The China-U.S. Trade Gap

Date : 2016-03-25  | From : usnews

It's said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. So a GIF showcasing the ever-growing Chinese-American trade gap should be worth at least 1,000 "China is killing us" proclamations from businessman and GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

Trump has often repeated the idea that China is "killing us," "ripping us" and "beating" the U.S. when it comes to trade. In fact, there has been only one GOP debate so far at which the Republican front-runner didn't highlight America's trade shortcomings or general inferiority to China – the Jan. 28 Fox News-hosted contest in Iowa that Trump chose not to attend.

That's not to say his message isn't hitting home. Trump has earned outright victories in a majority of America's roughly three dozen GOP primary contests so far, garnering a substantial delegate haul in his quest to clinch the Republican presidential nomination.

Donald Trump gestures during a campaign stop on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

When Trump says things like the U.S. is "getting absolutely crushed on trade" – as he did during the March 3 debate also hosted by Fox News – he's referring to the difference in value between what America imports into the country and the value of what it exports to international buyers, or what's known as the trade gap between the U.S. and a given country.

Overall, U.S. imports do far outweigh the country's exports, though whether that's a legitimate economic concern in a globalized marketplace and in a country that depends significantly more on consumer spending than it does on domestic manufacturing is debatable. Throughout the entirety of 2015, America brought in more than $2.2 trillion in foreign goods while exporting only about $1.5 trillion worth of domestic products, according to the Census Bureau. Such high imports and low exports generated an international trade gap of more than $736 billion.

And Trump is right on track in pointing out that no single country maintains more of a trade surplus with the U.S. than China. In 2015, America's trade deficit with China sat at a record $365.7 billion. That's equal to nearly half of the total U.S. trade deficit last year.

In this Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 photo, an employee works in a textile factory in Huaibei in central China's Anhui province. Chinese manufacturing is showing signs of further weakness as two factory indexes released Tuesday, Sept. 1, fell to multiyear lows, intensifying fears that the world’s No. 2 economy is losing more momentum. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT

But hearing the same line over and over again can dull its impact, while visual aids can help put the relationship into better perspective. That's what the folks over at cost information hub were going for when they created a GIF detailing the evolution of the Chinese-American trade gap over the last 30 years.

The site used Census Bureau data to show how large the countries' trade disparity has grown since 1985. The graphic ultimately shows that the value of goods exported by China to the U.S. in 2015 was 123 times the value of what it shipped out 30 years earlier.

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