US and Chinese trade representatives hold first talks since G20 tariff ceasefire

US and Chinese trade representatives hold first talks since G20 tariff ceasefire

Deputy trade representatives from China and the United States will start a two-day meeting in Beijing today. This is the

Photo: Reuters/Bob Riha Jr.

Deputy trade representatives from China and the United States will start a two-day meeting in Beijing today.

This is the first face-to-face meeting since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed not to impose further tariffs under a 90-day truce on December 1. The talks will mostly focus on chiselling down the points of possible agreement and identifying areas of continuing disagreement for future higher-level talks.

The problem is that the two negotiating teams are still fundamentally at odds on major make-or-break issues. Most notably, technology transfers via joint ventures is seen as intellectual property theft by the US. On the contrary, China sees them as appropriate ways for fledgling Chinese companies to learn off more experienced foreign companies—Beijing hopes to be a major manufacturer of high-tech goods by 2025.

Protecting intellectual property was a primary reason Trump originally imposed trade tariffs on China. There are no signs that either side is going to budge on this issue, so expect officials to attempt to work through other issues, like China’s trade surplus with the US. Either way, a major breakthrough to end the trade war is unlikely at this stage.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.