In yesterday's WSJ article, Not Really 'Made in China', the author makes the point that the iphone, although thought of as ubiqutously American actually added almost 2 billion dollars to the US deficit with China last year.
Two academic researchers estimate that Apple Inc.'s iPhone—one of the best-selling U.S. technology products—actually added $1.9 billion to the U.S. trade deficit with China last year.Since the traditional trade deficit/surplus calculation counts the entire wholesale cost of the iphone as part of China's trade, there is a distorted view of the actual situation.
How is this possible? The researchers say traditional ways of measuring global trade produce the number but fail to reflect the complexities of global commerce where the design, manufacturing and assembly of products often involve several countries.
"A distorted picture" is the result, they say, one that exaggerates trade imbalances between nations.
Trade statistics in both countries consider the iPhone a Chinese export to the U.S., even though it is entirely designed and owned by a U.S. company, and is made largely of parts produced in several Asian and European countries. China's contribution is the last step—assembling and shipping the phones.
So the entire $178.96 estimated wholesale cost of the shipped phone is credited to China, even though the value of the work performed by the Chinese workers at Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. accounts for just 3.6%, or $6.50, of the total, the researchers calculated in a report published this month.
This means that the new currency policy would have little or no effect on the competitiveness of Chinese products wrt to American products. Although it would give China greater purchasing power for American goods, unless the US lowers export restrictions on high tech goods, exports wont increase much either.