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Analysts Hopeless Over the Trade Talks Between the U.S. and Chinese Government

“It depends on how big Washington’s expectations are and how big its demands for reform and opening up of the Chinese market,” Liao says. “China will make some concessions, but if Washington’s appetite is too big, that will be tough for Beijing to accept.”

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US billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on Saturday that the world depends on the US and China for progress, dismissing concerns that the two countries' trade tensions could potentially escalate into a trade war.
US-China Meeting, wikimedia commons

A high-level U.S. trade delegation has begun talks with Chinese officials in Beijing as Washington tries to address deep concerns about China’s economic policies. The meeting is seen by some as a positive step, as the two sides attempt to avoid the possible outbreak of a trade war. Analysts say it is unlikely their differences will be resolved during the meetings but a decision to keep talking would be welcome progress.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter U.S. officials are “trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade.”

Raymond Yeung, a senior economist for Greater China at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, says if the two sides can at least agree to keep talking with each other that would be big progress.

The policy clearly sets goals for domestic industries to dominate over foreign players in the Chinese market and globally.
Donald Trump, Wikimedia Commons

“I think it is too demanding to expect that both sides can come up with an agreement or an announcement or sign a deal,” Yeung said. “But if they are able to promise that they are willing to sit down and continue the dialogue and try and resolve their differences, at least that would signal that the relationship between the two governments is warming up.”

Differences over trade policy and market access have been a persistent concern for the United States and other foreign investors in China. In recent weeks, the debate has become even more heated with President Trump threatening to slap a long $50 billion list of tariffs on Chinese goods to punish Beijing for what his administration calls its unfair trade practices: forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights and state subsidies for technology development.

Beijing has denied Washington’s accusations and insists its market is opening. It recently pledged to do away with a 25 percent tariff on imported foreign cars, albeit by 2022. The Chinese government has also responded with threats of its own, saying that if the U.S. presses ahead with tariffs it will respond in kind.

The seven-member U.S. delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and is meeting with a group of Chinese officials led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a close aide to China’s president, Xi Jinping.

Although it is difficult to predict how the meetings will turn out, Liao Qun, chief economist at China CITIC Bank International, says it is a positive sign that both sides have a desire to sit down and negotiate. How much can be accomplished, depends on Washington, he says.

“It depends on how big Washington’s expectations are and how big its demands for reform and opening up of the Chinese market,” Liao says. “China will make some concessions, but if Washington’s appetite is too big, that will be tough for Beijing to accept.”

Beijing has characterized President Trump’s threats to tax exports and attack the government’s policies as an attempt to contain China and force the Chinese market to become more open, something that officials and state media have repeatedly stressed will never happen.
Xi Jinping, wikimedia commons

Since Xi Jinping rose to power in 2012, China has taken big steps to increase the central government and the communist party’s control over the economy and business, even as Beijing pledges to continue to further open its markets.

In 2015, the government unveiled a key policy plan called Made in China 2025, a plan that aims to make China dominant in 10 major next generation industries from robotics to electric cars, artificial intelligence, bio-tech and aerospace, among others. An investigation by the Trump administration into China’s unfair trade practices mentions the policy more than 100 times.

The policy clearly sets goals for domestic industries to dominate over foreign players in the Chinese market and globally. Beijing has characterized President Trump’s threats to tax exports and attack the government’s policies as an attempt to contain China and force the Chinese market to become more open, something that officials and state media have repeatedly stressed will never happen.

Bridging such a huge gap during two days of talks will be difficult, says Christopher Balding, a professor at Peking University’s HSBC Business School.

“I would be somewhat surprised if there was any real change in the negotiating stance of either party. Specifically China, they don’t want to open their markets, that’s the fundamental point,” Balding says.

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He says the best that could be hoped for is that the two can find enough room to compromise to not go forward with the trade war. But these disputes are unlike any other in recent history, he adds.

“This is about how disputes are settled: About how one country views the international system as compared to the other. This is about how one country views how a country should be run and how they have conflicting views of those two things,” Balding says. (VOA)

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U.S. Pentagon Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Portugal, Study Finds

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

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U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE - The Pentagon building is seen in Washington. VOA

The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said Wednesday.

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University.

The Pentagon’s emissions were “in any one year … greater than many smaller countries’ greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th-largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE – Air pollution hangs over the skyline as the sun rises over Beijing’s central business district, Jan. 14, 2013. VOA

“There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions,” Crawford said.

Request for comments to the Pentagon went unanswered.

Troop movements

Using and moving troops and weapons accounted for about 70% of its energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel, Crawford said.

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It dwarfed yearly emissions by Sweden, which the international research project Global Carbon Atlas ranks 65th worldwide for its of CO2 emissions.

Pentagon emissions were higher than those of Portugal, ranked 57th by the Global Carbon Atlas, said Crawford.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change, followed by the United States.

The Pentagon called climate change “a national security issue” in a January report to Congress and has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Pixabay

Global temperatures are on course for an increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, far overshooting a global target of limiting the increase to 2 C or less, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said in November.

Four degrees Celsius of warming would increase more than five times the influence of climate on conflict, according to a study published in Nature magazine on Wednesday.

Improvements

Crawford said the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, including by making its vehicles more efficient and moving to cleaner sources of energy at bases.

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It could reduce them further by cutting fuel-heavy missions to the Persian Gulf to protect access to oil, which were no longer a top priority as renewable energy gained ground, she said.

“Many missions could actually be rethought, and it would make the world safer,” she said. (VOA)