在支持自由贸易几十年后，美国在2018年提高了进口关税，并对主要贸易伙伴（主要是中国）进行报复。毫无疑问，特朗普不仅是在与中国对抗，也在挑战亚当·斯密，他是国家干预经济的坚定反对者。他认为，自由贸易不仅使人们获得经济利益，也有利于不同国家人民的团结（Smith, 1776）。从贸易战的初步结果来看，在美国对中国实施的孤立和经济制裁中，美国和中国都是输家。虽然特朗普一再坚持认为是中国在支付关税，但事实并非如此。中国的出口价格并没有下降，这意味着关税正落在美国消费者和公司身上（Krugman, 2019）。与中国合作而不是孤立和制裁会给美国带来更多好处。
After supporting free trade for decades, the United States raised import tariffs in 2018 and retaliated against major trading partners (mainly China). There is no doubt that Trump is not only confronting China but also challenging Adam Smith, who was a staunch opponent of state intervention in the economy. He believed that free trade not only enabled people to gain economic benefits but also benefited the unity of people from different countries (Smith, 1776). Judging from the preliminary results of the trade war, both the US and China are losers in the isolation and economic sanctions imposed by the US against China. Although Trump has repeatedly insisted that it is China who is paying the tariffs, it is not true. Export prices in China have not gone down, which means that tariffs are falling on American consumers and companies (Krugman, 2019). Cooperation with China rather than isolation and sanctions will bring more benefits to the United States.
After the merchant capitalism in modern ages, people have completely different views on the root causes of war. Among them, the theory of absolute advantage proposed by Adam Smith (1776) established the most effective economic method for the development of the country. Smith believed that the two countries should export products with absolute advantages to each other, to achieve "mutual benefit and win-win" through free trade instead of war and plunder. After Smith, Ricardo (1817) further developed the theory of comparative advantage to demonstrate the effectiveness of economic methods. Ricardo believes that the basis of trade between two countries is the relative difference in productivity. Each country can export products with comparative advantages and import products that are at a comparative disadvantage, thereby realizing an international division of labour that is beneficial to both countries. Stiglitz (2014), based on the theories from Smith and Ricardo, further put forward the theory of dynamic comparative advantage, – arguing that what is vitally important for economic growth and international trade is not a static comparative advantage, but a dynamic comparative advantage. Dynamic advantage focuses on the ‘endowment’ which is the ability to learn and innovate. The improvement of learning and ability to innovate can evolve and develop dynamic comparative advantages. In the current U.S.-China trade friction process, the U.S. uses the traditional, static logic of comparative advantages to examine the dynamic evolution of comparative advantages. The problem of the process is the lack of pioneering consideration of times.
A large number of empirical studies have shown that foreign trade can promote economic growth. Coe and Helpman (1995) believed that foreign trade stimulated technological progress, increased output, and thus promoted economic growth. They proved through mathematical models the positive correlation between economic growth and global trade. Further research by Connolly (1997) found that foreign trade achieves the purpose of promoting economic growth by promoting domestic imitation and technological innovation. Weinstein and Lawrence (1999) used quantitative analysis on relevant data from Japan, South Korea, the United States, and other countries to conclude that foreign trade stimulates the improvement of labour productivity and is one of the main reasons for economic growth. There are also studies supporting the argument that there is no winner in a trade war. Steinbock (2018) indicated that the GDP of the United States and China will fall by 0.8% and 0.4% respectively in this trade war. Also, due to China's low export profits, China can easily transfer export resources elsewhere or towards domestic consumption and investment, meaning the trade war will have a greater impact on the United States (Ng, 2020).
After the Trump administration challenged basic common sense in economics and gained the defeat of the trade war between the US and China, Amiti et al. (2019) found that after increasing trade protection, the prices of intermediate and final products in the United States have risen sharply, the US supply chain network is undergoing tremendous changes, the variety of imported supply of has decreased, and the entire tariffs have been passed on to the domestic product price. Therefore, the impact of tariffs entirely falls on domestic consumers and importers. Fajgelbaum et al. (2019) also found that the price of imported goods targeted by tariffs did not decrease, which means that tariffs were completely passed on to tax-included prices. This resulted in the loss of US $51 billion to American consumers and companies purchasing imported goods, which amounts to 0.27% of GDP. After accounting for tariff income and domestic producer income, the total actual income loss was US $7.2 billion, or 0.04% of GDP.
