China Might Cook The Books to Meet Trade Targets

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

In the highly unlikely event that China ever reaches or even approaches the fantastical trade targets that the Trump regime is promising, they might reach those targets by more or less cooking the books according to Bloomberg.

Chinese officials are reportedly considering a plan to reroute existing trade that passes through Hong Kong's ports to China's mainland ports and then count it towards the total as new trade.

In addition, China is considering re-routing trade that currently passes through Hong Kong to mainland ports, the people said. That could enable around $10 billion a year in goods transshipped there from the U.S. to be directly booked in the mainland, boosting the tally. The U.S. does not count shipments that go through Hong Kong as part of its trade with China.

Leaders are carefully weighing how to approach addressing the so-called entrepot trade via Hong Kong, as it would be a further blow to the city’s embattled economy and risks worsening political tensions there, one of the people said.

What surprised me the most when I read this is that Trump has not already tried to count trade with Hong Kong as trade with mainland China, although he might insist that it be counted if he catches wind of what the Chinese are considering.

I understand that we don't count trade with Hong Kong as trade with China for mostly geopolitical reasons, but it's not as if Trump gives a shit about that.

If China has actually pledged to increase purchases of American farm goods by $16 billion per year on top of what they previously purchased, as the Trump regime insists, rerouting $10 billion in trade with Hong Kong could be one quick way to approach that goal without actually buying that amount of goods.

  • muselet

    Cooking the books is about the only way China will be able to come close to the trade targets Donald Trump has set (by consulting a random number generator, apparently), and even then it likely won’t be good enough for the administration (“Cheating!” will trend on Twitter for days).

    And I doubt the people of Hong Kong would much appreciate being used to solve a dispute between China and the US. As we saw recently, they tend to guard their (relative) sovereignty pretty vigorously.