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How Can We Understand China-US Economic and Trade Relations?

Reducing the trade gap will require long-term efforts, but cooperation and exchanges between the two are expected to extend to other markets

By Zhang Qingchen Updated Nov.14

Beijing-based think tank the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) has released a report on how to seek a stable, balanced and win-win relationship between China and the US, following a seminar where experts on international affairs and foreign trade discussed how to understand the large Sino-US trade gap and in what fields the two nations should make progress. 

In 2016, China’s trade surplus with the US was about US$254 billion, but Chinese data shows that the US has overestimated the actual gains for China, the report said.  

Instead of raising trade barriers, the report suggested the best way to solve such a gap will require long-term, common efforts by both sides. China can further reduce the actual tariffs on some imports, such as oil, natural gas and agricultural products, within an acceptable scope. Meanwhile, the US can reform its export regulations by easing some restrictions, such as in the science and tech sectors, or at least by not imposing excessive controls.  

Apart from trade, future Sino-US relations should expand from the commodities markets to the production elements market, noted Cui Fan, a senior research fellow at the CCG and professor at the School of International Trade and Economics at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE).   

Cui said that commodities refers to goods and services, but later the cooperation and competition between China and the US would stretch to other markets, such as capital, technologies and talent. Cui stressed the crucial role of talented people, and encouraged an exchange of talent between the two nations through setting up an international institution for global talent.  

Another professor at the School of International Trade and Economics at UIBE, Lu Jinyong, noted that based on previous buyer-seller relations between China and the US, currently there are many interlinked economic fields. However, in the fields of talent, investment, education, tourism, culture and energy, the two nations are expected to have further communications, Lu said.