White House says 'significant work remains' to be done on US-China trade deal

At a meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, President Donald Trump had said that both sides were not far from wrapping up negotiations.
At a meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, President Donald Trump had said that both sides were not far from wrapping up negotiations. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON - While the United States and China have made progress on key trade issues, significant work remains to be done, said the White House on Friday (April 5) as the latest round of trade talks wrapped up in Washington DC.

Headway is being made in many areas including enforcement, intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, said White House top economics adviser Larry Kudlow.

“We have been satisfied on a number of issues, we’ve come further than we thought we would get,” he said in a Friday (April 5) interview with Bloomberg. “We’re moving towards it, we’re not done yet. We have some issues to get through.”

A day earlier at a meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, President Donald Trump had said that both sides were not far from wrapping up negotiations. Mr Liu also said a “new consensus” had been reached on the text of the trade agreement, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

But Friday’s White House statement made no mention of Mr Trump's comments the day before, that an agreement could possibly be reached in four weeks or so. Nor did it mention a deal-signing summit between Mr Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping, which would have been a definitive sign that negotiations were in their final stages.

Mr Kudlow also downplayed the timeframe of the agreement, saying: “It’s not so much timing, it’s making a good deal.”

He had been questioned about the White House’s statement last December that it would raise tariffs on Chinese goods if a trade deal was not reached by March, a deadline Mr Trump has since set aside.

In its statement on Friday, the White House said that the subjects of the latest round of negotiations included intellectual property, forced technology transfers, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement.

 
 

Many of these are deep-seated issues that the US wants China to introduce reforms on, such as greater protection of intellectual property and a halt to forced technology transfers, to allow American companies to compete more fairly in China.

Others like non-tariff barriers are trade practices that Washington says grants China unfair advantages in global trade, and wants Beijing to curb.

The issue of enforcement is also a thorny one, with the two sides yet to work out when to lift tariffs imposed by the US on US$250 billion (S$338 billion) of Chinese goods, and how to ensure future Chinese compliance with the terms of the deal.

Both sides will continue to work out their trade deal via teleconferencing next week, said Mr Kudlow, adding: “There’s no letup here. This is an ongoing process.”