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June 27, 2019

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Equal dialogue is the only viable way for win-win outcome in US-China trade talks

What does Washington’s increase in tariffs on an additional US$300 billion worth of imported Chinese goods mean to the American people?

The possible price hikes of consumer goods, such as for mobile phones, laptops, clothing, footwear, toys and gaming equipment will make American enterprises and consumers feel worried because their days will be different.

On June 17, the Office of the US Trade Representative kicked off a seven-day hearing, seemingly out of respect for public opinion.

Such hearings have been held several times since the US provoked the trade dispute with China.

However, it seems that tariffs will still be the trend, though they may lead to an increase in consumer prices, impact employment and disrupt corporate supply chains, as stated by industry representatives in their speeches during the hearings and in the letters of opposition submitted to the USTR before each hearing.

So far, Washington has slapped 25 percent tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese goods.

During this round of hearings, the USTR received more than 2,000 written comments and talked with about 300 company and industry representatives. Some research institutes even testified with analytical data.

Consulting firm Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC said in a report prepared for the US Consumer Technology Association that if the new tariffs were imposed, American consumers would pay over US$8.1 billion more for cell phones and over US$8.2 billion more for laptops and tablets.

No alternative supplier

China accounted for about 75 percent of cell phones and over 90 percent of laptops and tablets imported into the US, according to Trade Partnership Worldwide.

With respect to any alternative location for production such as the US and any alternative supplier, the American small business owners said earnestly that there is no other viable alternative.

Some of them even cried, worrying about what they are going to face.

Some large American enterprises have written letters to the government, asking to bring the tariffs to an end.

“We urge the US government not to impose tariffs on these products,” Apple Inc said in a letter to the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The company said it’s responsible for 2 million jobs in the US and reminded the government that it had pledged to invest US$350 billion in the American economy over the next five years.

Protection of livelihoods?

The US government’s tariff increase will affect all its products, impact its global competitiveness, and reduce its US economic contribution, Apple said.

The painful truth is that American people are not the ones to make decisions. The decision-makers, however, have disappointed them again and again.

“If there’s a better idea than tariffs I’d like to hear it. I haven’t heard it,” Lighthizer told Senate Finance Committee at a Congressional hearing.

To justify the trade dispute they provoked, some American politicians said they did so to protect people’s livelihoods, but the truth is that they never paid attention to the interests of the American people.

American consumers have to shoulder the burden of higher spending associated with rising consumer prices, and the companies have to spend more because their global supply chains are disrupted.

The US politicians are waving the tariff stick in an attempt to strengthen their so-called “industrial competitive advantage” without taking into consideration public opinion, national conditions and the international economic order.

Claiming that they want to win the trade war, the American politicians can’t see the truth that they just won’t win at all.

The international division of labor is not deliberately designed by any country, but by the laws of the market, in the context of economic globalization.

To gain benefits, one has to be righteous. Dialogue is the only way to resolve economic and trade issues between countries.

If the US insists on escalating the trade war with no consideration of the interests of its own people, China will have to fight to the end.

China is resilient and can afford a trade war.

If Washington chooses to talk, then it should talk with sincerity.

The key to negotiation is to take care of each other’s legitimate concerns.

In this regard, the US must put a stop to tariffs imposed on Chinese products. It should also be aware that only mutual benefit and win-win cooperation could win support and conform to the trend of the times.


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