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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 12/8/2003 4:53:07 PM EST

U.S. Shoppers Like China Just Fine

By Michael Flaherty

NEW YORK -- The contents of Rose Casalino's shopping cart might provide a clearer picture of U.S.-China trade relations than Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's New York visit this week.

While talk of a possible U.S.-China trade war was heating up in diplomatic circles recently, Casalino was shopping for her goddaughter at a Target store in the New York City borough of Queens.

She bought a video-game joystick, a CD player and a bathrobe, and eyed a Barbie doll mattress. All the products were high in quality and inexpensively priced, she said.

And unbeknownst to her, all were made in China.

"If I can afford it, I'll buy it," Casalino said. "I don't pay attention to where the products are made. I really don't."

Her shopping habits show the voracious American appetite for cheap foreign goods.

It is this hunger that makes the chances of U.S.-Chinese trade tensions escalating into an all-out trade war more diplomatic myth than economic reality, economists say. American shoppers -- who are also voters -- would not allow Washington to bar Chinese goods from U.S. shelves, the economists say.

"There will be no turning back the clock," said John Lonski, chief economist for Moody's Investor Services. "American consumers would react so negatively that it's all but an impossibility."

According to U.S. government figures, China exported $108.6 billion worth of goods to the United States in the first nine months of this year. In contrast, U.S. companies sold only $18.9 billion worth of goods in China.

This huge imbalance is at the heart of the trade dispute between the two countries.

Tensions rose last month when the United States capped some imports of Chinese textiles and imposed tariffs on televisions. China responded by delaying trips to shop for U.S. commodities and threatened duties on some American goods.

During his upcoming visit to Boston, Washington and New York, the Chinese premier is expected to address -- in addition to the trade friction -- a political dispute over U.S.-backed Taiwan and its call for independence.

The Taiwan issue may indeed heat up, but it is the trade imbalance that has the most implications for U.S. domestic politics, Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach said.

"It's not a coincidence that Washington is leaning toward restricting access to foreign imports at a time when the job situation is tough and a presidential election is heating up," Roach said.

Democrats are likely to try to use the significant job losses during President George W. Bush's administration as a trump card against Republicans in next year's elections.

Manufacturing groups and politicians have criticized China's fixed currency policy, arguing that the yuan's peg to the U.S. dollar is too low, making Chinese exports unfairly cheap at the expense of hundreds of thousands of American manufacturing jobs.

Still, these cheap exports dominate the racks and floor displays of U.S. retailers. A DVD player, a CD stereo and a karaoke machine greet customers entering a Best Buy store in Queens. All the products were made in China.

"I did actually glance at a TV set to see if it was made in the U.S.," shopper Artie Benanti said. "But in the end it doesn't matter."

Benanti, an education salesman looking for a high-definition television, said he did not want to take U.S. jobs away. But his choice between a domestic or a foreign product comes down to a simple factor.

"I want the better bargain," he said.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 5:01:18 PM EST
Even if you tell them it's built by what is little better than slave labor, people just shrug and buy it anyway. That's why WalMart is so successful- nobody gives a damn, as long as it's cheap. I'll bet if the Third Reich had won WW2 and had concentration camp workers making this stuff and selling it to US consumers a la the ChiComs, it still wouldn't make a difference- people would buy it anyway, because it's cheap. [rolleyes]
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 5:04:10 PM EST
That's about $500 per every man, woman, and American child every year going to China. Leaves me to wonder where the other $34,500 give or take a few ten thousand is going?
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 5:15:11 PM EST
Originally Posted By Paul: That's about $500 per every man, woman, and American child every year going to China. Leaves me to wonder where the other $34,500 give or take a few ten thousand is going?
View Quote
Big picture? I would guess 10K goes to the .gov, fed, state, local, property & sales taxes. Out of the other 24.5, housing gets 9k leaving 15k. Food gets a few, clothing and transportation plus savings and debt probably wraps it up. Dont forget a chunk of the transport goes to Japan & Europe, but thank goodness Ford & GM had the foresight to buy up half of their auto companies, bringing some of that foreign bound yen & euro back home.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 5:18:45 PM EST
[url]www.ARCflashlight.com[/url] American owned company making a best in class product mostly built with American made components.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 5:39:32 PM EST
See sig line. I look at the "made in...." sticker before I look at the price tag. The Chinese can starve for all I care. I'd rather see more Americans working.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 5:58:47 PM EST
American products used to be good quality as well as a [b]good value[/b]. There's just no economics in manufacturing anything here anymore. Manufacturing requires low cost labor, materials and transportation.
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 6:24:37 PM EST
Link Posted: 12/8/2003 8:44:11 PM EST
Why does everyone blaim Walmart for the Made In China trend? EVERY store is carrying Chinese made products. Any store that stocked only made in America products would be very small indeeed.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 3:13:13 AM EST
I have a friend who likes shopping in Beijing a lot -- last Saturday he got the following: 2 North Face jackets (real) for $25 each -- - A North Face pack (real or good copy) for $8 -- - A dozen Mont Blancs (fake, but real nice) for $3.50 each -- - And a nice pearl necklace and earrings for wife for $300. All this at the lovely Hongqiao market in Chongwen district. Make sure to visit the Chinese Museum of Military History while you are in town, great collection of arms including some captured American weapons from Korea and 'Nam.
Link Posted: 12/9/2003 3:34:10 AM EST
[b]China exported $108.6 billion worth of goods to the United States in the first nine months of this year[/b] Jesus help us.. Americans financing Red China's Military... Americans financing their own demise [rolleyes]
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