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Japan-U.S. Trade War and Enlightenments for China (No.48, 2019)


By Hua Ruoyun & Xie Mengxi, Research Team on “Sino-U.S. Economic and Trade Disputes”, Industrial Economic Research Department, DRC

Research Report, No.48, 2019 (Total 5548) 2019-4-8

Abstract: In the 1970s, the United States triggered a protracted trade war against Japan which was caused mainly by the increased volume of Japan’s export to the U.S., inducing enlarged trade deficit between the two countries. The Japan-U.S. trade war broke out after the United States experienced an economic crisis while Japan’s financial market faced major hidden risks and its economy entered a critical phase of industrial transformation and upgrading. The United States took Japan as a rising rival and hoped to check Japan’s growth through some suppressing means so as to prevent a further lukewarm performance of its economy and safeguard its national interests especially its core technologies. In the trade war the U.S. raised tariffs in key industries such as steel, color TV, cars, telecommunications and semiconductors and cut back Japan’s exports to the United States. Despite differences in the change of time and political backgrounds, some similarities between Japan-U.S. trade war and Sino-U.S. trade disputes can still be found and China could draw on some experience from the countermeasures adopted by Japan in its trade war with the U.S. One, China needs to address the trade disputes with the U.S. on just ground, to its advantage and with restraint. Two, exports and domestic demands should be balanced. Three, opening up needs to be advanced in a pluralistic manner. Four, supply-side structural reforms need to be promoted in light of the changes both at home and abroad. Five, financial risks should be fended off.

Key words: trade war, the United States, Japan