China, US return to negotiation table but talks likely to get tougher as hurdles persist

By Shen Weiduo Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/30 20:48:40

Talks to get tougher amid major hurdles: experts

Soybeans imported from Brazil are unloaded in a port in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province, in April 2018. Photo: IC

The agreement to restart trade talks by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump over the weekend is a major breakthrough in the long-running trade war, as both sides showed sincerity in seeking to settle the dispute and prevent escalation of hostilities, analysts said.

However, despite hailing the result, Chinese analysts remained cautious and called for a more realistic and stronger stance in renewed talks with the US as China has more advantages. They cautioned that reaching a final deal will be hard and take time.

The agreement came on Saturday during a widely anticipated meeting between Xi and Trump on the sidelines of the Osaka G20 summit. During the meeting, which lasted for about 80 minutes, both leaders expressed a willingness to restart trade negotiations, breaking the deadlock that began in May.

"The two sides both showed their goodwill in a bid to go back to the table and prevent China-US relations from worsening. It does not matter who takes the first step as long as it takes effect," Liang Haiming, dean of the Belt and Road Institute at Hainan University, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Trump said that the US will not impose new tariffs on Chinese exports, and that it will allow US technology companies to sell components to Chinese technology giant Huawei "where there is no great national security problem." Many believed that these fresh steps could be seen as concessions from the US side.

Also, "an apparent goodwill gesture" by China could be seen, as the country bought 544,000 tons of US soybeans on Friday, a day before the Xi-Trump meeting, the largest amount since March, Reuters reported.

Xi called on the US to accord fair treatment to Chinese enterprises and students to allow normal business cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two. Trump also said that the US is willing to reach a trade agreement with China that both sides could accept.

Trade teams from the two countries will discuss further details in the coming days.

"It's a good start, but further trade talks in the next stage would be more difficult. The US has not made any substantial promises, and it left many of China's requests unresolved," Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday.

For instance, the meeting left in place US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump also did not mention how the Huawei issue will play out specifically.

"Most importantly, where will the negotiation restart from?" Chen asked. 

"All of China's requests, including fair high-technology and personnel exchanges, should be dealt with one by one during the coming trade talks. China is in no rush to reach a trade deal," Chen said.

Nation has advantages

Liang said there's little chance of a final trade deal in the short run. After about a year of trade disputes, China apparently has more advantages and would be more confident to bargain with the US.

"First, the Chinese economy is resilient amid pressure from the trade war," Liang said, "Meanwhile, US companies are getting closer to China despite a worsening bilateral trade relations."

Apple is going to make its new Mac Pro computer in China, shifting abroad production of what had been its only major device assembled in the US, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. 

Liang noted that the US also failed to persuade other countries, including its allies, to stand against China, as the world needs multilateralism rather than protectionism.

The US must be well aware that its aggressive tactic on China will not work anymore, as China will not budge on issues of principle or bow to US pressure, an industry insider surnamed Bai, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Newspaper headline: China, US return to negotiation table


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