2 December 2018   Leave a comment

Presidents Trump and Xi agreed upon a 90 day pause in their trade dispute.  The agreement defers the $200 billion in additional tariffs President Trump had threatened and, according to the US, includes an agreement that “China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries. China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural product from our farmers immediately.”  It is very hard to interpret the pause.  It could be an indication that progress was more difficult than expected.  But it could also be an indication that promising accommodations were discussed but time was short.  We will simply have to watch the trade deficit during those 90 days.  If it deepens, as it has over the last three months, a compromise would be difficult for the Trump Administration.  The burden is clearly on the Chinese to make concessions. 

 

 

The heads of state attending the recent G-20 meeting made many concessions to the US on some very central points.  Language about climate change and the Paris Accords was finally included but noted that the US did not agree.  The communique also did not include the word “protectionism” but added that the World Trade Organization should be reformed.  Both changes were at the insistence of the US.  Language about immigration was also altered at the request of the US.  But the European leaders were adamant about including this language in the communique: “We renew our commitment to work together to improve a rules-based international order that is capable of effectively responding to a rapidly changing world.”  According to the Guardian:

“The US delegation had opposed the positive reference to a ‘rules-based international order’ as they argued the current system is skewed against the US and has allowed China to get away with unfair trading practices. For the same reason, the US opposed references to the threat of protectionism to global growth, insisting Trump’s use of tariffs is a legitimate response to a skewed playing field.”

Diplomatic communiques are generally not substantively important, but the rhetoric is symbolically important.

Posted December 2, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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