Transcript: Nightly Business Report – July 24, 2019

ANNOUNCER:  This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Bill Griffeth and Sue Herera.

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Boeing (NYSE:BA) warns. The aerospace company says it could suspend production of its 737 MAX, and it posts its largest-ever quarterly loss.

Digging a hole.  Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is considered a barometer of the
global economy, and right now, it`s feeling the pain of the slowdown.  

Friending Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).  Revenues are up and users are not going anywhere as the company tries to push past all of the regulatory pressures.

Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for
Wednesday, July 24th.  

And we do bid you a good evening, everybody, and welcome.  Sue is off
tonight.  

The S&P and the Nasdaq both closed at record highs today, but the Dow was dragged lower in part because of Boeing (NYSE:BA), which reported a massive loss for the second quarter.  It also warned about something that no shareholder wants to hear about, that it may have to halt production of its 737 MAX if the grounding of the jet liner drags on much longer.  That
pushed the stock 3 percent lower in today`s trade.  

Phil LeBeau is on the story for us tonight.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  With the 737 MAX grounded for months, Boeing (NYSE:BA) CEO Dennis Muilenburg says his company could shut down the MAX assembly line if the current plan for recertifying the plane this fall is pushed back even further.

DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CHAIRMAN & CEO:  If any of the timeline
assumptions change significantly from start of the fourth quarter return to
service, then we`ll have to evaluate alternatives, and those alternatives
could include different production rates.  They could include a temporary
shutdown of the line.  Not something we want to do, but an alternative that
we have to prepare for.  

LEBEAU:  Stopping production could mean temporarily laying off thousands of workers, which could have a ripple effect on suppliers around the country. It all comes down to when the FAA and other regulators say the MAX is safe to take off.  A software fix for the plane is being tested in simulators, but if it is approved and airlines like Southwest can resume MAX flights this year, then Boeing (NYSE:BA) will keep building 42 MAXes a month and plan to ramp up production next year.

JIM CORRIDORE, CFRA RESEARCH:  If they are able to relaunch this plane and it`s as they say the safest plane to ever fly once they bring it back into
service, then their reputation can be preserved.  They are battling for
their very existence, for their very reputation right now.  

LEBEAU:  Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin weighed in on the MAX controversy and what the president thinks of the beleaguered plane.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY:  I think as you know, the
president has said he is concerned about the 737 MAX.  Quite frankly, he
thinks they should bring back the 757 and look at selling 757s.  

LEBEAU:  Boeing (NYSE:BA) is not bringing back the 757.  In fact, it
stopped building that plane in 2004 and reviving it would cost billions of
dollars. Instead, the focus right now is on getting the MAX back in the
air by the end of the year.  

Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  You just saw Jim Corridore in Phil`s story there.  He`s
industrials analyst to CFRA Research, joining us to talk about what he
believes to be the best and worst case scenarios for Boeing (NYSE:BA).  

Jim, good to see you again.  Welcome back.  

CORRIDORE:  Thanks, Bill.  

GRIFFETH:  Let`s start with the best case scenario.  What do you think it
is?  

CORRIDORE:  Best case scenario is they`re very close to having the software ready to go.  They bring it to the FAA sometime early in September.  The FAA, who is at Boeing`s side through the whole process, in the simulators with Boeing (NYSE:BA), approves the planes and they get back to flying early October.  Then Boeing (NYSE:BA) can start delivering the planes parked at facilities all over the country and start booking these revenues and getting this thing moving again.

GRIFFETH:  All right.  Worst case scenario, how bad could it be?  

CORRIDORE:  Yes, the worst case scenario is the FAA finds a problem with
the software fix, pushes back against Boeing (NYSE:BA), says, we`re not
ready to — we`re not ready to bring the planes back out again, and Boeing
(NYSE:BA) has to halt the production line, has to furlough some workers.  
Their suppliers will not be able to continue to produce at the rate they`re
producing.  It causes a whole global supply chain effect, that affects more
than just Boeing (NYSE:BA) but a lot of companies.  

GRIFFETH:  All right.  Let`s talk reality.  What do you think is most
likely to happen and what`s the impact going to be on the company?  

CORRIDORE:  Yes, I think Boeing (NYSE:BA) was very careful not to announce a timeline for return of the plane until they felt it was ready.  Last
week, they said they felt it was going to be Q4.  Today, they said they
thought it was going to be early Q4.  

So, I think that they`re fairly confident that they have the right fix in
place.  They`ve been testing it now for quite sometime.  And I think the
most likely scenario is that before the end of 2009, that plane is flying
in the air again.  

