‘Epic’ deal with China to take more time, Trump says

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY ANA SWAN­SON

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stopped short of an­nounc­ing a fi­nal trade deal with China on Thurs­day, say­ing in an Oval Of­fice meet­ing with the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion that it may take an­other four weeks or more to se­cure an “epic” trade agree­ment.

Ne­go­tia­tors had orig­i­nally aimed to se­cure a deal this week dur­ing a visit from Liu He, the Chi­nese vice premier and spe­cial trade en­voy, and an­nounce a pres­i­den­tial sum­mit be­tween Trump and Xi Jin­ping of China. But after more than a year of tit-for-tat tar­iffs, on-and-off ne­go­ti­a­tions and threats of ad­di­tional pun­ish­ment, the United States and China con­tinue to hag­gle over some re­main­ing is­sues, in­clud­ing how many of the Amer­i­can tar­iffs on Chi­nese goods will be re­moved, and when.

“We’re talk­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tion and theft. We’re talk­ing about cer­tain tar­iffs,” Trump said, re­fer

ring to is­sues that re­main un­re­solved.

Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions had said the pres­i­dent had been poised to an­nounce a sum­mit with China on Thurs­day af­ter­noon. But in re­marks at the White House the pres­i­dent said that no date for a meet­ing with Xi had been set. “If we have a deal then we’ll have a sum­mit,” the pres­i­dent said.

He added that the deal was “very com­plete,” say­ing that “we’ve agreed to far more than we have left to agree to. I think I can say some of the tough­est things have been agreed to.”

The United States has pressed China to make com­mit­ments on pur­chas­ing Amer­i­can goods, open­ing mar­kets to for­eign busi­ness and in­creas­ing pro­tec­tions for for­eign in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in a bid to re­bal­ance an eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship that Trump says is un­fair for Amer­i­can work­ers. It re­mains to be seen how sweep­ing and sig­nif­i­cant any agree­ment will be, and whether it will achieve the lofty prom­ises Trump has made about re­set­ting the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship with Bei­jing.

In the mean­time, in­dus­tries from au­tomak­ers to tech­nol­ogy man­u­fac­tur­ers to farm­ers have anx­iously awaited an end to the trade war and de­tails of a new agree­ment, which will have huge im­pli­ca­tions for their busi­nesses.

The date and lo­ca­tion of a meet­ing have also been con­tro­ver­sial.

The United States had pro­posed hold­ing a sum­mit at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida re­sort, but China has been push­ing for an of­fi­cial state visit in Washington, or a neu­tral lo­ca­tion in a third coun­try, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said. The two sides have been look­ing to hold it this month, though it could be de­layed if a fi­nal agree­ment is not reached soon.

The two sides spent the past two months draw­ing up more than 120 pages of an agree­ment cov­er­ing is­sues in­clud­ing forced tech­nol­ogy trans­fer and cy­bertheft, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, cur­rency and non­tar­iff bar­ri­ers to trade.

The pres­i­dent’s tar­iffs have been suc­cess­ful at bring­ing the Chi­nese to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble, and his ad­vis­ers have in­sisted they will not squan­der an op­por­tu­nity to press China for sub­stan­tial eco­nomic re­forms that past ad­min­is­tra­tions were un­able to se­cure. Still, the Chi­nese have balked at mak­ing any re­forms that could be viewed as in­fring­ing on their sovereignty or un­der­cut­ting the Com­mu­nist Party’s con­trol of the econ­omy.

In the mean­time, Bei­jing has in­tro­duced a steady drum­beat of other re­forms in­tended to please Amer­i­can con­stituen­cies and win Trump’s fa­vor. In the past sev­eral weeks, China has re­sumed pur­chases of Amer­i­can soy­beans and an­nounced it would re­clas­sify fen­tanyl, which has fu­eled the Amer­i­can opi­oid epi­demic, as a con­trolled sub­stance. Bei­jing also ap­proved a sweep­ing re­write of a for­eign in­vest­ment law that may help for­eign com­pa­nies avoid un­equal treat­ment. And it ap­proved a re­quest by JPMor­gan Chase to es­tab­lish a ma­jor­ity owned and con­trolled se­cu­ri­ties bro­ker­age firm in the coun­try and floated the idea of ex­pand­ing ac­cess for for­eign cloud com­put­ing com­pa­nies.

China ex­perts have cau­tioned that the lon­grun­ning eco­nomic stresses be­tween the coun­tries are un­likely to be en­tirely put to rest with this round of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

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