By Jon Dougherty
China’s trade representative, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, is in Washington, D.C., this week to begin what one expert calls “endgame” negotiations to finalize a trade deal with the U.S. that is “90 percent” complete, the South China Morning Post reported.
While Democrats in D.C. remain focused on “Russia” and Robert Mueller’s report exonerating POTUS Donald Trump, the president’s trade team, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, has been working OT to forge a new trade deal with China that would mean hundreds of billions in new business for U.S. and Chinese firms.
They are nearly there.
Myron Brilliant, executive vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted that negotiations had now entered the “endgame stage.”
He called the talks this week “a very critical window.”
“Ninety percent of the deal is done, but the last 10 percent is the hardest part to get there. It’s the trickiest part and it will require trade-offs on both sides,” he said.
“Both sides have been pretty clear that they would like to wrap things up in April. Whether they can get here is going to be determined on the basis of whether they can handle these outstanding tricky issues,” he added.
Brilliant noted that two “particularly sensitive areas” keeping the agreement from being finalized involves an enforcement mechanism so the U.S. can hold China responsible for implementing the reforms it agrees to, in exchange for the removal of U.S. tariffs.
The SCMP quoted one unnamed source who said that Beijing has made new concessions this week that include a wider opening of China’s markets to American goods. Also, there is talk of another summit between POTUS Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month to announce a final deal. The two could also meet in June at the G20 Summit in Japan.
The director of the White House Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, said of the agreement, “We are not there and we hope this week to get closer.”
But clearly progress is being made and if a deal does get done, completely with satisfactory enforcement mechanisms, it will be a massive achievement for the president to take into his 2020 reelection bid.
“China has been very clear, in public and privately, that they would like to see all the tariffs gone,” he said. “The [Trump] administration has been equally clear that they want to keep some of the tariffs in place as a way to have leverage over China to fulfill its obligation under whatever final package is agreed to.”
As a goodwill gesture, China on Sunday extended its tariff suspension on American automobile imports.
In addition, Bejing moved Monday to tighten the government’s control over the manufacture of the opioid painkiller fentanyl. Chinese imports are, in large part, responsible for perpetuating the opioid epidemic in the U.S., which has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths.
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