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China writes 117-page wish list for `win-win' U.S. trade ties

China wants to beef up infrastructure cooperation with the U.S.

by Bloomberg News

China has drawn up a list of concessions it says can help deliver a “win-win” trade relationship with the U.S.

The government wants to beef up infrastructure cooperation with the U.S. and accept greater imports of goods ranging from soybeans to aircraft, according to a 117-page document released by the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday. The report also recognizes the Trump administration’s grievances with China and globalization, urging “balanced development” of ties from now on. 

A deal earlier this month to promote Chinese access for U.S. natural gas, financial services and beef was hailed as an “early harvest” in a 100-day review of the bilateral trade relationship -- characterized by a 2016 U.S. deficit of $347 billion -- that’s due to wrap up in July. Thursday’s report could yield a further thaw in links between the two, which had been tested by the China-baiting stance taken by President Trump during his election campaign.

“China would like to further increase imports of agricultural products such as soybeans and cotton from the U.S. and speed up negotiations with the U.S. on terms regarding traceability and inspection and quarantine for U.S. beef to enter China, which will benefit 6 million American farmers,” the report said. “China will increase imports of advanced manufactured goods such as aircraft, integrated circuits and machine tools.” 

The paper entitled "Research Report on China-U.S. Economic and Trade Relations” uses statistics and case studies to trace the history of trading relations and defend the current World Trade Organization-based system. It could also be seen as China showing its hand to the Trump administration for a more predictable and stable negotiation environment.

"We have never seen such moves before," said Tu Xinquan, dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. "The report is very thorough, and I think the main purpose is to enhance communication and reduce confrontation."

China also vowed in the report to further increase exports of U.S.-made movies to China and allow the makers a greater share of revenues, and made pledges to boost services trade including tourism and education in the U.S. 

It also offered to enhance infrastructure cooperation with the U.S., opening-up more market access and help create more jobs for Americans through its powerful e-commerce platforms.

In return, on the "ask" list, the report argues that the U.S. should stop using the so-called alternative state approach when calculating dumping margins in WTO trade disputes, a step that would edge China toward being considered a market economy by its major trading partners.

Apparent Paradox
The document also criticizes high-tech export restrictions and investment limits for companies targeting U.S. acquisitions.

“On one hand, the US side has exercised strict control over high-tech exports to China,” the report said. On the other hand, “it censured China for encouraging independent innovation. This is an apparent paradox.”

The report also stressed that WTO rules and multilateral and bilateral agreements provide the legal guarantee for bilateral economic and trade relations, warning that China is also vigilant on Trump’s rhetoric that the U.S. is not directly subject to the Geneva-based trade body’s decisions.

“The WTO rules provide a stable and strong institutional protection for the development of China-U.S. economic and trade relations, which are bilateral ties within the framework of WTO rules,” the report said. “Economic globalization is a basis for the further development of China-U.S. economic and trade relations.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Miao Han in Beijing at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey Black at [email protected]

Chris Bourke

© 2017 Bloomberg L.P

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