Economic policy talks could herald next stage in China-US relations

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/9 10:48:40

China-US Photo: GT

The year of 2020 has been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic recession, but as it comes to a close there could be a new era for bilateral relations between the world's two largest economies, with US President-elect Joe Biden set to enter the White House in January 2021. 

Economic policy talks could be one of the entry-points for the US and China to resume more cooperative ties, which would also be in line with Biden's intention to boost economic recovery. It will take efforts from both sides, and could offer a stabilizer for the stricken global economy.

Despite the damage to the trade system from the pandemic, China has been making concrete efforts in implementing the phase one trade deal with the US. According to a Straits Times report, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow admitted Monday that "China is abiding by a good chunk of the phase one trade deal." 

For years, the global multilateral trade mechanism has been battered by US President Donald Trump's unilateralism, whether through paralyzing the WTO's dispute settlement body or triggering trade conflicts with other economies, including China, Europe and Japan.

With Biden, who has shown willingness to return to multilateralism, set to enter the White House next month, his intended approach in readjusting the US' foreign trade policy has drawn attention from all over the world, although the president-elect has said that his priorities are virus containment and economic recovery.

The Trump-led trade war with China has had wide-reaching effects, not only on the two nations, but also many other countries and regions.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently said at a video conference with the US-China Business Council board of chairs that China and the US should launch dialogues at all levels, as all issues can be brought to the table for discussion.

He stressed that China-US economic and trade exchanges are mutually beneficial. And among the entry points for the two nations to resume cooperation in the next stage, joint efforts could be taken in promoting economic recovery. For instance, the two economies could shore up economic and trade cooperation, restart dialogues and coordination on macroeconomic policies, and consider resuming negotiations on a China-US bilateral investment treaty (BIT).

Initiated in 2008, the China-US BIT has already achieved progress on most of the issues of concern for the two sides. Meanwhile, the US, which has long advocated a market-oriented economy, cannot ignore voices from the market. Alongside Trump's irrational intention to decouple from China and crack down on Chinese firms, there have been US firms and experts constantly raising objections.

US-China Business Council President Craig Allen expressed his hope that the world's two largest economies will start negotiations on a Phase two trade agreement without delay after Biden takes office, Reuters reported.

It is expected that tensions between China and the US will ease, but mending ties will take time, patience and sincerity. 

China has been unswervingly promoting its high-level opening-up. From enhancing intellectual property protection to fostering a sound business environment for foreign firms, it is foreseeable that the Chinese economy will offer many opportunities for companies from all over the world, including those from the US.

China-US relations are never simple. There are contradictions, as well as mutual benefits, competition and cooperation. Managing and directing the bilateral relations takes mutual respect and joint efforts. Simply shouting "America first" and betting on imposing extreme pressure will never work. 

It is expected that the two sides could strengthen communication and dialogue, manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, expand cooperation based on mutual benefit, and promote the sound and stable development of China-US relations. This will benefit not only people from the two sides, but will also be conducive for the recovery of the global economy.

The article was compiled based on an interview with Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies.


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