by Xinhua writer Shi Xiaomeng
BEIJING, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) — Beijing and Washington rolled back some extra tariffs on imports from each other on Friday, in line with the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement signed last month in a joint bid to de-escalate tension.
Nearly two years after the United States unilaterally initiated the row, the world’s top two economies are finally taking the first substantial step to end the vicious cycle of tit-for-tat tariffs and move back onto the right track.
The hard-won progress brings welcome relief to the whole world, which has been jittering amid mounting uncertainty. It also presents strong proof that China and the United States, despite their differences, are capable of addressing their problems based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.
No one wins in a trade war; it is just a matter of who loses more or less. Over the past 18 months, it has been U.S. businesses, farmers and consumers who have been bearing the brunt of Washington’s tariff tantrum.
Data from the U.S. Commerce Department shows that U.S. consumers and businesses paid an additional 42 billion U.S. dollars from February 2018 through October 2019 as a result of the trade disputes. Moreover, in the first seven months of 2019, U.S. goods exports to China declined 18.2 percent, while imports were down 12.3 percent.
The very reason that two-way trade surged by roughly 252 times from 2.5 billion dollars in 1979 to 633.5 billion dollars in 2018 is that it is astronomically beneficial to both sides. A report published by the Brookings Institution in February 2018 noted that “U.S. exports to China support around 1.8 million jobs in sectors such as services, agriculture, and capital goods.”
As the two countries set out to implement the phase-one deal, huge potential in bilateral trade is waiting to be tapped.
China is currently restructuring its economy and pursuing a quality-oriented growth pattern. It has also been rolling out a raft of measures to level the domestic playing field. For foreign entrepreneurs, U.S. investors included, a more open Chinese economy means more attractive and profitable business opportunities.
For the global community, a vibrant China-U.S. trade relationship will also contribute to global stability and prosperity. As International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva recently commented, the China-U.S. phase-one trade deal will reduce the uncertainty that has impeded global economic growth, despite the depressing fact that, according to the IMF’s calculation, the cumulative effect of the trade conflict could mean a loss of 0.8 percent of global gross domestic product, or around 700 billion dollars, by 2020.
In the next stage, to achieve an early and complete resolution of the trade issue, the two countries need to implement in good faith the trade pact as well as other important consensuses Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump have reached on different occasions, so as to inject stability into the world economy during this uncertain time.
Currently, China is going all out in its fight against the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, and has received donations from many sectors in the United States.
This epidemic is a sobering reminder that mankind faces no shortage of unexpected common challenges, and that cooperation is urgently needed among members of the international community.
China and the United States, as two major countries on the world stage, shoulder a special responsibility to jointly nurture their economic partnership and help solve the world’s most pressing priorities, such as climate change and other issues concerning the future wellbeing of humanity.
“What a culmination if, forty years later, the United States and China could merge their efforts not to shake the world, but to build it,” wrote Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. secretary of state and pioneer in renormalizing China-U.S. relations, in his book “On China.”
The first 40 years since Beijing and Washington officially established diplomatic ties on Jan. 1, 1979 demonstrated that when the two countries work together, they can do great good for their people and the world as a whole.
As what is arguably the most important bilateral relationship in today’s world marches into the second 40 years, the two countries have in their hands an ample chance to do even greater good for all.