Caixin
Mar 09, 2019 05:19 PM
ECONOMY

Beijing Wants Enforcement Mechanism in U.S. Trade Deal to Work Both Ways

Photo: IC
Photo: IC

China remains positive on the outlook for a deal that would deescalate the trade war with the United States, but any enforcement mechanism included in the agreement must be binding on both sides, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said Saturday.

“I feel hopeful about the prospects for the trade talks between China and the U.S.,” Wang, who is one of the key members of the Chinese negotiation team and led working-level talks in recent months, told reporters at a press conference during the meeting of the National People’s Congress.

China and the U.S. are reported to be close to an accord that would end their nine-month trade dispute after progress in the negotiations led Washington to delay raising punitive tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, originally scheduled to take effect from the start of this month.

But the U.S. is pushing China to accept as a condition of the deal a mechanism to allow Washington to regularly review Beijing’s compliance with terms of the agreement and put tariffs back in place should it fail the verification.

Wang insisted that any compliance reviews must apply equally to both countries.

“Any enforcement mechanism must be two-way, fair and equal,” he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed in December to seek an agreement to address U.S. concerns and remove all additional tariffs. Negotiators on both sides are “pulling out all the stops” to achieve that goal, Wang added. However, he did not answer a question on when he expected a pact would be inked.

Wang offered one tidbit from the last round of negotiations that took place in Washington D.C. in February, saying Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, while having lunch together, shunned tea or coffee and both chose to drink water in a sign that they could “find common ground.”

Contact reporter Fran Wang (fangwang@caixin.com)


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