HILL: In big week for trade policy, US-China talks should take the cake




July 17, 2017 | By: Wendy Cutler

This will be one busy week for trade in Washington. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office will submit its negotiating objectives for NAFTA, while the Commerce Department might announce options for “quotas and tariffs” on steel imports. The most consequential trade item this week, however, may be the first meeting of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue on Wednesday, 100 days after it was formed at the Trump-Xi summit in Mar-a-Lago in April. 

This meeting will set the stage for U.S.-China engagement on trade and economic issues for the foreseeable future. It takes place at a time when U.S. exporters and investors are becoming increasingly vocal on the plethora of barriers to the Chinese market and feel no comfort as China focuses on building up sectors like information technology and robotics, its “strategic emerging industries.” If this week’s meetings are to address these issues, they will require patience, creativity and detailed discussions. 

There are four key elements to consider when evaluating the success of this week’s economic meetings with China:   Implementation of May 11 commitments: One month after the dialogue was established, both sides announced a series of “initial actions” covering such sectors as agriculture, financial services and energy. We have already witnessed the reopening of the Chinese beef market and the U.S. poultry market. What will happen to the other sectors is less clear.

This week, it will be important to pay attention to how many U.S. biotechnology applications have actually been approved and to whether U.S. credit card companies have been granted licenses to operate in the Chinese market. Ensuring that commitments are followed through in practice is key to making this dialogue credible.


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