Vietnam is biggest winner from US-China trade war: Study

Garment workers in a Hanoi factory. Vietnam has gained orders from trade diversion on tariffed goods equal to 7.9 per cent of gross domestic product in the year through the first quarter of 2019, says a study.
Garment workers in a Hanoi factory. Vietnam has gained orders from trade diversion on tariffed goods equal to 7.9 per cent of gross domestic product in the year through the first quarter of 2019, says a study.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Vietnam is so far the biggest winner from the US-China trade war, as importers look to divert their orders to bypass higher tariffs.

It has gained orders from trade diversion on tariffed goods equal to 7.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the year through the first quarter of this year, according to a study by Nomura economists.

Taiwan is a distant second among the winners, with gains equivalent to 2.1 per cent of GDP. Both economies gained far more from US tariffs on China than from Chinese duties on the United States.

American and Chinese orders for more than half of the 1,981 tariffed products in the US-China trade war thus far have been rerouted, upending the global supply chain, the analysis shows.

Nomura started with the official tariff lists of product codes and compared those with monthly trade data of the same goods - incorporating the levies on US$250 billion (S$342 billion) of Chinese goods and US$110 billion of US products. The analysts then estimated the gains for the world's top 50 economies in the 12-month period.

US tariffs on China have prompted import substitution primarily in electronic products, followed by furniture and travel goods. For China's duties on the US, orders for soya beans, aircraft, grains and cotton were most likely to be diverted away from the US to third-party economies like Chile.

The analysts see potential for significantly more disruption in the electronics supply chain, given US-China disputes over technology, including American restrictions on Chinese giants Huawei and ZTE.

More than half of the top 20 American companies listed on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index with net sales in China are electronics firms, with a combined revenue of US$144 billion last year, according to the note.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2019, with the headline 'Vietnam is biggest winner from US-China trade war: Study'. Print Edition | Subscribe