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Survey: What changes do you expect in Washington state-China trade under President Trump?

Trump super-fans page. Baidu screenshot.

By Wen Liu   Nov. 22, 2016

With Donald Trump now elected the next president of the United States, changes are coming, including in U.S. China policy, especially on trade. During his campaign, candidate Trump used some tough words on China, including greatest theft in world history, stealing American jobs, manipulating currency, and threatened to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese goods. China responded that if President Trump carries through with his threats, some Boeing orders would be replaced by Airbus. After a phone call with President Xi Jinping, however, Trump stated that he believed the two leaders would have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward. With China being Washington’s largest trading partner, with state’s exports to China totaled $19 billion and imports from China at $10 billion in 2015, and with the nature of campaign rhetoric, here is the question:

What changes do you expect in Washington state-China trade under President Trump, starting January 2017, and why?

The following are responses, in the order they were received, from some of our China hands and watchers. You are welcome to add yours in Disqus.

Bart Fite, president, China Club of Seattle; director, Mandarin Associates:
Likely not much change from current policy though I expect some tough talk and measures that will appeal to and more preferably, provide real help to, constituents impacted by globalization instead of mere window dressing. That will be the difficult part. The U.S. and Washington in particular, benefit from trade with China and the rest of the world. Trying to recapture a past the world has moved beyond instead of looking to lead the future will leave us at a disadvantage and I expect the president-elect and this country is smart enough to realize this.

Bob Anderson, founding president, Washington State China Relations Council; long-time trade consultant to Snohomish County:
I confess, at this point, I don't know. Many elements at play at the moment. A major concern is China's aggressive territorial stance re Asian neighbors and its effect on many issues including security and military anxiety. We might be pulled into it and our track record is not good. Trade well could be a casualty. I've either been involved in or witnessed too many conflicts to be sanguine about where we are headed.

Bill Stafford, founder and former president, Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle:
The tension for the new administration will be to take actions that fulfill the campaign promises that were made to his supporters that were very specific on trade and China and not provoking a trade war. Since the exports to China come from a limited number of States, China's ability to retaliate will be limited in certain parts of the country. Washington State would be a highly impacted State. It will be instructive to see who is appointed to the key positions that set trade policy. The appointment to the White House strategy leader was an architect of the populists campaign that included the economic nationalism. A new President has to be very careful in throwing out the promises that got him elected.

Gordon (Guoping) Feng, graduate, China studies, Jackson School, UW:
All U.S. presidential candidates maintain (or pretend) a hard line toward China during the election campaigns, but they'll adjust or soften after getting elected, especially so for Trump, who will probably keep few of his campaign promises. That said, Trump may present real challenges to China's surplus in U.S.-China trade. One of Trump's core slogans in the campaign is to bring back jobs by renegotiating trade agreements with other countries. As the No.1 surplus country among U.S. trade partners, China no doubt will be first and foremost targeted. I believe it's only a question of how much the China-U.S. trade will be affected.

Dan Harris, founding member, Harris Moure; co-author, China Law Blog:
Wait and see. I attended an event at which Nelson Dong was asked this question. He too essentially said not clear yet.

(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)