Could trade tensions between China and the United States open doors for Russia?

In early April, the Trump administration announced $100 billion in tariffs on imported goods from China. China has discussed countermeasures, which might involve higher tariffs on goods imported from the U.S. While the Trump administration says the U.S. trade deficit with China poses a threat to the economy, there is also concern about a trade war, which could be detrimental to both economies.

However, the tensions between these two long-time trade partners could create an economic opportunity for another country—Russia, which has relied on China as a top export destination for Russian goods. Russia has shown it has the potential to be a profitable trading partner. In 2017, the trade turnover between China and Russia totaled $84.7 billion. Although that number is well below the exchange between China and the U.S., it does show there is room for growth. Together, China and Russia have set a trade turnover goal of $200 billion by 2020.

It’s difficult to predict what will happen with Sino-American trade tensions, or how important the trade relationship between China and Russia will become, but the conversation about the trade dynamics among these three countries is far from over. Based on World Trade Organization and World Bank data, we explore the importance of trade to the U.S., Chinese, and Russian economies.

GDP and Trade

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Roles in Global Trade

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Imports, Exports, and Trade Balances for the U.S., Russia, and China

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US product exports to and imports from China (US$ Thousand)1

Table Description
Year Export Import Product Trade Turnover2 Balance for the United States3
2007 65,237,883.48 340,106,645.76 405,344,529.24 -274,868,762.28
2008 71,456,411.76 356,304,560.71 427,760,972.47 -284,848,148.95
2009 69,575,613.27 309,530,233.20 379,105,846.47 -239,954,619.93
2010 91,910,977.24 382,964,820.32 474,875,797.56 -291,053,843.08
2011 104,121,382.99 417,340,261.54 521,461,644.53 -313,218,878.55
2012 110,516,535.99 425,557,373.46 536,073,909.45 -315,040,837.47
2013 121,721,075.51 440,351,801.68 562,072,877.19 -318,630,726.17
2014 123,675,622.76 486,296,238.01 609,971,860.77 -362,620,615.25
2015 116,071,708.83 504,028,116.96 620,099,825.79 -387,956,408.13
2016 115,602,060.26 481,516,029.54 597,118,089.80 -365,913,969.28

China product exports to and imports from Russia (US$ Thousand)4

Table Description
Year Export Import Product Trade Turnover Balance for the United States
2007 28,529,895.04 19,688,578.67 48,218,473.71 8,841,316.37
2008 33,075,849.92 23,832,761.73 56,908,611.65 9,243,088.19
2009 17,513,771.41 21,282,952.15 38,796,723.56 -3,769,180.74
2010 29,612,073.70 25,913,993.64 55,526,067.34 3,698,080.06
2011 38,903,017.97 40,362,599.80 79,265,617.77 -1,459,581.83
2012 44,056,551.09 44,138,278.87 88,194,829.96 -81,727.78
2013 49,591,171.96 39,667,828.20 89,259,000.16 9,923,343.76
2014 53,676,944.14 41,593,505.50 95,270,449.64 12,083,438.64
2015 34,756,877.25 33,258,662.86 68,015,540.11 1,498,214.39
2016 37,339,600.74 32,260,147.55 69,599,748.29 5,079,453.19

US product exports to and imports from Russia (US$ Thousand)5

Table Description
Year Export Import Product Trade Turnover Balance for the United States
2007 7,365,332.72 20,219,112.56 27,584,445.28 -12,853,779.84
2008 9,335,368.05 27,931,764.91 37,267,132.96 -18,596,396.86
2009 5,382,808.39 18,993,424.40 24,376,232.79 -13,610,616.01
2010 5,993,665.46 26,538,543.32 32,532,208.78 -20,544,877.86
2011 8,318,439.25 35,557,789.98 43,876,229.23 -27,239,350.73
2012 10,695,291.38 29,364,243.18 40,059,534.56 -18,668,951.80
2013 11,144,525.79 27,085,388.01 38,229,913.80 -15,940,862.22
2014 10,752,772.51 24,465,063.19 35,217,835.70 -13,712,290.68
2015 7,087,111.57 17,162,435.18 24,249,546.75 -10,075,323.61
2016 5,791,672.60 15,284,179.00 21,075,851.60 -9,492,506.40
  1. https://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/USA/Year/2007/TradeFlow/Import/Partner/CHN/Product/all-groups
  2. Product Trade Turnover refers to the sum of exports and imports between country A and B
  3. A positive balance means that country A exports more than it imports from country B
  4. https://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/CHN/Year/2007/TradeFlow/Import/Partner/RUS/Product/all-groups
  5. https://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/USA/Year/2007/TradeFlow/EXPIMP/Partner/RUS/Product/all-groups

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Citation for this content: American University’s International Relations Online Degree