US business insiders welcome progress on US-China trade talks

27 February, 2019, 08:27 | Author: Erin Carter
  • American businesses in China see gloomy year

Hopes are rising that Washington and Beijing will reach a deal to end a long-running trade war after US President Donald Trump declared sufficient progress had been made between the two sides. He repeated, the negotiators were "very, very close" to a deal.

President Trump is delaying the scheduled March 1 imposition of 25-percent tariffs on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, pending the results of trade talks with China.

Trump initiated the trade war, which ate into company profits and contributed to stock market plunges, because of complaints over unfair Chinese trade practices - concerns shared by the European Union, Japan and others.

Ben-Achour: What should we and what should USA businesses operating in China take away from this?

Trump's decision to delay the tariff increase has been greeted with a mixture of relief and dread among USA industry groups and lawmakers, many of which are increasingly fed up with what they say is China's failure to live up to its World Trade Organization commitments.

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The arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and the daughter of the company's founder and president Ren Zhengfei, has been viewed as a nadir in trade relations between China and the West. Securing some rather minor concessions from China to purchase more soybeans from the USA was the easy part, but forcing sweeping changes to its trade practices - the so-called "structural reforms - will be extremely hard, if not potentially unobtainable".

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Tillis faces a potentially competitive reelection in his slightly Republican-leaning state, and may have one eye on 2020. Asked in a brief interview what he would do, McConnell said, "We'll see what comes over" from the House.

The problem is, as Bloomberg lays out, that Trump's eagerness to cut a deal, declare victory and put the issue behind him makes it much less likely that China will give ground on the major issues that bother the US government.

Both governments said they made progress on technology transfer, protection of intellectual property rights and non-tariff barriers to market access but gave no details.

US President Donald Trump also said Sunday that he planned to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to ink a deal.

More broadly, stepping back from the brink could also take away one of the largest downside risks to the oil market in 2019.

Materials dipped slightly as Barrick Gold Corp. closed down 3.09 per cent after announcing a US$18-billion hostile takeover bit of Newmont Mining Corp. Share prices already had risen in recent weeks on expectations Trump would postpone the tariff hike. U.S. companies in China forecast a gloomy year ahead, with many worrying about a deterioration in bilateral trade ties and almost a quarter delaying investments, a business survey showed.

China is a "high priority" for most companies but many "appear to be tempering their investment plans", the report said. The remarks follow several days of meetings between teams led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. It said nearly half of companies surveyed believe Chinese policies are enforced differently against them and local rivals.

Recent tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have cost USA businesses 2.7 billion US dollars in November 2018 alone, according to data released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a campaign backed by the Washington-based National Retail Federation (NRF), the world's largest retail trade association.


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