News / Asia

Former US Trade Reps See Opportunities, Difficulties in Chinese Economic Growth

U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky (File Photo)
U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky (File Photo)

The rapid growth of China's economy over the past few decades has created new market strengths in Asia as Western countries have struggled to cope with recent economic pressures.

Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky served as U.S. Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001 in the Clinton Administration. Speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, she outlined four trends in global trade with respect to China.

The first trend she spoke about is the acceleration of globalization.  The second is the reemergence of China and the integration of Asia around China as its hub.  Third, she mentioned China's reemergence comes at a time of extraordinary economic weakness in the West.  She said the fourth broad trend is the new competitive environment accelerating the disruption of settled industries.

Ambassador Barshefsky said the trends are historic. "The global economy is larger, it is growing faster, it is more integrated economically under the pressures of technology and capital flows than ever before in any historic sense," she said.

She said the second broad trend, the reemergence of China, should not come as a surprise. "I always use the word 'reemergence' with respect to China because 160 years ago the global economy was dominated by two countries, China and India, and China held over 30 percent of the world's GDP.  By comparison, today we hold 18, 19 percent of the world's GDP, maybe.  They were over 30 percent.  So, the reemergence of China.  This has created a structural shift in the global economy.  It is 'the' international economic story of our lifetimes," she said.

China has enjoyed robust growth rates over the past 30 years.  China's economy is now larger than Japan's or Germany's, but still smaller than the U.S. economy.

Ambassador Clayton Yeutter, who served as the U.S. Trade Representative from 1985 to 1989 in the Reagan administration, said the current Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is an opportunity for the United States to tap into Asia's growth.

"This is certainly the most active trade agreement, active trade negotiation we have in the world today. And it may well represent the wave of the future.  One could certainly hypothesize that plurilateral agreements might well be the wave of the future in contrast to bilateral agreements or multilateral agreements that take a decade or more to negotiate," he said.

Ambassador Barshefsky said the United States has to understand China and the Asia region is in an economic pattern that has not been seen in our lifetime, but has historical precedent.

"[China] has integrated with its Asian neighbors.  Far less important than trade agreements between them is the fact that these economies have reverted to a more historic pattern in Asia, a pattern with which we are unfamiliar, but a pattern with which we would have been familiar had we lived 200 years ago or 1,000 years ago, 2,000, 4,000 years ago.  So this is a very different era, a very different situation," she said.

Part of the difference is a climate that includes technologically advanced communications and financial systems for facilitating transactions.  Combined with the improved transportation of products, nations have to agree on regulations, which Ambassador Yeutter said is a major part of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

"There is a lot of good work being done on trade facilitation. There is work on some regulatory coherence, which is badly needed particularly in the sanitary, phytosanitary area, and some really good work, advanced work on intellectual property, and then more work on investment than has traditionally gone into trade agreements," he said.

Multinational corporations have increased tenfold in 35 years to more than 75,000 in operation today. But the economic downturn has led to a reduction in global trade.

In her third point on the broad trends, Ambassador Barshefsky said the reemergence of China has come at a time when trade levels are close to those last seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"This is a very volatile combination. [There are] extraordinary global imbalances which we have all read about: trade imbalances, financial imbalances, trade deficit countries versus trade-surplus countries, currency issues, competitive non-appreciation of currencies, and all the rest," she said.

The fourth broad trend is the weakening of Western economies, which has led to job losses in many areas. U.S. manufacturing has been eroding for over 40 years. An increase in technology-assisted productivity has led to the need for fewer workers to create the same output, resulting in job dislocation.

Ambassador Barshefsky says President Barack Obama is pushing for increased trade exports and improved education in research and development to help offset the losses.

"The administration has been spurred to drive - begin to drive a competitiveness agenda, and this is absolutely critical. If our house is not in order, I do not care what we do on the trade side. We are lost. We have to get our house in order. There is no excuse for us not to put into place policies which are solely in our control to do to enhance U.S. competitiveness," she said.

Ambassador Yeutter said the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could assist U.S. efforts if other nations can be brought into the pact. "The hope is that if this agreement is done really, really well, that it will then have bolt-on possibilities as what I call "bolting on additional countries" at a later time with a relatively short negotiation being needed because of the quality of the agreement that is presented to them," he said.

Ambassador Yeutter said the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could be ready in time for the APEC meetings this year, hosted by the United States in Honolulu in November.


Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid