During China’s largest trade events, transactions between exporters and buyers from China and U.S. fell sharply, mainly due to trade tensions between the two economic powers. Continued trade conflicts have affected China-U.S. trades and brought uncertainties to the international trade market.
In spite of opposition from the American business groups, President Trump imposed tariffs on more than $200 billion of Chinese goods, which triggered retaliation from the Chinese government and raised the price Chinese pay for American products, especially from pork to cheese.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce invited more than 180 U.S. exhibitors to participate in the first China International Import Expo (CIIE), but the Trump government publicly rejected China’s invitation to join the expo, and many executives of these companies were also absent from the event.
General Motors Co. showed off a Corvette C7.R and Ernst & Young showed virtual reality technology, but their chairman left before the start of the expo. Frederick W. Smith, chairman of FedEx Corp., did not visit the company’s aircraft model, but spoke with 3M’s CEO Mike Roman in Singapore. Kevin Johnson, chief executive of Starbucks Corp., was in Shanghai when the expo was opening but did not attend. And most of the big American companies attending the show said they would send lower-level executives.
Business groups say executives are uncomfortable about biasing side of the trade imbalance.
On the other hand, the same important foreign trade event in China, the well-known China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), was held in Guangzhou. But whether its Christmas tree lights, tractors, motorcycles, or the photocopiers they were selling, they all had one thing in common: the unease around the China-U.S. trade war was constantly escalating.
According to Xu Bing, spokesman of the China Import and Export Fair, compared with last spring session, the transaction volume between China and the United States dropped by 30.3% during the fair and the number of buyers from the U.S. also declined slightly.
However, the trade volume between China and the countries and regions associated with the Belt and Road Initiative has increased to US$9.63 billion. Buyers from these countries and regions attending the fair have been looking for new products from Chinese manufacturers, which will help them explore the international market, Xu said.
Of course, companies in both countries would like to see the two governments work together to solve these issues and then make them feel more reassured. The Chinese government has been urging Chinese exporters to diversify their destinations overseas, reduce their reliance on the U.S. (China’s largest trading partner), or shift their focus to domestic customers.