Monday, 18 October 2021

U.S., China all smiles on trade but doubts persist


WASHINGTON: The United States and China radiated positivity after this week’s trade talks but doubts persist about the chances of sealing the overarching deal Donald Trump wants.

After two days of high-level negotiations in Washington, President Donald Trump hailed the “tremendous progress,” and the Chinese delegation said the talks had been “candid, specific and fruitful.”

Beijing also offered to increase its imports of American agricultural, energy and manufactured goods as well as US services as a gesture that it is willing to open its markets — one of the key US demands.

More important still, Trump announced he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would meet “in the near future” to bury some of the more difficult bones of contention in person.

The prospects of a Trump-Xi meeting “substantially raise the odds of a deal that gives the US at least a partial victory,” said Eswar Prasad, professor of trade policy at Cornell and China specialist.

Given the tight deadline imposed by the 90-day truce – leaving them just a month to reach a deal – analysts say it is not realistic to expect more than a partial agreement with modest objectives.

But the US side has more far reaching objectives, and demands China end its unfair trade practices, including the alleged “theft” of American technological know-how, including forced transfer of intellectual property, hacking, and massive state intervention in markets.

While Trump insisted this week he would only sign a “real deal” that addressed these grievances, Washington could bump up against the soaring ambitions Beijing laid out in its “Made in China 2025” strategic plan.

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