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China and USA, the two economic super powers, have most interesting relationships between them and they have long been engaged in fighting each other on several issues of their interests.
Despite disputes and differences these two embattled countries have different fields of cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Recently the Chinese authority has published whitepaper on the present situation of US China trade development. China benefits remarkably from the strong synergy, while the US also reaps extensive economic benefits from the opportunities and results generated by China’s growth. It is self-evident that a sound China-US economic and trade relationship is very important for both countries. Cooperation serves the interests of the two sides and conflict can only hurt both.
US exports to China are growing much faster and Two-way trade in goods has grown rapidly. Chinese statistics show that trade in goods between China and the US in 2017 amounted to US$583.7 billion, a 233-fold increase from 1979 when the two countries forged diplomatic ties, as well as a seven-fold increase from 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization. Currently, the US is China’s biggest export market and sixth biggest source of imports. In 2017, the US took 19% of China’s exports and provided 8% of China’s imports. China is the fastest growing export market for US goods and the biggest source of imports of the United States. In 2017, 8% of US exports went to China than its global average. Since its accession to the WTO, China has become an important market for US exports, which have grown rapidly. UN statistics indicate that in 2017 US exports of goods to China amounted to US$129.89 billion, a 577% increase from US$19.18 billion in 2001, and far higher than the 112% average growth rate of overall US exports.
China is an import market for US goods such as airplanes, agricultural produce, automobiles, and integrated circuits. China represents the No. 1 export market for US airplanes and soybeans, and the No. 2 export market for US automobiles, IC products and cotton. In 2017 China took 57% of US soybean exports, 25% of Boeing aircraft, 20% of automobiles, 14% of ICs and 17% of cotton.
The US stands at the mid-and high-end in global value chains and it exports capital goods and intermediary goods to China. Remaining at the mid-and low-end in global value chains, China mainly exports consumer goods and finished products to the US. Machinery and electronic products take a lion’s share of two-way trade, and there is an evident characteristic of intra-industry trade. (Table 1) For most of the hi-tech products that China exports to the US, only labor-intensive processing takes place in China, involving large-scale import of key components and intermediary products as well as international transfer of value.
The US has a highly-advanced and fully-fledged service industry which is very competitive on the international market. Accompanying the growth of the Chinese economy and the improvement of Chinese people’s living standards is an obvious rise in demand for services and rapid growth in bilateral services trade. According to US statistics, two-way trade in services rose from US$24.94 billion in 2007 to US$75.05 billion in 2017. According to MOFCOM, the US was China’s second biggest services trade partner; according to USDOC, China is the third biggest market for US service exports.
The US is the biggest source of China’s deficit in services trade and this deficit has been increasing fast. US statistics show that US service exports to China grew 340% from US$13.14 billion in 2007 to US$57.63 billion in 2017 while its service exports to other countries and regions in the same period grew by 180%. The US surplus with China in services multiplied by a factor of 30 to US 40.2 billion. (Chart 2) At present, the US represents roughly 20% of China’s total deficit in services trade, the biggest source of this deficit. China’s deficit with the US is concentrated in three areas, travel, transport and intellectual property royalties.
China’s trade deficit with the US in tourism continues to widen. According to the DOC, by 2016 the number of Chinese mainland visitors to the US had been increasing for 13 consecutive years, with double-digit growth in 12 of the 13 years. MOFCOM statistics suggest that in 2017 Chinese visitors going to the US for tourism, education, and medical treatment spent a total of US$51 billion in the US. Among them, 3 million were tourists, who spent as much as US$33 billion while traveling in the US. In education, the US is the largest overseas destination for Chinese students. In 2017, there were around 420,000 Chinese students in the US, contributing some US$18 billion to local revenues. According to US figures, China’s trade deficit with the US in tourism grew from US$430 million in 2006 to US$26.2 billion in 2016, registering an average annual growth of 50.8%.

Sharif Shahab Uddin is Editor-in-Chief,
the Bangladesh Post.