USA and China closer to rubberstamp a trade deal by March 27th

Roman Schwartz
March 7, 2019

Many details still needed to be worked out, including the terms of an enforcement mechanism to ensure that Beijing follows through on pledges to make changes to policies to better protect USA intellectual property, end forced technology transfers and curb industrial subsidies.

The American newspaper said talks last month in Washington had helped narrow differences, meaning a formal deal might be ready for signing when President Donald Trump and Xi Jinping meet in late March while the Chinese president is visiting Europe.

Reports cited by US media indicate that both nations are close to a trade agreement which would increase USA tariffs on Chinese products in exchange for Beijing making several economic promises.

USA lawmakers have appealed to the Trump Administration to take action against "egregious human rights abuses" in western China, where it is believed that at least one million ethnic Uighur and other minority Muslims are being held in secretive internment camps.

China is offering to lower tariffs on USA farm, chemical, auto and other products, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.

Negotiators for the two sides have made substantial progress and a final accord is close to being hammered out, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quoted anonymous sources on both sides.

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But early details indicate it would do little to substantively change the way China has long done business and would not force Beijing to curtail cybertheft or the subsidies that the administration complains create an uneven playing field for USA companies.

Among issues that may be resolved include, speeding up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on car ventures and reducing tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current auto tariff of 15 percent, according to the Journal.

Specifically, China would buy US$18 billion in natural gas from Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc., one of the people familiar with the matter said.

India played down the impact of the move, saying it was keeping retaliatory tariffs out of its talks with... -China trade deal is forming.

World markets were buoyed on Monday by investors' optimism that a trade deal could be cemented as soon as this month to resolve the ongoing trade war between the world's two largest economies. China bought US$130 billion in USA goods in 2017, according to USA figures. As part of the potential agreement, China would lower tariffs on agricultural products.

After several rounds of face-to-face meetings between USA and Chinese officials since past year, the sides are now in regular contact via phone and video-conference to hammer out the details of a deal.

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