Next Few Months Crucial For China-U.S. Trade Deal
来源：MNI Market News（国际市场新闻社）
China and the U.S. could reach a preliminary trade deal as soon as this September, following the green light for a resumption in the trade talks, although not everyone is optimistic about the chances of a quick deal, government advisors told MNI.
“If the Trump administration stops flip-flopping this time, it is possible for both sides to reach a preliminary agreement in three months,” said Chen Wenling, Chief Economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a high-level think tank managed by the country’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.
She said U.S. President Donald Trump needs “achievements” that can help him secure re-election next year and reaching a deal with China this year would help him win a second term by countering domestic complaints from soybean farmers and others. Defusing global trade tensions with a deal would also underpin U.S. economic growth and employment in the run-up to the November 2020 vote.
On the other hand, Chen Fengying, former director of world economy at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, which is affiliated to the Ministry of State Security, noted that the two countries still have to figure out the starting point before trade negotiations can be brought back to life.
“The U.S. wants to resume from the previous ninth round of negotiations, while China wants to continue from the eleventh round,” Chen Fengying pointed out, without elaborating on the differences that drove the two governments apart in May. She believes that if the U.S. can agree with China on the starting point for renewed talks, progress can be expected “very soon”.
Both Chens said there is no timetable or roadmap and the situation could change during the negotiations, including the possibility of relapsing back into stalemate and escalating into a deeper conflict.
Chen Wenling, former bureau chief at the State Council Research Office, believes that the removal of all the tariffs imposed on Chinese imports by Washington since the trade dispute flared up is a priority issue for Beijing and preconditions for a deal. But she conceded that the Trump Administration’s willingness to we）aponise tariffs suggests it won’t give up on them lightly.
At the same time, for Chen Wenling, Washington must rein in its demands for concessions from Beijing. “It is said that China promised to buy USD200 billion of American goods (at the G20) in Argentina last year, and since then that number has grown to USD 300 billion, then USD 330 billion,” she said, adding that “the U.S. must make a concession on what they asked for.”
More pressing for the U.S., according to Chen Wenling, is for the U.S. to restore greater market access for its agriculture products in China, in particular to help the many soybean farmers on the verge of bankruptcy. China can restore imports of American soybean and cool global soybean prices, she said, as well as expanding energy and airplanes imports from the U.S.
As for other U.S. requirements, including intellectual property protection, ending forced technology transfer, and equal treatment for state-owned and privately-owned companies, China is capable of satisfying Washington’s hopes, according to Chen Wenling, chiming with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s comment that the two sides are 90% agreed. She added, without elaborating, that the outstanding 10% lies in internet control and data flow.
She believes that the next phase in the trade negotiations hinge on what the U.S. offers. In this context, Washington’s restoration of American supplies to Huawei are seen not so much as a concession but a “self-correction”, driven by the self-harm of cutting off supply chains and losing access to the Chinese market. Moreover, if the U.S. relaxed exports of high-tech products to China, such as in the areas of military equipment or bioengineering, the bilateral trade deficit would shrink by USD100 to 200 billion, Chen Wenling estimated.