As imports from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have surged in recent years, posing a threat to some U.S. industries and manufacturing employment, Congress has begun to focus on not only access to the Chinese market and intellectual property rights (IPO) protection, but also the mounting U.S. trade deficit with China as well as allegations that China is selling its products on the international market at below cost (dumping), engaging in “currency manipulation,” and exploiting its workers for economic gain. Members of the 109th Congress introduced several bills that would impose trade sanctions on China for intervening in the currency market or for engaging in other acts of unfair trade, while the Bush Administration has imposed anti-dumping duties and safeguards against some PRC products and pressured China to further revalue its currency and remove non-tariff trade barriers. China runs a trade surplus with the world’s three major economic centers — the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Since 2000, the United States has incurred its largest bilateral trade deficit with China ($201 billion in 2005, a 25% rise over 2004). In 2003, China replaced Mexico as the second largest source of imports for the United States. China’s share of U.S. imports was 14.6% in 2005, although this proportion still falls short of Japan’s 18% of the early 1990s.
The United States is China’s largest overseas market and second largest source of foreign direct investment on a cumulative basis. U.S. exports to China have been growing rapidly as well, although from a low base. In 2004, China replaced Germany and the United Kingdom to become the fourth largest market for U.S. goods and remains the fastest growing major U.S. export market. China is purchasing heavily from its Asian trading partners — particularly precision machinery, electronic components, and raw materials for manufacturing. China is running trade deficits with Taiwan and South Korea and has become a major buyer of goods from Japan and Southeast Asia. In the past decade, the most dramatic increases in U.S. imports from China have been not in labor-intensive sectors but in some advanced technology sectors, such as office and data processing machines, telecommunications and sound equipment, and electrical machinery and appliances. China’s exports to the United States are taking market share from other Pacific Rim countries, particularly the East Asian newly industrialized countries (NICS), which have moved most of their low-end production facilities to China.
This book provides a quantitative framework for policy considerations dealing with U.S. trade with China. It provides basic data and analysis of China’s international trade with the United States and other countries. Since Chinese data differ considerably from those of its trading partners (because of how entrepot trade through Hong Kong is counted), data from both PRC sources and those of its trading partners are presented. Charts showing import trends by sector for the United States highlight China’s growing market shares in many industries and also show import shares for Japan, Canada, Mexico, the European Union, and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).