RESEARCH: Economics and Trade REPORTS

November 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In Q3 2018, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China grew 12 percent to $115.6 billion on importers rushing orders as tariffs begin to bite; U.S. services exports to China reach a record $20.5 billion. • Bilateral policy issues: The U.S. Department of the Treasury declined to name China a currency manipulator in its October 2018 currency report, but kept China on a monitoring list, citing its significant trade surplus with the United States. • Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s GDP grew 6.5 percent in Q3 2018, its slowest pace since 2009; the Chinese government is implementing stimulus measures to support short-term economic growth; Chinese households’ falling consumption and rising debt levels prompt worries about China’s rebalancing; local governments resurrect share-buying program to placate jittery stock market investors; state-run media ordered to cloak signs of falling consumer confidence; President Xi conjures images of Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour, stresses the need for “self-reliance” in manufacturing and technology.
China's Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT)—the interconnection of physical and virtual things via information and communication technologies—is being applied to virtually every sector from smart thermostats in households to swarms of autonomous drones in the battlefield. This report, contracted by the USCC and authored by SOS International, outlines China’s state-led approach to IoT development, assesses the implications for the U.S. economy, national security, and the privacy of U.S. data, and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers. China’s concerted, state-led approach, including ongoing efforts to influence international IoT standards, has put China in a position to credibly compete against the United States and other leaders in the emerging IoT industry. China’s research into IoT security vulnerabilities and its growing civil-military cooperation raise concerns about gaining unauthorized access to IoT devices and sensitive data. In addition, China’s authorized access to the IoT data of U.S. consumers will only grow as Chinese IoT companies leverage their advantages in production and cost to gain market share in the United States based on the terms of use and sweeping Chinese government data access powers.
China's Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean
The United States maintains close cultural, economic, and security ties with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). While the United States remains the largest economic and security partner in LAC, in the last decade China has rapidly deepened its economic, diplomatic, and military engagement to become the region’s largest creditor and second-largest trading partner. China’s efforts in the region are driven by four key objectives: (1) ensuring its access to the region’s abundant natural resources and consumer markets; (2) gaining LAC support for its foreign policies; (3) shaping LAC perceptions and discourse about China; and (4) gaining geopolitical influence in a region geographically close and historically subject to U.S. influence. Closer ties with China may reduce U.S. influence in the region; they can also reinforce the region’s overreliance on highly cyclical exports and create unsustainable debt burdens for some LAC countries, which China could use for political leverage. This report examines China’s objectives in the region, its economic, diplomatic, and military and security engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the implications of its expanding regional presence and influence for the United States.
October 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In August 2018, the U.S. goods deficit with China hit $38.6 billion, an increase of 10.5 percent year-on-year, and the highest monthly deficit with China on record. • Bilateral policy issues: On September 24, the second and most recent round of tariffs went into effect: the United States imposed a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of U.S. imports from China; Beijing responded by imposing a 5 to 10 percent tariff on $60 billion of U.S. exports to China, releasing a white paper criticizing the Trump Administration; tariffs increase manufacturing costs and hurt U.S. farmers and automakers, but niche manufacturers and metal producers reap benefits, labor groups offer qualified support. • Policy trends in China’s economy: At the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, an official forum between China and its 53 diplomatic partners in Africa, Beijing pledged $60 billion in financing commitments. • In Focus – U.S. Supply Chain Risks from China: Increased reliance on China-based manufacturing and strategic materials worsens U.S. vulnerabilities to a supply disruption and Chinese government tampering of products and services.
September 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: The U.S.-China goods trade deficit reached $36.8 billion in July 2018, the highest monthly deficit on record. • Bilateral policy issues: President Trump signs FIRRMA into law, expanding CFIUS’s authority to screen foreign investment for national security threats; midlevel U.S. and Chinese financial officials meet to resume trade negotiations but accomplish little. • Policy trends in China’s economy: Beijing is shifting toward monetary stimulus, stepping up efforts to boost bank lending amid cooling economic growth and fears that an intensifying trade conflict with the United States might trigger a sharper slowdown; China introduces new measures to curb risks from peer-to-peer lending in response to rising defaults across the industry; Chinese regulators enhance controls on currency movements, stabilizing the renminbi exchange rate after months of rapid depreciation against the dollar; although the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s revised listing rules have improved its global competitiveness, the number of Chinese firms listed and the amounts raised are below initial expectations. • Sector Focus – Pork: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. pork exports to China fell by 27 percent in May, then 19 percent in June relative to the previous year; Chinese tariffs on U.S. pork were raised to 62 percent in early July.
August 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In the first half of 2018, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China reached $185.7 billion, up about 9 percent year-on-year; in the month of June, U.S. agricultural exports to China declined 34.4 percent and livestock declined 39.2 percent year-on-year; in services, the United States reached a record high trade surplus with China in Q1 2018, but exports of travel—the main driver of U.S. service exports to China—slowed to their lowest year-on-year growth in 14 years. • Bilateral policy issues: Following tariffs imposed July 6, the United States initiated WTO cases against five trade partners, and published a list of tariffs on $200 billion worth of additional Chinese imports, as China threatens retaliation; Chinese regulators fail to approve Qualcomm’s proposed acquisition of NXP. • Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s officially-reported GDP growth slowed to 6.7 percent year-on-year in Q2 2018 as fixed asset investment, industrial output, and retail sales lose steam; Chinese policymakers implement measures to increase credit growth and spur economic activity despite pledges to focus on deleveraging; the RMB’s value falls due to trade tensions and signs of an economic slowdown in China, raising concerns Beijing could use currency devaluations to offset the impact of U.S. tariffs.
Trends in Trade: U.S.-China Goods Trade 2012-2017
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.
July 2018 Trade Bulletin
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.
June 2018 Trade Bulletin
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.
SOE Megamergers Signal New Direction in China's Economic Policy
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.