China looks as if it’s winning President Trump’s trade skirmish — so far only vaguely agreeing to “substantially” reduce the United States’ $375 billion trade deficit and that the details would be worked out later and didn’t agree to a specific amount. The real battle against the Chinese was supposed to be over intellectual property theft, with “both sides agreed to “strengthen cooperation” that China would “advance relevant amendments” to its patent law. It remains to be seen whether that happens (and whether China enforces any new laws).
Reaction was mostly negative, even the usual Trump allies, with statements such as, “Not good enough. Time to take the gloves off”, “Why do U.S. officials always fall for China trickery?”, and “Trump administration gets rolled by the Chinese.” Why, you ask? Because China’s “concessions” are things it planned to do anyway. The Trump administration is trying to cast that as a win because the United States will be able to sell more to China, but it was almost certain that with it’s growing economy, the Chinese were going to buy more of anyway.
The United States agreed to suspend tariffs, so Chinese officials sold the folks back home that it was ‘a win’ and that the U.S. had agreed to “not to launch a trade war and to stop slapping tariffs against each other.” The mealy-mouthed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed that the tariffs are now “on hold”. Trump even expressed openness to rolling back restrictions on the Chinese tech firm ZTE and was concerned about China losing jobs.
Monday is the deadline for Mnuchin to “report progress” on the limitations of Chinese investment in the U.S., which now look to be on hold, too. China appears to have the upper hand, but this is only round one of lengthy negotiations between the two nations on trade, and it was conducted by various secretaries and advisers. Even Kudlow said Sunday that this can’t be considered a deal yet. Much could change when Trump and Xi meet face-to-face, but so far, the Chinese are pitching Trump a “deal” that doesn’t alter much on their end. Trump gave up much for vague promises, so much for his deal-making prowess.
For more: The Washington Post