GRIFFETH:  Even though some regulators here and abroad have said quietly that they don`t think it flies until next year sometime.

CORRIDORE:  Yes, I think that once the FAA gets onboard, Boeing (NYSE:BA)
is going to have a coordinated effort with European regulators, with
Brazilian, all over the world.  

Once the plane is deemed to be safe, I think that there will be a push out
to get everyone on board.  I think they will be able to do so.  

GRIFFETH:  All right.  Jim Corridore with CFRA Research — again, thanks
for joining us tonight.  

CORRIDORE:  Thank you, Bill.  

GRIFFETH:  Elsewhere, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is having a tough time
navigating the slow economy right now globally.  The maker of big machinery missed Wall Street earnings estimates and said that profit for the year would be at the lower end of its previous guidance.  Cat shares fell about 4-1/2 percent today, making it the worst performing stock in the Dow.

Seema Mody has more on Caterpillar`s quarter.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEEMA MODY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is finding it tough to do business.  A slowdown in the U.S. shale boom and higher manufacturing costs cut into profits.  Revenue from its oil and gas division fell double digits, due in part to weakness in the Permian Basin as some customers pulled back on making large capital investments.
Volatile commodity prices didn`t help either.  

Over in Asia, growth remains a challenge.  Perhaps most concerning:
weakness in China which was once a key market for the industrial
heavyweight.  

ROB WERTHEIMER, MELIUS RESEARCH FOUNDING PARTNER:  Cat`s had many, many years of gaining share and doing very well in China, selling durable products and good stuff and several months of losing share again.  So, whether that`s related to geopolitical tensions or just pricing, it`s not
yet clear.  

MODY:  Tariffs are pressing margins and winning new business in China is
not as easy as it used to be.  

JIM UMPLEBY, CATERPILLAR CEO:  We expect continued pressure with China partly offset by growth in other areas of Asia Pacific.

MODY:  Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) did reference strength in construction, which makes up a bulk of its sales.  It`s also more positive on North America, though still sees weakness in the housing market.  But one thing is clear: if the global economy worsens, the industrial sector is headed for more pain.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Seema Mody.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  And as we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, the S&P and the Nasdaq reached all-time highs today.  Chip stocks rallied and investors
essentially brushed off regulatory concerns facing big tech right now.  And
we`ll have more on that in a moment.  

But, first, the final numbers today with the industrial average down 79
points, we are at 27,269.  Nasdaq was up 70.  The S&P added 14.  

So far, the greatest regulatory pressure from Washington has been on
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), but you would never know it by looking at its
quarterly results today.  The social media company reported better than
expected earnings and revenue was up sharply.  But the stock was volatile
in after hours trading tonight.  

Julia Boorstin has details of Facebook`s results.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) continues to grow revenue faster than expected, even as big regulatory issues weigh on the company.  Facebook`s generating more revenue per user than predicted.  This as the company takes an additional $2 billion charge as a result of the FTC fine for privacy violations, coming in at the highest end of the range Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) gave last quarter.

The company notes that the online tech industry and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) have received increased regulatory scrutiny in the past quarter, announcing that in June Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) was informed that the FTC opened an antitrust investigation into the company.  This in addition to the Department of Justice`s announcement yet that it will begin an antitrust review of market-leading online platforms.

Mark Zuckerberg saying we are investing in building stronger privacy
protections for everyone and on delivering new experiences for the people
who use our services.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  That FTC investigation that Julia just mentioned was officially
settled today.  The commission fined Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) $5 billion for
its mishandling of user data after it was learned that political consultant
Cambridge Analytica had secretly gained access to 87 million Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) accounts.  The settlement orders Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to create new layers of oversight and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be held personally responsible for making sure that that happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH SIMONS, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION CHAIRMAN:  I think Mark Zuckerberg is held personally accountable.  He is signing the order.  He is named specifically in the order.  The order requires him personally to certify that the company is in compliance with our order quarterly, and if he files false certifications, then he is subjecting himself to civil and criminal penalties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFETH:  Now, the FTC is not Facebook`s only headache.  As we have been reporting, the Justice Department has started an antitrust review of some of Silicon Valley`s biggest tech giants to determine if they have purposely been stifling competition.  The companies being reviewed have not been named the announcement, but most believe them to be Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

And tonight, we take a look at what the DOJ may be targeting at each
company.  Back with us is Julia Boorstin on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOORSTIN:  Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is the second largest digital ad platform with 29 percent of U.S. digital ad spending between Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Instagram.  And Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is the most dominant social platform when it comes to user`s time.  Americans spend nearly 40 minutes daily on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) plus almost half an hour on Instagram, dwarfing the time spent on Snapchat.

