Boom­ing trade, not bar­ri­ers, cre­ates a win-win sit­u­a­tion

China Daily (USA) - - HONG KONG -

US pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Don­ald Trump has won many fans with his re­peated tirades against global trade. His mes­sage is any­thing but orig­i­nal and his ar­gu­ments are old hat.

But, his anti-trade stance has struck a chord with many Amer­i­cans who be­lieve that in­creases in im­ports, es­pe­cially from the Chi­nese main­land, are killing off many good pay­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs, re­sult­ing in static in­come and a widen­ing wealth gap.

Their dis­con­tent has been for­ti­fied by the pub­li­ca­tion ear­lier this year of an aca­demic paper which claimed that the surge in im­ports from China be­tween 1999 and 2011 had wiped out some 2.4 mil­lion jobs in the US, in­clud­ing about 1 mil­lion in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. That es­ti­mate in­di­cates that the im­pact of glob­al­iza­tion on the US job mar­ket may be larger than pre­vi­ously thought.

The is­sue mat­ters much to Hong Kong be­cause of its sta­tus as a re­gional hub for in­ter­na­tional trade and finance.

Glob­al­iza­tion was largely the brain­child of the lib­eral in­tel­lec­tual elites who are seen to have dom­i­nated the US po­lit­i­cal land­scape in past decades. They en­vis­aged that rais­ing the stan­dard of liv­ing in un­der-de­vel­oped coun­tries could help en­sure world peace, while greater pros­per­ity of the peo­ple in those coun­tries could lead to ris­ing de­mand for high value-added prod­ucts from the de­vel­oped economies.

Sub­se­quent de­vel­op­ments on a global scale have proven the value of that vi­sion. A rough es­ti­mate has it that total for­eign de­mand may have led to the cre­ation of up to 70 mil­lion jobs on the Chi­nese main­land in the five years af­ter it joined the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion, ac­cord­ing to a New York Times re­port.

Mean­while, a rapidly grow­ing prop­erty mar­ket on the Chi­nese main­land has led to stronger de­mand for im­ports, in­clud­ing cars and a wide va­ri­ety of US elec­tronic con­sumer prod­ucts. The Chi­nese main­land is now the sec­ond-largest mar­ket for iPhones and other Ap­ple prod­ucts af­ter the US. GM and Ford sell thou­sands of cars each year in China and the de­mand for Boe­ing planes by main­land car­ri­ers is on the rise.

US work­ers’ con­cerns about job losses are un­der­stand­able. But erect­ing bar­ri­ers against the flow of in­ter­na­tional trade is not the way to go.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A rapidly grow­ing prop­erty mar­ket on the Chi­nese main­land has led to stronger de­mand for im­ports, in­clud­ing cars and a wide va­ri­ety of US elec­tronic con­sumer prod­ucts, spell­ing huge op­por­tu­ni­ties for Sino-US trade, ex­perts say.

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