90-Days will be a Firm Target for U.S.-China Negotiations


Speaking on CBS Sunday Morning, December 8th U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer laid down the ground rules for negotiations with China. The process commenced on December 1st following the dinner meeting between the Presidents Xi of China and Trump of the U.S. with their respective advisors in attendance.

Lighthizer stated “If there’s a deal to be done, we’ll make it. The President wants us to make a deal.” Lighthizer added “It has to be verifiable and it has to be monitored.” He indicated that an agreement would not involve vague promises. Lighthizer also warned that if a satisfactory conclusion to negotiations is not achieved before the end of the 90-day period, the threatened increase in tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion of goods imported from China would take effect.

The talks will include structural issues such as access for U.S. companies entering China, theft of intellectual property and coercive joint venture agreements mandating disclosure of proprietary information.

A more moderate tone was advanced by Larry Kudlow, Economic Advisor to the President who commented, “Some very positive promising statements have been received.” In his interview on Fox News Sunday, Kudlow summarized his perception of the trade situation in the opinion “there’s a lot of good things out there” adding “Chinese agencies are working on new legislation to deal with the intellectual property theft issues.”

Since the December 1st meeting the stock market has been whipsawed by contradictory tweets and statements emanating from the White House some of which are obviously premature with respect to the intentions of China. The U.S. has yet to receive a definitive commitment to purchase soybeans without a tariff or to reduce the import duty on our automobiles.