2019/07/31

US-China Trade War and the World Economy

The US and China are locked in an trade battle. US President Donald Trump has complained about China's trading practices since before he took office in 2016.


  Last year, the US imposed three rounds of tariffs on more than $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. The duties of up to 25% cover a wide range of industrial and consumer items from handbags to railway equipment. Beijing hit back with tariffs on $110 billion of US goods, accusing the US of starting "the largest trade war in economic history." China has targeted products including chemicals, coal and medical equipment with levies that range from 5% to 25%. China has also targeted products made in US districts with strong support for the Republicans, and goods that can be purchased elsewhere, such as soybeans.

  After agreeing a truce in December, both sides began to talk. But in May, the US raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products to 25% from 10%. China retaliated but officials say the countries are still talking. The US also planned to hit an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods with tariffs.

  The US and China have been struggling for economic supremacy. The trade war is at heart a battle for tech supremacy and the huge commercial and national security advantages that come with it. China's plan to dominate in these areas helped galvanize the Trump administration after U.S. businesses operating in China complained for years about forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft. Their fight has moved on from charging new taxes on imports to attacking each others' tech industries. Many American tech companies such as Google were banned from selling their products to Huawei. With tensions rising after the U.S. blacklisted Huawei, the specter of a tech cold war is materializing.

  It is believed that US's attack on Huawei will speed up the process of opening a potential window to a day when Chinese people can use only Chinese phones and gadgets powered by homegrown chips and software. All this is happening with a speed that has shocked many in China.

  Consumers around the world could feel the impact. Both U.S. and international firms have said they are being harmed. Fears about a further escalation have rattled investors and hit stock markets.
  In June, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, the two presidents held a highly anticipated meeting. The both leaders agreed on holding the tariffs and restarting trade consultations between their countries. Trump suggested he will be reversing his government's decision to ban American companies from selling products to Huawei. China consented to purchase American agricultural products. The result of talks between Trump and Xi appeared to align with what many experts predicted ahead of the event.

  The commentary ahead of the meeting from Chinese state media suggested the two countries would not have an easy time reaching an agreement. The Trump-Xi meeting had been deemed a globally significant event because the ongoing trade war has threatened to disrupt many countries' economies and has roiled businesses' international supply lines.

  According to OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria, if talks between Trump and Xi fell through, the consequence would be destructive and spill over to practically every single economy in the world because the U.S. and China have massive relationship with the rest of the world. Apart from that, the International Monetary Fund warned in June that the implemented and proposed tariffs between the two countries could potentially cut global economic output by 0.5% in 2020.

  IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde commented on the latest trade war development. "While the resumption of trade talks between the United States and China is welcome, tariffs already implemented are holding back the global economy, and unresolved issues carry a great deal of uncertainty about the future," she said.
    【綜合改寫自BBC、維基百科、The economicist、CNBC】

【中譯】
  美國與中國正在進行一場貿易戰。美國總統川普上任前就已抱怨中國的貿易活動。

  去年美國對價值二百五十億美元的中國商品加徵關稅三次,稅率最高達25%,範圍涵蓋自手提包至鐵路設備都有。北京也以進行關稅反擊,並指控美國發起「經濟史上最大的貿易戰爭」。中國鎖定的產品包括化學製品、煤炭、與醫療設備,稅率在5%至25%之間。中國也針對共和黨票倉,與可向其他國購買的產品,例如大豆。

  去年十二月兩國達成停戰協議,且開始協商。但在今年五月,美國對價值兩百億美元的中國商品調高關稅,稅率從10%增加至25%。中國也予以回擊但官方表示兩國仍然在進行協商。美國當時計劃再追加對價值三百億美國的中國商品加徵關稅。

  美中兩國長久以來一直在爭奪經濟霸主地位。此場貿易戰實際上是兩國爭奪科技霸主的地位,以及相關的商業與國際安全利益。在中國經營的美國企業多年來一直抱怨強迫技術轉讓和智慧財產權竊取。中國在這些領域追求主導地位的計劃進一步刺激了川普政府。兩國的戰爭已從加徵新的關稅轉移到攻擊彼此的科技產業。許多美國科技公司,例如Google,被禁止銷售產品給華為。美國將華為列入黑名單讓緊張情勢升溫,並引起人們對科技冷戰的恐懼。

  一般認為美國對華為的攻擊可能加速中國人只使用本土生產的晶片和軟體驅動的手機和設備。所有這一切正在以令許多中國人震驚的速度發生。

  全球的消費者都可以感受到影響。美國的與其他國際公司都表示因為美中貿易戰遭受到損失。投資人也憂慮貿易戰升溫,造成股市受到衝擊。

  今年六月,趁著大阪G20峰會的舉行的時間,美中兩國元首進行各方期待已久的會面。他們雙方都同意暫緩關稅並重啟兩國貿易協商。川普表示會改變美國政府對華為的銷售禁令,中國同意購買美國的農產品。川習會結果與各方專家的預測一致。

  中國官方媒體評論兩國不會輕易達成協議。由於美中貿易戰已損害許多國家的經濟與國際間的貿易,所以川習會被視為國際大事。

  經濟合作暨發展組織的秘書長表示,如果川習的會談失敗,結果會很嚴重並波及幾乎世界上所有國家。此外,國際基金貨幣組織也在六月提出警告,美中兩國的關稅戰可能造成2020年全球的經濟輸出減少0.5%。

  國際基金貨幣組織總裁拉加德對貿易戰的最新進展發表評論,她說:「我們樂見美中兩國恢復對談,但關稅戰已使全球經濟趨緩,未解決的問題也對未來帶來很大的不確定性。」

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