China Offers a Path to Eliminate U.S. Trade Imbalance, Sources Say


2019-01-19 15:44:49 Bloomberg


China has offered to go on a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the U.S., in a move that would reconfigure the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, according to officials familiar with the negotiations. By increasing goods imports from the U.S. by a combined value of more than $1 trillion over that period, China would seek to reduce its trade surplus -- which last year stood at $323 billion -- to zero by 2024, one of the people said. The officials asked not to be named as the discussions aren’t public. The offer, made during talks in Beijing earlier this month, was met with skepticism by U.S. negotiators who nonetheless asked the Chinese to do even better, demanding that the imbalance be cleared in the next two years, the people said. Economists who’ve studied the trade relationship argue it would be hard to eliminate the gap, which they say is sustained in large part by U.S. demand for Chinese products. U.S. stocks extended gains and the dollar rose following the news. The S&P 500 Index rallied, climbing 1.3 percent by 1:27 p.m. and heading for its fourth weekly advance, while the dollar traded at session highs. It’s not the first time China has made an offer to reduce the deficit as a way of trying to break the deadlock between the sides which has darkened the global economic outlook and roiled financial markets since last year. In May, Trump scrapped a framework for a deal negotiated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have seen China “significantly” increase purchases of U.S. goods. By agreeing to buy more goods from the U.S., China may just shift its trade surplus toward other trading partners, said Tom Orlik, the chief economist for Bloomberg Economics. “If China switches its imports from other countries to the U.S. -- less Brazilian soybeans, more U.S. soybeans -- that might help deal with their bilateral problem with the U.S., but at the expense of worsening imbalances with other countries,” he said. Additionally, the types of products that China offers to buy more of could matter more than the overall target for a dollar amount, Orlik said. Airplanes, soybeans and automobiles were among China’s top U.S. imports last year. “Over the years, China has used the offer of purchasing more technologies with national security applications as a gambit in trade negotiations,” said Orlik. “That’s always been unacceptable to the U.S. because of the strategic costs.” Failed Attempt Even a massive buying binge would likely fail to eliminate the trade deficit with China, said Brad Setser, who served as deputy assistant secretary for international economic analysis in the Treasury during the Obama administration. It’s not clear how quickly U.S. farmers and companies would be able to meet increased Chinese demand, he said. Increasing exports of soybeans would require more land dedicated to growing the crop and investment in storage capacity. Likewise, exporting more LNG to China would demand a surge in investment in export terminals. For Boeing, which has been straining to meet existing orders for its planes, it would likely mean adding a new plant. Moreover, none of that would address U.S. demand for Chinese-produced goods and China’s control of the assembly of products such as smartphones and laptops, or some of the main drivers of the U.S. trade deficit. Shifting production or final assembly to a place such