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The facts and China's position on China-US trade friction

China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-26 08:00
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II. Clarifications of the facts about China-US trade and economic cooperation

Economic cooperation and trade between the two countries is so huge, substantive and broad-based, with so many players, that it is inevitable for some differences and friction to emerge. The two countries need to take a comprehensive perspective, keep in mind their strategic interests and the international order, properly handle their differences by seeking common ground while shelving differences, and take practical steps to resolve their tensions. However, in its Section 301 report and other ways, the current US administration stigmatizes China by accusing it of "economic aggression", "unfair trade", "IPR theft" and "national capitalism". This is a gross distortion of the facts in China-US trade and economic cooperation. It turns a blind eye to the huge progress in China's reform and opening-up as well as the dedication and hard work of the Chinese people. This is disrespectful to the Chinese government and people as well as incompatible with the real interests of the American people. It will only aggravate differences and tensions, which in the end will damage the fundamental interests of both countries.

1. The gap in trade in goods alone is not a good indicator of China-US trade and economic cooperation.

An objective understanding and assessment of China-US trade balance calls for comprehensive and in-depth study, rather than a glance at the trade deficit in goods. It is not China's intention to have a trade surplus. Rather, the ratio of China's current account surplus to its GDP has declined from 11.3% in 2007 to 1.3% in 2017. The imbalance of trade in goods between China and the US is more of a natural outcome of voluntary choices the US has made in economic structure and market in the light of its comparative strengths. To resolve this issue, both sides need to make concerted efforts in restructuring. The United States turns a blind eye to various factors in its trade and economic cooperation with China, singles out the imbalance of trade in goods, and blames China for the imbalance, which is unfair and unreasonable.

China-US trade and economic cooperation delivers balanced benefits in general. The imbalance of trade in goods between the two countries has evolved over time. From the 1980s to early 1990s, the US ran a surplus in its trade with China; in 1992 China began to run surplus, which has continued to grow.

In today's world of greater globalization and widespread international production, bilateral trade and economic cooperation already extend beyond trade in goods. Trade in services and sales of local subsidiaries in the host country (local sales in two-way investment) should also be included. If we give full consideration to these three factors-trade in goods, trade in services and sales of local subsidiaries in the host country, trade and economic cooperation delivers balanced benefits in general for China and the United States, with the latter reaping more net benefits. (See Chart 4) According to MOFCOM, the US ran a surplus of US$54.1 billion in trade in services in 2017, indicating its remarkable competitive strength in this area. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the sales of US companies in China reached US$481.4 billion in 2015, way higher than the US$25.6 billion sales of Chinese companies in the US, an advantage of US$455.8 billion. US companies enjoy an even bigger advantage in cross-border operations. In June 2018, Deutsche Bank released a report on calculating economic interests between the US and its major trading partners, arguing that, from the perspective of commercial interests, the US has in fact gained more commercial net benefits than China from their two-way trade, given the impact of global operations by multinational corporations on bilateral trade and economic cooperation. According to Deutsche Bank, after contributions from subsidiaries of third countries are taken away, the US enjoyed net benefits of US$20.3 billion in 2017.12

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