Entrepreneurs urge U.S. to alter mindset

Updated 2017-03-31 10:01:10 Global Times

Trade with China saves each U.S. family o a year: FM

Observers and entrepreneurs in China urged the U.S. government to change its zero-sum game thinking on trade with China, after the Chinese foreign ministry announced Thursday that President Xi Jinping will meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump for the first time next week.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday that Xi will arrive in the U.S. on April 6, following a state visit to Finland, to meet with Trump at the U.S. President's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

This will be the two leaders' first meeting after fiery exchanges between the two sides, mostly revolving around economic and trade issues, with some even warning of a potential trade war between the world's two largest economies.

With that as a backdrop, trade will no doubt be one of the key topics at the meeting. But Chinese industries, especially those that have been targeted by U.S. protectionist measures, remain cautious.

“This is a positive development for Sino-U.S. relations, but Chinese aluminum companies don't have much expectations,” Xiong Hui, chief analyst at aluminum industry research firm Antaike, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Trade friction

The U.S. has been targeting Chinese aluminum products. As recently as Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into Chinese aluminum foil.

The situation is similar for the automobile industry, which has also been subjected to U.S. protectionist measures, Zeng Zhiling, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy LMC Automotives, said.

“The U.S. has been targeting Chinese auto parts for years, and we don't think that attitude will immediately change,” Zeng told the Global Times.

The U.S. is investigating China-made tires and other auto parts in anti-dumping cases. There have also been reports that the Trump administration might challenge China in the automobile industry.

Though Chinese companies were hurt by tariffs and investigations, U.S. businesses and workers felt the heat as well, industry insiders noted.

In the case of aluminum foil, which is used in packaging food and medicine, U.S. packaging firms have been saddled with higher costs after being forced to choose products from Europe, Xiong said.

As for the auto industry, there is no doubt that U.S. carmakers need the Chinese market more, not the other way around, Zeng said, stressing that the Chinese market has been crucial to U.S. carmakers.

“For example, General Motors and Ford sold a combined total of over 5 million cars in China last year,” said Zeng.

Tip of the iceberg

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the interdependence of the Chinese and U.S. economies.

China receives 26 percent of Boeing jet orders, 56 percent of U.S. bean exports, 16 percent of automobile exports and 15 percent of integrated circuit exports, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Sino-U.S. trade reached 9.6 billion in 2016, 207 times higher than the 1979 amount, when diplomatic relations began, Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday at a press briefing.

Asked about recent U.S. charges that China engages in unfair trade practices, Lu stressed that trade has benefited both countries. He pointed out that Chinese investments in the U.S. helped create 2.6 million jobs in 2015, and that trade with China saves each U.S. household an average of 0 a year.

“Some Americans continue to embrace the zero-sum game view on trade. Many U.S. officials seem to think that 'they have to bring China down for the U.S. to rise.' That kind of thinking, if it continues, will continue to threaten trade,” Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for WTO Studies, a think tank under the China Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times.

Huo said he believes that most of the rhetoric is meant to put pressure on China, but that the U.S. is unlikely to follow through on them. “Overall China-U.S. trade will remain stable despite increased disputes,” said Huo.

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