As China Grows, So Does Its Appetite for American-Made Products
By DAVID BARBOZA
SHANGHAI — America’s huge trade deficit with China has raised concerns about American competitiveness and jobs moving overseas. But a new study offers a glimmer of hope to Americans: Last year, American exports to China soared 32 percent to a record $91.9 billion.
A study by a trade group called the U.S.- China Business Council says China is now the world’s fastest-growing destination for American exports.
While United States exports to the rest of the world have grown 55 percent over the past decade, American exports to China have jumped 468 percent.
Most of those exports have come from California, Washington and Texas, which have shipped huge quantities of microchips, computer components and aircraft. But states that produce grain, chemicals and transportation equipment have also benefited.
The trend seems like good news for the White House. Last year, President Obama announced a new initiative that aims to double American exports by 2014. A major focus of that effort is China, now the world’s second-largest importer behind the United States.
Don Brasher, who runs Global Trade Information Services, which is based in South Carolina, expects China to pass the United States next year to become the world’s biggest importer. (For comparison’s sake, in 2010, the United States imported about $1.9 trillion worth of goods while China imported $1.4 trillion worth.)
And while much of what China imports is used to make goods that are then re-exported, like the Apple iPhone, Mr. Brasher says a growing share of what China imports from the United States, including cotton and grain as well as aircraft and automobiles, is staying in China.
“You know all those BMW X5 S.U.V.’s that are in China? They’re being imported from the U.S.,” Mr. Brasher said in a telephone interview Thursday. “They’re being made by a BMW factory in South Carolina.”
But analysts say they don’t expect the United States trade gap with China to shrink any time soon. Last year, China’s trade surplus with the United States was between $180 billion or $250 billion, according to various calculations.
Still, the combination of a weakening American dollar and China’s growing economic clout is likely to bode well for American exports. With China short of water and arable land, exports of crops to China jumped to $13.8 billion last year.
China is hungry for other resources as well, like recyclable metals and paper. Just ask New York. Last year, the state’s biggest export to China was “waste and scrap” — about $1 billion worth, according to the U.S.-China Business Council.