By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) Few people outside of President Donald Trump’s inner circle gave him much of a chance of success in convincing China to work with him to reduce the massive trade deficit with the U.S. that country has enjoyed for decades.
After all, why should Beijing cut its own economic throat? But then Trump’s hardball approach — using tariffs to enforce his will and get a better deal for America and Americans — wound up being much more successful that anyone thought, and now China, who’s own economic growth has taken a substantial hit, is much more willing to talk.
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As USA Features News reported last month, the administration’s trade team is preparing to sign a “Phase One” agreement with Beijing:
After more than two years of an escalating trade war with China, President Donald Trump is set to sign â€œPhase Oneâ€ of a new trade agreement with Beijing in the White House next month, reports said Tuesday.
The president and Chinese officials will take part in a signing ceremony at the White House in Washington on Jan. 15, 2020.
Now, as reported exclusively by The Wall Street Journal, the two sides have come to further agreement to meet regularly — twice a year — to work out reforms and address issues related to trade and other economic sectors:
The U.S. and China have agreed to semiannual talks to push for reform in both nations and resolve disputes, reviving a format from previous administrations that Trump trade officials had once derided.
The effort will be headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and, probably, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, said an administration official and others briefed on the effort. It is set to be announced on Jan. 15 as part of theÂ signing of a phase-one trade dealÂ between the U.S. and China that includes Chinese purchases of American goods and some reforms to Chinaâ€™s economic system. The deal isÂ the first full pause in the two-year trade war.
The new talks will be separate from negotiations over a second phase of the trade deal, which is expected to cover fundamental Chinese economic policies, including corporate subsidies and the activities of Chinese state-owned firms. President Trump recently said those negotiations may not be concluded until after the election.
The Mnuchin-Liu effort is aimed at discussing issues between the two nations and will represent a way for officials at all levels of the two governments to meet and develop deeper relationships. The trade talks, by contrast, have had a limited cast of participants from both governments.
â€œItâ€™s a totally different processâ€ from the trade negotiations, said an administration official.
The two sides are considering naming the process the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. Thatâ€™s the same name the administration used for failed talks in 2017 to get a quick trade deal in 100 days.Â
Then, Trump rejected what his economic team consisting of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were old proposals China had made that Beijing simply repackaged and put a different bow on.
Still, though Trump removed Ross as chief trade negotiator at the time, the Commerce chief now says that the Phase One agreement contains some measures he put together.