GT Voice: Will Raimondo’s visit inject more positive energy in economic ties?
Published: Aug 28, 2023 11:00 PM
China US Photo:VCG

China US Photo:VCG

All those who care about the prospects of China-US economic and trade relations are closely watching US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo's ongoing visit to China for clues as to whether her trip will inject more positive energy into the fraught relationship between China and the US, the world's two largest economies.

Raimondo is the fourth top US official to visit China in three months. Since she oversees the department primarily involved in the field of economics and trade, she is also seen as the one who is most likely to achieve tangible results with China on resolving economic and trade disputes and bringing bilateral economic ties back on track.

Both China and the US sent positive signals concerning China-US economic and trade exchanges before Raimondo's visit. For instance, Raimondo's visit to China was made "at the invitation of Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao."

After China lifted restrictions on group travel to the US and other countries, Raimondo issued a statement saying that restoring the US "as an approved destination for Chinese group travel is a significant win for the US travel and tourism industry and an important step forward to promote the type of people-to-people exchange that is crucial for our bilateral relationship."

Also, Boeing is preparing to restart its delivery of 737 MAX jets to China for the first time in four years, perceived as a long-awaited breakthrough, according to US media reports. 

The Biden administration is seeking a six-month extension to a decades-old science and technology agreement with China, while the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security announced that it will lift 27 Chinese entities from the so-called Unverified List just ahead of Raimondo's China visit.

These positive signs at least suggest one thing - if there is any hope of easing tensions between China and the US, bilateral economic and trade relations are the most obvious place for a breakthrough, which is why efforts to stabilize or improve bilateral economic ties have continued despite the overall chilly atmosphere of China-US relations.

Given the challenges facing the US economy, if Raimondo seizes the opportunity, her China trip could really become a source of fruitful exchanges and communications. For instance, removing tariffs on some Chinese products could ease the inflation pressures on the US economy, while indicating US sincerity about improving trade relations with China. 

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has said the Fed will continue to raise interest rates "if appropriate" as inflation remains "too high." Also, virtually all studies of trade wars showed that there are no winners, which brought the US more losses than gains. 

In a recent open letter, Americans for Free Trade, which is comprised of about 170 trade groups, urged US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to address the forthcoming expiration of the Section 301 tariff exclusions.

Given the current atmosphere in the US toward China, we do not have much hope that a single visit could end the US launched trade war against China. Some in the US are constantly pushing for a "decoupling" from China and putting pressure on Chinese industries. There has been no shortage of voices in the US pressuring Raimondo, warning her not to be soft on China.

Under such circumstances, simply maintaining the positive momentum of bilateral economic and trade relations itself may face severe resistance.

But still we hope that the US side will cherish the positive changes that have taken place after the hard efforts by both sides. If Raimondo's visit can have some positive influence to promote mutual trust and find more common ground on addressing trade disputes, that would be enough as to its practical significance.