World hopeful for end to US-China trade war

Published February 25, 2019, 12:23 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

cartoons25The war in the Middle East, especially in Syria, has been going on for years now. Weekend protests have gone on for months in France. The British appear unable to draw up an agreement to ease the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Venezuela’s president is struggling to stay in office in the face of an opposition leader’s challenge that the United States (US) and other nations are supporting.

These are only some of the many cases of instability around the world today. There are many others in Europe, in Asia, and in Africa. But none of them has caused as much economic disruption in the affairs of many nations as the trade war that has been going on for the last seven months between the US and China.

China’s exports to the US – along with US exports to China – are down because they have imposed a series of tariffs on each other’s export goods. The tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs on billions of dollars of US and Chinese goods has resulted in a slowing of global economic growth.

Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon M. Lopez said a short-term trade war between the world’s two biggest economies may have minimal impact on the Philippines but a prolonged trade war would slow down global growth and eventually affect smaller economies like the Philippines.

This is why the world is now closely watching negotiations between the US and China to end their trade war and welcomes reports that the two sides are coming up with a broad outline of an agreement. They hope to reach this agreement by March 1, the end of a 90-day truce that US President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping agreed upon when they met in Argentina last year.

The US hopes to reduce China’s huge trade surplus with the US which hit a record high of $323 billion in 2018. It wants China to import more US agricultural goods, energy, and technology products such as semiconductors. The US also seeks to stop some Chinese business practices such as industrial subsidies and business licensing requirements that keep many US firms out of the Chinese market.

High-level talks were held in Beijing two weeks ago and are due to continue in Washington this week. President Donald Trump said he expects swift agreement as less than a week remain before the March 1 deadline. Exporters in both countries are hoping for the best and so are exporters in our own country.

As Secretary Lopez pointed out, “We hope the trade war won’t worsen as nobody wins in a trade war.”