Since the Reagan era China has bled off jobs from the United States to achieve double digit growth. Entire sections of our nation, particularly in the upper Midwest, collapsed economically. Through all that the government said very little. The trade balance ballooned because, while China wanted to ship us products and services, it let very little our goods and services into its markets. Again, the government said very little.
Over the years the Chinese took on more and more as shipping capacity increased and prices came down. Most people don’t realize that much of the fish they consume in this country is shipped frozen whole to China where it’s processed, packaged, frozen again and shipped back to the United States. Again, there were few complaints from our government and most consumers didn’t even know it was going on.
But that ended this week when the U.S. government finally threw a fit over chicken. Never mind steel, electronics, computers, and semiconductors we’re going to draw a trade line in the sand over chicken nuggets!
Take That, China
The U.S. filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization that China was saddling U.S. chicken products entering their markets with a fifty percent tariff. This is hardly a headline for anyone involved as the WTO, which couldn’t break up a fight for the last cupcake at a sorority bake sale, previously ruled against China on that very subject. It’s a certainty that the WTO will follow up its previous words with even stronger language this time.
China Says Cluck Off
Even though U.S. poultry producers, like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride, claim to have lost a billion dollars in sales to China’s unfair trade practices the Chinese said it “regrets” that the U.S. didn’t forget about the matter and let it drop. That puts poultry producers in the same position as steel and aluminum smelters in the U.S., both of which accuse China of unfairly subsidizing steel and aluminum production in China.
Processing Already Done In China
The surreal aspect to this disagreement is that, back in 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cleared China to process chickens grown in the U.S., Canada and Chile. Basically frozen whole chickens are shipped to China where they’re thawed, processed into a host of different meat products, refrozen and shipped back to the U.S. Not only that but food producers using Chinese chicken chunks are not required to label where the processed chicken comes from. It’s hard to imagine that locally raised Chinese chickens, raised on standards that wouldn’t pass inspection in this country, won’t find their way into the product stream coming back to our shores. When have the Chinese ever not cheated on a trade deal? It’s not like the USDA has spies in Chinese chicken processing facilities.
It’s likely the feathers are flying in an election year because presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has made trade with China one of the cornerstones of his campaign. In unusually harsh language, even for him, Trump accused China of “raping” the U.S. with trade policy and promised to take a harder line dealing with Beijing.
The Chinese in return labeled Trump “irrational” and urged Americans to remain objective about the win-win aspects of U.S.-Chinese relationships.