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  • Author: Wendy Cutler
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Much attention has been focused on China’s unfair intellectual property practices and the imbalance in the U.S.-China trade relationship, but equally troubling are large-scale Chinese industrial subsidies, the behavior of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and in general, the oversized and opaque role of the Chinese state in the economy. While the U.S-China phase one trade deal tackled some important sources of bilateral tension and aimed to boost Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, it was silent on industrial subsidies and related matters, leaving them for the next phase of negotiations, the fate of which is now in question. U.S. concerns on these matters are shared by other trading partners including the European Union (EU) and Japan. Yet despite widespread disapproval of such practices, building new global rules to combat subsidies has proven challenging. This is due to several factors, ranging from gridlock at the WTO, differences of views among like-minded countries on the required level of ambition, and uncertainty as to how best to approach the enormous complexities in China’s subsidies and related policies. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has sought to unpack this complexity, conducting recent studies of Chinese subsidies in two key sectors: aluminum and semiconductors. Both studies illustrate how Chinese subsidies are not simple cash handouts from the state to protected firms so that they can sell at favorable and distorting prices. The OECD finds subsidies can take various forms, including downstream or upstream help that trickles up or down to the firm that’s intended to benefit. They can take the form of favorable equity or debt purchases or bonds provided at below-market rates. And with interconnected global value chains, subsidies can effectively be granted covertly, intended to benefit one firm that might be several links away along the chain. In China, the problem is compounded by an opaque “party-state” structure that obscures not only the recipients of subsidies, but also the source. According to Mark Wu, a Harvard Law School professor who previously served as the Director for Intellectual Property in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, subsidies not only flow directly from government bodies in Beijing, but also indirectly through informal responses to directives — sometimes even left unsaid, but understood — from the Chinese Communist Party. Against this backdrop, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) convened two roundtables in the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020 to discuss how best to build a new rules-based infrastructure that might combat such subsidies and prevent trade-distorting results such as unfair competition, market access barriers, and, above all, overcapacity in global markets. Experts from the private sector, think tanks, governments, and academia weighed in with possible solutions, which included: Negotiating new rules in the WTO; Using the WTO dispute settlement system, despite its often-discussed flaws; Forming ad hoc rules-based approaches, where possible, like the U.S-EU-Japan trilateral initiative; Plurilateral negotiations conducted on a sector-by-sector basis; Forming coalitions of like-minded trading partners to establish an alternative model, much in the way that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was framed. During the roundtables, most experts agreed that there is no silver bullet that solves the subsidy and related issues on its own. And most agree that, left unaddressed, the problem is likely to deepen. The COVID-19 pandemic might even exacerbate it by leading to more state involvement in economies around the world and making it hard to discipline Beijing’s practices. Recognizing all of these real challenges that the international trade community faces, the roundtables reached the following key conclusions: Transparency on the scope, level, and nature of industrial subsidies is vital; Efforts to publicize the ongoing work in these areas, particularly that being done by the OECD, should accelerate; Turning research into tangible new policies is a key step; and Persuading China to agree to updated rules will be necessary, given that China is a singular contributor to overcapacity.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Trade, Industry, WTO
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For years China has been one of the world’s most rapidly growing sources of outward foreign direct investment. Since peaking in 2016, however, Chinese outward investments, primarily to the United States but also the European Union, have declined dramatically, especially in response to changes in China’s domestic rules on capital outflows and in the face of rising nationalism in the United States. Concerns about growing Chinese influence in other economies, the ascendant role of an authoritarian government in Beijing, and the possible security implications of Chinese dominance in the high-technology sector have put Chinese outward investments under intense international scrutiny. This Policy Brief analyzes the most recent trends in Chinese investments in the United States and the European Union and reviews recent political and regulatory changes both have adopted toward Chinese inward investments. It also explores the emerging transatlantic difference in the regulatory response to the Chinese information technology firm Huawei. Concerned about national security and as part of the ongoing broader trade friction with China, the United States has cracked down far harder on the company than the European Union.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, National Security, Foreign Direct Investment, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dong Yan, Wen Jun
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of World Economics and Politics
  • Abstract: China will promote higher-level opening-up by continuing to expand access to its market, increase imports, foster a world-class business environment, deepen multilateral and bilateral cooperation and jointly build the Belt and Road Initiative. This is the promise President Xi Jinping made in his keynote speech at the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Tuesday. ...... China's imports have made important contributions to global trade and economic growth, accounting for 10.67 percent of the global goods imports last year. At the second CIIE, which concludes on Sunday, more than 150 countries, regions and international organizations from across five continents are showcasing their development results while more than 3,000 enterprises are holding talks with purchasing agents both inside and outside China. The CIIE is a platform for not only trading goods and services, but also exchanging ideas and discussing global trade issues.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Business , Trade, Imports
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Dong Yan, Ma Tao
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of World Economics and Politics
  • Abstract: A large number of farmers in the Republic of Korea took to the streets of Seoul on Wednesday, protesting the government's recent decision to give up its developing country status at the World Trade Organization in future trade negotiations and thus lose the benefits accruing out of it. The protesters were worried that the decision would eventually lead to a drastic cut in state agriculture subsidies and tariffs. …… Given that countries could experience uneven development, gaining undue advantages in some areas while being weak in others, the WTO has prevented some developing countries from enjoying some of the special and differential treatments in certain fields. For instance, it has restricted the ROK and India from using measures to promote balance of payment. Besides, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, revised in 2003, allows countries that lack production capability to import nonproprietary medicines, which is opposed by the developed countries-and 11 countries including China, the ROK, Mexico and Turkey have agreed to implement the agreement only in emergencies.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, World Trade Organization, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, Korea
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE)
  • Abstract: Chinese investment is flowing fast into Uganda, and spreading into the agriculture and forestry sectors. The government needs to keep pace with these developments so the benefits can be shared by Ugandans. A new analysis shows that, while the jobs and new businesses created are well received, the working conditions and environmental practices of Chinese companies are often poor. Many people evicted from their land to make way for new projects have not been compensated. To hold Chinese companies to account, government agencies, with support from NGOs, must share information about these investments and introduce stronger regulation — in particular to uphold community rights. In turn, Chinese companies must be more transparent, responsible and legally compliant. With a proactive and accountable strategy for Chinese investment management, Uganda could make major gains for sustainable development.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Business , Accountability, Investment, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, China
  • Author: Chas W. Freeman Jr.
