Crude tools cloud US-China trade rows

Via Asia Times

By Benjamin A Shobert

Something has to be done to balance the United States' trade problem with China. Or, at least, that is the belief that is animating much of the political discourse taking place in Washington DC.

This very specific objective is front and center in the minds of US politicians as they rush towards the upcoming general elections in November. The problem is that the specific nature of their concern is poorly matched to the more general means by which they believe this can be accomplished.

Answers vary from the more subtle and nuanced (elevating certain trade concerns in the contexts of the Strategic Economic Dialogue, US Trade Representative or even World Trade Organization meetings), to the more unsophisticated and inflammatory ("Fair Currency" reform legislation, import duties and tariffs).

What they share is the idea that American policy makers have done too little and been too subtle, in their engagement with the Chinese. The net effect of this, at least according to them, is that the US has lost more jobs than it otherwise would have. As they see it, had Washington taken a more assertive view of the need to protect certain industries, and thereby the workers within them, the jobs crisis the US is currently in the midst of would not be as severe.

This was very much the topic of Thursday's hearings held by the congressionally appointed US-China Economic & Security Review Commission (USCC). As one commissioner shared during the day of testimony, the general feeling in Washington is that America was either too trusting or had planned too poorly for the potential downside risks inherent in globalization.

Ainsley Shea