US pushing China to OK regular review of any trade deal
Trump administration’s trade negotiators are pushing China to accept a deal that would allow the White House to institute new tariffs if it decides that Beijing is not living up to other commitments in that agreement. The provision would ensure that any deal that emerges would merely be a cease-fire in the current trade war, not its end.
“The threat of tariffs is not going away, even if there is a deal,” a source briefed on the negotiations told Reuters.
The provision for ongoing quarterly reviews would be similar to the economic sanctions used in deals with Iran and North Korea to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. It would be highly unusual to include this in a trade deal and thus a potentially bitter pill for Beijing to swallow.
“It looks like humiliation. But perhaps the two sides could find a way to save face for the Chinese government,” a Chinese source told Reuters.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is set to meet with his Chinese counterpart in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30 to start the latest rounds of talks. The Trump administration has set a deadline of March 1 to make any progress or it will hike the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent, up from 10 percent.
The administration has long complained that China rarely lives up to commitments on trade issues. Much of the White House’s strategy in the trade war has focused finding ways to limit Beijing’s wiggle room, such as getting it to present the U.S. with a written list of items they will negotiate on.
China has resisted this in the past, making it hard for U.S. trade officials to say Beijing didn’t live up to verbal agreements. Late last year, after months of talks, Beijing sent over a 142 such items in response to a Trump administration request.