Latest China-US trade talks end, revealing fewer details but continuing efforts
By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/2 15:59:12
Unlike previous rounds of negotiations between Chinese and US trade officials, the latest meetings in Beijing, which ended on Wednesday, had fewer details about specific discussions and results.
That left many to wonder whether the two economic powers have hit an impasse in the tough talks and whether a trade agreement that would end their yearlong trade tussle is still within reach as it had appeared to be.
Though there remain some sticky points and tougher obstacles as they approach the end of the extensive talks, one thing remains very clear: Both sides voiced commitment to the talks, Chinese analysts said. And some even argued that fewer details mean they are closer to a deal.
Following the two-day meetings in Beijing, the 10th one since last year, officials on both sides appeared restrained in announcing major progress in discussions over specific issues as they did in the previous rounds.
On Wednesday night, the Xinhua News Agency published a very short report on the talks between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
It only mentioned that the talks had ended and that the two sides will hold another round of talks in Washington next week as planned.
For its part, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday that "discussions remain focused toward making substantial progress on important structural issues and rebalancing the US-China trade relationship," CNBC reported. But the statement did not offer details on the latest talks.
"This is very vague and shows that some tough issues still have to be discussed," said Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies. "I think it reflects the fact that we are at the final stage of the negotiations and things are a lot more difficult at this stage."
Media reports suggest that the two sides are still discussing key issues on structural issues, such as the US accusation of unfair subsidies in China, a mechanism to verify compliance and what to do with the tariffs the two have already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each other's goods.
US officials have floated concessions on the verification and tariff issues, with Mnuchin saying that the US is open to being punished if found violating the potential agreement, and some US media outlets reported that the US would immediately remove a 10-percent duty on part of the $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
"I think both sides are still eager to reach an agreement, but they also have to be more cautious because things could change," Huo told the Global Times on Thursday.
'No news is good news'
Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said releasing less details from the latest talks is not a bad thing.
"No news is good news," Chen told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that, despite the lack of details from the latest meetings in Beijing, US officials remain optimistic in a potential trade deal.
The CNBC report on Wednesday cited unnamed sources, saying that an announcement of a trade agreement between China and the US could come as early as next Friday. Mnuchin also suggested recently that a deal could be announced within the next two weeks.
However, Chen said that certain core issues might need to be addressed by the leaders of the two countries. Media reports have suggested that officials of the two sides are also working on a leaders' summit.