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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid