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Jon Talton: For America and China, breaking up is hard to do

Jon Talton, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

This also risks alienating customers in the world's largest market. For example, Microsoft has been in China since 1992. Starbucks is investing $130 million to build its largest overseas coffee roasting plant near Shanghai. The Seattle-based giant aims to have 6,000 stores in China by 2022.

China is Boeing's most important overseas customer and is expected to become the world's largest commercial airplane market in less than 15 years. The country is also an important part of Boeing's supply chain, and a 737 finishing center is located there.

As a result, a full-scale decoupling would bring certain losers and uncertain winners. Costs would rise, especially if consumer-goods factories were returned to the United States.

Reshoring sounds great. But, as I've written before, it would take a long time and involve highly automated factories, not the levels of employment seen before 2000.

The most important question is whether Americans would be willing to pay significantly more for domestically produced goods.

Or maybe that's the second-most important question. What about China's appetite for $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury debt, which underscores the benefit of being the world's safe haven? What if Beijing starts to bail?

Xi's nationalism and grievances are only enhanced by the same from his admirer, Donald Trump. These stances distract criticism of their domestic failures, not least in handling the pandemic.

 

But two nuclear-armed nations sliding into confrontation is the worst-case scenario.

That's not too early to say.

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