US China Negotiations Continue

by Ryan Ong, NAM

April 23. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed in a press statement that senior US and Chinese negotiators would hold two further rounds of trade negotiations over the next few weeks, with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin set to travel to Beijing for negotiations starting Tuesday, April 30, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to travel to Washington for talks starting on Wednesday, May 8.  Neither side has formally announced any specific duration for either round of talks, though past talks have generally lasted two or more days.

The White House statement laid out a laundry list of areas under discussion – intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement – nearly identical to past White House statements about the scope of discussions.  NAM sources continued to indicate that the two sides are expected to continue a detailed review of potential text that could exceed 150 pages, with growing signals from both sides that they are working through troublesome issues to get to a deal – but with recent intel indicating that forced technology transfer, intellectual property, industrial policy and enforcement mechanisms (including the fate of tariffs post-deal) among the most challenging issues still under active discussion.

All indications remain that any deal would not be announced until President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a summit. That summit has not yet been set – and is not likely to be until the two sides have most of any potential deal wrapped up – but late May would be the earliest likely window with a reasonable chance that it could be pushed back.