Where will the China-US trade agreement be signed?

By Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/4 13:20:05

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 The mid-November cancellation of the APEC summit in Chile, where China and the US were widely expected to sign an interim trade agreement, has ignited speculations about a new location and venue to ink the deal.

The US farm state of Iowa and countries like Singapore and Peru have appeared as potential candidates among online speculations.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the deal between China and the US could be reached in one of several locations, including Iowa, Alaska, Hawaii and places in China, CNBC said on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that the farm state of Iowa is one of the places being considered for the signature of a trade agreement. He said, "We're discussing locations, but I like to get deals done first," Reuters reported.

Iowa has been suggested as a potential location as it is a large farm state - and agricultural industry is among one of the major issues that will be discussed in a China-US trade negotiations - and because Terry Branstad, the current US Ambassador to China, previously served as the 39th and 42nd governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999 and 2011 to 2017.

If there is no suitable, multilateral occasion such as the G20 or APEC for the signature of the China-US agreement, Beijing or Washington should be the proper location, said Dong Shaopeng, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China. Some have suggested, however, that countries holding a neutral political stance, such as Switzerland and Singapore, may be among the choices. 

Dong told the Global Times on Monday that, "If China and the US are sincere about reaching an agreement, the capital cities of both countries are the proper locations."

But Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank, said that if a location is chosen in China or the US, it will not satisfy people from both countries. "If there is another member of APEC willing to hold the summit, the phase-one trade agreement is likely to be signed there."

According to the host-rotation rules of the APEC summit, it falls on members in South America to hold the event this year, Gao said, noting that as Chile has withdrawn, Peru is very likely to become the venue for the signature of an interim agreement. "Peru may be the first choice," Gao told the Global Times on Monday.

New Zealand is also among the considerations as it is also a farm country and there is little difference in distance to the country from China and the US, Gao noted. 

Gao forecast that the signature of the agreement will be delayed if another place cannot be confirmed by November 16 or 17, which was the originally scheduled meeting time for APEC in Chile. "But it is likely the deal will be reached by the end of the year," Gao said, noting that Trump needs the agreement finalized as leverage for his re-election.

Many netizens are also curious about the location. One such netizen, named Fengpinglangjing, asked why Alaska is among the considerations. "Will it be too cold there for signature of the agreement? Maybe China is a better choice since the country is good at holding meetings."

Experts are cautiously optimistic about the trade deal, though Dong said that the two countries still face challenges and need increased communications and mutual understanding.

China's Ministry of Commerce issued a brief statement on Thursday, stressing that the two sides had been keeping close contact and that "The consultation work is progressing smoothly."

Posted in: ECONOMY

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