Regarding when China and the United States will be able to sign the first-phase agreement, the two governments did not give exact information. Some members of Congress and Trump administration officials expect to sign the first phase of the agreement by the end of 2019, but U.S. officials also believe that some of China’s requirements, including synchronizing the United States with the cancellation of tariffs on China’s goods, have led to the agreement. May not be reached early. Many people believe that the first phase of the agreement may be delayed until January 2020 to sign.
On November 26, Chinese Leader of the China-US Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, Vice Premier Liu He of the State Council of China, spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and agreed to negotiate the first phase Keep communicating on the remaining issues. After the call, US President Donald Trump said that the United States and China were close to reaching the first phase of the agreement and are now at the final pain point of the agreement. At the same time, Trump mentioned that the United States hopes that things in Hong Kong will develop smoothly. White House consultant Kellyanne Conway also told Fox News on November 26 that the United States and China were “very close” to the “first-phase” trade agreement. She said Trump wanted to “do it in stages, in batches, because this is such a large-scale and historic trade agreement.”
Prior to Trump ’s statement, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and former chief economic adviser of the Trump administration in Beijing on November 22. Cohen (Gary Cohen) and other well-known Americans attending the Bloomberg New Economy Forum 2019. Xi Jinping stated for the first time on the first stage of trade negotiations, saying that China hopes to advance the first stage trade agreement with the United States on the basis of mutual respect and equality. He mentioned that this trade war was not provoked by China, and China was unwilling to fight, did not want to fight, and was not afraid to fight. He said: “We have to fight back when necessary, but we are still actively fighting not to fight.”
It can be seen that China still strictly adheres to its existing position. Instead, the United States has shown more eagerness to sign a first-phase trade agreement.
There are only three months left to vote in the US general election. Once the trade talks are dragged into the election year, the factors considered by both sides will increase. Before the 2020 election, Trump may reach the first-phase trade agreement to cater to voters in agricultural areas, or he may continue to play the “China card” on other economic and trade friction issues to serve his election campaign. In this situation, China is reluctant to negotiate with the United States, because Trump’s China card serves his re-election campaign. Of course, the United States has always predicted that China is waiting for Trump to step down in the 2020 election and let the trade war end naturally.
As far as the United States is concerned, the impeachment investigation initiated by Democrats will also prompt Trump to reach an agreement with China. At the same time, Democrats cannot be seized to sell US interests. However, the first phase of the trade agreement focused on the trading of agricultural commodities, and its domestic political sensitivity was not very high, so resistance from Congress would not be great. Moreover, some members of parliament, especially those in agricultural constituencies, are also looking forward to reaching an agricultural agreement.
For example, Chuck Grassley, chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, who has always emphasized China’s tough position on trade, even confidently mentioned on November 26 that a preliminary US-China agreement would be reached before the end of 2019. He also revealed that China has invited Lighthizer and Mnuchin to visit Beijing. If the United States decides that there is a high chance of reaching an agreement, the two are expected to visit Beijing after Thanksgiving. Rep. Jim Costa, a California Democrat who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, also recently revealed in the US Congress that “pragmatic” Chinese sources have said similar things to him.
In other words, after the Chinese and US leaders have made successive statements, they are more willing to advance each other to sign the first-phase agreement. But in fact, what the US Congress and the White House hawks really care about is not the first phase of the trade agreement.
In the first phase of the agreement, the most important part is actually China’s purchase of $ 50 billion in agricultural products from the United States because it involves the interests of Trump’s agricultural constituency. Therefore, the first-phase agreement is actually a political agreement, which is easy to reach, and it is also Trump’s most important agreement. Of course, the first phase of the agreement also includes some intellectual property rights issues, but because of China’s firm position, it is difficult for the United States to make a one-time concession to China.
If the first phase of the agreement is not reached, the second phase of the trade agreement will not be launched at all, and the American hawks are most concerned about the second phase of the trade agreement, including the key issues of avoiding intellectual property issues in the first phase, China’s industrial subsidies, cyber theft, and compulsory technology transfer. These issues will really touch the core interests of the two countries as well as the strategic game, which is the focus of American hawks to pressure China.
The first phase of the China-US agreement was reached, which took at least one and a half years. Before the 2020 election, it is not easy for China and the United States to promote a second-phase trade agreement. Moreover, Trump and his campaign team may also use the domestic hawks against China to continue to play the “China card” and make a fuss about the unresolved issues of the first-stage trade agreement before the election vote.