For U.S.-China trade talks, hopes are high, expectations low

Dwayne Harmon
Февраля 1, 2019

President Donald Trump signalled on Wednesday that USA trade talks with China are going well but said a final agreement will not be reached until he meets his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping.

The United States and China opened a pivotal round of talks on Wednesday aimed at bridging deep differences over China's intellectual property and technology transfer practices and easing a months-long tariff war. "Meetings are going well with good intent and spirit on both sides", Trump said in a Twitter post. Tariffs on China increase to 25% on March 1st, so all working hard to complete by that date!

Trump, who has engaged in a series of fights with a variety of trade partners since becoming president in 2017, has acted as the final decision-maker in US trade negotiations. But American negotiators are looking for more structural changes in the trade relationship, including an end to China's intellectual property theft and the forced transfer of USA technology. 'But it's a very big deal, that would be if it does happen, it would be by far the largest trade deal ever made'.

Topics covered by the US questions include subsidies for China's fishing industry and the activity of so-called government guidance funds, which seek to foster domestic innovation in different industries from advanced engineering and robotics to biotechnology and clean energy.

"Looking for China to open their Markets not only to Financial Services, which they are now doing, but also to our Manufacturing, Farmers and other U.S. businesses and industries".

Trump is expected to meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House later on Thursday. "Any deal that does not include China opening its markets for manufacturing and agricultural products to US producers will be" unacceptable", the president wrote.

In a sign the sides are hopeful of making progress, the Harvard-trained Liu is due to meet Trump during this week's talks.

The U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are just one front in Trump's efforts to upend the global trading order with his "America First" strategy.

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last week that the US and China are "miles and miles" away from a deal as he noted in a CNBC interview that the nations have "lots and lots of issues" to discuss.

The president seemed optimistic the two-day meeting would help de-escalate the trade dispute between the two countries.

On Wednesday, U.S. intelligence officials told Congress that China is the biggest commercial and military threat to the United States. A uniformed U.S. Secret Service officer was injured as an unnamed individual was arrested for attempting to "impede the progress" of the Chinese delegation's motorcade near the White House.

Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative and the Trump administration's lead negotiator this week, wants China to toughen intellectual property protections and to stop what he said is unfairly subsidizing its state-owned enterprises.

A crucial component of any progress in the talks, according to USA officials, is agreement on a mechanism to verify and enforce China's follow-through on any reform pledges.

Chinese officials are resistant to the wholesale changes sought by the USA and the charges against Huawei - one of China's biggest and most successful technology firms - have added to the political tensions.

The draft legislation, which was first reviewed by the NPC's Standing Committee in December 2018, is said to ban compulsory technology transfer, guarantee equal treatment of foreign companies, and protect foreign companies' intellectual property rights.

US officials insist that the Huawei case is entirely separate from the trade negotiations.

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