US President Donald Trump spoke of "very, very good negotiations with China" after a day of trade talks at the White House on Thursday. But experts say the most one can hope for is token concessions.
US President Donald Trump expressed optimism on Thursday after the first in two days of trade talks with a Chinese envoy.
Negotiations are "going very well," Trump told reporters at the White House, without going into further detail.
On Friday, negotiators that include Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will finish talks with the hopes of making progress in resolving a 15-month trade war that has negatively impacted national and global economies. Trump himself is scheduled to meet with the vice premier in the afternoon.
Experts do not expect significant developments out of these meetings. But the talks could deliver token concessions that may deescalate tensions and provide some reassurance to the markets.
Thus far, the trade war has resulted in US tariffs on over $360 billion (€326 billion) of Chinese imports and retaliatory Chinese tariffs on $120 billion (€109 billion) of American goods, mostly farm products. The US has plans to apply tariffs to a further $160 billion (€145 billion) of Chinese goods. Trump has also accused China of manipulating and devaluing its currency in order to gain an unfair trade advantage.
Head of International Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce Myron Brilliant spoke with both parties and told reporters that there could be an agreement on currency this week.
"I think that could lead to a decision by the US administration not to put forward a tariff rate hike on October 15," he said.
A complicated history
The optimistic tone stands in sharp contrast to developments earlier this week. The White House angered Beijing on Monday when it put visa restrictions on senior Chinese officials and blacklisted 28 Chinese companies from doing business in the US, pointing to China's persecution of its ethnic Uighur Muslim population as the reason.
Despite the improved mood Thursday, the US is still jockeying for greater concessions from China. Washington and other global powers have accused Beijing of hacking, theft of intellectual property, and state intervention in markets.
As a sign of goodwill, China has plans to increase its purchases of US agricultural products, but the move falls far short of Trump's demands.
Consequences of the trade war have reverberated throughout the global economy, with particularly heavy consequences for industry-dependent economies like Germany. Economic growth has slowed globally since the trade war began and some experts believe the US could soon fall into a recession.
kp/rc (AFP, AP)