Home Russia & China China China overtakes US in bilateral trade again

China overtakes US in bilateral trade again

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News Analysis |

The trade surplus of Asia’s economic giant, China, with the United States increased by a fifth in the first three months of 2018. The gives a glimpse of how the superpower (United States) and the aspiring superpower (China) can engage in a trade row in years to come with China witnessing a burgeoning progress and the United States getting more involved in wars under Trump’s leadership.

Having an upper hand in the trade with the US, Beijing called on Washington Friday to be patient as both the states have been hurling allegations against each other in the backdrop of the economic supremacy.

President Trump had last month threatened a series of tariffs on numerous Chinese goods. Beijing has responded in the same coin, though threats have yet to materialize. The Trump administration alleges that Xi Jinping-led China is costing America jobs with a massive trade disparity.

The ban, if implemented would dent the US in one way or the other as recycling centers across the US would be between would either hire a much more expensive workforce or be bound to use more landfills across the country.

Though President Xi Jinping’s asserted cutting tariffs in some sectors this week, a move welcomed by Trump even then both the countries seem to be maintaining a trust deficit. Statistically, China’s surplus with the US swelled 19.4 percent on-year to $58 billion in January-March while its exports surged by 14.8 percent and imports increased by 8.9 percent, according to a spokesman for the customs administration.

Moreover, for March the surplus plummeted to $15.4 billion from February’s $21 billion, while it was also down from $17.7 billion, a year ago. But China’s meteoric rise is not one-directional as it witnessed a deficit to the tune of $4.98 billion with the rest of the world in March, because of Lunar New Year holiday.

Read more: US-led Syria strikes: China firmly opposes use of force in international…

According to economists, China’s global exports which fell 2.7 percent in March and imports which grew 14.4 percent is a run-of-the-mill trend with the long holiday disruptions. Though the political observers opine that China was bidding for economic supremacy, customs administration spokesman Huang Songping holds a different view that the country was not looking to surpass its trading partners and trade affairs are shaped by the market.

In a briefing on Thursday, the spox hoped that ‘the US will listen patiently to rational and pragmatic voices on the trade balance issue,’ reiterating that China did not seek a trade war. Donald Trump, who is busy in diplomatic escalation with Moscow over double agent’s nerve agent attack and meddling in Syria, unveiled another set of planned tariffs on April 6th with Chinese president engaging in reconciliation by the promise that it would cut tariffs on cars, which is a key US demand.

Having an upper hand in the trade with the US, Beijing called on Washington Friday to be patient as both the states have been hurling allegations against each other in the backdrop of the economic supremacy.

Donald Trump, who avoids using soft tone when discussing China’s trade ambitions, quoted the statement of Xi saying “he’s going to open up China. He’s going to open it up, take down a lot of the trade barriers – maybe all of them” as he interacted with lawmakers on April 12th.

Trump continued that they were doing really well with China adding that they were having some great discussions, vowing that the US would win a trade war between the two sides.

Though Trump – who believes in I am the best – highlighted that the US would be crossing over China, Chinese data portrays a different picture altogether according to which during Trump’s first year in office, the surplus reached record $276 billion high but US data puts the surplus at $375 billion.

Read more: Xi vows to expand China economy as US trade war continues

Besides threats, Beijing and Moscow have actually slapped tariffs on each other to the tune of $3 billion in goods. Washington has targeted steel and aluminum while China placed pork and wine among a plethora of other American products under its radar.

US-China trade rivalry has also been heightened due to a proposed ban by Beijing on the import of trash from Washington following which appeals were made by the US to keep importing tons of its garbage, setting aside its tentative ban on imports of scrap materials.

In July last year, China decided that it would ban import of 24 types of solid waste materials, including soda bottles, mixed paper, recycled steel and newsprint from the United States, prompting concerns in Washington with its spokesperson requesting, at the WTO Council for Trade in Goods session in Geneva in March, to immediately halt implementation and revise these measures.

The official expressed that China’s import restrictions on recycled commodities had caused a fundamental disruption in global supply chains for scrap materials. On the other hand, China’s representative acknowledged US apprehensions but clarified that every country had a responsibility to dispose of its waste and with its massive population; China was obliged to bar imports of waste while cleaning up at home.

Though the political observers opine that China was bidding for economic supremacy, customs administration spokesman Huang Songping holds a different view that the country was not looking to surpass its trading partners and trade affairs are shaped by the market.

A July notification issued by Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection suggested that the ban on specific garbage items would be implemented in a year, however, the ban has yet to come into effect. The US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries had stated that the ban would devastate an industry that supported 155,000 jobs and had exported scrap worth US$5.6 billion to China in 2016.

Read more: Are China and US marching towards a Trade War?

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump had ordered the US Trade Representative (USTR) on March 22nd for levying tariffs on at least $50 billion of Chinese imports and to propose a list of Chinese products in 15 days. Upon this, China’s commerce ministry threatened to take legal action against the US through World Trade Organization.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also clarified that it had all the necessary means to initiate trade tussle with the US, urging Washington to reconsider its aggressive economic overtures. “The American consumers and enterprises will bear the brunt of a trade war with China,” warned Beijing.

Currently, China is the biggest importer of US recyclables and banning US junk imports will give a devastating blow to the already crumbling US labor market. The ban, if implemented would dent the US in one way or the other as recycling centers across the US would be between would either hire a much more expensive workforce or be bound to use more landfills across the country.


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