Asia Minute: New Round of U.S. China Trade Talks

Feb 7, 2019

President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping | July 8, 2017
Credit The White House / Flickr

President Trump covered a lot of ground in his State of the Union address this week — including trade issues with China. A U.S. delegation is heading to China next week for another round of talks, but a tariff deadline is fast approaching.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are heading to Beijing next week for a third round of trade talks. In about three weeks, 200-billion dollars in Chinese imports will face tariffs of 25 percent — up from the current level of ten percent . . . unless a deal is reached.

President Trump says he might meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping around the end of the month — perhaps around the time of his scheduled meeting in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two sides are working through a series of issues. The South China Morning Post quotes a Trump Administration official as saying Washington has 142 trade demands — some more contentious than others.

Enforcement of any deal remains one challenge.

Measurement of progress in some areas would be another challenge — including how to judge any reduction of support for state-owned enterprises and the issue of intellectual property theft.

But it’s the trade deficit numbers that often grab the headlines, and the presidential rhetoric.

Chinese media have widely reported on plans to increase purchases of U.S. made goods—and there is substantial room for growth.

The Census Department tracks trade figures; and according to its website, the U.S. had an annual deficit in trade in goods with China last year of more than 380-billion dollars.