While watching BBC World News America on Thursday, November 9, 2017, I was surprised to hear our president say that he doesn’t blame China for America’s trade deficit with that country. This change of tone occurred during his recent state visit to China.
With President Xi Jinping by his side, President Trump told business leaders inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People: “I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the sake of its citizens?” [Read the complete news report at BBC Online News.]
While still describing the relationship as “very unfair” and “one-sided,” Trump blamed past US administrations for allowing our trade deficit with China to grow. As indicated in the chart below, showing US Trade in Goods with China 2004-2016, the trade deficit with China was US$266.3 billion (2008) at the end of the Bush administration. It ballooned by 30.3 percent to US$347 billion during the Obama administration (2009-2016).
US Trade in Goods with China 2004-2016 prepared by Rosaliene Bacchus
Data Source: US Foreign Trade Statistics
On November 9, according to a press release from the US Department of Commerce, America’s trade delegation signed approximately a quarter trillion dollars (US$250 billion) in deals between private US businesses and Chinese entities. The deals signed included shale gas, liquefied natural gas, and aviation projects. Among American executives present at the signing ceremony were representatives from General Motors, GE, Boeing, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, and Goldman Sachs.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross expects these deals to bring thousands of new jobs to America. “American businesses are the most innovative in the world, and, when given access, can compete with anyone,” he said. “I believe these deals can provide a solid foundation for a stronger relationship that is more free, fair, and reciprocal between the U.S. and China.”
Descriptions of each deal can be viewed HERE (pdf file). Some of these deals are only memoranda of understanding, making them non-binding agreements that may end up being just Christmas tree decorations. Time will tell which deals bear real fruit. For jobless Americans who are hurting, the sooner the better.