Recent statements from Beijing are providing the most hopeful indications yet that China may finally be coming around on trade.
According to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chinese goods exports to the U.S. over the past six months declined 12.8 percent compared to the same period of 2018, driving the trade surplus down ten percent. Taken at an annual rate, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. in the January-April interval would be 23.5 percent below China’s surplus for all of last year.
Trade surplus was of course the major factor that triggered the one-year-plus trade war between China and the United States. Looking at the data, it is no surprise why the Trump administration has taken such a tough stance on trade with the People’s Republic of China. China has accumulated nearly a trillion dollars of U.S. trade surpluses on President Trump’s watch. But in truth this is nothing new. The trade in-balance has been in the tens of billions of dollars for years. But finally, as the stats show, China seems to be showing a readiness to keep its sales in American markets on a steep and steady path.
But beyond just the raw numbers, the strongest indication China may finally be coming around on trade came from the country’s premier himself. Last Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered the following remarks at an international economic forum in Russia: “It’s hard to imagine a complete break of the United States from China or of China from the United States. We are not interested in this, and our American partners are not interested in this. President Trump is my friend and I am convinced he is also not interested in this.”
Another meeting between Trump and Xi is expected at the upcoming G-20 summit in Japan. Hopefully this time around, their rendezvous will have a more friendly tone.