RESEARCH: Economics and Trade REPORTS

U.S. Financial Exposure to China
China’s direct financial linkages with the United States have been growing but remain very modest when compared to the two countries’ trade linkages. Beijing has taken steps to gradually open its financial sector to foreign investors, but U.S. investors have displayed little interest since the reforms are happening as Chinese policymakers impose tighter restrictions on foreign currency conversions and outbound capital flows. Economic and financial developments in China can affect U.S. financial markets more substantially through indirect channels, as was evident in the reaction of U.S. equities to China’s stock market crashes in 2015 and 2016. More broadly, the impact of China’s slowing growth and economic reforms on trade, commodities demand, and investor confidence affects global financial markets, which in turn influence U.S. financial markets.
May Trade Bulletin
Highlights of this Month’s Edition · Bilateral trade: The U.S. goods trade deficit with China rose 1.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017; in services, the United States the U.S. trade surplus in China for 2016 hit an all-time high of $37.4 billion. · Bilateral policy issues: At their first summit, Presidents Trump and Xi agree to reform a flagship bilateral dialogue and launch a 100-day plan for addressing economic and trade issues; the U.S. Treasury does not cite China as a currency manipulator and notes China’s intervention to strengthen its currency; the USTR calls China’s barriers to cloud computing incompatible with its WTO commitments, and identifies market access restrictions and domestic support for China’s agricultural sector; the United States challenges China at the WTO over its failure to fully report its subsidies and launches investigations to protect its domestic steel and aluminum industries. · Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s economy grew 6.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017, fueled primarily by surging industrial activity, property investment, and credit growth.
Evaluation of China’s Nonmarket Economy Status
This two page issue brief lays out the U.S. statutory test for determining whether a country is a market economy, and assesses China’s eligibility based on those criteria.
April 2017 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In February, U.S. deficit with China reached $23 billion, down 26.6 percent month-on-month and 18.3 percent year-on-year. • Bilateral policy issues: The United States is poised to maintain China’s status as a nonmarket economy; at Beijing’s request, WTO establishes panel to review the EU’s treatment of China as a nonmarket economy; Chinese outbound investment reached record levels in 2016, but an unprecedented number of Chinese investment transactions were canceled as Chinese authorities adopt measures to control capital outflows; additional measures to restrict outbound FDI will likely lead to an investment decline in 2017; China expands foothold in the U.S. rail market with a new $137.5 million contract to build train cars for Philadelphia’s transit system. • Policy trends in China’s economy: Work reports from China’s National People’s Congress stress the centrality of the CCP in policymaking, with President Xi at the helm; priority given to clamping down on financial instability; China is planning to establish a trading link connecting bond markets in China and Hong Kong. • Sector focus – Artificial Intelligence: China is aggressively closing gap with the United States for global leadership in artificial intelligence.
Chinese Investment in U.S. Aviation
The report examines Chinese investment in U.S. aviation and related university connections with Chinese entities and assesses the implications of the resulting technology transfer on U.S. national security and aviation industry competitiveness. This report was prepared for the Commission by the RAND Corporation.
Chinese Product Safety: A Persistent Challenge to U.S. Regulators and Importers
Chinese imports account for a disproportionately high number of product safety recalls in the United States, and China’s position as the largest supplier of U.S. consumer imports challenges U.S. safety regulatory agencies who must apply finite resources to screen out risky products. This staff paper explores unique product safety problems posed by Chinese imports, including legal difficulties associated with holding China-based firms accountable for unsafe products, gaps in China’s safety regulatory structure, and difficulty in identifying Chinese products that have been shipped through third party countries. The report also summarizes U.S. import safety procedures followed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the resources available to these agencies to detect unsafe imports.
March 2017 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of this month's edition: •Bilateral trade: U.S. exports and imports both rebounded in January increasing 22.6 percent and 11.4 percent year-on-year respectively. •Bilateral policy issues: IP Commission issues an updated report on harm to U.S. economy from IP theft, spotlights China’s continued outsized role; China bans four synthetic opioids, including carfentanil, in a decision hailed by U.S. law enforcement as a “game changer” for U.S. counternarcotic efforts. •Policy trends in China’s economy: Chinese steel capacity increased in 2016, despite plant closures and claims of cuts; despite persistent overcapacity, China dramatically reduces its 2017 targets for cutting capacity in coal mining compared to 2016, while many redundant coal power plants are still being planned or under construction. •Sector focus – Fertilizer: Chinese fertilizer exports fall due to rising coal prices as U.S. fertilizer capacity grows alongside natural gas production; the U.S. Department of Commerce issues antidumping duties of 498 percent on Chinese ammonium sulfate fertilizer imports.
China’s High-Speed Rail Diplomacy
High-speed rail is a symbol of China’s technological progress and a significant source of national pride. In under a decade, China built the world’s largest high-speed rail network and developed globally competitive rail companies. Now Beijing is pursuing contracts for high-speed rail projects abroad. This staff report examines China’s high-speed rail diplomacy and growing footprint in the U.S. rail market. China’s initial forays in the U.S. rail market suggest Chinese rail firms have a mixed impact on U.S. industry. The United States does not have a domestic high-speed rail manufacturing industry, but China’s entry into the U.S. rail market could undermine competition by pitting heavily subsidized, state-owned companies against private firms.
The 13th Five-Year Plan
China is an important market for U.S. firms, but policies outlined in the 13th Five-Year Plan seek to create new Chinese competitors that will be able to challenge U.S. companies abroad while slowly closing market opportunities in China for U.S. and other foreign firms in important high-tech sectors such as biopharmaceuticals, robotics, and aviation. This staff report analyzes the 13th Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government’s most important strategy to address its economic, social, and environmental challenges over the next five years, focusing on key national targets (including subsequently announced localization and innovation targets), market access commitments, and its implications for the U.S. employment, innovation, and economic growth.
February 2017 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of this Month’s Edition: • Bilateral trade: The U.S. trade deficit declined to $347 billion in 2016, a 5.5 percent decrease year-on-year, due to weakened imports; U.S. service exports hit a record high, aided by increased Chinese tourism spending in the United States. • Bilateral policy issues: U.S. firms operating in China in 2016 report similar levels of profitability, but perceive a decline in the overall investment environment driven in part by concerns over China’s discriminatory and restrictive regulatory policies. • Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s GDP growth hit 6.7 percent in 2016, supported by higher government spending and record bank lending; President Xi Jinping talks up globalization at Davos amid bleak exports. • Policy trends in China’s economy: Chinese government’s continued efforts to battle capital outflows are bearing fruit; China instructs Internet providers to end unauthorized VPN use and establishes funds for information infrastructure and development of domestic Internet companies. • Sector focus – Aluminum: U.S. government tightens antidumping and countervailing duties and launches a WTO case to fight China’s excess aluminum production.