The negative impacts of tariffs on U.S. economy are obvious. First, higher tariffs will affect consumer spending. Nicita (2009) believes that when the importing country raises import tariffs, it will cause the price of imported goods to rise and increase the price of goods in the domestic market. Marchand (2012) found that tariff changes and wage income changes have a negative relationship. Research by Cavallo et al.(2019) show that most of the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on China will eventually fall on American consumers. Second, the imposition of tariffs will affect companies' participation in the global value chain (GVC). Bustos (2011) believes that increasing the tariff on intermediate products will increase their prices, which will inevitably increase the production costs of the final goods by domestic enterprises, which will adversely affect the export of those final goods and thereby curb the global production of domestic enterprises and reduce the corporate participation in the GVC. Third, in terms of employment in manufacturing, the trade war is unlikely to bring more local employment opportunities to the United States. Simulation done by Li et al.(2019) of the U.S. bilateral and univariate trade protectionist policies shows that with the escalation of the trade war, higher commodity prices will promote the conversion of consumption from manufacturing to service industries, which will cost the United States more manufacturing jobs.
中美之间长期存在的巨大贸易逆差是美国发动贸易战的主要原因之一（Chong and Li, 2019）。然而，征收关税以减少中国对美国的出口贸易逆差是不可能成功的（Hosain等，2019）。美国的贸易逆差在20世纪90年代末开始增加，并在2005年左右稳定下来。因此，中国不可能是美国贸易逆差飙升的原因（Huang，2019）。克鲁格曼（2019）也提到，在特朗普任期内，美国整体贸易逆差没有减少，反而增加，从2016年的5440亿美元增加到2019年10月的6910亿美元。Wang等人（2020）的研究表明，全球产业链分工造成的国家间中间产品贸易流动是中国对美贸易顺差高的重要原因；传统的贸易总额统计严重高估了中国对美贸易的顺差。
The long and significant trade deficit between China and the United States is one of the main reasons for the United States to launch a trade war (Chong and Li, 2019). However, imposing tariffs to reduce China's export trade deficit with the United States is unlikely to succeed (Hosain et al., 2019). The U.S. trade deficit began to increase in the late 1990s and stabilized around 2005. Therefore, China cannot be the reason for the soaring U.S. trade deficit (Huang, 2019). Krugman (2019) also mentioned that during Trump's tenure, the overall US trade deficit has not decreased but increased, from US$544 billion in 2016 to US$691 billion as of October 2019. Wang et al. (2020) have shown that the flow of intermediate goods trade between countries caused by the division of labour in the global industrial chain is an important reason for China’s high trade surplus with the United States; traditional gross trade statistics have seriously overestimated China’s trade surplus in its trade with the United States.
Looking back at history, most of the past trade wars have caused both sides to lose. In 1930, Hoover signed the Smoot Holly Tariff Act, imposing high tariffs on more than 20 thousand imported goods, which eventually led to a shrinkage of approximately 66% in global trade between 1929 and 1934. The United States also suffered heavy losses; its GDP once fell by 30%, and the unemployment rate reached more than 20% (Irwin, 1998; Taussig, 1923). In 1962, the European Community raised tariff barriers against the United States, which ultimately prevented Europe from obtaining a cheap source of chicken, and the U.S. automobile industry also lost the opportunity to rapidly modernise and transform, which eventually led to decades of decline. In the Japan-US trade war, it seems that the United States achieved a great victory when Japan reached a compromise with the United States in all areas. However, the effect of reducing the US deficit with Japan was only reflected in the first few years of the Plaza Accord.
总之，经济合作而不是与中国打贸易战可以为美国带来更多的经济利益。一个更加开放的国际贸易体系对于美国和中国的经济增长、创造就业机会和减少贫困也至关重要。它在实现可持续发展目标方面也发挥着重要作用。(Vandenberg, 2017)。Lau（2018）认为，美国可以通过向中国出口能源、农产品和服务产品，并带来更多的增值产品，从而大大减少贸易逆差。实践证明，美国也从美韩自由贸易协定、北美自由贸易协定等一系列自由贸易协定中受益（Woldu等，2018；Heng和House，2018）。同时，这些自由贸易协定也在一定程度上增加了中国的经济成本，促使中国对其经济和贸易进行改革。在这个过程中，美国占据了主导地位（Meltzer and Shenai, 2019）。通过合作，中美这两个世界上最大的经济体可以优势互补，互惠互利。
In conclusion, economic cooperation rather than a trade war with China can bring more economic benefits for the United States. A more open international trade system is also vital for economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction in both the United States and China. It also plays an important role in achieving sustainable development goals. (Vandenberg, 2017). Lau (2018) believes that the United States can significantly reduce the trade deficit by exporting energy, agricultural products, and service products to China, and bring more value-added products. The practice has proved that the United States has also benefited from a series of free trade agreements such as the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Woldu et al., 2018; Heng and House, 2018). At the same time, these free trade agreements have also increased China’s economic costs to a certain extent, prompting China to reform its economy and trade. In this process, the United States has a dominant position (Meltzer and Shenai, 2019). Through cooperation, China and the United States, the two largest economies in the world, can complement each other's advantages for mutual benefit.
Nobel Ding is a senior at Stanford Online High School and Abbey College Cambridge.
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