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The United States government continues to monitor the adherence of China to a bilateral agreement signed in September 2015 to refrain from conducting or knowingly supporting cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property with the intent of providing competitive advantage to companies or commercial sectors. The US Government had reportedly begun developing a package of economic sanctions last fall against Chinese entities and individuals who have benefited from corporate and government or government-sponsored cyber theft of US trade secrets, according to Western press reports. Some US industry executives, however, have raised concerns about the risk sanctions present to the competitiveness of US firms operating in China, according to recent press reports.

US President Barack Obama's sanction authority in this case is derived from an executive order signed in April against entities engaging in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities. Developing effective sanctions against Chinese individuals and large, global Chinese companies, however, requires caution given the lucrative trade and investment relationship between China and the US, concerns of targeted retaliation, and the preservation of broader international cooperation between the two countries.

  • China is the United States' second largest trading parnter by total trade turnover after Canada and the leading country of origin of US imports. China provides about 20 percent of total US imports, but its share in deliveries of some commodity groups to the US market exceeds 70 percent (e. g. footwear/headgear, toys, games and sports requisites).
  • Total US-China trade reached $610.2 billion in 2014 and has continued to grow in 2015, showing new seasonal peaks. The US trade deficit with China also reached all-time highs in June.
  • China is a major holder of the US government debt - hovering at about 20 percent of US treasuries through most of 2015 - as well as a large investor. China's direct investment in the US economy during the period 2005-2014 totaled $82 billion.

In this dashboard Knoema provides detailed data on the structure of US-China trade and investment and recent trends.

Sources: U.S. Trade and International Transactions, Annual, Quarterly & Monthly Series, August 2015UN Comtrade: Merchandise trade by Commodity, HS12, 2015Foreign holdings of U. S. Treasury securitiesChina Global Investment Tracker, June 2015.

Bilateral Trade        Investments


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