NEW YORK (MintPress) – China is trying to shrug off its status as the biggest trading nation in the world. Earlier this month, Mint Press and other news organizations reported that new data show China passed the United States to become the world’s biggest trader in 2012. The U.S. Commerce Department said that U.S. exports […]
NEW YORK (MintPress) – China is trying to shrug off its status as the biggest trading nation in the world.
Earlier this month, Mint Press and other news organizations reported that new data show China passed the United States to become the world’s biggest trader in 2012.
The U.S. Commerce Department said that U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, while China’s customs administration reported that its total trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion, about $44 billion more.
“It is not all surprising, indeed quite predictable for the simple reason that China is a far more open economy as measured by imports plus exports relative to GDP than the U.S.,” Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economies in Washington, told Mint Press at the time.
What is surprising, however, is that China’s Commerce Ministry has now issued a statement denying it is No. 1. It said the country still lagged behind the United States by $15.6 billion last year under standards for valuing goods set by the World Trade Organization. The WTO was created to supervise and liberalize international trade.
Beijing apparently wants to have it both ways. It wants to be seen as a global leader in many fields but insists it is still a developing country to avoid demands for more concessions on trade.
“I think there is some concern from the Ministry of Commerce that this might be used as evidence by Western countries that China is not doing its part to rebalance the global economy,” said Xianfang Ren, China analyst for IHS Global Insight.
But it is hard to deny that in just a few years, China has moved ahead of the U.S. as a bilateral trading partner for much of the world, including American allies such as South Korea and Australia.
The Obama administration has indeed introduced a policy of shifting more military operations to Asia-Pacific to counter China’s growing economic influence in the region.
As recently as 2006, the U.S. was the biggest trading partner for 127 countries, versus just 70 for China. By 2011, the two had traded places, with 124 countries for China and 76 for the U.S.
Still, the Commerce Ministry statement last week said a WTO global trade report due out next week or in early March would recalculate those figures and should show China still No. 2.
China has also tried to deny it has racked up firsts in more unenviable areas, such as energy consumption and the production of climate-changing greenhouse gases, most likely to resist pressure for environmental controls it fears could hinder economic growth.