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The Real Victims of China’s Trade Patterns

Many in the West, especially US President Donald Trump, have railed against China’s massive trade surpluses, which emerged after the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001. But China’s developing-country neighbors have far more reason to be worried.

NEW DELHI – Much has been written about the consequences of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), especially for the developing countries of Asia. Yet another, equally consequential phenomenon has gone largely unnoticed: China’s upending of trade relationships with those countries.

Many in the West, especially US President Donald Trump, have railed against China’s massive trade surpluses, which emerged after the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001. But China’s developing-country neighbors have far more reason to be worried.

Since peaking in 2015 – when the surplus in merchandise trade reached nearly $680 billion – China’s trade imbalance has been shrinking. But its surpluses remain very large in absolute terms, and in developing Asia, they continue to grow.

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