It is a
mark of just how thoroughly Donald Trump has turned the established principles and practices of international diplomacy on their head that observers have no genuine idea what will transpire when the US president meets his Chinese opposite number Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires next weekend.
The hope across much of Asia and the wider world is that Trump will execute a policy U-turn and seal a “beautiful deal” with Xi on trade. If so, the two presidents will avert the next salvo in the US-China trade battle, which is scheduled to see US tariffs on US$200 billion of imports from China leap from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on January 1.
The fear is that if such a hefty increase goes ahead as threatened, it will play havoc with pan-Asian supply chains, and severely cloud regional economic growth prospects for 2019 and beyond.
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