By Shermain Bique-Charles
The trade war between the world’s two largest economies, namely China and the United States of America, is negatively affecting Beijing’s ability to assist Small Island Developing States, including Antigua and Barbuda.
The United States imposed a new 15 percent tariff on about $112 billion of Chinese imports, such that more than two-thirds of consumer goods imported from China have been subject to tariffs.
China’s Ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Sun Ang, said the decision has affected China’s economy and all other countries with which it has close links.
“We firmly oppose such tariffs and we are negotiating with the United States at a high level. Any increase will naturally affect this country. We want to see the issue resolved,” he told OBSERVER media.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Sun said China is negotiating ways to ship goods directly to Antigua and Barbuda.
“Goods in China are still relatively cheap and we want to see how we can ship goods directly to Antigua and Barbuda. In that way they will not be affected by the tariffs. The work ongoing at the ports is a direct benefit to this idea because ships carrying goods from China will be able to dock,” he said.
He said both countries could also utilise e-commerce as another option to prevent the backlash from the US tariffs.
“When we look at sites like ALIBABA, it’s a worldwide company that can be used to purchase products that would not include direct tariffs. We need to make good use of e-commerce,” Ambassador Sun added.
He said the aim is not only to strengthen economic ties, but to avoid the negative effects of the US trade tariffs.
In 2018, President Donald Trump began setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China with the goal of forcing it to make changes to what the US says are “unfair trade practices”. Among those trade practices and their effects are the growing trade deficit, the theft of intellectual property, and the forced transfer of American technology to China.
In the United States, the trade war has translated into difficulties for farmers and manufacturers, and higher prices for consumers. In other countries, it has also caused economic fallout, though some countries have benefited from increased manufacturing to fill the gap. It has also led to stock market instability. The governments of several countries, including China and the United States, have taken steps to address some of the damage. The trade war has been criticised internationally; in the US, businesses and agricultural organisations have also been critical, though most farmers continued to support Trump. Among US politicians the response has been mixed.
The trade war has caused a significant deterioration in China–United States relations as the countries exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs for over a year, with Trump threatening more to come and no resolution in sight.[