Global Affairs

US-China tariff ceasefire doesn't mean end of trade war

The US-China agreement over the weekend to suspend additional trade tariffs is welcome, but underlying strategic competition rules out an end to the ongoing trade war.

The agreement between United States President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to suspend the imposition of further punitive tariffs on their countries' respective goods represents a welcome ceasefire in a trade war. And it is possible that it may work as a prelude to a broader trade agreement.

But don't allow any such deal to mislead you into believing that the current Sino-American confrontation is an aberration which will soon go away. For, the reality is that it is impossible for China and the United States to turn the clock back to a period of cooperation; those days are gone, and the future belongs to an almost permanent confrontation between the two powers. This may not necessarily translate into military clashes. But it will most certainly result in frequent spats and an incessant drumbeat of hostility.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2018, with the headline 'Ceasefire doesn't mean end of trade war'. Print Edition | Subscribe