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Clear timeline for China-US talks remains hard to predict

2019-03-19

Source: Global Times    Published: 2019-3-17


Media reports about the status of China-US trade negotiations signal that the talks are "nearing the final stage," a domestic expert said on Sunday.


The expert spoke after the Xinhua News Agency revealed that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a telephone call on Thursday morning with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. According to the report, China and the US achieved "substantial progress" on the negotiation text.


Liu and the two US officials had a telephone call on Tuesday to discuss key issues in the trade talks, with the two sides establishing the next steps in the working arrangements, according to another Xinhua report.


Liu and the US officials have had three rounds of telephone chats so far to discuss the trade talks, Xinhua noted.


In a CNBC report on Thursday, Mnuchin said that he is pleased with the progress of the talks.


In a separate CNBC report on Friday, China and the US are now working to coordinate a summit meeting between their presidents, citing three sources briefed on the latest discussions.


Experts said that the news updates on the talks have sent positive signals about the negotiations.


"Generally speaking, the China-US trade negotiations are nearing the final stage, with both sides working toward the direction of concluding a deal," He Weiwen, an executive council member of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.


Li Chunding, a professor at the College of Economics and Management under the China Agricultural University, told the Global Times on Sunday that without doubt, the talks are "marching toward a positive direction."


"I think both sides have already realized that an ongoing trade dispute is not beneficial for either of them, with bilateral trade slumping significantly" in recent months, Li said.


Bilateral trade slumped by 19.9 percent in the first two months of this year to $76.5 billion, figures from Chinese customs showed.


But experts said that a clear timeline for the talks remains hard to predict.


According to He, although the talks have reached the final stage, the final steps can be extremely difficult as they involve the issues that are the most difficult to agree upon, including contract enforcement.


"I think it's not important to reach a deal as soon as possible, but to reach a fair, mutual beneficial agreement. A bad agreement is even worse than no agreement," He said.


He Weiwen is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

Key Words: China   US   trade   He Weiwen  

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