And as the DOJ looks at how Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has leveraged the power of its large network, it has become a force in other areas including mobile communication and news.

Facebook`s Messenger and WhatsApp together have nearly 3 billion monthly active users.  By comparison, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has 900 million active iPhones.  And over half American adults say they get news on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) or Instagram.

The question is whether Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is unfairly leveraging its
social media power to dominate in new areas, ranging from online dating to movie ticket sales to digital currency.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  Now to Deirdre Bosa with a look at the issues surrounding Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEIRDRE BOSA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Three reasons Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) could get caught in the regulatory crosshairs.

First, it controls nearly 40 percent of all U.S. online retail sales.  EBay
is a distant second with just 6 percent of the market.  

Second, potential competition with third party merchants on its own
platform.  CEO Jeff Bezos said earlier this year that third party sales
that is small and medium businesses who use Amazon`s platform made up more than half of total sales.  Critics argue that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) could use data from these sellers to unfairly compete against them and push its own private label products from diapers to electronics to toilet paper.

Third, regulators could zero in on the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime fly
wheel.  If Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is using money from other business units to subsidize video or music services, how can other companies that do have to make a profit compete?

Deirdre Bosa, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  And, finally, as we mentioned, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) parent
Alphabet and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may also be under scrutiny.  

Here is Josh Lipton.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) could be in the government`s crosshairs in part because of its estimated 80 percent market share in search.  Antitrust officials will have to decide if that`s a monopoly harming consumers.

But Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) officials recently testified on Capitol Hill,
disputing that argument.  

ADAM COHEN, GOOGLE ECONOMIC POLICY DIRECTOR:  For example, when consumers search for information, they can choose among Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Yelp, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Travelocity and many other companies like these that consistently report strong user growth.  If you don`t want to use Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), there are many other information providers available.

LIPTON:  And then there is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).  

TIM COOK, APPLE CEO:  I don`t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a monopoly.  Our share is much more modest.  We don`t have a dominant position in any market.

LIPTON:  But what about the company`s App Store?  Critics of Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google`s App Stores argue that the companies favor their own apps, and as a result a whopping 70 percent of all in-app spending goes to the tech giants.  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) also controls access to the app store.

But some analysts think an antitrust case could be tough to make because it
is not clear to them how the app store actually harms consumers given the
breadth and depth of competition on the store itself, they say, and within
certain categories like gaming where some apps are free and some aren`t.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, San Francisco.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  So how concerned should shareholders be about this Justice
Department review?  

Joining us tonight is Mark Lehmann.  He`s president at JMP Securities.  

Good to see you again, Mark.  Thanks for joining us.  

MARK LEHMANN, JMP SECURITIES PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Bill.  

GRIFFETH:  I guess the short answer from you is they shouldn`t have to
worry much.  Why?  

LEHMANN:  Well, I mean you`re going to be worried because there will be a lot of headlines coming up, and I think it is going to continue to pay
attention to.  But like we saw with the Cambridge Analytical scare over the
last year, and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) had the all-time high a year ago about now when they reported second quarter earnings, there were a lot of
headlines and a lot of legislative meetings, but really nothing has
happened except some self-regulation, frankly, a slap on the wrist on this
$5 billion fine.  

GRIFFETH:  Right.

LEHMANN:  I think the self-regulation is more likely and I think you`re
going to see lots of headlines and lots of bluster but little coming out of
Congress and from the legislators, yes.  

GRIFFETH:  Let`s look at each company and see where the vulnerabilities may lie.  Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), I mean, they clearly have been under the most intense scrutiny as pertains to their user data and the data breaches and all of that.  I mean, but at the same time, we just learned today that the
users haven`t fled at all.  

LEHMANN:  Well, you know, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) always reminds me of, you know, Hall & Oates who sold a couple hundred million albums and they said no one admitted to buying one.  Nobody admits to being on Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) all day, yet the data says they`re on 40 minutes a day on that,
and if my kids are any example on Instagram as well.  

People are not going to flee that platform.  It`s where they get their
news.  It`s where they get their social engagement.  And that`s a really
hard thing to legislate.  And I think that`s why it`s not going to change
going forward.  

GRIFFETH:  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), as we heard, may be most vulnerable when it comes to their third party sales and so forth and the strong-arming that they do there and the data they`re able to accumulate.

