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Biden or Trump, the trade war with China as the only horizon

From the trade war led by Donald Trump, American policy to China has become more targeted under Joe Biden. But both of the two probable adversaries of the presidential election should maintain the balance of power with Beijing.

Because, in a very polarized country, there is a subject on which Republicans and Democrats find themselves: the policy towards China, which will only go, according to experts, towards a toughening, whoever wins the the November presidential election.

“I think that the pressure can only go in one direction in Washington, towards more aggressiveness” with regard to the China, estimates Joshua Meltzer, researcher at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Upon his arrival at the White House in 2021, Joe Biden maintained all-out customs tariffs of his predecessor Donald Trump, adding a series of more targeted measures restricting Beijing's access to advanced technologies or American investments.

At the same time, the government favored relocation but “Congress is pushing to go further”, underlines Mr. Meltzer.

The approach to be favored, on the other hand, differs between the two camps, notes Jamieson Greer, lawyer at the international law firm King & Spalding.

For this former White House Trade Representative under Donald Trump, there are on the one hand those who see China as an existential threat both economically and security-wise; on the other, those who worry about an overestimation of the Chinese risk which would lead to measures harmful to trade and the economy.

– “Get the allies on board ” or “isolate yourself” –

Biden or Trump, the trade war with China as the only horizon

US President Joe Biden (left) during a campaign rally in Las Vegas, February 4, 2024; and former US President Donald Trump (R), during a campaign event in New Hampshire, January 19, 2024 © AFP – SAUL LOEB, TIMOTHY A. CLARY

But on both sides, the idea of ​​a risk associated with China has become the majority over the past ten years.

“This gained momentum during the 2016 presidential election, when candidate Donald Trump was vocal on trade issues and on China in particular,” said Jamieson Greer, noting that the Republican expressed something that many thought without daring to say it.

For his part, Joe Biden does not expect to “conclude an agreement with China which would contain these major reforms and changes” but his administration will rather seek to “adapt to reality” and “get the allies on board”, also the idea of ​​”lowering security risk”, anticipates Joshua Meltzer.

Conversely, Donald Trump will prefer to increase pressure on China to make it evolve, thinks the researcher, in line with his approach during his mandate and a trade agreement reached against a backdrop of escalation on customs tariffs.

The Republican has already announced customs tariffs of 60%, an increase which should lead to a Chinese response, at the risk of paralyzing trade between the world's two leading economies, experts fear.

“The United States risks being more isolated”, particularly in relation to its own allies, many of whom are already wary of a return of Donald Trump to the White House, fears Joshua Meltzer.

– “Restrictions in the technological field” –

Biden or Trump, the trade war with China as the only horizon

Electric cars from Chinese company BYD on display in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 18, 2024 © AFP – BAY ISMOYO

A re-elected Joe Biden should therefore continue his current policy of targeted measures, while strengthening cooperation with China on subjects such as global warming, the need to appear intractable in the face of Beijing becoming less with a defeated Donald Trump.

Whatever the outcome of the presidential election, the desire to maintain the American technological advantage will continue. “The American government will maintain restrictions in the technological field and will even add some,” in biotechnologies or electric and intelligent vehicles, predicts Paul Triolo, China specialist for the consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group.

But, according to him, a Trump administration could do less in favor of the relocation of semiconductor production, as well as local investments in electric vehicles and strategic materials.

For Beijing, batteries and electric vehicles are considered a growth driver, with the risk of excessive production capacity.

And the restrictions could also concern the transfer of data to companies or organizations based in China, warns Mr. Triolo

Last month, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo thus estimated that Chinese electric vehicles represented a security risk, given the amount of data they collect.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116