AP FACT CHECK: US-China trade package mostly about symbolism

AP

Print Article

  • China's President Xi Jinping, center, U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 1

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrives at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)

  • China's President Xi Jinping, center, U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 1

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrives at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING (AP) A trade and investment package announced during President Donald Trump's visit to China is more about the art of diplomacy than the art of the deal.

The package, said to be worth more than $250 billion, puts a symbolic gloss on fundamentally strained economic relations between the U.S. and China. It draws together some new orders and extensions of business from existing Chinese customers, previously worked-out deals, tentative investments and statements of intent that may or may not turn into new dollars and jobs for the U.S.

Officials from both countries made something of the developments, nonetheless.

"Just now, the president and I witnessed the signing of some major cooperation agreements by our businesses," Chinese President Xi Jinping said in appearance with Trump on Thursday at which neither man took questions. "During this visit, the two sides signed over $250 billion U.S. dollars of commercial deals and two-way investment agreements."

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said: "Today's signings are a good example of how we can productively build up our bilateral trade."

Such signing ceremonies in China are often just that, ceremonial. They typically represent purchases that Chinese customers already planned to make and held off on announcing.

General Motors' $2.2 billion piece of the package, for example, consists mostly of selling parts to its existing joint venture with the Chinese government.

Alaska, however, welcomed an agreement that could spur construction of a long-sought pipeline to ship natural gas from the North Slope to a port for export to Asia. Oil companies backed away from the project, but the agreement with Chinese interests means all parties will work toward a decision by the end of next year whether to proceed.

The signings this week, a fixture of visits by foreign leaders meant to blunt their complaints about China's trade surpluses and market barriers, assure that Trump and others don't come away empty-handed even if China's trade and investment policies don't change at their core.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump accused the Chinese of "raping our country" on trade and vowed retaliation if Beijing didn't change. Since then, China's trade surplus with the U.S. has continued to grow, up 12.2 percent in October from a year earlier.

The flurry of initiatives signed this week provides for the Chinese purchase of 300 Boeing jetliners that have a list price of $37 billion, mobile phone chipsets from Qualcomm for $12 billion, $1.6 billion in soybeans, and nearly $12 billion in vehicles and parts from General Motors and Ford, among other deals.

The Boeing deal is known to be a mix of old and new orders and appears to fit in the normal order of business. As well, airlines get deep discounts from the list price.

Boeing generally delivers about 150 planes to China a year (126 so far this year) and China generally orders about 300 more every two years. Company officials wouldn't comment beyond their statement on the deal.

Analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group, an aviation-research firm in Fairfax, Virginia, said the Chinese government likes to bundle orders collected from Chinese airlines "to make it look like it plays a bigger role in the economy than it really does." Based on that practice, he said, the new Boeing orders must be "either orders in the pipeline or orders that haven't been placed but were going to be placed anyway."

Boeing's last comparable announcement of a big Chinese order, 300 planes in 2015, also came during a state visit, when Xi toured the company's assembly plant in Everett, Washington.

On autos, GM said its part of the package is a new but a normal element of its business in China and not something that popped up because the leaders are meeting. In addition to parts sales to the China-based joint venture, GM-SAIC, it provides for the sale of a small number of cars, such as Chevy Corvettes.

The two countries also agreed this week to cooperate on other projects, like the Alaska liquefied natural gas pipeline, which could cost more than $40 billion, though there is no guarantee it will proceed.

Xi said China is willing to expand imports of LNG, crude oil and other U.S. energy products and would explore "the potential" of more imports of U.S. beef, cotton and other agricultural products.

But it's unclear if such pledges extend beyond a U.S.-China trade agreement announced in May. That addressed LNG and beef exports to China, and trade experts called it a modest fulfillment of past assurances made by China.

___

Woodward reported from Washington. Associated Press writers David Koenig in Dallas and Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at https://apnews.com/tag/APFactCheck

Print Article

Read More World News

Myanmar, Bangladesh sign agreement on Rohingya refugees

AP

November 23, 2017 at 7:44 am | BANGKOK (AP) Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on Thursday covering the return of Rohingya Muslims who fled across their mutual border to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. My...

Comments

Read More

Zimbabwe, facing new leader, wonders 'Where is Mugabe?'

AP

November 23, 2017 at 6:51 am | HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) As Zimbabwe on Thursday prepared to swear in a new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, after 37 years, attention turned to the fate of Robert Mugabe and the wife who just days ago was...

Comments

Read More

Papua New Guinea officials pressure refugees to leave camp

AP

November 23, 2017 at 6:41 am | CANBERRA, Australia (AP) Papua New Guinea authorities on Thursday removed dozens of asylum seekers and ratcheted up pressure on more than 300 others to abandon a decommissioned immigration camp, wh...

Comments

Read More

German women's clinic's incense therapy triggers fire alarm

AP

November 23, 2017 at 6:06 am | BERLIN (AP) A reported fire in a Hamburg basement turned out to be a false alarm after firefighters determined that the smell of burning came from an alternative therapy being used at a neighboring...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X