US has benefited richly from trade with China, says Beijing

Workers at a factory manufacturing air-conditioners in Huaibei, Anhui province, in China. The 11-page research report by China's Commerce Ministry notes how bilateral trade in goods has jumped 252 times to reach US$633.5 billion (S$864 billion) since both countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.PHOTO: REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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BEIJING, Jun 7, 2019, The Straits Times. Days after it accused Washington of scuttling trade talks, Beijing has released yet another government paper on the US-China trade war – this time pointing out how the United States has reaped rich benefits from bilateral trade and economic cooperation, reported The Straits Times.

The 11-page research report by China’s Commerce Ministry rejects President Donald Trump’s statement that the US is being taken advantage of by China, asserting that both sides have benefited richly from bilateral trade.

For one thing, the deficit in trade in goods is exaggerated, the report said. Mr Trump tweeted recently that the US loses US$500 billion (S$682 billion) a year in trade to China.

The report said this was “not in line with facts”, pointing out that US data indicated that the US ran a goods trade deficit of US$419.2 billion with China last year.

What is more, when it came to trade in services, the US ran a surplus of US$40.5 billion.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular news briefing yesterday that the current US administration has “repeatedly publicised the argument that the US is losing out to China over trade”, but there is no basis for the claim.

“They have used the trade imbalance as an excuse to provoke trade frictions. This report uses statistics and the truth to explain the reasons for the China-US trade imbalance,” he said.

The report notes how bilateral trade in goods has jumped 252 times to reach US$633.5 billion since both countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.

It also pointed out that China was both an important and fast-growing export destination for the US, and highlighted the fact that US exports to China supported more than 1.1 million American jobs in the decade from 2009.

“If only one side benefits, with the other side losing out, it would have been impossible for trade and economic cooperation to develop to this stage or reach this size,” said Mr Gao, urging Washington to “objectively and reasonably” look at the tangible benefits that such cooperation has brought.

Trade tensions between the US and China have been increasing steadily since talks broke down in Washington last month. Both sides have since levied heightened tariffs on each other’s goods.

On Sunday, Beijing also released a White Paper pinning the blame for the breakdown in trade talks on the US.

Professor Wang Yiwei of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade said that in releasing the latest report, Beijing was spelling out clearly to the US how economic ties have benefited it, in the hopes that “both sides could return to the negotiating table”.

Yesterday, while Mr Trump said talks between both sides were continuing, he also threatened to impose fresh tariffs on at least another US$300 billion of Chinese imports.

“Our talks with China, a lot of interesting things are happening. We will see what happens… I could go up another at least US$300 billion, and I will do that at the right time,” Mr Trump told reporters in Ireland before boarding Air Force One to head to France for D-Day commemorations.

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