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更新时间:2016-4-9 8:37:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How a Tariff on Chinese Imports Would Ripple Through American Life

Donald Trump has proposed a 45 percent tariff on imports from China, on the theory that this would protect American jobs and promote American business.

唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)建议对来自中国的进口产品收取45%的关税,理由是有助于保住美国的工作机会,促进美国商业发展。

What’s more likely, though, is that the new tariffs would set off a cascade of global economic consequences, mostly negative.


Trade between China and the United States — which reached $598 billion in 2015 — has generated large economic benefits for Americans. Manufacturing many goods in China, whether sneakers or smartphones, has kept their prices lower than they would be if made here. That’s been a boon to American consumers, especially those with less money.


But more and more, economists are also recognizing a downside to free trade. Competition from China and other low-wage emerging economies has severely hurt some American workers. One study figures that the United States lost at least two million jobs between 1999 and 2011 because of Chinese imports. To many people, Mr. Trump’s solution may seem to make sense: Restrict those imports, save jobs and support American business.


But if there were a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods, at least part of that would probably be passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices. Americans would end up buying fewer Chinese things, and fewer things from anywhere else.


Shrinking sales of Chinese products would generally hurt American businesses and workers. A product labeled “Made in China” is not necessarily 100 percent Chinese, since many goods are assembled in China with parts from the United States and elsewhere. Sluggish purchases of these so-called Chinese products would reduce the sales of their American components, too.


For this reason and others, quite a lot of the money spent on Chinese goods actually ends up in the wallets of Americans. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco figured that 55 cents of every $1 spent by an American shopper on a “Made in China” product goes to the Americans selling, transporting and marketing that product. Suppressing Chinese imports would harm shopkeepers and truck drivers.

正是由于这样的原因,花在中国商品上的大量资金最后实际上是进了美国人的腰包。旧金山联邦储备银行(Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)的一项研究发现,美国消费者在“中国制造”的商品上花费的每一美元,都有55%落到了销售、运输和为这种产品做推广的美国人手中。限制中国进口商品,将会损害美国店主和卡车司机的利益。

In fact, making Chinese-made goods more expensive would ripple through American shopping malls. An extra $20 for, say, children’s clothing from China is $20 not spent on a new baseball glove for a child, or a birthday gift for a grandmother. A tariff on China would dent the sales of all kinds of products, even those made in the United States.


It seems likely that such a tariff would burden American consumers while doing little to create jobs for them. Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Sean Lowry at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, studying the impact of a 35 percent tariff imposed on Chinese tire imports by Washington in 2009, found that American consumers had to spend an extra $1.1 billion on tires, while the tariff protected no more than 1,200 jobs. About $900,000 for every job saved, in other words.

而且这项关税在给美国消费者带来负担的同时,似乎也不会对创造工作机会产生太大助益。针对华盛顿在2009年对中国轮胎产品收取35%关税这一决策所产生的影响,彼得森国际经济研究所(Peterson Institute for International Economics)的加里·克莱德·赫夫鲍尔(Gary Clyde Hufbauer)和肖恩·劳里(Sean Lowry)曾做过一项研究,结果发现美国消费者不得不为此在购买轮胎上多花11亿美元,与此同时这项关税却只保住了不超过1200个工作岗位。换句话说,我们为这每个工作岗位付出的代价大约为90万美元。

A big tariff would also harm China. Depressing its exports to the United States would deal another blow to an economy already enduring its worst slowdown in 25 years. In the longer term, increasing the cost of doing business in China would probably prompt manufacturers of basic consumer items to consider moving out of China.


That process is already underway. As the Chinese economy has advanced, wages of its workers have risen. A recent survey by the Japan External Trade Organization found that a Chinese factory worker earns $424 a month — the highest salary in developing Asia. That has caused many companies producing labor-intensive goods, like clothing or electronics, to shift factories from China to other countries or to diversify their sources of supply to keep costs down.

这个过程已经开始了。随着中国经济水平提高,劳动者工资也不断上涨。日本贸易振兴机构(Japan External Trade Organization)最近的一项调查显示,中国工厂员工的人均工资达到了每月424美元(约合2740元人民币),在亚洲的发展中国家里是最高的。这导致生产服装、电子元件等劳动密集型产品的企业,将工厂从中国转到了其他国家,或使其供货来源多样化,以继续保持低廉的生产成本。

Though higher costs in China might prompt some companies to move production back to the United States, a more plausible destination would be other emerging economies with lower costs. A factory worker earns, on average, $230 a month in India, $185 in Vietnam and $100 in Bangladesh, according to the Japanese survey.


Foxconn, the Taiwan-based company that assembles iPhones in China for Apple, announced last year that it would build as many as 12 new factories in India. That means your next smartphone or pair or bluejeans would more likely be made in Mumbai than in Minneapolis.


And the Chinese government’s response would probably be tariffs of its own on American goods and services rather than lowering barriers for American companies doing business in China. It moved quickly to retaliate for the tariff on Chinese tires with punitive duties on American products. Because the Chinese market has become critical for many American companies — whether Apple, Starbucks or Boeing — any steps taken by the Chinese government to curtail their ability to operate in China would be bad news for them.


Mr. Trump’s tariff proposal addresses a real and legitimate concern about the effect of competition from low-wage countries on American workers. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to solve the problem — and it could create even more.