Despite escalating diplomatic tensions, trade between the United States and China reached a record high in 2022, with imports and exports totaling $690.6 billion, according to official figures. This development showcases the continued interdependence between the world's two largest economies, even in the context of an ongoing trade war since 2018.
The new data reveals that US imports from China increased to $536.8 billion last year, driven by American consumers purchasing more Chinese-made goods, including toys and mobile phones. Meanwhile, US exports to China rose to $153.8 billion. The figures demonstrate the challenges of decoupling, as both nations remain economically reliant on each other.
Deborah Elms, the founder of the Asian Trade Centre, commented on the situation: "Even if governments, firms, and consumers wanted to separate, the economics make it difficult to deliver products in a decoupled world at a price that firms and consumers are willing to pay."
The trade conflict began in 2018 when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on over $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. In response, China levied import duties on approximately $100 billion of American goods. Most of these measures remain in place under President Joe Biden's administration.
Although a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China in February was seen as a potential thaw in relations, the trip was postponed due to the discovery of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon in the US. In his recent State of the Union address, President Biden emphasized his commitment to working with China when it can advance American interests and benefit the world, while also pledging to protect US sovereignty.
The International Trade Council continues to monitor the evolving trade relationship between the United States and China and recognizes the importance of fostering economic cooperation and growth between these major global players.