Cautious optimism seen on trade
Both optimism and caution about the US-China trade dispute were expressed at a forum in Los Angeles, whose biggest trading partner is China.
More than 100 people gathered at a conference organized by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to discuss the “past, current and future” of US-China trade relations.
Zhang Ping, Chinese consul general in Los Angeles, who gave the keynote speech at the forum, presented an optimistic view on the future of US-China trade relations.
“Looking ahead, though the journey in front for the US-China economic and trade relations may still be bumpy, we have the great confidence that, with the further economic development and greater measures of reform and opening up in China, and with the joint efforts of both sides, the relationship has a great potential for development and will come up with a bright prospect.”
He urged both sides to conduct dialogues on the sub-national level. He also encouraged local government officials and business leaders to play a greater role in facilitating cooperation between US and China by conducting more face-to-face communications.
“It’s good that we are moving forward, but I’m concerned about the atmosphere surrounding this 90-day period,“said Michael Kantor, a former secretary of Commerce and US Trade Representative during the Clinton Administration. But he said the negotiation time is too short for the two sides to work out their differences, and it should extended.
According to a White House statement released after the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on Dec 1 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the US agreed to leave the tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports at 10 percent instead of raising them to 25 percent on Jan 1, saying it would raise the tariff to 25 percent if no agreement is reached with China within 90 days.
“The more trade you have with a country, the more disputes you have,” Kantor said, adding that in any trade negotiations both sides need to be willing to make progress, to respect each other and to agree on how to handle outside pressure, which “requires openness and candor, and a sense of commitment.”
David Loevinger, former US Treasury department’s senior coordinator for China affairs and the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, said he is not particularly optimistic about the prospects of USChina trade relations over the next several years.
“I don’t see on the US side a strategy. I see more of an attitude,” he said. “I see a long list of complaints, but what’s needed is a strategy to effectively promote the kind of changes that a lot of people both inside and outside of China want to see.”
“This is a moment for China to take greater leadership in promoting the multilateral institutions and roles that have benefited China so much over the last 30 years,” Loevinger added.
Maria Salinas, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said she is optimistic that there will be resolutions providing clarity to local businesses going forward after the 90-day window. She also noted that China is Los Angeles’ biggest trading partner.
“It’s very significant for the businesses here in our local economy, but I also understand from a global perspective, it’s one of the most important relationships that we could have here,” Salinas said.
Zhang Ping, Chinese consul general in Los Angeles, gives a keynote speech during a forum Wednesday on the “past, current and future” of US-China relations.