A delegation of the US government will be travelling to Beijing in early January to discuss trade. Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the Trump administration’s team, which will also include Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass. The meeting will be the first face-to-face engagement of the two sides regarding trade since US President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping agreed earlier this month in Buenos Aires on de-escalating their tensions for a moment.
Donald Trump has agreed to put on hold a scheduled increase in tariffs targeting around $200 billion in annual imports. Both sides will be at the negotiation table through 1 March. In return, Xi Jinping will start buying American soybean again and introduce temporarily lower retaliatory tariffs on American cars. Nevertheless, the negotiations are meant to address US grievances over the trade imbalance, technology transfers and market barriers.
The European Union is very interested in the upcoming talks between Washington and Beijing, as it fears that when sides find a common ground, the EU will pay the cost for this reconciliation. Brussels expressed its concern around the US approach of higher tariffs to put pressure on China despite the fact that it has its own trade disputes with the White House. “The European Union is very concerned that a meaningful trade deal between China and the US, such as, for example, the massive purchase of US goods, would squeeze the bloc’s market share in China,” a Chinese government source said. “But it stands firmly with the US on discontent over China’s economic activities and state-owned enterprise reform,” the source stressed and added that “its position is subtle.”