Trump presidency may increase uncertainties in US-China trade relationship: expert

The US investigations into China's trade practices after US President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November are things that Trump has long wanted to do, an American expert said, without predicting whether such trade frictions would lead to a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

Over the past month, the Trump administration has formally rejected China's demand that it should be treated as a market economy under the global trading rules and self-initiated an anti-dumping probe into the imports of aluminium sheeting made by China.

The timing of the US rejection of China's market economy status and the trade probe against its major trading partner are not intentionally arranged by the US government, Claire Reade, a senior associate with the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told recently.

It indicates that Trump's attitude toward trade between the United States and China has never changed substantially, said Reade, who served as assistant US trade representative for China affairs in the Office of the US Trade Representative, where she was responsible for developing and implementing US trade policy toward China.

Simply increasing exports or reducing imports cannot solve the trade problems between the United States and China, and the United States must figure out the real reasons behind the trade frictions between the two countries, Reade said.

The expert attributed the current trade problems between the two countries to the fact that the United States wants wider access to the Chinese market while China has some trade irregularities including giving unfair subsidies, offering different prices of natural resources for different countries and excessive government interventions in trade activities. It would be a long process for China to correct its trade practices, which would add to the trade disputes between the two countries, noted Reade.

In addition to using the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization, which requires a lot of evidence, to solve trade disputes, the United States should properly select its own investigation tools to address the trade problems with China because it may well touch Beijing's bottom line, which in turn would harm the US interests, according to the US expert.

Reade also said that the presidency of Trump would increase the uncertainties and complexity of the US-China trade relationship because Trump is a person who is unwilling to take advice and likes to make decisions by himself.

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