RESEARCH: Economics and Trade REPORTS

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.
Fentanyl: China’s Deadly Export to the United States
Mass quantities of fentanyl, a low-cost and highly potent synthetic drug, are being produced in China and brought illegally to the United States, contributing to a growing U.S. opioid crisis. The rise of fentanyl in the United States can be traced back to China’s large chemical and pharmaceutical industries, which manufacture vast quantities of the drug and its analogues to export to the western hemisphere with little regulatory oversight. This report examines how China’s illicit chemical production and inefficient U.S. and international counternarcotic efforts have contributed to dramatic increases in fentanyl-related deaths in the United States.
January 2017 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of this Month’s Edition •Bilateral trade: U.S. exports to China rise 14.1 percent year-on-year in November 2016, the largest increase since December 2013. Cumulative yearly trade with China and the U.S. goods trade deficit continue to decline year-on-year. •Bilateral policy issues: China launches complaint at the WTO against the United States and EU over market economy status; the United States challenges Chinese grain tariff rate quotas at the WTO; WTO talks to finalize the Environmental Goods Agreement collapsed, due in part to China’s last-minute submission of a new product list. •Policy trends in China’s economy: Capital outflows continue, forcing the Chinese government to spend down reserves and reinstitute capital controls to maintain the exchange rate; a new directive issued by the Chinese government prohibits social media sites from streaming videos on current events from non-government-approved sources.
Chinese Investment in the United States
The report examines the rapidly increasing foreign direct investment by China in the United States and how the unprecedented level of investment, especially in sensitive sectors, raises new considerations for lawmakers regarding U.S. national and economic security. This report was prepared for the Commission by the Rhodium Group.