LEHMANN:  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) certainly has an issue there.  I think
they`re going to continue to gain the market share that they have on the
retail side, but it`s very hard to legislate where people go.  And I think
you`re going to continue to see consumers want that, maybe some additional choice and maybe there will be some small slap on the wrist that they will probably self-legislate.

But I just don`t see Congress being able to legislate where people`s
eyeballs go and where they want to buy things.  It`s been historically a
hard thing for Congress and the Justice Department to legislate.  

GRIFFETH:  Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) may also be most vulnerable as it pertains to search results and, you know, the juggernaut that they are in that area there.

LEHMANN:  Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) obviously has an overwhelming share.  In fact, it has become a verb.  We`re going to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that search.  So, I think it is another area we will have great headlines and they could probably rank choice some of the data that does come up, but it may favor some of Google`s top advertisers or other consumers, but they really have to pay attention to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) because they have the juggernaut for market share.

So, I think, again, all of these stocks will be in the headlines for I
think some time on this data but I just don`t see Congress being able to
legislate where people put eyeballs and clicks decide to go.  

GRIFFETH:  Very quickly on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).  I mean, you know, Tim Cook has said they`re not a monopoly, but what about the App Store and the tremendous iron fist that they wield there?

LEHMANN:  I think it is somewhat similar.  You have a consumer who goes to that App Store constantly and is looking for new ways to access companies and data and products, et cetera.  There probably will be some self-regulation where they decide to put certain things on top of others,
certain things at different points on the App Store.  But like you said, it
is an open marketplace and the Congress and the legislators and people who regulate like marketplaces, they will probably find a way to self-regulate.

GRIFFETH:  Yes.

LEHMANN:  I just think that App Store is here to stay.  

GRIFFETH:  And for the record, I was a big fan of Hall and Oates myself.
Mark Lehmann —

LEHMANN:  You and me both, Bill.  

GRIFFETH:  Mark Lehmann with JMP Securities, thanks again for joining us
tonight.  

LEHMANN:  Thank you.  

GRIFFETH:  And still ahead, does the most recent budget deal show that the
deficits don`t matter anymore?  

(MUSIC)

GRIFFETH:  In the news today, Queen Elizabeth officially appointed Boris
Johnson the prime minister of the United Kingdom.  Johnson immediately
began forming a government, one that he vows will lead the U.K. out of the
European Union.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts because we`re going to restore trust in our democracy and we`re going to fulfill the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the E.U. on October 31st, no ifs or buts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFETH:  Now to the U.S. economy and that recently-agreed to budget deal. As we told you, it raises spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two years.  Now, there was a time when Wall Street and Washington worried quite a bit about debt and deficits.  Do they still matter?

Steve Liesman went in search of some answers.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  The $22 trillion size of the U.S. debt is astronomical no matter how you measure it.  In fact, it`s equivalent to the estimate to the total number of stars in not
one, not two, but 22 Andromeda galaxies.  That`s the closest neighbor to
the Milky Way, and the debt is growing.  It doubles roughly every 10 years,
is now set to rise by roughly $1 trillion a year if the recent budget deal
is enacted into law.  

So, it seems strange to ask, do the trillions upon trillions really matter?  
Surprisingly, the new trend among politicians on both sides in Washington
is that the debt doesn`t matter and neither investors nor economists
entirely disagree, at least for now.  

First, while the debt is doubled, the government`s cost of borrowing has
fallen from 6 percent in 2000 to around 2 percent today for a ten-year
bond.  So, larger debt has not pushed up interest rates.  

Second, the size of the debt doesn`t appear to have dragged much on growth. Annual government deficits decline in times of strong growth and they rise during recessions.  This is in part by design as the government spends more to kickstart the economy.

One of the most influential recent developments was a paper presented last
year by former IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard.  He argued that as
long as a country`s interest cost is below its nominal growth rate,
countries can or even should borrow more.  In the U.S., it`s like the
government invests at 2 percent — that`s the cost of a ten-year — and
gets returns of 4 percent.  That`s about where nominal growth is for the
U.S.

Net return, assuming the money is invested well, 2 percent.  

So is all of that old thinking wrong that deficits actually matter?  It
might sound like it today, but perhaps not forever.  

DAVID MCINTOSH, CLUB FOR GROWTH:  This may be less of a problem now when we are in very good economic times, but it is sort of loading the shotgun aimed back at our economy if in the future, interest rates have to go back up and then this tremendous debt service will dramatically limit the ability or force us to borrow even more at a very costly rate.

