Daily Management Review

Trade Discussed Over Phone Between US-China Officials, Could Lead To In-Person Talks


Trade Discussed Over Phone Between US-China Officials, Could Lead To In-Person Talks
After a telephonic conversation between United States and Chinese trade officials over the issue of coming to a possible trade agreement, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggesting in-person talks could be the next step for the representatives of the two largest economies of the world.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer office said on Thursday that he and Mnuchin spoke with their Chinese counterparts over the phone which was preceded by comments that hinted on the same made by the US Treasury secretary during an interview on the sidelines of the G7 meeting in Chantilly, France.
The US-China trade war has been ongoing since July of 2018 with both countries imposing import tariffs on each others’ products worth billions of dollars. The trade war started with the US president Donald Trump imposing tariffs on Chinese goods imported into the US over his long standing complaint of China engaging in unfair trade practices with US companies and decades of trade surplus in favor of China. US wants China to make significant changes top its trading practices and that be reflected in writing in a trade agreement.
China however has argued that any agreement on trade between the two countries needs to be based on fair and equitable solutions. According to reports, both the countries still have a substantial path to tread before a mutually agreeable trade agreement can be achieved by them. This lingering trade war has threatened to disrupt global trade and has rocked global financial markets.
“Right now we’re having principal-level calls and to the extent that it makes sense for us to set up in-person meetings, I would anticipate that we would be doing that,” Mnuchin said.
When asked if any in-person meeting could follow Thursday’s call, Mnuchin said: “It’s possible, but I’m not going to speculate on the outcome.”
Later, confirmation of the telephonic conversation taking place was confirmed by Lighthizer’s office but no further details were given.
In separate comments, the possibility of resumption of formal negotiations between the two countries was reiterated by China’s former ambassador to Iceland and former president of China Institute of International Studies, a think tank affiliated with China’s Foreign Ministry.
“It will be at the end of the month,” Su Ge said in an interview in New York. “These are difficult questions, issues between these two countries, but at least they agreed to let the two negotiation teams to restart their work, so we will keep our fingers crossed.”
The tensions between the two countries were high because none of the parties were apparently ready to give way on some of the critical issues, said William Lee, chief economist for the Milken Institute.
“That high level of trade uncertainty is causing manufacturing firms to be reticent to make investments. That high degree of uncertainty is a drag on US growth,” he said. “The real issue is that China wants respect. China wants a face-saving way of coming to the table.”
“We have a long way to go as far as tariffs, where China is concerned, if we want. We have another US$325 billion that we can put a tariff on if we want,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday.