Jan 15, 2021
Investors resigned to Trump's China ban, with Biden seen changing little
Jan 15, 2021
Financial executives are settling in for the long haul over the Trump administration's investment ban on Chinese securities, expecting the rules to be lasting but hoping to have more clarity after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Trump's executive order requires U.S. investors to completely divest from the securities of 44 companies deemed to be linked to the Chinese military.
Confusion over the order, which has been amended and interpreted via different guidance from separate agencies, has roiled Asian markets, led financial institutions to purge potentially affected companies from funds and asset managers to sell positions at depressed prices.
With the sanctions effectively kicking in after Biden takes office, financial professionals are waiting to see how he handles the issue, but expectations are low that he will reverse course, leaving investors worried their access to China's vast capital market and huge economy will be increasingly restricted.
Some of the confusion stems from deep divides within the Trump administration over the approach on China, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin seen as taking a more dovish view on Beijing but the State Department more hardline, according to current and former government officials.
Biden officials declined to comment.
"There's unlikely to be immediate, dramatic changes, only because the current political climate will not encourage him to make changes," said Franklin Chu, president of Sage Capital.
That sentiment was shared by more than half-a-dozen financial professionals interviewed by Reuters.
"We are going to move forward as though this order is going to be in place for a long time," said a senior executive at a large U.S. trading platform, who declined to be named, as did several others, because of the topic's political nature.
One source familiar with the views of three U.S. banks said the institutions doubt Biden will reverse, or significantly ease, the ban anytime soon.
With the coronavirus raging, the economic recovery waning, and bipartisan support for a tough approach toward China, backing down on a ban aimed at curbing Chinese military expansion is unlikely to be a priority, several executives said.
"There is very little chance the incoming Biden administration in the early days uses what political chips ithas to anything construed as being weak on China," said LelandMiller, CEO of U.S.-based consultancy China Beige Book.
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