Friday, 22 February, 2019

U.S.' Mnuchin hopes for 'productive' trade meetings in China

Dovish Central Bank Outlooks Make U.S. Dollar More Desirable Asset Will the trade war ever end? Potential late March Trump-Xi meeting would likely extend talks
Lloyd Bates | 14 February, 2019, 07:15

A round of talks at the end of January ended with some progress reported - but no deal and USA declarations that much more work was needed.

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would consider extending the deadline for a trade deal with China beyond March 1.

The dispute has escalated to encompass $360 billion in trade between the two economic superpowers, and without an agreement by the start of March, the Trump administration is poised to more than double the punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

The fact that a presidential-level meeting is still in the cards - and that both sides are now reportedly angling for it to happen in mid-to-late March - means that the 90 days of trade talks are likely to be extended past the March 2 deadline.

USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday with Chinese vice premier Liu He, top economic adviser to president Xi Jinping. Officials have said March 1 is a "real deadline" for reaching a deal.

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Trump indicated that he'll wait and see what will come of the ministerial meeting that's starting on Thursday in Beijing.

But at the same time, Trump says he's not inclined to do that. China would likely respond by raising tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S goods that it announced previous year in retaliation.

While those purchases will provide relief to US farmers, there has been no breakthrough on the structural issues separating the two nations, such as industrial policy, government subsidies, protection of intellectual property or forced transfers of technology. According to a White House official, the delegates were preparing to focus more on pressing Beijing to gain a structural reform in China's business policy for the United States firms.

These include ending China's alleged violations of intellectual-property rights and forced transfers of American technologies.

But US stock markets were less enthusiastic about prospects for a deal, with any optimism overshadowed by concerns about another government shutdown and a diminished 2019 US corporate earnings outlook.

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