LIESMAN:  Higher rates could raise the cost of servicing the debt and
crowding spending on things like education and defense.  The U.S. has
trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities in health and social security
costs it soon will be paying.  High debt levels also could limit the
government to spend more to help the economy in the next recession.  

In Washington, the prevailing political opinion is to ignore all of that in
favor of bigger spending and lower taxes today.  If rates remain low and
the economy continues to grow, it`s all hard to argue against.  And that
may be the best argument for at least some fiscal prudence today.  No one
knows quite how long all of the stars will align as perfectly as they are
today.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  UPS delivers for investors and that`s where we begin tonight`s
“Market Focus”, with the company posting better than expected earnings and revenue, and it raised its guidance as well.  UPS also said it expects to
get FAA approval for drone delivery by end of the year.  And to compete
with rival FedEx (NYSE:FDX), UPS will also be offering a seven-day delivery
service next year.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID ABNEY, UPS CHAIRMAN & CEO:  As a company, we had to realize that Sunday, Saturday and Sunday is just like another day of the week.  We chose to maximum partners in Michael`s, CVS (NYSE:CVS), Advanced Auto Parts and also for Sunday delivery, enhancing share posts with USPS.

So, with those combinations and with our network, we feel that we have
another good offering for our customers.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFETH:  Stock rose more than 8 percent today to $114.39.  

Health insurer Anthem`s results topped expectations and the company also raised its full-year guidance, but Anthem said that costs connected to its Medicaid business were higher than expected and shares fell more than 4.5 percent today to $288.91.

VF Corps beat estimates, thanks to sales increases of its Van sneakers and
its North Face clothing lines.  The apparel maker also raised its full year
guidance.  Stock was up more than 1 percent to $89.33 today.  

AT&T (NYSE:T) beat revenue estimates and earnings were in line in growth in its wireless and media sector that helped offset continued declines in
DirecTV subscriptions.  AT&T (NYSE:T) shares rose more than 3.5 percent to
$33.24.  

And then after the bell, strong sales of Ford`s F-150 trucks and other SUVs
were not enough to offset the automaker`s cost to restructure its global
business.  As a result, Ford missed earnings expectations and issued soft
guidance.  

Shares initially dropped sharply after hours tonight but they did close the
regular session up more than 1.5 percent to $10.33.  

And coming up, turning sour.  Why the trade war with China is the pits for
one American farmer.  

(MUSIC)

GRIFFETH:  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today confirmed he and other trade negotiators will meet with Chinese counterparts next week in
Shanghai.  That`s certainly welcome news to American farmers who have been hurt by tariffs, but one farmer is not sitting around waiting for them to end. He took it upon himself to head to China to try to drum up demand for American cherries.

Eunice Yoon went to Shanghai to speak with him.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH HU, USA NORTHWEST CHERRY GROWERS INTL. DIR.:  This box right here is an ideal quality for the Chinese consumers.

EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Despite the trade war, the Seattle native Keith Hu is making his best pitch for American cherries.

HU:  China is very important for the farmers, to Northwest Cherry Growers.

YOON:  This is the second largest wholesale fruit market in China and every
year, Keith Hu comes to Shanghai to talk to importers to get a sense of
what the appetite is in China for U.S. cherries.  

China is a critical market for the cherry growers, making up more than a
third of total exports.  So they feared the worst when Beijing raised the
retaliatory tariffs to 50 percent last year on their cherries, forcing cost
up on average over 60 percent.  Overall volumes plunged by 40 percent from before the trade war, but the farmers are still making money.

So far, Chinese importers like George Liu have been willing to eat the
extra cost.  

GEORGE LIU, FRUTACLOUD CEO:  But because of the tariff, the U.S. cherry
right now in the market needs to be selling at a higher price.  So, in the
end, it will reduce demand a little bit, but Chinese people are willing to
pay for premium product.  

YOON:  To keep people here buying, Hu is tapping into the Chinese desire to
live a healthier lifestyle.  

HU:  We try to push the health message of cherries and the lifestyle of
U.S. and Northwest.  It`s — we try to sell them the idea of live the
pristine environment with fresh air, fresh water.  

YOON:  But he still is losing sleep over what might happen if the trade war
continues.  There`s new competition from cheaper cherries from Turkey and Uzbekistan.

HU:  There`s a lot of berries, other fruits coming from other countries.  
These are our competitions.  I mean, we are fighting an uphill battle.  So
with the tariff, it just made our problems even bigger.  

YOON:  For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Shanghai.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight.  I`m Bill
Griffeth.  Thanks so much for watching.  Have a great evening.  We`ll see
you tomorrow.  

END

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