Source: CGTN Published: 2018-11-03
US President Donald Trump said he had a "good conversation" with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday about bilateral trade and the upcoming G20 summit.
The leaders are expected to have face-to-face talks in Argentina later this month, in hopes of resolving major trade issues. Since July, the United States has imposed tariffs on 250 billion US dollars' worth of Chinese goods and China has responded with tariffs on 110 billion US dollars' worth of US goods.
The phone call could be a positive signal, said Chen Chenchen, deputy director of the Department of Macroeconomics at Renmin University. The communication channel for both leaders is open and direct. However, Chen maintained a skeptical outlook about trade consultations as a result, saying it's best to wait and see what happens next.
China also cut import tariffs Thursday on nearly 1,600 goods, in a move that's expected to open up its economy and save consumers billions of dollars.
On the one hand, it's part of countermeasures in the context of an escalating trade war between China and the United States. It is also a measure to appease foreign companies in China and to prevent foreign companies from withdrawing.
On the other hand, Chen pointed out that China is sticking to the principle that it needs to keep lowering its import tariffs from other countries since China entered the WTO (World Trade Organization).
Merrill Matthews, the resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, said the bigger issue here is not the tariffs but the intellectual property protection and the tech transfer concerns.
From the perspective of the United States, the stock market was difficult in October. Although it's recovered some lost ground, October was still one of the worst months since the financial crisis.
Howard Silverblatt, the S&P Dow Jones Indices Senior Index Analyst, said that on the last trading day of October, the United States stock market lost 1.91 trillion US dollars. The losses are widely distributed in the industrial sector. October was the worst month for the S&P 500 since September 2011.
Merrill also pointed out that President Trump was trying to give the stock market a boost through this phone call and with the upcoming midterm elections. “Trump wants to try to come to some kind of agreement down there but wanted to try to signal to the markets and the voters that things may be looking up,” said Merrill.
The midterm election is very important. On the one hand, President Trump talks about his great personal relationship with President Xi Jinping. On the other hand, he will talk about China abusing the United States and "draining its economy."
Afshin Molavi, the senior fellow with the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, pointed out that it is politics that Trump's playing.
China is the world's biggest importer of soybeans. But it has cut 80 percent of soybeans imports from the United States and analysts have been saying that this has cost the United States industry something like two billion dollars.
President Trump has tried to help Midwest farmers in two ways. First, he's handing 12 billion dollars out to farmers to help offset those losses. Second, he's increased the amount of corn that can be put in ethanol that's used in gasoline as a way to try to create a bigger market for the corn. So, they can shift to feed corn and use that in gasoline and try to compensate for it.
Merrill stated that these are bad approaches that you need to be able to get back to have a trading organization where they can find markets that want to buy the products.
Chen Chenchen is deputy director of Macro Research Department at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.