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  • Author: Chad P. Bown
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trump administration changed US trade policy toward China in ways that will take years for researchers to sort out. This paper makes four specific contributions to that research agenda. First, it carefully marks the timing, definitions, and scale of the products subject to the tariff changes affecting US-China trade from January 20, 2017 through January 20, 2021. One result is that each country increased its average duty on imports from the other to rates of roughly 20 percent, with the new tariffs and counter-tariffs covering more than 50 percent of bilateral trade. Second, the paper highlights two additional channels through which bilateral tariffs changed during this period: product exclusions from tariffs and trade remedy policies of antidumping and countervailing duties. These two channels have received less research attention. Third, it explores why China fell more than 40 percent short of meeting the goods purchase commitments set out for 2020, the first year of the phase one agreement. Finally, the paper considers additional trade policy actions—involving forced labor, export controls for reasons of national security or human rights, and reclassification of trade with Hong Kong—likely to affect US-China trade beyond the Trump administration.
  • Topic: Education, Trade Wars, Trade Policy, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Afrequently voiced complaint from the Trump administration was that US firms have faced a competitive disadvantage in exports because the US market is open and US tariffs are low but US trading partners protect their markets with high tariffs. The administration used this concern to justify raising US tariffs whenever it could. Lawrence argues that these claims should be more nuanced and account for the extensive unilateral liberalization by many countries over the past 30 years and that the grievances that motivated the Trump trade policies are increasingly misplaced. Many developing countries have reduced their tariffs unilaterally to rates that are far lower than they applied three decades ago and far less than the bound rates reflected in their World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations. Globally, on average, tariffs were not raised during the global financial crisis of 2008 and continued to decline through at least 2018. Even when shocks from imports resulted in serious injury to domestic industries, several developing countries temporarily provided safeguard protection but at levels that were lower than their WTO bound rates. This evidence of import liberalization also suggests that rising protectionism was not responsible for the slow growth in world trade that has been evident since 2011. It remains uncertain whether countries will now respond to disruptions to global supply chains since 2018 caused by Trump’s trade policies and the COVID-19 pandemic by reversing their tariff liberalization stance, but the sustained enthusiasm for new megaregional trade agreements suggests many countries will not.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, World Trade Organization, Trade Wars, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Carla Freeman, Cengiz Günay
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP)
  • Abstract: THIS EVENT WAS PART OF THE "A BRAND NEW WORLD? SHIFTING POWERS IN INTERNATIONAL POLITICS OIIP ONLINE SERIES. Ever since President Obama’s "pivot to Asia" it has become clear that the US foreign and security policies are increasingly focused on China’s regional and global ambitions as a challenge to US interests in the Asia-Pacific. The Trump administration extended US security policy vis a vis Beijing to the economic arena through a protracted trade war, also banning several online apps and platforms such as TikTok, as well as the telecommunications giant Huawei. The European Union and its member states have remained silent and refrained from harsh rhetoric and policies towards China. What is the difference between US and European policies? What might change or remain the same under the Biden administration and what can be expected from China in the near future? We will discuss these and more questions with Carla Freeman, Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Institute and Associate research professor in China Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Conversation with: CARLA FREEMAN Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Moderated by: CENGIZ GÜNAY Austrian Institute for international Affairs. Supported by the U.S. Embassy Vienna.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Trade Wars, Telecommunications
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald Trump was a trade “hawk” long before he became president. In the late 1980s, he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and complained about Japan “beating the hell out of this country” on trade (Real Clear Politics 2019). As president, he has continued with the same rhetoric, using it against a wide range of U.S. trading partners, and he has followed it up with action (often in the form of tariffs). While many countries have found themselves threatened by Trump’s aggressive trade policy, his main focus has been China. As a result, the United States and China have been engaged in an escalating tariff, trade, and national security conflict since July 2018, when the first set of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect and China retaliated with tariffs of its own. In this article, we explore the U.S.-China economic conflict, from its origins to the trade war as it stands today. We then offer our thoughts on where this conflict is heading and when it might end.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Peter A. Petri, Michael G. Plummer
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: he deepening US-China trade war and nationalist reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic are reshaping global economic relationships. Alongside these developments, two new megaregional trade agreements, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), will refocus East Asia’s economic ties in the region itself. The new accords are moving forward without the United States and India, once seen as critical partners in the CPTPP and RCEP, respectively. Using a computable general equilibrium model, we show that the agreements will raise global national incomes in 2030 by an annual $147 billion and $186 billion, respectively. They will yield especially large benefits for China, Japan, and South Korea and losses for the United States and India. These effects are simulated both in a business-as-before-Trump environment and in the context of a sustained US-China trade war. The effects were simulated before the COVID-19 shock but seem increasingly likely in the wake of the pandemic. Compared with business as before, the trade war generates large global losses rising to $301 billion annually by 2030. The new agreements offset the effects of the trade war globally, but not for the United States and China. The trade war makes RCEP especially valuable because it strengthens East Asian interdependence, raising trade among members by $428 billion and reducing trade among nonmembers by $48 billion. These shifts bring regional ties closer to institutional arrangements proposed in the 1990s and incentivize greater cooperation among China, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Trade Wars, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Free Trade, COVID-19, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Chad P. Bown
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US-China trade war forced a reluctant semiconductor industry into someone else’s fight, a very different position from its leading role in the 1980s trade conflict with Japan. This paper describes how the political economy of the global semiconductor industry has evolved since the 1980s. That includes both a shift in the business model behind how semiconductors go from conception to a finished product as well as the geographic reorientation toward Asia of demand and manufactured supply. It uses that lens to explain how, during the modern conflict with China, US policymakers turned to a legally complex set of export restrictions targeting the semiconductor supply chain in the attempt to safeguard critical infrastructure in the telecommunications sector. The potentially far-reaching tactics included weaponization of exports by relatively small but highly specialized American software service and equipment providers in order to constrain Huawei, a Fortune Global 500 company. It describes potential costs of such policies, some of their unintended consequences, and whether policymakers might push them further in the attempt to constrain other Chinese firms.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Trade Wars, Industry, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The so-called “truce” in the trade war with the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement on January 15 comes amid indicators that the intense U.S. government consensus pushback against a wide range of perceived challenges posed by China may be subsiding.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Uren
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This report argues that the growing use of economic coercion by both China and the United States is an emerging risk for business and undermines the world trading system. Australian businesses that have in good faith taken up the opportunities offered by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, signed in 2015, now find themselves facing the potential loss of market access as the Chinese administration retaliates over Australian government policies on a coronavirus inquiry and the next generation internet network. Australian businesses are not the targets of US sanctions, but US extra-territorial reach means they are at risk of serious collateral damage if they even inadvertently transact with any individual or organisation that is. The report traces the growing use of trade as an economic weapon, particularly over the last three years as the global trade environment has become increasingly fractious amid rising protectionism. The World Trade Organisation has successfully been used in the past to push back against economic coercion and the report argues the Australian government should be ready to use the disputes mechanism of the World Trade Organisation to tackle Chinese trade barriers. Multilateral forums, including APEC, the G20, the OECD and the WTO should recognise the growing threat which economic coercion represents to the freedom of commerce.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Economy, Trade Wars, Free Trade, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, United States of America