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06 February 2019, 06:07 | Hattie Nash
The report is titled"The Trade Wars The Pain and the Gain
A United Nations expert has warned that a USA plan to raise tariffs on Chinese goods next month would have "massive" implications for the global economy unless it is resolved.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that any new trade deal with China "must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs".
Last year, the USA levied tariffs of between 10% and 25% on $250bn worth of Chinese goods.
Of the more than $300 billion of China-US trade that has been hit with new tariffs since July, about $250 billion is likely to shift to other economies, the United Nations estimates. This will be reflected in import and export patterns around the globe.
The report said Asian countries are likely to suffer most from protectionism.
"The implications are going to be massive", Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Unctad's head of global trade, said at a news conference.
The trade war will also have a number of negative effects on global trade, especially within certain markets, the UNCTAD said.
Smaller and poorer countries would struggle to cope with the external shocks, she said. But it warns the effects could be felt everywhere. "We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries and stealing our intellectual properties, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end", he said.
"Our analysis shows that while bilateral tariffs are not very effective in protecting domestic firms, they are very valid instruments to limit trade from the targeted country", Ms. Coke-Hamilton said.
As the March 1 deadline looms for Beijing and Washington to reach a trade accord to stave off further tariffs in their months-long trade war, the USA will send its chief trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing early next week.
"Countries that are expected to benefit the most from US-China tensions are those which are more competitive and have the economic capacity to replace US and Chinese firms", the UNCTAD said. Japan and Canada, meanwhile, will see exports increase by more than $20 billion each.
The study estimates that of the $250 billion in Chinese exports subject to United States tariffs, about 82% will be captured by firms in other countries, about 12% will be retained by Chinese firms, and only about 6% will be captured by USA firms.
The study also underlines the "common concern" that trade disputes have an unavoidable impact on the "still fragile" global economy, particularly on developing, commodity-rich countries that are dependent on exports. This is especially worrying if trade tensions spiral into currency wars, which would threaten the ability of people and companies around the world to pay off dollar-denominated debt, they said.
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