But in vindication to US President Donald Trump’s tough line on levelling the playing field in international trade, those headwinds could soon turn around.
A trade agreement between the US and China will go ‘way beyond’ previous efforts to give US companies access to China’s markets, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who hopes the two sides were ‘close to the final round’ of negotiations.
Mnuchin told reporters after the Internation Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings, that he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would take two calls with Chinese Vince Premier Liu He next week.
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An end in sight to bitter trade war
Officials are discussing whether further in-person meetings are needed in order to bring the bitter trade war to an end.
The trade war has been marred by retaliatory tariffs that have cost billions of dollars, restricted supply chains and volatile financial markets, to two of the largest economic power houses.
‘I think we’re hopeful that we’re getting close to the final round of concluding issues,’ Mnuchin said on Saturday.
But an end to the trade war doesn’t look as likely as some would hope. Among the issues up for discussion are US demands for China to open more areas of its economy to the US, as well as foreign firms.
Beijing and Washington are both pursing an end to the trade war.
When asked whether an opening in the Chinese market would surpass previously considered from the 2016 Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations, Mnuchin said:
‘We are making progress, I want to be careful. This is not a public negotiation … this is a very, very detailed agreement covering issues that have never been dealt with before.
‘This is way beyond anything that looked like a bilateral investment treaty’.
The BIT talks, led by former president Barack Obama’s administration, quickly frizzled out after China refused to meet US demands to open important sectors to its economy to foreign investment.
Trump negotiations fast track China
Further BIT talks were left by the Trump Administration, which instead sought tariffs on Chinese goods and which has now headed recent talks.
Mnuchin said recent discussions were ‘the most significant change in the trading relationship in 40 years’, as well as the showing ‘real enforcement on both sides’.
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