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与中国打贸易战,美国必输无疑

财富中文网 2016年12月27日

专家认为,中美贸易战几乎不可避免,但受伤害更大的将是美国。

唐纳德·特朗普最近的言论煽起了中美贸易战的阵阵阴风。参考他有关中美关系的一言一行,越来越多的专家开始考虑中美贸易战的可能,大部分专家都认为贸易战几乎不可避免,真正的问题是会打到什么程度。

倘若特朗普真如他竞选时所说,对中国出口美国商品征收35%-45%的关税,中美关系可能彻底破裂。如果破裂,中美企业都会经历痛苦的阶段,但仍会保持部分两国政府认为重要的领域贸易开放。可以肯定的是,中美关系完全破裂会让导致双方受害,但美国可能输得更惨。

目前中国政府还采取“观望”态度。特朗普要到明年1月20日宣誓就职才算正式成为总统,他就任后的对华政策可能和竞选期间的口号迥然不同。这位美国候任总统的公开表态常常自相矛盾,令人很难判断他的真实意图。实际上,迄今为止特朗普谈及中国经常通过推文或是向媒体信口放言,他会制定怎样的方针还很难说。这一次,美国政府的决策流程几乎和中国官方一样不透明。

而特朗普也正面临很多未知。最大的危险在于,他以为对中国放狠话就能让美国得到好处。事实并非如此。于中国而言,国际贸易只是第二位,内政稳定更重要。中国国家主席习近平的当务之急是保持国内稳定。如果他在与新一届美国政府的外交上丢了面子,难免造成民心不稳。尤其当中国人普遍感觉新任美国总统不太尊重中国时,他身为领导人更是不可能与之多打交道。中国已经是全球第二大经济体,习主席没必要放低姿态。

贸易战是大麻烦,但对中国来说谈不上灾难,主要原因在于美国需要中国多过中国需要美国。这与20年前不一样,当年中国是严重欠发达国家,渴望学习西方的技术和制造工艺。现在中国已经实现大部分目标,没法直接引入的技术也都能方便地从美国以外的厂商手里买到。几十年前美国市场还有不小吸引力,但现在已相对成熟,中国对新兴市场的兴趣浓厚得多。

虽然许多美国高科技设备在中国制造,但绝大多数利润流入了负责设计的美国企业腰包。一旦政府断绝双边贸易,美国企业受到的打击会比中国制造商严重。

中国制造的商品中笔记本电脑和手机等最受欢迎,销量增长最快的是印度、拉美和非洲等发展中地区。中国则是美国无法忽视的市场。截至2015年末,中国消费者合计购买1.31亿台iPhone,同期美国消费者购入数量仅1.1亿台。iPhone在美国出口商品中占比很小。波音公司在美国本土雇用15万人,预计未来20年中国将购买6810架飞机,单单中国飞机市场的规模就突破了1万亿美元。

假如特朗普发动贸易战,最直接受影响的可能是沃尔玛等从中国进口数十亿美元廉价产品的美国企业。几乎所有商品都会价格飞涨,超出低收入人群的购买力——并不是因为制造业成本提高,而是因为关税激增。贸易战将演变为经济消耗战,中国明显占优,赢面更大。

当前中国坐拥3万多亿美元外汇储备,美国的外汇储备一直在1200亿美元左右。特朗普的关税政策自然会激起其他世界贸易组织成员对美国施加惩罚,甚至可能导致WTO崩溃,美国出口商品可能面临更高的关税。一切也许不会来那么快,但结果会是美国企业和就业一蹶不振。与此同时中国受到的冲击很小。

事实上,中美贸易关系已经受到其他方面的挑战。苹果在华销售iPhone面临中国本土制造商的竞争,其余市场三星恨不得全填上。同样地,中国也会很乐意把上万亿美元飞机采购订单交给欧洲制造商空客公司。毕竟空客已经在华建厂,组装大型双过道喷气式飞机。汽车方面,中国人完全可以不买福特,选择奔驰、宝马或者雷克萨斯。

如果特朗普废除现有美国贸易协议,中国只会加快取代美国成为全球最大经济体。中国顶尖经济专家认为不至于走到那一步,然而万事皆有可能。(财富中文网)

 

作者:聂东平

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

本文作者聂东平是瑞士洛桑管理学院东南亚与大洋洲地区院长

Donald Trump’s recent comments raise the specter of a trade war with China. With every move that’s made concerning U.S. – China relations, a growing number of experts are weighing in on the possibility of a trade war, most deeming it all but inevitable . The real question is to what degree?

