Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has leveraged relatively cheap labor, large economies of scale, industrial policies, and the manufacturing capabilities of neighboring countries to become an export powerhouse in an increasing range of industries, while often limiting market access for foreign products. China’s scale as a trading power coupled with its protectionist policies have contributed to rising tensions in bilateral trade relations. This report describes and analyzes patterns in the U.S.-China trade relationship in 2012–2017 and is an update to a staff research report published by the Commission in November 2012 which covered trends in trade in 2000–2011.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: U.S.-China goods trade deficit reached $33.2 billion in May 2018, and $152.2 billion year-to-date.
• Bilateral policy issues: U.S. tariffs against $34 billion worth of Chinese imports go into effect as China implements retaliatory action and takes steps to dull the impact of U.S. tariffs on China’s economy; U.S. Department of Commerce reverses ZTE exclusion order, but Members of Congress are working on legislation to reinstate sanctions.
• Policy trends in China’s economy: Chinese investment in the United States fell 90 percent year-on-year to $1.8 billion in the first five months of 2018 due, in part, to Beijing’s intensified scrutiny of outbound flows; China issues new foreign investment negative list, lifting ownership restrictions in 22 industries, including airplane design and manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, banking, railway construction, and shipping.
• Sector Focus – China Pursues Foreign Semiconductor Technology: Since 2015, U.S. semiconductor firm Micron has been subject to a persistent, wide-ranging technology acquisition campaign from multiple Chinese actors, involving an attempted purchase, alleged IP theft, a direct challenge of Micron’s IP in China, and an on-going antitrust case.
Since President Xi took office in 2013, Beijing has significantly bolstered its involvement in the Pacific Islands region, which comprises three U.S. territories and three countries freely associated with the United States that are important for U.S. defense interests in the Indo-Pacific. Much of China’s engagement in the region has focused on expanding economic ties with the Pacific Islands, but it has also increased its footprint in the diplomatic and security realms. This report examines China’s interests in the region, its comprehensive engagement in the Pacific Islands, and the implications of its expanding presence and influence for the United States.
This hearing is intended to explore U.S. policy options available to address Chinese market distortions. The first panel, “A Coordinated Policy Response to Chinese State Capitalism,” will address industrial policy challenges like subsidies, price distortions, and investment restrictions. The second panel, “A Coordinated Policy Response to China’s Techno-nationalism,” will focus on challenges from China’s push to develop domestic-led intellectual property, including technology transfer, IP or data theft, and restrictions on cross-border data flows.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: U.S. goods deficit with China increases 11.8 percent in the first four months of 2018 as growth in U.S. imports from China outpaces exports.
• Bilateral policy issues: The United States and China issue a joint statement on the ongoing trade negotiations, but outcomes remain in flux as tariff and investment action deadlines near; the U.S. government considers alternative penalties for ZTE’s violation of its 2017 settlement with U.S. authorities; China drops antidumping probe into U.S. sorghum, but U.S. soy exports still threatened.
• Policy trends in China’s economy: China compels multinational companies to list Taiwan as a Chinese territory, increasingly using Chinese domestic laws as leverage.
• Sector Focus — Autos: China’s auto market continues to grow, albeit slower than in previous years; as China prepares to lower tariffs on auto imports, European firms are better positioned to take advantage of increased market access than U.S. firms, most of which manufacture cars in China through joint ventures.
The Chinese government is seeking to revamp its state sector through a series of billion dollar “megamergers” involving central state-owned enterprises (SOEs). These megamergers consolidate state control in strategic sectors of economy and eliminate intra-state competition in China. However, they also contribute to increased debt levels among Chinese SOEs and undermine the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and other global firms. This report assesses the objectives of China’s megamergers strategy and evaluates the implications of SOE megamergers (and, more broadly, Chinese government control over the economy) for the global competitive landscape.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.