BEIJING - The sovereign debt crisis in the United States will affect exports from China because the US is a major destination and a major market for Chinese exports.
With most of the export earnings coming in the form of US dollar payments, a weakening of the greenback will further dent the earnings of Chinese exporters. To make matters worse, Europe, the largest market for Chinese exports, is also facing uncertain times, while the euro is falling.
"The current US debt crisis is similar to the 2008 financial crisis in the sense that when purchasing power declines in the US, it will have a direct impact on Chinese exports," said Bai Ming, a researcher with the Ministry of Commerce.
"Over the next few years, Chinese manufacturers will have to contend with even more sluggish demand, yuan appreciation and other trade problems," said Zhang Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "With the odds loaded heavily against them, there is very little that Chinese exporters can do, other than further improve their core competencies."
Zhang said the passive appreciation of the yuan as a direct result of the weaker dollar will constrain China's exports.
The bilateral trade volume between China and the US was $385.34 billion in 2010, accounting for more than 12.9 percent of China's total trade value.
Some analysts said that the US rating downgrade will prompt China to reduce its dependence on the export-led economy and focus more on stimulating domestic demand.
Zhao Qingming, an economist at China Construction Bank Corp, said that the US downgrade will ring alarm bells on the trade-balance front.
He said that the downgrade may lead to an acceleration of the economic transition in China. "Since low growth seems likely in the US, the European Union and Japan, the Chinese economic transition becomes more urgent and demanding. China's role as the factory of the world has come to an end, and an upgrading of its industries is vital," said Zhao.
"China's economic transition and upgrade started with the 2008 economic crisis when the nation decided to boost domestic demand. The fresh crisis will help reshape China's economy," said Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist at China Galaxy Securities.
The debt crisis will also shuffle the decks of Chinese export enterprises and replace labor-intensive industries. "The US will request China opens its market further, and put more pressure on the yuan. To protect its domestic economy, the US will resort to more trade protectionist measures that will put further pressure on Chinese exports," said Sun Lijian, a professor at Fudan University.
Ariel Tung contributed to this story.