Over the last several years, many in Congress have become frustrated with the large trade deficit with China. Some have threatened punitive tariffs if Beijing doesn’t further open its markets or allow its currency to rise, making U.S. goods more attractive.
Yet the image of China as the seller that never buys is changing rapidly, as a recent batch of government numbers shows. It turns out China is one of America’s biggest customers.
About 10 years ago, China was our 18th-ranked trading partner. By the end of 2010, it had risen to No. 3, which means that aside from Canada and Mexico, no other country buys more of our stuff than China. Since January 2006, U.S. exports to China have tripled.
The U.S. may import more from China than any other country, but the changing picture on the export side should give caution to all those inclined to deal with our trade problems with ham-handed measures such as tariffs.
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