Meeting between US and Chinese presidents on trade deal postponed

Posted Mar 16, 2019 by Ken Hanly
The expected meeting between the US president Donald Trump and the Chinese president Xi Jinping to sign an agreement to end the trade war between the two countries will not happen this month according to three people familiar with the issue.
President Xi Jinping Xi Jinping took control of the Chinese  Communist Party in 2012
President Xi Jinping Xi Jinping took control of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012
Aly Song, POOL/AFP/File
The three said that the meeting was more likely to occur in April at the earliest.
Difficulties in trade talks still remain
There have been claims of good progress in the talks and it was hoped that there would be a summit of the two leaders to sign an agreement later this month at Mar-a-Largo, a Florida resort owned by Trump. One of the three familiar with the situation said that the event would take place only at the end of April if it happened at all. China is pressing the US to have a formal state visit an event that would likely take place in Washington rather than Mar-a-Largo.
Another anonymous person said that Xi's staff had scrapped a plan for a potential flight to the US that would take place after he visited Europe later this month.
Trump said at the White House last Thursday: ‘We’ll have news on China -- probably one way or the other we’re going to know over the next three to four weeks. And then if one gets done, it will be something that people are going to be talking about for a long time because we have been really taken advantage of for a long time. And now I think -- China, frankly, they’ve been very responsible and very reasonable.”
Robert Lighthizer the leading US Trade Representative at talks with the Chinese warned that major issues were still not resolved, and there were few signs of any breakthroughs on the most problematic issues. Chinese officials are wary of the appearance of the deal being seen as one-sided and worry that Trump might walk away from any deal even if Xi flew to the US.
Neither the White House nor the State Council in Beijing answered a request for comment on the issues.
Trump signals a signing is not that urgent
Trump appears to be trying to cool down expectations about a deal being very close or soon. He has offered to push back any summit with XI until an agreement is reached. Trump said Wednesday at the White House: “We could do it either way. We can have the deal completed and come and sign or we can get the deal almost completed and negotiate some of the final points. I would prefer that. But it doesn’t matter that much.”
Work remains on draft agreements
Even though drafts have been exchanged, there is currently no plan for the US to send a lower-level delegation to China to iron out details. It is possible Lighthizer might go in person to deal with some of the outstanding points. Negotiations have focused on phasing out of joint-venture requirements, the enforcement mechanisms, and lifting of tariffs on both sides. These topics have been negotiated at the ministerial level.
US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said that any agreement needed very clear enforcement provisions as he testified before the US Congress on Thursday. Mnuchin noted that both he and Lighthizer had spoken with the Chinese Vice Premier on Wednesday night. Mnuchin said that the agreement needed to be right and that was more important than the exact timing of when agreement was reached.
Effects on US stocks
News that the meeting of Xi and Trump to sign a new US China trade deal resulted would be held later than thought had mixed results for US stocks. A Yahoo article version of events said in part: "An anticipated meeting between Trump and Xi is likely to occur in April at the earliest, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. Earlier reports had suggested that the U.S. and China were closing in on a trade deal that could come as soon as this month. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer signaled earlier this week that there were still unresolved issues with China, but the U.S. was making “headway” on issues relating to technology transfer and other structural changes that have been at the center of Washington’s concerns."
The results at the close of trading were little change. The S & P 500 fell 0.09 percent or just 2.44 points. The Dow was up marginally 0.03 percent of 7.05 points. The Nasdaq was down a bit more at 0.16 percent or 12.5 points.