US-China trade deal still in the balance
30 March 2019
The back-and-forth trade negotiations between China and the US continue next week in Washington with a visit by China’s chief trade negotiator Vice Premier Liu He following the trip to Beijing this week by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Talks between the top-level negotiators concluded in Beijing yesterday without any reported movement on the most significant questions, including the enforcement mechanism for any deal and the protection of intellectual property rights. No details were released but Mnuchin tweeted the talks had been “constructive.”
According to a report by Bloomberg, much of the discussion centred on working through line by line the text of what had been agreed so far, with differences between the Chinese and English versions.
Citing one of the officials involved, Bloomberg said that “the two sides have very different understandings of certain words.” Both negotiating teams are seeking to establish their own interpretation of the text because this will be significant in determining enforcement procedures in the event of disputes that are certain to occur even if a deal is reached.
The US officials were also reported to have accused China of backtracking on previous commitments, particularly on the question of intellectual property.
At this stage the plan is for a final agreement to be reached in the Washington talks, leading to a signing ceremony at the end of the April.
However, Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month that there were still “major, major issues” to be resolved. In a speech delivered on Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow indicated negotiations may continue for some time…