IMF: Escalating US-China trade war would hit manufacturing, agricultural jobs

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen at the IMF headquarters building during the 2013 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, April 18, 2013. ― Reuters pic
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen at the IMF headquarters building during the 2013 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, April 18, 2013. ― Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, April 3 — An escalation of the US- trade war would drive manufacturing away from both countries and likely cause job losses, but would not change their total trade balances, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report showed today.

The United States and China would see “sizable” losses in manufacturing as capacity moves toward Mexico, Canada, and East Asia if tariffs were hiked to 25 per cent on all goods flowing between the two countries, the IMF said in its April World Economic Outlook.

That would escalate a tit-for-tat tariff battle between the two economic giants that has gripped global financial markets since mid-2018. The United States already has tariffs of 25 per cent on US$50 billion (RM204.1 billion) worth of goods and levies of 10 per cent on another US$200 billion. China has retaliated with duties on US products, including key agricultural crops.

The countries have been trying to negotiate a deal to end the spat. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to resume talks with Chinese vice premier, Liu He, today, just days after the two sides reported progress in talks last week in Beijing.



The electronics and other manufacturing sectors in China would be hard-hit and the US agricultural sector would see a significant contraction if the trade war were to escalate, the IMF report showed.

The group forecast a scenario where “large sectors in both countries shed a significant number of jobs.”

That would translate to about 1 per cent of the workforce in the US agricultural and transportation equipment sectors, and 5 per cent in Chinese manufacturing other than electronics, like furniture and jewellery.

Growth in both would lose steam. Yesterday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said US gross domestic product would fall by up to 0.6 per cent and China’s would fall by up to 1.5 per cent.

Any attempts to address a trade deficit or surplus with another country through tariffs would shift the trade balances with other countries, making no impact on a country’s aggregate balance, the IMF said.

For example, US imports of electronics and machinery from China would drop to 11.5 per cent after the tariffs from about 22.1 per cent of total imports, while the proportion of imports from other countries would rise.

The share of imports from East Asian nations would climb to 17.7 per cent from 15.6 per cent, Mexico’s share would rise to 14.6 per cent from 12.6 per cent, and Canada’s would increase to 12.3 per cent from 10.8 per cent, according to the report.

Even though some countries would benefit from the new trade flows, most countries are “likely to be worse off” because of increasing macroeconomic uncertainty, the IMF said. — Reuters



Source: The Malay Mail Online





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