Category Archives: US Trade war

19/8/19: Import Zamescheniye: Replacing Imports with Imports in the Age of Trade Wars

Trump trade wars have led to increasing evidence of substitution by Chinese exporters to the U.S. with exports via third countries and supply chain outsourcing from China to other destinations. While direct evidence of these trends is yet to be provided (data lags are substantial for detailed flows of goods across borders) and is never to be treated as fully conclusive (due to differences in trade goods designations), here is some macro-level snapshot of latest data on U.S. imports shares for selective countries:

The chart above shows that based on trends, U.S. imports arrivals from China are down in 2017-2019, and they are up, significantly for Vietnam and Taiwan, with less pronounced evidence of imports substitution from other Asia-Pacific countries.

Given several caveats (listed below), the above chart is a 'messy' one:

  1. Supply chain substitution takes time and may not be fully reflected in the 2018 data, or to a lesser extent, in 2019 data to-date; and
  2. The above chart is based on monthly frequency data, which is volatilion (e to begin with.
With these caveats in mind, here is a chart based on annualized data:

Now, it is easier to spot the trends:
  • China exports to the U.S. are down, sharply, especially considering pre-Trade Wars averages against Trade Wars period 2019 averages;
  • Vietnam, Taiwan and Mexico are major channels for trade/import substitution (using Kremlin's term "import zamescheniye").
  • Japan and Thailand are smaller-scale winners.
  • Malaysia and Indonesia are basically static.
Now, historically, China has been beefing up its corporates' use of Vietnam, Thailand, and Mexico as platforms for supply chain diversification, which is consistent with the data responses to the Trade Wars. Indonesia and Malaysia are two surprises in this, although both experienced uptick in FDI from China in late 2018, so the data might not be showing these investments, yet.

1/9/19: ‘Losin Spectacularly’: Trump Trade Wars and net exports

U.S. net exports of goods and services are in a tailspin and Trump Trade Wars have been anything but 'winning' for American exporters. You can read about the effects of Trade Wars on corporate revenues and earnings here: And you can see the trends in net exports here:

This clearly shows that 'Winning Bigly' is really, materially, about 'Losin Spectacularly'. Tremendous stuff!

14/5/19: Agent Trumpovich Fails to Deliver… Again…

In the months following China's retaliatory introduction of tariffs on U.S. soybean exports, both traditional and social media were abuzz with the screeching sound of 'analysts' claiming that Trump Administration trade war with China is a boon to Vladimir Putin's Russian economy.

Behold this from the

 Alas, given that Russia supplies less than 1% of Chinese imports of soybeans, it might take a major Congressional investigation and a few PoliSci 'Russia experts' to get serious imaginary beef on the Trump Administration's alleged Russia-benefiting policies. Here is the data from ... well... Bloomberg, via Global macro Monitor ( showing that Russia is hardly a major winner from Trump's Trade Wars when it comes to soybeans:

Let's put the thin blue line of 'Russia winning, thanks to Trump' through some analysis:
  1. There is no dramatic massive rise in Russian exports of soybeans to China in 2018, and some dip in 2019.
  2. 2018 increase - moderate - came in after 2017 moderate decrease.
  3. Russian exports of soybeans to China have been rising-falling-rising very gently since 2013.
Friendly Canada quietly dramatically increased its sales of soybeans to China in the wake of the Trade War, although its exports were rising since 2015. Argentina also acted as a substitute supplier to China during the Trade War period so far, but that increase came on foot of massive collapse in exports to China since the start of this decade. In fact, while the U.S. share of Chinese imports of soybeans fell 30 percentage points, Brazil's share rose 35 percentage points. Trump's Administration-triggered Trade War with China has helped Brazil first, followed by Canada and Argentina. Russia hardly featured in this dastardly plot to serve Vladimir Putin's interests by Agent Trumpovsky.

Sorry, my dear friends in American mass media. You've faked another factoid.

19/4/18: Geopolitical Risk: Who Cares?..

Geo-political risks, geo-shmalitical risks... who cares... not the markets...

None of the geopolitical risks registered on S&P 500 companies reporting radar according to Factset in 1Q 2018  This is not very surprising as majority of earnings for 1Q accumulated before any spikes in these, and as "Tariffs" category probably absorbed the 'China' effect. Notably, however, earnings were impacted adversely by trade conflict and cyber risks (total of 3/25 companies impacted).

9/4/18: Some evidence on Chinese tech & IP practices

Not being a fan of the current U.S. Presidential Administration (easy enough to confess to that, being a libertarian), and not being a fan of trade wars (even easier to confess to that, being a libertarian), I must note that the U.S. does indeed have a serious and legitimate problem with Chinese long-term industrial and economic development strategies.

And the U.S. is not alone in that, for Europe - a major engine of innovation, and to a lesser extent, Japan and South Korea, as well as pretty much every other nation injecting new technologies into the modern global economy - also have the same China problem. That problem is: Chinese State policy-linked practices of predatory technology transfers from the Western companies to Chinese markets and industries.

How do we know? Well, besides the Chinese own strategic approach to demanding technology transfers by global multinationals and other innovating firms alike as a ticket to accessing the Chinese markets, we also have empirical studies that attempt to capture data on the West-to-China technology leakages.

Here is one. "International Joint Ventures and Internal vs. External Technology Transfer: Evidence from China" authored by Kun Jiang, Wolfgang Keller, Larry D. Qiu, and William Ridley and released as the  NBER Working Paper No. 24455 (March 2018: used "administrative data on all international joint ventures in China from 1998 to 2007—roughly a quarter of all international joint ventures in the world".

The authors found that:

1) "... Chinese firms chosen to be partners of foreign investors tend to be larger, more productive, and more likely subsidized than other Chinese firms". In other words, your technology partner in China is more likely to be a State-connected firm.

2) "... there is substantial technology transfer both to the joint venture and to the Chinese joint venture partner". In other words, technology transfers leak within joint ventures - your partner in China is your first channel for losing intellectual property control.

3) "... with technology spillovers typically outweighing negative competition effects, joint ventures generate on net positive externalities to other Chinese firms in the same industry. Joint venture externalities are large, perhaps twice the size of wholly-owned FDI spillovers, and it is R&D-intensive firms, including the joint ventures themselves, that benefit most from these externalities". In other words, your technology feeds Chinese partners, although it benefits your joint venture too.

4) "... external effects from joint ventures are highest in R&D-intensive industries, and the largest externalities tend to arise in industries with a large concentration of joint ventures with a U.S. partner". In other words, if you are bringing into an joint venture an R&D intensive technology, your impact on diffusing your own intellectual property to broader Chinese markets will be greater.

To sum all of this up: over the period 1998-2007, China-based international joint ventures involving R&D intensive, technology-rich foreign partners acted as effective channels for diffusion of new, predominantly Western, but also Japanese and Korean, technologies into the Chinese markets. Which would be fine, if it were not driven by the direct dictate from Beijing.