energy producer's shares have fallen since amid a drop in oil prices and its market value is now about $1.82 trillion.