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Washington, Beijing to resume trade talks in October

Posted September. 06, 2019 07:29,   

Updated September. 06, 2019 07:29


The United States and China are reopening high-level trade negotiations in early October in Washington D.C. According to CCTV, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had a phone call on Thursday morning with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and agreed to hold the 13th U.S.-China high-level trade talks in early October. The Wall Street Journal also said that the U.S. confirmed the phone call and that a high-level meeting will take place in Washington D.C. in several weeks.

Washington and Beijing are pressing each other in a bid to clinch a more favorable deal for themselves. The U.S. warned of raising the tariffs on Chinese imports worth 250 billion U.S. dollars by 5 percentage points to 30 percent starting from October 1. China is also demanding an immediate withdrawal of Washington’s retaliatory tariffs and sanctions on Huawei.

“If I wanted to do nothing with China, our stock market would be 10,000 points higher than it is right now, but somebody had to do this,” said President Donald Trump, claiming that China has been taking away 500 billion dollars from the U.S. every year in the form of theft of intellectual property. The U.S. president made a case for the necessity of tariff increase, saying that the U.S. has reaped tens of billions of dollars from China, but the American imports have hardly or only marginally risen in prices as China is paying it either mostly or entirely. “If they want to make a deal, then we’ll make a deal. If they don’t want to make a deal, that’s fine. They are having one of the worst (economy) on record. If I were them, I would want to make a deal,” Trump added.

“It has not been a player that we want to discuss,” President Trump said about Huawei, labeling it as “a national security concern.” Behind such a remark is detected an intention to lift the sanctions on Huawei depending on China’s attitude at the negotiation table. According to Reuters, U.S. prosecutors have asked to disqualify former deputy attorney general James Cole, a Huawei defense attorney, from the litigation case on Iran’s sanctions violation, citing “irresolvable conflicts of interest.”

It appears that the friction will further intensify between the two countries in early October on pending issues such as China’s theft of intellectual property, provision of subsidies for its state-run corporations, and forced transfers of technology. The Wall Street Journal analyzed that Washington is waiting to see what Beijing has to offer for the negotiation table. Some experts are expecting that they might reach a “small deal” whereby China makes an additional purchase of American agriculture produces and the U.S. lifts sanctions off Huawei.

As both parties are willing to fight prolonged battle, pundits say that the on-going trade war might continue until after the presidential elections in the U.S., which will take place in November next year. Citibank issued a report and predicted that the two nations won’t be able to reach a deal before the elections. However, John Stoltzfus, Oppenheimer Asset Management chief investment strategist, said in an interview with CNBC that “there would likely be a deal before February.”

Yong Park parky@donga.com