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has declared economic war on China. The United States has raised taxes on Chinese imports to levels not seen since the Smoot–Hawley tariffs of the Great Depression. Over the course of this year, Chinese imports of American goods have decreased by 26.4 percent, while China’s exports to the United States are down 10.7 percent. Washington has embargoed exports to China of a constantly expanding list of high-tech manufactures. It seeks to block Chinese telecommunications companies from third-country markets. The United States has mounted a vigorous campaign to persuade other countries to reject Chinese investments in their infrastructure, notably in the case of 5G telecommunications networks.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy, Trade Wars, International Community, Exports
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Su Qingyi
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of World Economics and Politics
  • Abstract: In March 2018, the United States slapped tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum in the name of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Then, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a report on the investigation of China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, claiming China’s acts, policies, and practices regarding technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are “unreasonable and discriminatory, and burden U.S. commerce.” In early April, it issued a list of products imported from China subject to additional tariffs of 25 percent totaling US $50 billion. In June, Donald Trump approved the tariff imposition on US $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, officially starting from Chinese exports worth US $34 billion on July 6. The remaining US $16 billion was to be imposed later. In July, the U.S. issued another trade barrier of 10 percent tariff on imports from China with a value of US $200 billion. On August 1, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the barriers were suggested by President Trump, who ordered to increase the amount to 25 percent.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Su Qingyi
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of World Economics and Politics
  • Abstract: US President Donald Trump has adopted a hard-line trade policy and recklessly instigated the trade conflict with China. This is the result of a combination of adjustments to his trade, foreign, and fiscal policies. These intertwined policies will likely stretch China-US trade frictions throughout Trump's presidency. First of all, the adjustment to the trade policy includes a shift from multilateral free trade to regional free trade and pressuring other countries to open their markets.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Trade Wars, Trade, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dong Yan
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of World Economics and Politics
  • Abstract: China will take measures to further open up to the outside world, Xi said in his highly-anticipated keynote address at the Boao Forum for Asia. But amid the escalating China-US trade conflict, some people have wrongly assumed Xi made the remarks with the Trump administration's accusations in mind. But a review of China's policies shows the country will deepen reform and opening-up because of its practical development needs, not because of any other country's demand or coercion. And more importantly, if the US insists on starting a trade war, China's further opening-up policies will not apply to any US enterprises. To people concerned about China's development, Xi's speech must have sounded inspiring, but not surprising, as opening-up has been a development theme for China for the past 40 years.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Alice Amorim
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: BRICS Policy Center
  • Abstract: This brief focuses on climate finance, as it encompasses a substantive part of the resources in this broader sustainability agenda. Having a better understanding of this field is important given the possible risk of other development resources being hijacked by the climate finance rhetoric. The paper also presents updated data on climate finance flows and for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Finally, it presents some evidence of how China and Chinese-led financial institutions are becoming key players in this field.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Trade and Finance, Regulation, Finance, Risk, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Wei Wang, Gemma Estrada, Jurgen Conrad, Sang-Hyop Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As demand from global markets declines, slowing exports of manufactured goods from the People's Republic of China means the country must increasingly rely on domestic markets for growth. Unlike manufactured goods, services—those "intangible" products that include everything from transportation to scientific research to real estate services—are geared more toward domestic markets. Services, then, will be key to the rebalancing process. However, while the service sector has grown rapidly in the PRC, it continues to lag behind other countries at similar stages of development. In addition, the sector is dominated by traditional low-end types of services, rather than knowledge-intensive services. Heavy regulatory burdens, barriers to trade in services, and an unfavorable policy environment have been major obstacles to upgrading the sector and improving its competitiveness. Policy reform should focus on strengthening competition to raise productivity, with the goal of increasing not only the number of jobs and contribution to GDP, but also of positioning the service sector to compete internationally and spur export growth.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy, Reform, GDP
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Maaike Okano-Heijmans
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Today’s uncertainty in cross-Strait relations is not without consequence for third parties that maintain ties with both China and Taiwan. To what extent does (and should) the situation also impact on EU’s trade diplomacy with both sides? This policy brief argues that under today’s circumstances, the cold peace in cross-Strait relations is reason to tread carefully — and to stay on course. The May 2016 inauguration of the Taiwanese government led by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Tsai Ing-wen placed a big question mark over the future of cross-Strait relations. Within weeks, Beijing had unilaterally imposed a freeze on (semi-)official talks until the new Taiwanese President acknowledges the so-called 1992 Consensus. While confirming its ‘one China’ policy, the EU may contribute to the stability of cross-Strait relations by being a partner in China’s economic reform and by negotiating EU–China and EU–Taiwan investment agreements in parallel. In this policy brief author Maaike Okano-Heijmans builds on discussions during the 13th Symposium on ‘Sino–EU Relations and the Taiwan Question’, which was held in Shanghai from 9–11 October 2016 and in Taipei from 12–14 October 2016. These second-track dialogues were supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, European Union
  • Author: Ryan Rutkowski
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Faced with slowing economic growth, Chinese policymakers now recognize that the service sector of the economy—transportation, communications, finance, and health care—could spur economic activity and employment. The catch is that China must reform these and other areas to accomplish this goal. Chinese leaders have outlined an ambitious agenda for reform, but myriad vested interests could slow or block their plans. This Policy Brief evaluates the steps taken so far and the difficulties that lie ahead in implementing them. If policymakers fail to reform and open up the service sector, they run the risk of seriously impairing China's growth prospects.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Jon Dorsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: At the end of 2015 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will announce the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In theory, this agreement should produce an association-wide economic integration. However, following the announcement, and for the foreseeable future, ASEAN member states will continue in significantly less than full regional economic integration. Why? Some observers believe that the AEC plans involve an "overly ambitious timeline and too many ill-thought-out initiatives." Others point to ASEAN's traditional aversion to legally binding agreements. While progress has been made in reducing or eliminating intra-ASEAN trade tariffs, substantial non-tariff barriers to trade persist. However, for most member states, the ASEAN market is relatively small while external markets, especially China, are growing rapidly. Given this outward-orientation for ASEAN trade, is the lack of an unhindered regional market really a problem?
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China is challenging the regional balance of power in East Asia through a military buildup and an increasingly assertive foreign policy. The US is forced to find the right balance between cooperating with China while benefiting from its economic rise, and countering China's regional reach by carrying out its self-declared "pivot" to Asia in spite of domestic and budgetary constraints. With just over one year in office, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has received wide domestic support for his ambitious plans to revive Japan's economy through his threefold policy of Abenomics. At the same time, however, he has implemented a number of significant policies in the defence and security sphere. In response to China's military rise, the Abe administration increased and recalibrated the defence budget. Furthermore, in order to reinforce the alliance with the US, the government approved the creation of a US-style National Security Council, passed a Secrecy Bill, and aims to reverse Japan's self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defence. Under the banner of "proactive pacifism", the Abe cabinet is seizing the momentum caused by the changing regional power dynamics in order to edge closer towards "breaking away from the postwar regime". A proposed revision of Japan's constitution, unchanged since 1947, symbolizes the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) objective to bring about a more autonomous role for Japan both in the security alliance with the US and as an international actor.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: New data published in the American Enterprise Institute-Heritage Foundation China Global Investment Tracker show that China continues to invest heavily around the world. Outward investment excluding bonds stood at $85 billion in 2013 and is likely to reach $100 billion annually by 2015. Energy, metals, and real estate are the prime targets. The United States in particular received a record of more than $14 billion in Chinese investment in 2013. Although China has shown a pattern of focusing on one region for a time then moving on to the next, the United States could prove to be a viable long-term investment location. The economic benefits of this investment flow are notable, but US policymakers (and those in other countries) should consider national security, the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and reciprocity when deciding to encourage or limit future Chinese investment.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Gerald Stang
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: In 2012, China was the world's seventh biggest producer of natural gas, the fourth largest oil producer, and the biggest producer of hydroelectricity. It also produced almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. Still, this is not enough. China's domestic energy bounty has long allowed the country to keep its overall import dependency relatively low but, as the country's economy continues to boom, its import dependency is growing quickly, particularly with regard to oil.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Hongying Wang
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: China's role in the global imbalance is closely linked to its domestic imbalance. Chinese policy makers have long been aware of the dual imbalance and the imperative to shift to economic growth driven by domestic consumption. They have taken limited steps in changing the development model, but political obstacles have slowed the pace of reform. The new leadership seems serious about deepening economic reform despite political resistance, but without political reform, the prospect of success remains dim.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia