Chinese trade hurts American economy

Andrew Justus

The Port of Los Angeles transfers 7.4 million shipping containers from ship to shore every year. Some containers are from Japan and filled with automobiles, others from Taiwan, but a lopsided majority are filled with merchandise carrying “Made in China” stickers such as Mac laptops and Nike shoes.

Chinese goods passing through the Port of Los Angeles in 2006 was valued at $91 billion, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The same containers arriving in LA from China are often sent back empty, part of a $227 billion annual trade deficit we have with them.

This $227 billion trade deficit didn’t happen by chance either; it is the result of deliberate and calculated efforts by the Chinese government to create an unfair trade environment between the U.S. and them.

One of the tactics China uses is to tie its currency, the Yuan, to the dollar so that Chinese goods will always be cheaper for Americans to buy. It is estimated that China’s currency is 25-40 percent undervalued as a result of being tied to the dollar. By not allowing their currency to appreciate in relation to other currencies, China gets a windfall in that they’re able to export cheap goods while simultaneously making it harder for their middle class to buy American products.

Policies such as this put American companies out of business and American workers out of a job because they aren’t able to compete on a level playing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in domestic manufacturing declined 21 percent between 1998 and 2008 as our trade imbalance increased by 500 percent.

If America is to fully recover from the current recession, we need to once again become a nation that builds things. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner this year has begun pressuring China to raise the value of its currency, which it did by 14 percent, but this is only a start.

The president and Congress need to get serious with China. They need to show China that if China isn’t willing to have a level playing field with trade between our two countries, we can make it quite difficult for them to do business here.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday authorizing tariffs on goods from countries who deliberately undervalue their currency. The bill still must pass the Senate and then be signed by the president. Students who support this bill should e-mail senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow to share their opinions.

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