Friction, not trade war, seen

Updated 2018-03-05 11:12:02 China Daily

Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Experts say 2018 may also present opportunities for Sino-U.S. synergy

Trade friction between China and the United States is likely to escalate this year, but a full-scale trade war is not inevitable, experts said.

Their remarks came as concerns grew that the U.S.' excessive use of trade remedy measures could hinder global economic growth and disrupt trade order.

China and the U.S. might witness "more trade friction than ever" this year, though a trade war would not explode, said Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a think tank.

"The world is shrouded in the shadow of trade protectionism this spring," Wei told China Daily.

He referred to the four trade investigations launched by the U.S. involving Chinese exports including steel, aluminum, and solar panels.

The latest case was Trump administration's anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigation into rubber bands from China, Sri Lanka and Thailand, claiming those products to be shipped to the U.S. are at less than fair value and subsidized by the governments of the three nations.

However, China and the U.S. could deal with trade problems and conflicts in a positive and mutually beneficial manner, experts said.

China has been for years working to further exchange views on bilateral ties and the economic and trade cooperation with the U.S., said Wei, also a vice-minister of commerce. "China and the United States will benefit from mutual cooperation but both will be harmed by confrontation," Wei said. "Further cooperation will benefit not only the two countries, but development of the world."

Agreed Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. "Constructive cooperation will enhance both of us and even enrich the world," he said at a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration.

Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, visited the U.S. from February 27 to March 3.

Experts said Liu's visit would help keep Sino-U.S. relationship to get on the right track.

Trade volume between China and the U.S. rose 15.2 percent year-on-year to 3.95 trillion yuan (6.39 billion) in 2017, accounting for 14.2 percent of China's total exports and imports, according to the General Administration of Customs.

China's exports to the U.S. expanded 14.5 percent year-on-year, and imports from the country increased by 17.3 percent, it showed.

Trade surplus with the U.S. climbed 13 percent year-on-year to 1.87 trillion yuan, according to Customs.

The trade surplus between China and the U.S. is a "complementary" surplus, from the perspective of the global value chain, said Gao Feng, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce.

"The two sides' gains from trade are generally balanced, when viewing from total trade volume including the goods, services and multinationals' overseas sales," Gao said at a regular news conference.

The Sino-U.S. trade surplus between 2010 and 2013, if calculated by added value, would have been 48 to 56 percent lower than the figure calculated by the traditional method, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"Sino-U.S. trade experts also agreed that the improvement and application of the statistical methods of trade added value is conducive to a more objective and rational way to measure trade interest," Gao said.

"China and the U.S. are now taking the lead in jointly promoting the construction of an APEC database on trade in value added. This database is about to be completed before the end of this year."

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