Opinion: What’s new in the latest round of China-U.S. trade talks
CGTN’s The Point
The latest round of vice-ministerial level negotiations on trade between China and the U.S. in Beijing, which started on January 7, concluded on Wednesday. Some analysts had hoped that the meetings would break the stalemate in the nine-month-long dispute between the two countries.
According to a statement issued by China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday, both sides had "extensive, in-depth and detailed exchanges" on trade and structural issues of common concern, adding that they agreed to maintain close contact.
Dr John Gong, a research fellow at Charhar Institute and a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, shared his insights with CGTN. In his opinion, the talks were fruitful and constructive in tackling the trade disputes.
“This time I think what's changing is that the macro environment has changed a lot,” Gong said. “The U.S. stock market is tanking and there's a lot of pressure on Donald Trump to strike a deal quickly.”
It was the first face-to-face talks since Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to a 90-day truce in early December. Both sides have expressed optimism that a reasonable settlement can be reached.
Gong also observed that there are several issues at the center of the trade dispute. The trade deficit and “structural issues” mentioned by the U.S. side are two priorities.
“I think this round of negotiation must center on purchases by the Chinese side of American products, to at least alleviate the trade deficit – mostly with agricultural products as well as energy products,” the professor said.
According to Gong, this time China's private companies will play a larger role in the trade with the U.S. As a supplement of the government, the private firms are able to import more American agricultural and energy products.
“The structural issue would not be discussed at the deputy and ministerial level. That's going to be at a much higher level,” he added.
Right now, the American public has a high expectation of trade with China, and as Gong notes, their concern is how to turn the vision into reality.
If there is progress at these talks, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and China's Vice Premier Liu He are expected to meet in Washington as soon as next week. Trump could also get involved by the end of the month, when it is widely predicted that he could meet Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in Davos, Switzerland on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum which starts January 21.
It is believed that trade will still be the main focus of their meeting and they are more likely to get down to brass tacks.
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