as Vietnam would do a lot to reduce the U.S. deficit with China but it would potentially be illusory. Closing the trade gap “would require enormous changes and it would require and all out effort to get a Chinese industrial policy to disguise China’s exports to the U.S. by routing them elsewhere,” said Setser, who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations. “You can’t get rid of the bilateral deficit unless you shift the location of final electronics assembly out of China. The math doesn’t work.” Decisions Pending No decisions were finalized in the latest Beijing talks and discussions are set to continue at the end of January, when Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to travel to Washington. The U.S. will miss an opportunity for discussions with its trading partners after President Donald Trump canceled his trip and the U.S. delegation’s visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos next week amid the partial government shutdown. While no plans were disclosed for negotiations, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan is due to attend the Davos summit. There’s no clear sign that such an offer would now have a greater chance of success or even if it’s practically feasible. U.S. negotiators are also focused on matters including China’s alleged intellectual-property malpractices and state support of industry, disputes that are much harder to bridge. The Americans’ major sticking points were more prominent issues than China’s import plans during the latest round of talks in Beijing, one of the people said. The offer implies raising the annual import total from $155 billion to around $200 billion in 2019 and in increasing steps thereafter, reaching an annual total of about $600 billion by 2024, one of the people said. The Commerce Ministry in Beijing didn’t immediately respond to request for comment on the negotiation details. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
据参与谈判的相关官员表示,中国已提出进行为期六年的大规模收购,以增加对美国的进口,而此举将重新调整世界两大经济体之间的关系。 一位知情人士表示,通过在此期间增加来自美国的商品,其价值总额超过1万亿美元,中国寻求在2024年将贸易顺差减少到零(去年为3230亿美元)。官员们要求不要透露姓名,因为讨论不公开。 这一提议是在本月早些时候在北京举行的会谈期间提出的,但美国谈判代表对此表示怀疑,他们要求中国做得更好,要求在未来两年内解决这种不平衡问题。研究贸易关系的经济学家认为,很难消除这一差距,他们认为差距在很大程度上取决于美国对中国产品的需求。 消息传出后,美股延续涨势,美元上涨。标准普尔500指数上涨,下午1点27分上涨1.3%,即将连续四周处于上涨趋势,而美元交易于盘中高位。 这并不是中国首次提出减少赤字的建议,试图打破双方之间的僵局,这种僵局使得全球经济前景黯淡,自去年以来金融市场陷入困境。今年5月,特朗普取消了财政部长史蒂芬·努钦谈判达成的交易框架,该交易将 “大幅”增加中国对美国商品的购买。 彭博经济首席经济学家汤姆•奥利克表示,若从美国购买更多商品,中国可能只会将贸易顺差转向其他贸易伙伴。 “如果中国将其从其他国家的进口转向美国,“更少的巴西大豆,更多的美国大豆”可能有助于解决与美国的双边问题,但代价是加大其与其他国家之间贸易的不平衡性,” 奥利克表示,除此之外,中国提出的购买更多类型产品可能比一美元金额的整体目标更重要。去年,中国从美国进口的最多东西,包括飞机,大豆和汽车。 奥利克表示“多年来,中国一直采用购买更多和国家安全应用相关的技术作为贸易谈判的策略,”“但因战略问题,美国对此一直不予接受” 尝试失败 在奥巴马政府期间担任财政部国际经济分析副助理部长的布拉德·塞特瑟表示,即使是大规模购买狂潮也可能无法消除与中国的贸易逆差。 他说,目前尚不清楚美国农民和公司能够多快地满足中国日益增长的需求。若想增加大豆出口量,则需要增加大豆的种植面积,并且也需要在大豆存储上增加投入。同样地,若想向中国出口更多液化天然气,则需要在出口端增加投资。波音公司一直在努力满足其现有飞机订单需求,而这可能意味着增加一座新工厂。 此外,这些都无法解决美国对中国产品的需求以及中国在智能手机和笔记本电脑等产品组装的掌控地位,或者说是造成美国贸易逆差的一些主要驱动因素。将生产或最终组装转移到越南之类的地方,或许可以减少美国对中国的赤字,但这可能是虚幻的。 现任美国外交关系协会委员塞特瑟表示,缩小贸易差距“需要进行巨大的变革,并且需要其中脑力来制定应对中国的产业政策,通过将其转移到其他地方来掩盖中国对美国的出口”“除非中国不再在最终电子装配占据主导地位,否则你双边赤字会一直存在。数学不起作用。“ 待决定 在最新的北京会谈中,中美两方没有达成有效共识,国务院副总理刘鹤定于1月底前往华盛顿进行讨论。 在特朗普总统取消其对中国的访问以及下周美国代表团出席达沃斯世界经济论坛之后,美国将错过与贸易伙伴讨论的机会。虽然没有披露任何谈判计划,但中国国家副主席王岐山将出席达沃斯峰会。 即使这项提议实际上是可行的,但没有明确的迹象表明其会有更大的成功机会,美国谈判代表也在关注着包括中国涉嫌知识产权的不法行为和国家对企业进行扶持的相关问题,这些纠纷更难以弥合。一位知情人士说,在北京举行的最新一轮会谈中,美国人自身的主要问题比中国的进口计划更为突出。 其中一位知情人士表示,这项提议意味着在2019年将年进口总额从1550亿美元提高到2000亿美元左右,此后逐步增加,到2024年将达到约6000亿美元。 北京商务部没有立即回复对有关谈判细节的进行评论的请求。美国贸易代表办公室没有立即回复评论请求。