RESEARCH: Economics and Trade REPORTS

June 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: U.S. goods deficit with China increases 11.8 percent in the first four months of 2018 as growth in U.S. imports from China outpaces exports. • Bilateral policy issues: The United States and China issue a joint statement on the ongoing trade negotiations, but outcomes remain in flux as tariff and investment action deadlines near; the U.S. government considers alternative penalties for ZTE’s violation of its 2017 settlement with U.S. authorities; China drops antidumping probe into U.S. sorghum, but U.S. soy exports still threatened. • Policy trends in China’s economy: China compels multinational companies to list Taiwan as a Chinese territory, increasingly using Chinese domestic laws as leverage. • Sector Focus — Autos: China’s auto market continues to grow, albeit slower than in previous years; as China prepares to lower tariffs on auto imports, European firms are better positioned to take advantage of increased market access than U.S. firms, most of which manufacture cars in China through joint ventures.
SOE Megamergers Signal New Direction in China's Economic Policy
The Chinese government is seeking to revamp its state sector through a series of billion dollar “megamergers” involving central state-owned enterprises (SOEs). These megamergers consolidate state control in strategic sectors of economy and eliminate intra-state competition in China. However, they also contribute to increased debt levels among Chinese SOEs and undermine the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and other global firms. This report assesses the objectives of China’s megamergers strategy and evaluates the implications of SOE megamergers (and, more broadly, Chinese government control over the economy) for the global competitive landscape.
China's Digital Game Sector
China’s digital game market has emerged as the largest in the world but remains heavily restricted to U.S. game companies. U.S. companies are required to license their games to Chinese operators who appear to claim a majority of the revenue a U.S. game earns in China. Intellectual property rights conditions in China create significant challenges for U.S. firms, facilitating piracy in other international markets through China’s manufacture of piracy-enabling devices and restricting the commercial viability of certain gaming genres and platforms within China due to widespread piracy. Chinese companies have acquired several foreign game companies, raising data privacy concerns given the power of the Chinese government to request information from domestic companies and the broad array of data that can be collected by mobile games.
May 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In the first quarter of 2018, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China grew about 15.5 percent year-on-year due to increased imports; in services, the United States reached record high trade surplus with China in 2017, but export growth was the lowest in over 13 years. • Bilateral policy issues: U.S. Department of Commerce bans U.S. firms from exporting to ZTE due to ZTE’s repeated violations of its settlement with U.S. authorities; Chinese government strengthens long-standing policies to replace foreign technology with domestic equivalents; the EU and Japan join the United States in a challenge of China’s licensing regulations, while the EU joins China in its request for consultations regarding Section 232 tariffs; Beijing increases retaliatory pressure on the U.S. agriculture sector by imposing a 178.6 percent antidumping deposit on U.S. sorghum; 82 percent of all U.S. agriculture exports to China are subject to planned or enacted retaliatory Chinese tariffs. • Quarterly review of China’s economy: The Chinese economy grew 6.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, benefitting from strong consumer demand and increased real estate investment. • Policy trends in China’s economy: At the Boao Forum, President Xi pays lip service to globalization and economic liberalization, but offers modest commitments.
Supply Chain Vulnerabilities from China in U.S. Federal Information and Communications Technology
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a report entitled Supply Chain Vulnerabilities from China in U.S. Federal Information and Communications Technology, prepared for the Commission by Interos Solutions, Inc. The report examines vulnerabilities in the U.S. government information and communications technology (ICT) supply chains posed by China, and makes recommendations for supply chain risk management.
April 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In February 2018, U.S. goods deficit with China hit $29.3 billion, a 27.4 percent jump year-on-year; U.S. exports stall at their 2017 level. • Bilateral policy issues: The USTR’s Section 301 report details unfair Chinese government technology transfer and IP practices; the USTR subsequently launched a WTO complaint regarding China’s licensing regulations and is working to identify imports to target with tariffs; a GAO report recommends Treasury review staffing and resource levels for CFIUS to determine whether they are sufficient for handling an increasingly difficult workload; President Trump blocks Qualcomm acquisition by Singapore-based Broadcom amid concerns it could weaken Qualcomm’s long-term ability to compete with Chinese firms. • Policy trends in China’s economy: China’s National People’s Congress passes measures tightening the CCP’s control, including eliminating presidential term limits and approving a sweeping government reorganization plan; sweeping reforms to China’s government bureaucracy highlight government priorities and seek to reduce regulatory confusion, increasing efficiency and Party control over policy. • Sector focus – 5G: China’s drive for global leadership in 5G creates new economic and national security concerns for the United States.
