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Experts rule out China-US trade war

Zhong Nan and Ren Xiaojin
Updated: Jul 14,2017 9:33 AM     China Daily

China and the United States have no interest in a so-called trade war, said experts on July 13, pointing to significant progress in the implementation of the China-US 100-day action plan, particularly in agricultural, energy and high-end manufacturing products trade.

Their comments came after the Chinese government last month lifted a 13-year ban to allow certain categories of US beef to be imported into China. They will also jointly announce the conditions on imports of US chicken products to China before July 17, another part of the China-US 100-day action plan.

Sino-US bilateral trade amounted to $219.26 billion between January and May this year, up 14.1 percent year-on-year, while China imported $63.17 billion of US goods such as crude oil, soybeans, machinery and transportation tools, jumping 21.4 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Commerce.

Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the Beijing-based Center for International Economic Exchanges, said China will increase its agriculture imports from the US.

“The US certainly doesn’t want a trade war with China as its airplane, automobile and machinery manufacturers, agriculture businesses and many other sectors have multi-billion dollar exports to China every year,” he said.

The two countries have been making progress in resolving trade conflicts, and the goal of the China-US 100-day action plan is to overcome the obstacles to bilateral investment and trade.

Energy companies and researchers from the two sides on July 11 launched a forum to discuss how clean energy such as ethanol fuel technology from the US can tackle environmental problems, especially in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

“I can clearly tell you a trade war will not take place this year,” said Wei, who was previously China’s vice-commerce minister. “But we will also stay alert for the possibility next year. The best way is to enhance communication.”

“China is the US’ biggest trade partner, as the US is to China. They have a complicated relationship in issues like climate change, trade and finance,” said Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics.

He said healthy competition will benefit consumers and help employment. Infrastructure investment is the best way to stimulate the economy of both sides, as most of their imports are complementary.

Compared to politicians and scholars in Washington DC, US business leaders prefer a smooth bilateral relationship.

Bruce Blakeman, vice-president of corporate affairs for Cargill Inc in the Asia-Pacific region, said the beef trade demonstrates how the US and China can solve trade issues in an efficient and effective manner.

“We understand from the Meat Exporters Association in the US that there have been about 1,000 inquiries from Chinese meat processors and distributors about buying US beef, since the trade agreement was announced,” said Blakeman.

“It shows there is great demand for US beef from Chinese consumers. It’s also great news for US beef producers and processors.”

China is currently the world’s fastest growing market for beef consumption. Its beef imports mainly come from Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. China’s domestic beef market has a 10 percent demand gap that needs to be filled by imports.

However, disagreements in bilateral trade still exist. The US Department of Commerce on July 12 announced its final ruling on the third-time countervailing administration investigation on Chinese photovoltaic products. Chinese manufacturers will face a countervailing duty rate of between 17.14 percent and 18.3 percent.

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