China has been on a major charm offensive of late within business and trade spheres that has only intensified as U.S. officials have made the country a target.
One of the more interesting developments in international business trends is the shift in emphasis for Europe in light of the last year. The focus for the bulk of the European Union members has long been the United States, United Kingdom and, to some degree, Russia. These are all relationships that are strained, to say the least.
“Brexit” will cut the U.K. off from the business of Europe to a degree yet unknown. The Trump administration’s stated stances on policy, including tough talk on imports, foreshadow lessened interest in the EU. And Russia, perceived for years as hostile, has grown more aggressive. China will seek to replace some of the influence the U.S. and U.K. hold within European trade.
China already appears to be emerging as a clear winner in the battle for allies around Asian and Pacific states. In some respects, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact was a last-ditch attempt to keep Asian states from falling into the Chinese orbit completely. The deal failed to garner support in the U.S., which sends what Asian and Pacific states see as a pretty clear message. In the last few months, the U.S. has watched the Philippines, Malaysia and, more recently, Cambodia and Indonesia tilt strongly towards deepened ties with China.
– Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM economist