Tue, Jun 20, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Chinese think tank says trade detente with US might not last past this year

Bloomberg

China is not likely to have a trade war with the US this year, though 2018 is harder to predict, according to former Chinese vice minister of commerce Wei Jianguo (魏建國), who is now a top official at a Beijing-based think tank.

The world’s largest trading nation hopes dialog will help ease tensions and aims to make progress on agreements before US President Donald Trump visits the country, Wei told reporters in Beijing yesterday.

Wei is vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

The two nations appear to be making progress toward announcing a series of agreements in a 100-day review designed to clear a backlog of trade and investment issues.

Trump has eased off threats since meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Florida after taking office.

Trump backtracked on his pledges to slap tariffs on Chinese goods after Xi persuaded him that he could help on North Korea. US officials have warned that if China does not deliver, tensions may resurface in the relationship.

Issues that make the trade relationship unpredictable beyond this year include the path of US Federal Reserve rate increases, rising protectionism, Brexit and global growth, Wei said.

A former US official also has expressed doubts about durability of the detente.

Jake Sullivan, a former national security adviser to former US vice president Joe Biden, wrote in an editorial in the Australian Financial Review on Friday last week that the truce was unlikely to hold. Trump, he said, was likely to realize that Xi’s China will not deliver on North Korea pledges.

China should work to reduce the risk of trade friction by continuing communication with the US, Wei said.

Negotiations like the 100-day trade plan are necessary, but more importantly, both sides should build a rapport to solve problems, he said.

Wei said further opening-up in the financial sector and capital account are difficult for China, but that might change in two or three years.

Bilateral economic talks have had long-standing woes, said Zhao Jinping (趙晉平), senior researcher at the Development Research Center of China’s State Council.

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