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Uncertainty remains ahead of China-US trade talks

2019-10-12

Source: Global Times    Published: 2019-10-7


China's trade delegation, led by Vice Premier Liu He, will depart for the US on Tuesday for another round of high-stakes trade talks amid the ongoing trade war between the world's two largest economies.


The 13th round of negotiations is subject to greater uncertainty, sources close to the matter told the Global Times. The biggest lies in whether Washington will postpone tariff hikes due on October 15, shortly after the talks conclude. Postponed from October 1, the US is due to levy additional tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods.


But Beijing is fully prepared. While showing goodwill in expectation of a trade deal, the Chinese government has normalized its strained relationship with the US and would rather adhere to its development goals and policy of strategic patience as a priority, the source noted.


The talks may lead to three outcomes: The US delays the tariff increase; the US imposes the tariffs; or the worst case - the US not only imposes the tariffs but also comes out with more measures to escalate the trade war, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


The Chinese and US trade teams have held vice-ministerial level talks so far, exchanging views on the detailed arrangements for the new round of negotiations and carrying out constructive discussions on trade and economic issues of mutual concern, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said on September 29.


"It is very hard to predict even the direction of the result this time as US President Donald Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry and the US is in an election cycle," Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.


Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday that there is no obvious sign that the 13th round of trade talks will yield very positive results.


According to previous talks, hope and frustration have always intertwined, and that is how the world's two largest countries forge ahead, said Bai.


Diao noted that as usual, China has taken a pragmatic approach, delivering a lot of sincerity to the US and creating positive vibes for the negotiation. The Xinhua News Agency reported on September 24 that the Chinese side is encouraging companies to purchase a "certain amount of" soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from the US.


"It is up to the US government to show its sincerity and attitude to end the trade war," Diao said.


But whatever the results of the trade talks are, China will tackle it with a sense of calm, the source added. "Even if Washington levies the tariffs, it won't be a big deal. China has the right timing and right circumstances to cushion the impact," the source said, stressing that Chinese officials are prepared for a long battle with the US.


The country's consumption power, a major pillar of economy, has been on display during the weeklong National Day holidays. In the first four days of the holidays, Chinese people make 542 million trips, generating a record-high tourism income of 452.63 billion yuan ($63.33 billion).


"So far the US has no more cards in hand to continue the tariff war and the facts prove that China stands firmly against the US' tariffs. On the contrary, the US trade deficit has expanded," Bai noted.


The US trade deficit widened in August for the first time in three months as exports increased but imports increased more. The Commerce Department said Friday that the US trade deficit had widened by 1.6 percent in August to $54.9 billion.


The possibility remains that the trade war will spread to tech and financial services sectors in the future, which China can also withstand, Bai said.


"The trade war is a barrier and we don't know when it will end. The right thing for China is to maintain its strategy [of training internal strength] and be patient," the source added.


Diao Daming is a research fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: China-US   trade   RDCY   Diao Daming  

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