Beijing, (AFP/APP):American and Chinese officials proudly touted $250 billion of deals Thursday, signed during President Donald Trump’s trip to Beijing, but analysts say the headline figures will not do much to rectify a very lopsided trade balance.
Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign was built in large measure on lashing out at global trading relationships, particularly that with China, whose annual $350 billion deficit he said proved the US was being taken for a ride. He pledged he would get a better deal, one where China bought more from the US in his drive to “Make America Great Again” and bring jobs back to the hollowed out industrial heartland that voted for him.
The agreements inked Thursday during Trump’s first state visit to Beijing ranged from billions of dollars worth of Chinese soybean and aircraft imports to major projects like the development and export of liquified natural gas from Alaska. But many were little more than non binding memorandums of understanding, which can take years to materialise, or can simply fall apart.
“It’s old-style politics, where a leader comes in and you scoop a bunch of deals which were already under way, or you put out a big number to show the relationship is strong,” said James McGregor, China chairman of the consultancy APCO Worldwide.
Even as his administration was trumpeting the quarter of a trillion dollar headline figure, Trump returned to his familiar refrain that trade relations were “very one-sided and unfair.” “I don’t blame China,” Trump said to awkward applause and nervous laughter from executives gathered for the signing ceremony at the cavernous Great Hall of the People. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?” he added.