China’s Technonationalism Toolbox: A Primer
The Chinese government has a comprehensive, long-term industrial strategy to build internationally competitive domestic firms and replace foreign technology and products with domestic equivalents first at home, and then abroad. This issue brief serves as a primer on the policies in the Chinese government’s toolbox for achieving its technonationalist targets, to include localization, massive subsidies for R&D, government procurement, China-specific standards, foreign investment restrictions, recruitment of foreign talent, state-directed acquisition of foreign technology and intellectual property, and, in some cases, industrial espionage.
March 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In January 2018, the U.S. goods deficit with China grew 14.8 percent year-on-year to reach $36 billion—its highest ever for January and its highest monthly level since September 2015. • Bilateral policy issues: The U.S. Department of Commerce submits its Section 232 recommendations for tariffs or quotas on U.S. steel and aluminum imports; SEC blocks acquisition of Chicago Stock Exchange by Chinese-led investor group based on concerns over transparency, oversight, and compliance with ownership limits; AmCham and USCBC surveys of U.S. businesses in China find some signs of rising optimism due to increasing profits and confidence in China’s economic growth, but regulatory and market access challenges persist as firms feel increasingly unwelcome in Chinese markets. • Policy trends in China’s economy: In their continuing battle against financial risks, Chinese regulators maintain focus on shadow banking, issuing a series of measures to curb riskier forms of lending. • Sector focus – Sorghum and Soybeans: In response to defensive U.S. trade measures, China considers duties against U.S. sorghum and soybeans, putting 67 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to China at risk.
February 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: In 2017, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China climbed 8.1 percent on the previous year to $375.2 billion, the highest deficit on record; U.S. services exports to China grow at the slowest rate since 2009 due to a slowdown in tourism to the United States. • Bilateral policy issues: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2017 report on China’s adherence to WTO commitments criticizes China’s noncompliance, noting “it is now clear that the WTO rules are not sufficient to constrain China’s market-distorting behavior.” • Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s economy grew 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2017, driven by greater domestic consumption, higher industrial output, and global demand. • Policy trends in China’s economy: The Chinese government takes steps to discourage bitcoin mining in its latest crackdown on the cryptocurrency; China’s central bank adjusts exchange rate management regime. • Sector focus – Chinese Outbound Investment: Chinese investment into the United States drops 35 percent following China’s imposition of capital control measures; newly announced Chinese investment deals in the United States are 90 percent lower in 2017 than 2016; concerns over espionage activity, opaque ownership structures, and a lack of privacy protections for U.S. customers cause HNA and Ant Financial’s U.S. acquisition transactions to flounder and terminate Huawei’s mobile phone partnerships with U.S. carriers.
January 2018 Trade Bulletin
Highlights of This Month’s Edition • Bilateral trade: The U.S. trade deficit in goods with China totaled $35.4 billion in November 2017, its highest monthly level in the past two years and a 16.2 percent increase year-on-year. • Bilateral policy issues: President Trump issues National Security Strategy calling for more assertive policies to combat Chinese influence campaigns and economic coercion; the U.S. government is pursuing multilateral and bilateral approaches to confront China’s market-distorting support for sectors such as steel and aluminum. • Policy trends in China’s economy: At the Central Economic Work Conference, Chinese leaders maintain last year’s focus on financial risks and supply-side structural reform but place less emphasis on deleveraging; IMF cites China’s credit growth, regulation, and implicit credit guarantees from banks and government actors as top concerns in its most recent financial system stability report. • Sector focus – Consumer Goods: U.S. consumer goods exports to China experience consistent growth from 2003 to 2016 despite accounting for a small portion of U.S. exports to China; on December 1, the Chinese government cut tariffs on several products, including top U.S. consumer good exports.