By Jon Dougherty
Since last month several reports have noted that U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators were close to finalizing an agreement amenable to both parties ahead of a planned second summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, but now it appears as though progress has ground to a halt.
The latest reports noted that POTUS and Xi were to meet at the former’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida later this month to sign a deal that would end tit-for-tat tariffs that are said to be hurting the economies of both countries.
But after Trump unexpectedly left a summit earlier this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without a denuclearization agreement, that “spooked” the Chinese and have now given them cold feet, according to analysts and observers.
As reported by theÂ Financial Times, China is seeking deal guarantees before Xi agrees to any meeting with POTUS:
A summit between US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping has been pushed back from the end of March, as both sides try to pin down details and avoid an embarrassing failure.
While the dates were not yet finalised, the two sides had been discussing a meeting at Mar-a-Lago on March 27 or March 28, immediately following Mr Xiâ€™s planned trip to Europe. Those dates are now off. In an interview with American media on Friday, U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad said that there are no dates for the summit, but the two sides are still negotiating.
Some analysts said it was the president’s refusal to make what many considered to be a bad deal with Kim that did it:
Mr Trumpâ€™s decision to walk out on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without an agreement at last monthâ€™s summit in Vietnam “just totally spooked” the Chinese side, said Jake Parker, of the US-China Business Council in Beijing.Â “They want a signing ceremony, they donâ€™t want a negotiation.”Â “Both sides would like it to happen,” he added.
Both sides appear optimistic that a final deal is in the offing. The only questions now are what it will look like and when it will be finished.
Clearly, however, there is pressure on the Chinese to reach an agreement as the latest batch of economic data — an export collapse coupled with a huge injection of credit — was released.
The U.S. could use some better economic news as well, following the wholly unexpected job creation collapse — just 20,000 — last month.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10