Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been mocked by critics for shouting that China is "killing us" economically, but a new analysis of U.S.-China trade shows that the trade gap isn't just at a historic high, but that the imbalance is the widest for any bilateral trade, ever.
According to the website Howmuch.net, the U.S. exported $116 billion to China in 2015, the same year China exported $481 billion to the United States, producing that $365 billion gap.
And it found that the gap is growing so fast that it will "almost quintuple" over the next 15 years.
The site, which analyzes with visuals the costs of everything from driveway repairs to President Obama's budget proposals, produced a gif showing the rapid rise of the trade gap.
It reported Thursday:
The start couldn't be more balanced: in 1985, the U.S. exported $3.9 billion to China, and imported goods and services for the exact same amount. But by 2015, there was a staggering imbalance, to China's advantage, of $365.7 billion – an all-time record, not just for U.S.-China trade, but for any bilateral trade, ever.
It's not that U.S. exports to China haven't increased. They have, and by a lot. America exported an impressive $116.2 billion into China last year, 30 times more than in 1985. That makes China the U.S.'s third-biggest export market, nearly twice as important as Japan ($62.5 billion), in fourth place. But that's still a lot less than U.S. exports to Canada ($280.3 billion) or Mexico ($236.4 billion). Meanwhile, Chinese exports to the U.S. have exploded. In 2015, China exported $481.9 billion to the U.S. - an amazing 123 times more than in 1985.
It added that China exports "almost four times as much to the U.S. as the other way around."
However, the analysis takes on Trump's concerns about the trade gap and job losses to China by noting that many Chinese exports to the U.S. are products assembled there for U.S. firms. And, they add, since much of what China makes is done cheaply, it helps Americans with lower prices for goods exported to the U.S.
What's more, since many Chinese are poor, it added, they can't afford to buy a lot of U.S. goods.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org