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Progress on Talks with China

02/18/2019

Following the late January 2019 high-level meetings in Washington, Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin traveled to Beijing to continue trade talks. The Administration has indicated that it would consider delaying the imposition of increased tariffs beyond the March 1st deadline providing substantial progress is being made in discussions. China is obviously making some concessions with regard to purchases of capital goods and agricultural products to offset the negative trade balance with the U.S.

Following a meeting with the Commerce Ministry of China, the U.S. negotiating team engaged with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He followed by an audience with President Xi Jingping.

The reluctance of China to change structural considerations that are necessary to expand their economy will be the major obstruction to a comprehensive deal. These issues include support of state-owned enterprises, coercive technology transfer and industrial espionage all integrated into a national development plan plans.

It is hoped that the negotiators can finalize a memorandum of agreement on major issues that will pave the way for a meeting between the two Presidents. It is unlikely that this will take place in China following a scheduled visit to Vietnam by the President. A more likely venue will be the U.S. during March provided that the tariff rate on approximately $200 billion in imports remains at 10 percent.