China occupies a commanding position, producing more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths, and the United States relies on China for upwards of 80 percent of its imports. Rare earths are 17 elements critical to manufacturing everything from smartphones and televisions to cameras and lightbulbs. That gives Beijing tremendous leverage in what is shaping up largely as a battle between the US and China over who will own the future of high-tech.
...the friction between these two superpowers, the U.S. and China, could result in a separation of tech spheres. This is already beginning as Chinese tech companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi look to alternative sources for semiconductor chips and other high-design supplies. It is also happening as U.S. companies are turning away from selling to Chinese companies and into China.
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Thursday it was proposing a new rule to impose anti-subsidy duties on products from countries that undervalue their currencies against the dollar, another move that could slap higher tariffs on Chinese products. The new rule also could put goods from other countries at risk of higher tariffs, including Japan, South Korea, India, Germany and Switzerland.
Exports of U.S. technology industry products and services grew by some $16 billion in 2018, to an estimated $338 billion, according to the annual "Tech Trade Snapshot 2019" report released today by CompTIA, the leading trade association for the global technology industry. The report reveals that U.S. technology exports directly supported an estimated 858,000 American jobs in 2017 - the most recent year of available data - an increase of 5.2 percent over the prior year.
The trade negotiations between the Trump administration and the People's Republic of China (PRC) are not rooted in commercial disputes. Though media discussions are dominated by issues about opening markets for U.S. exports limited by Chinese policy, the real issue is national security and the need to keep the balance of power tilted in America's favor. Business is the means, not the end.
The United States has agreed to lift its tariffs on industrial metals from Mexico and Canada, clearing a major obstacle to congressional passage of President Trump's new North American trade deal. The bargain calls for Mexico and Canada to adopt tough new monitoring and enforcement measures to prevent Chinese steel from being shipped to the U.S. via their territory.
Companies were bracing Monday for how Beijing might retaliate against President Trump's escalation of a fight over technology and trade that threatens to disrupt a Chinese economic recovery. China has threatened "necessary countermeasures" for Mr. Trump's tariff hikes Friday on $200 billion of Chinese imports. But three days later, in a break with previous tit-for-tat penalties that were imposed immediately, Beijing had yet to announce what it might do.
As a tool of national policy, tariffs had long been fading into history, a relic of the 19th and early 20th centuries that most experts came to see as harmful to all nations involved. Yet more than any other modern president, Trump has embraced tariffs as a punitive tool -- against Europe, Canada and other key trading partners but especially against China, the second-largest economy after the U.S.
President Donald Trump boosted tariffs Friday on $200 billion in goods from China and was preparing more in his most dramatic steps yet to extract trade concessions, further roiling financial markets and casting a shadow over the global economy. China immediately said in a statement it is forced to retaliate, though hadn’t specified how as of 3:55 p.m. in Beijing.
In pursuit of a trade deal with China, nothing else measures up to securing real, enforceable protections of American intellectual property. Not tariffs, not more exports, not closing the trade deficit. In fact, stopping China’s theft of American IP will go a long way toward easing all other points of contention. This must remain a non-negotiable.