Negotiators from China and the United States will meet for the 13th round of high-level trade negotiations next week in Washington It is unclear whether either side is willing to make the concessions necessary for a deal, although impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump could play a role.
China and the United States both have incentives to make a deal during next week’s high-level trade negotiations in Washington, but it remains unclear whether either side will be willing to make the concessions necessary to reach an agreement, according to analysts. Any potential deal during the 13th round of trade negotiations will hinge, in large part, on the true policy objectives of US President Donald Trump towards Beijing. If he wants to isolate and contain China, then he may walk away from a possible agreement, as he has done before.
“If [Trump’s] goal is to contain China, the room for the concessions needed from the US to reach a deal is small. And many China analysts agree that the trade negotiations are not about addressing unfair trade, but rather about containment and decoupling to contain China’s rise,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science from Lingnan University in Hong Kong. “But his goal could also be competing with China strategically and diplomatically and pursuing fair trade economically. If that’s the case, he could be more flexible during the trade negotiations. But no one knows [about his goals]. He talks both ways.”
The talks are set to start with Trump in the midst of an impeachment inquiry which may seek to remove him from office, as well as the start of the presidential election campaign. With Chinese President Xi Jinping seen as being in a relatively strong position at home, there may be fewer reasons for China to meet US demands, analysts said. “Trump’s actions throughout the trade war, escalating tensions in a wildly unpredictable manner, has made the US an unreliable negotiating partner in the eyes of the Chinese political elite. This, in turn, has relieved pressure on Xi to strike a deal because he is able to convincingly lay the blame for derailment on the US. The Chinese delegation continues to engage in trade talks with the primary intention of staving off further tariff hikes,” said Eleanor Olcott, China policy analyst from UK-based independent consultancy, TS Lombard.