Top US, China Trade Negotiators Hold “Constructive” First Call But Many Challenges Linger
Top trade negotiators between the U.S. and China held their first virtual meeting on Thursday morning since the Biden administration entered the White House, according to a statement released by China’s Ministry of Commerce.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He “conducted candid, pragmatic and constructive exchanges in an attitude of equality and mutual respect,” the statement went on to say.
Adding that both sides “believe that the development of bilateral trade is very important, and they exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and agreed to continue to communicate.”
In a separate statement, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said, “Ambassador Tai discussed the guiding principles of the Biden-Harris administration’s worker-centered trade policy and her ongoing review of the U.S.-China trade relationship, while also raising issues of concern.”
WSJ sources said the U.S. Trade Representative’s office held a call with their Chinese counterparts on Tuesday night. During the conversation, Chinese officials requested the Biden administration roll back tariffs on Chinese products.
This week’s high-level meeting between top trade negotiators from the U.S. and China comes after top diplomats exchanged sharp rebukes in the first high-level talks in March.
The Biden administration has yet to make any significant policy change to former President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. The tariffs are expected to remain as leverage. A top White House official this week said competition is increasing between both countries.
“The period that was broadly described as engagement has come to an end,” Kurt Campbell, the U.S. coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council, said Wednesday. U.S. policy toward China will now operate under a “new set of strategic parameters,” Campbell said, adding that “the dominant paradigm is going to be competition.”
As for the Phase One trade deal hammered out under the Trump administration in early 2020, the U.S.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics said Chinese purchases of U.S. goods continues to miss the mark.
In a regular news briefing, China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said both sides should work together to implement the trade deal.
Bilateral relations between both countries have soured over the last year, with clashes over technology, virus origins, Hong Kong crackdown, Taiwan, South China and East China Seas, and Beijing’s oil purchases from sanctioned Iran.
Tai told Reuters that the trade deal should be seen in the context of “the overall U.S.-China trade, and economic relationship which is very, very challenging.” She added, “the overall challenges that we have with China are also still there and they are very large.”
Taoran Notes, a blog affiliated with Chinese state media, said, “there are still many differences between China and the United States and a breakthrough from the current situation requires more in-depth communication,” adding that “the stabilizing role of economic and trade cooperation in Sino-U.S. relations remains important.”
The question we have is what happened to the enforcement mechanism by the U.S. to make sure China lives up to trade purchases under the deal? And why hasn’t Biden insisted on a strong enforcement mechanism?
Thu, 05/27/2021 – 09:24
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