U.S. President Joe Biden is winning the trade war with China judging by election campaign rival and former U.S. President Donald Trump’s favorite metric. The rub: It’s an increasingly flawed measure of the world’s most important economic relationship.
Figures due Wednesday are set to show the U.S. deficit in goods trade with China in 2023 at its lowest annual level since 2010, when demand was soggy in the wake of the global financial crisis. Bloomberg Economics calculates that the U.S. gap likely amounted to about 1% of gross domestic product, the lowest since 2003.
On paper, the figures suggest a deepening decoupling driven by tariffs and export controls that began during the Trump administration and have expanded under Biden. It’s also a politically important economic signal ahead of a November vote in which Biden is likely to face Trump, who in 2016 rode discontent — over globalization and manufacturing jobs lost to China — to the White House.