Mutual benefit must be basis of trade talks

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/3 23:03:39

Delegates from China and the US engaged in a new round of trade talks in Beijing this weekend to materialize the consensus reached by both sides in Washington last month. A statement said positive and concrete progress has been made in fields including agriculture and energy.

The on-again, off-again trade disputes have had a significant impact on both countries as well as the global market. We have experienced intensifying trade rows, the US playing around with punitive tariffs and China striking powerful counterblows.

We have also seen both sides finding common ground, formulating a framework of agreement and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross coming to China for further negotiations. Finally there is a growing possibility that reason is taking the upper hand.

Note that the US still clings to the idea of threatening China with punitive tariffs. A statement from the White House on May 29 says the US will impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology. The final list will be announced June 15. The backtracking statement, released after both countries approved a framework agreement and the US agreed to put a hold on a trade war, shows Washington's capriciousness and unpredictability.

Such fickleness suggests that the trade disputes may be protracted. Given the US may change its mind and make new requests from time to time, it is difficult for both sides to nail down a consistent trade pact and stabilize their trade relationship.

The trade disputes have posed a grim challenge to China. The back-and-forth of conflicts and talks may become a new landscape for Beijing and Washington. It is imperative China keep up its own pace of development.

China should increasingly improve the alignment of opening-up and reform with the people's growing demand for better livelihoods and the need for more imports. Beijing should follow a two-point principle in dealing with trade disputes with the US: On the one hand, China welcomes it if the US wants to partner China in achieving economic growth, but in increasing imports from the US China should not be treated as submissive. On the other, China won't tolerate the US interfering with or surpressing China's development for selfish purposes.

The Washington consensus has created great potential for reciprocal cooperation between China and the US. The businesses of both countries are looking at a big cake. It is a win-win approach to achieve consensus for the benefit of both countries and peoples.

Ross' visit gives a push for the better, but it is not enough. The US swings in policymaking as it still has an insatiable desire for more perks and benefits. The US should know it is delusional not to play by the rules.

If the US reneges on its promise and restarts the trade war, all the agreements will come to nothing. The big cake will vanish as well.

The US should know well what it truly wants. More tariffs or more exports: it cannot have both. The trade negotiations must produce a solution for mutual benefits instead of tilting in favor of the US.

Let's hope Ross' visit will bring the US more realistic insights and a stronger commitment to carrying out the Washington consensus.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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