On Thursday, the top trade negotiators of China and the United States resumed high-level negotiations to hash out a deal that could end their trade war. It come just over a week before the expirations of a deadline that was imposed by the US to reach an agreement and triggers a new round of tariffs.
Last Wednesday, Reuters reported that the two sides are beginning to sketch out what an agreement on structural issues may look like. They drafted language for six memorandums of understanding on proposed Chinese reforms.
If the two sides do not reach an agreement by the 1st of March, the tariffs that were imposed by the US on $200 billion (153 billion pounds) worth of imports from China are set to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent. Tit-for tat tariffs between the two largest economic powers in the world have affected international trade and slowed the global economy since the trade war began seven months ago.
During a photo opportunity to mark the commencement of their discussions on Thursday, Robert Lighthizer, the Trade Representative of the US, and Liu He, the Chinese Vice Premier, silentlyfaced each other across a table in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House.
At their sides were People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and other cabinet-level officials from both countries.
It is not clear whether the most recent round of discussions, which are set to conclude on Friday, may be extended into next week, and where the future negotiations might occur.
Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America who has embraced an “America First” policy as part of an attempt to rebalance global trade, has said that the March 1 deadline could be extended if substantial progress is made.
The sources who are familiar with the negotiations disclosed that the memorandums would cover forced technology transfer and cyber theft, services, intellectual property rights, agriculture, currency, and non-tariff barriers to trade.
The two sides are still far apart on the demands by the administration of President Trump for China to end its practices on those issues that led Trump to begin levying duties on Chinese imports in the first place.
Xi Jinping, the President of China, would need to undertake difficult structural economic reforms in order to meet the demands of the US.