Less than three weeks before the deadline set by US President Donald Trump, before a new round of trade sanctions against China, his Deputy Trade Representative, Jeffrey Gerrish, began preliminary talks in Beijing. Jeffrey Gerrish, who had already started negotiations in early January in the Chinese capital, left his hotel in Beijing earlier today, without any statement to the press.
The talks should precede discussions on Thursday and Friday in Beijing with senior negotiators: Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin on the US side and the Chinese side the Deputy Prime Minister. Liu He, and the governor of the central bank, Yi Gang.
As early as January, Washington took advantage of the talks to transit two destroyers in the South China Sea, a strategic zone considered by Beijing as its territorial waters and which sees close to a third of world trade. Beijing reacted Monday, accusing the United States of seeking “to cause unrest.” The trade talks follow those held last month in Washington, which resulted in an interview between Liu He and Donald Trump.
After renewed optimism following the talks, Washington blew the cold last week as the Trump administration assured that there was “still a lot of work” before the world's first two economic powers managed to overcome their multiple disputes. Donald Trump, who had announced a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, “in the near future,” even said he had not planned to meet him before the deadline of early March.
During an interview in early December in Argentina, the two presidents set the deadline for reaching a negotiated settlement. After this date, customs duties on the equivalent of $ 200 billion in annual Chinese imports into the United States will be increased from 10% to 25%.
Practices deemed unfair
In addition to China's huge trade surplus from its bilateral trade, Washington demands that it stop its unfair practices such as the forced transfer of US technology, the “theft” of US intellectual property, hacking and massive subsidies to public companies to make them national champions. Because in this conflict is played the dominant position of the two countries in the high technologies of tomorrow. “Technology is the most important advantage Americans have, we are innovative, we are technologically excellent,” early December Robert Lighthizer said in a rare television interview.
The prospect of a worsening of the trade war is weighing on global financial markets, which fear its consequences for the global economy. She also worries Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which warned Sunday in Dubai against a possible “storm” economic world. Christine Lagarde mentioned what she called the “four clouds” that threaten the planet: trade tensions, tightening of borrowing rates, Brexit and slowdown of the Chinese economy. According to her, trade tensions between China and the United States began to affect the global economy.
“When there are too many clouds, it only takes a flash to trigger the storm,” warned Christine Lagarde, who called on governments to prepare and avoid protectionism. This week's discussions “could lead to progress in the run-up to the deadline of March 1”, say in a note the economists of Societe Generale, who do not expect “a breakthrough”.