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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs