U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with China’s vice premier at the White House Friday as part of an ongoing effort to defuse the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
Representatives from both countries have engaged in talks in Washington this week under a cloud of uncertainty created by Trump’s threat to more than double tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on March 1.
Trump will meet with Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator. Chinese President Xi Jinping has designated Liu as a “special envoy,” granting him the authority to negotiate directly with the U.S.
The U.S. is calling on China to make structural changes on key issues such as stopping the theft of American technology and reining in improper subsidies and other advantages provided to state-owned companies.
The Reuters news agency reported that negotiators from both sides were trying to finalize details of six broad agreements covering the most difficult issues, including those involving technology theft and corporate subsidies.
Additional tariffs Trump has threatened to impose could take effect if a trade deal is not reached before the beginning of March. Trump has signaled, however, he could extend the deadline, saying March 1 is not a “magical date.”
The two countries imposed more than $360 billion in tariffs in two-way trade last year, after Trump triggered the trade dispute over complaints of unfair trade practices. The tariffs have weighed heavily on both countries’ manufacturing sectors and raised concern they could exacerbate the global economic slowdown.
Charles Boustany of the U.S.-based National Bureau of Asian Research co-authored a newly-released report that includes recommendations of how to manage the trade impasse.
“We don’t believe the [Trump] administration has set the stage properly to get China to change,” Boustany told VOA. “It’s truly a test if China will change with these broad structural issues. So, we don’t think the deal they come up with is truly enforceable at this stage.”
Boustany said the U.S. must solicit the help of allies to build more pressure on China, adding maintaining U.S. efforts will not “be enough unilaterally.”
Reuters also reported the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group, urged negotiators Friday to reach an agreement as soon as possible, although it expects talks to continue past the March 1 deadline.
“To us, the date is not magical. What’s important is to get a comprehensible sustainable agreement,” chamber executive Myron Brilliant said on a conference call with reporters.
Brilliant said the trade dispute between the two superpowers has increased business costs, which will continue to mount as long as tariffs are in effect.
VOA’s Mandarin Service contributed to this report.