China’s economic growth over the last decades has increased its citizens’ buying power and those citizens are increasingly buying American. Much of the growth has occurred in the food market: China’s prosperity has created a higher demand for beef, fed on US soybeans; families’ concerns over milk safety in China have seen US milk exports rise; the Chinese economy has almost single-handedly revitalized the struggling pecan market in the South. “Overall, U.S. exports to China are up nearly 50 percent in value since 2008.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Despite the rise in exports—up an astounding 468 percent since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization—a large American trade deficit persists, supported in large part by cheap Chinese labor. Many American politicians also accuse the Chinese government of maintaining an undervalued currency, making the cost of Chinese goods cheap relative to imports. China’s ‘trade policies, licensing laws and investment rules’ give it unfair advantage in international trade, say American business leaders. In 2011, America’s trade deficit with China was $295 billion, $22 billion higher than the year before.