Trade Agreement, Just Pragmatic Choices of the Government?
China finally decided to retaliate on United States (US), by setting a new import tariffs, ranging from 5 to 25 percent on US$60 billion goods, including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas, said an official statement on Monday (05/13) - Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – United States (US) and China plan to hold a new round of negotiations later this month, according to officially reported last week. Both sides, hope to wrap up a final agreement with a formal signing ceremony on May 27, the US’ Memorial Day holiday or early June.

The planned, US’ Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will travel to Beijing on April 29, ahead of a visit by China’ Vice Premier Liu He to Washington on May 6. The talks are aimed at ironing out the wording of a final trade agreement that would be signed by US President Donald Trump and Xi.

The report noted, however, that US and Chinese officials have previously missed their own deadlines for concluding a deal. Talks are continuing, and representatives of the two nations have missed previous deadlines aimed at finishing a deal.

But if the senior officials succeed in reaching an accord, officials from both countries could then spend a couple of weeks wrapping up the agreement’s text and legal language before a hoped-for presidential signing ceremony as soon as Memorial Day.

The latest preliminary schedule of meetings corresponds loosely to a goal President Trump announced April 4 after meeting with Liu in the White House. “Within the next four weeks or maybe less, maybe more, whatever it takes, something very monumental could be announced,” Trump said at the time.

Beijing and Washington have been embroiled in a trade dispute since June when Trump announced the United States would impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods worth of US$50 billion in a bid to fix the US-Chinese trade deficit. Since then, the two countries have exchanged several rounds of trade tariffs.

On April 5, Trump hinted US and China may be inching closer to finalizing a deal to end a year-long trade impasse between the world’s two largest economic superpowers within weeks.

Speaking in the Oval Office, the President said a trade agreement, which he described as “the granddaddy of them” could be announced “within the next four week or maybe less, or maybe more, whatever it takes,” describing the possible agreement is “an epic deal, historic – if it happens.”

He declined to confirm reports that he would hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on May, following an afternoon meeting at the White House with Liu. Instead, he stressing if there’s no deal, a summit with Xi is off.

“If we have a deal, we’ll have a summit,” said Trump, who acknowledged the two sides hadn’t reached a deal on tougher issues tied to intellectual property, tariffs, and enforcement.

Meanwhile, President Xi said in a message delivered to Trump, that new substantial progress has been made on the text of the China – US economic and trade agreement in the past more than one month, according to state-run Xinhua news.

The comments were a rare note of optimism from China over the ongoing negotiations. Talks this week in Washington were yet another make-or-break moment for what has been closely held trade negotiation that has drifted beyond the ambitious 90-day clock set by the two leaders last year.

The tit-for-tat trade war between the US and China has stretched beyond the one-year mark. But top officials from both countries in recent weeks have begun to signal they are nearing the end of a trade standoff that once rattled Wall Street, though neither side has provided details about how talks have progressed in recent weeks.

At issue is whether the two sides can reach an agreement that could potentially lift billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for the United States having the power to take unilateral action to penalize Beijing if it fails to play by the rules of the deal.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com

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