• Exclusive
    Key trade talks can unlock future success
    By Wei Jianguo | Updated: 2019-01-07 11:02
        Wei Jianguo

    China and the United States return to the negotiation table to iron out their differences on trade tensions on Monday and Tuesday in Beijing. The talks are certainly attracting worldwide attention. I am quite confident about the potential outcome.

    As far as I know, both sides have been working very hard to prepare for the two-day vice-ministerial-level trade talks, which bear huge significance. This is because the talks happen after several fruitless negotiations last year since trade tensions escalated in early 2018.

    Meanwhile, this round is the first following President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreeing to refrain from imposing new tariffs and instructed the working teams of both sides to work on a mutually beneficial solution package on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires on Dec 1. So, this is a vital moment for the US, represented by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, and China to reach concrete outcomes within two days, paving the way for future engagement and talks.

    I have three reasons to support my argument that the two-day talks will be a success.

    Firstly, both China and the US better understand the intentions and goals of the talks. From the US side, unrealistic and unachievable goals will not be set. Judging from the failures of the previous several rounds of various-level talks since trade tensions began, it will be smart for Washington negotiators to talk with their Chinese counterparts objectively, pragmatically and rationally, instead of being biased, arbitrary and pressure-inducing.

    From the Chinese side, China has already shown its strong determination for accelerating its pace of reform and opening up, especially to further safeguard intellectual property rights, expand market access and increase imports from the US, and make the business environment even more transparent and fairer. Doing this is not only to respond to concerns from the US but also to realize the potential of high-level opening up to the rest of the world.

    So, both sides have already done solid groundwork for the talks, in comparison with the previous several rounds.

    Secondly, the world faces a grave economic situation and the uncertainties are increasing. This has put downward pressure on both economies. It is a top priority for both sides to end trade tensions and boost confidence.

    From the US side, the dividends of the Trump administration's tax-break policies are fading, the development of new industries is slow and stock markets are jittery. Meanwhile, the middle class is pessimistic about the development prospects for the future and US importers and consumers are losing confidence due to protectionism and unilateralism.

    So it is a pressing task for the negotiators to deliver an inspiring and exciting message to the US market by achieving fruitful talks in Beijing.

    From the Chinese side, after celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in December, the country is embarking on a new journey of high-level opening up to the rest of the world, deepening supply-side reform, realizing quality economic growth and improving the living standards.

    So both sides must lay the foundations to start a new strategic cooperation in trade and their economies.

    Thirdly, I don't agree with the argument that the talks will not produce a breakthrough. In contrast, I believe this round of talks is of tremendous significance because it will pave the way for higher-level negotiations. More importantly, both sides will offer more ideas to hammer out a comprehensive solution.

    The clock is ticking and a good beginning is half the battle.

    For the interests of the US, China and the rest of the world, let us hope that the representatives of both sides have enough wisdom to reap fruitful benefits.

    The author is vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. The commentary was contributed exclusively to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. 

    The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

    All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

        Wei Jianguo

    China and the United States return to the negotiation table to iron out their differences on trade tensions on Monday and Tuesday in Beijing. The talks are certainly attracting worldwide attention. I am quite confident about the potential outcome.

    As far as I know, both sides have been working very hard to prepare for the two-day vice-ministerial-level trade talks, which bear huge significance. This is because the talks happen after several fruitless negotiations last year since trade tensions escalated in early 2018.

    Meanwhile, this round is the first following President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump agreeing to refrain from imposing new tariffs and instructed the working teams of both sides to work on a mutually beneficial solution package on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires on Dec 1. So, this is a vital moment for the US, represented by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, and China to reach concrete outcomes within two days, paving the way for future engagement and talks.

    I have three reasons to support my argument that the two-day talks will be a success.

    Firstly, both China and the US better understand the intentions and goals of the talks. From the US side, unrealistic and unachievable goals will not be set. Judging from the failures of the previous several rounds of various-level talks since trade tensions began, it will be smart for Washington negotiators to talk with their Chinese counterparts objectively, pragmatically and rationally, instead of being biased, arbitrary and pressure-inducing.

    From the Chinese side, China has already shown its strong determination for accelerating its pace of reform and opening up, especially to further safeguard intellectual property rights, expand market access and increase imports from the US, and make the business environment even more transparent and fairer. Doing this is not only to respond to concerns from the US but also to realize the potential of high-level opening up to the rest of the world.

    So, both sides have already done solid groundwork for the talks, in comparison with the previous several rounds.

    Secondly, the world faces a grave economic situation and the uncertainties are increasing. This has put downward pressure on both economies. It is a top priority for both sides to end trade tensions and boost confidence.

    From the US side, the dividends of the Trump administration's tax-break policies are fading, the development of new industries is slow and stock markets are jittery. Meanwhile, the middle class is pessimistic about the development prospects for the future and US importers and consumers are losing confidence due to protectionism and unilateralism.

    So it is a pressing task for the negotiators to deliver an inspiring and exciting message to the US market by achieving fruitful talks in Beijing.

    From the Chinese side, after celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in December, the country is embarking on a new journey of high-level opening up to the rest of the world, deepening supply-side reform, realizing quality economic growth and improving the living standards.

    So both sides must lay the foundations to start a new strategic cooperation in trade and their economies.

    Thirdly, I don't agree with the argument that the talks will not produce a breakthrough. In contrast, I believe this round of talks is of tremendous significance because it will pave the way for higher-level negotiations. More importantly, both sides will offer more ideas to hammer out a comprehensive solution.

    The clock is ticking and a good beginning is half the battle.

    For the interests of the US, China and the rest of the world, let us hope that the representatives of both sides have enough wisdom to reap fruitful benefits.

    The author is vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. The commentary was contributed exclusively to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. 

    The author contributed this article to China Watch exclusively. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of China Watch.

    All rights reserved. Copying or sharing of any content for other than personal use is prohibited without prior written permission.

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