If Trump were to impose the 35% to 45% tariffs that he talked about in his campaign, the situation could evolve quickly into a total rupture. But there are a number of intermediate stages that might be painful to both the Chinese and to American companies, but would still leave open trade in certain areas that both sides consider critical. What is certain is that a complete rupture would hurt American companies and China as well, though America will likely be the bigger loser.

For the moment, the Chinese are still taking a “wait and see” approach. Trump won’t officially become president until after the inauguration on January 20, and his policy towards China could then become quite different from his campaign rhetoric. Since the president-elect often contradicts himself in public, it is difficult to get a clear picture of what his real intentions are, and the fact that most of his communications regarding China so far have either been Tweets or casual remarks to the media, makes it difficult to determine where he is actually headed. For once, the decision-making process in Washington promises to be almost as opaque as the one in Beijing.

But Trump is entering uncharted waters. The danger is in thinking that talking tough to China will produce positive results. It won’t. From Beijing’s perspective, international trade takes a second seat to internal politics. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top priority is to maintain political stability. He cannot lose face in his relations with a new administration in Washington and hope to retain power at home. He especially cannot deal with an American president who the Chinese feel fails to show proper respect for China itself. And, now that China has emerged as the world’s second most powerful economy, he really doesn’t have to.

A trade war would be problematic, but it would not be a disaster for China, mainly because the U.S. needs China more than vice versa. Twenty years ago, the situation might have been different. China was dramatically underdeveloped, and it wanted access to Western technology and manufacturing techniques. China has most of what it needs now, and what it doesn’t have it can easily obtain from vendors outside the U.S. While the American market looked enticing a few decades ago, it is relatively mature, and today the newer emerging market countries have become much more interesting to Beijing.

Although a good deal of American high tech equipment is manufactured in China, the lion’s share of the profits go to the American companies that designed the equipment. If that were to stop, American companies would be hurt more than Chinese manufacturers.

The fastest growing markets for the best items China produces, like laptop computers and cell phones, are in developing regions such as India, Latin America, and Africa. In contrast, China itself is a market that the U.S. can hardly ignore. By the end of 2015, Chinese consumers bought 131 million iPhones. The total sales to U.S. customers during the same period stood at only 110 million. And iPhones are only a small part of U.S. exports. Boeing, which employs 150,000 workers in the U.S., estimates that China will buy some 6,810 airplanes over the next 20 years, and that market alone will be worth more than $1 trillion.

Were Trump to start a trade war, the most immediate effects would probably be felt by companies like Walmart, which import billions of dollars of cheap goods. The prices on almost all of these items would quickly skyrocket beyond the reach of the lower economic brackets—not because of manufacturing costs, but because of the tariffs. The result would be an economic war of attrition that China is infinitely better positioned to win.

China’s foreign currency reserves now stand at more than $3 trillion. In contrast, the U.S. has foreign exchange reserves that hover at around $120 billion. Trump’s tariffs would automatically trigger penalties against the U.S. in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and might even lead to the WTO’s collapse, which would lead to higher tariffs against U.S. exports. While it might take a while for that to happen, the turmoil would be catastrophic for American business and employment. China, on the other hand, would emerge relatively unscathed.

In fact, the importance of the U.S.-China relationship is already being challenged by other players. Apple’s iPhone sales in China are running into competition from local Chinese manufacturers, and Samsung is more than happy to fill any void that the Chinese can’t deal with. Likewise, the Chinese would happily shift their trillion dollars in future aircraft purchases to Airbus a European firm that is already building a plant in China to finish assembly of large, twin-aisle jets. As for automobiles, most Chinese would just as soon drive a Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus as a Ford.

Trump’s abandonment of existing U.S. trade agreements would accelerate China’s displacement of America as the world’s leading economic power. Both China leading economic experts hope that won’t happen quite yet, but almost anything is possible.


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