U.S.-China Trade Talks End With No Sign of Progress

August 27, 2018


Trade talks between the U.S. and China failed to produce any visible sign of progress, reducing the prospects of a deal soon, people closely tracking the talks said. The two sides largely repeated talking points during the discussions, these people said. The Chinese side seemed unready to offer new ways to address the Trump administration’s concerns that the bilateral trade deficit was too steep and that Beijing was coercing U.S. companies into transferring technology to Chinese partners, they said.


Chinese have divided U.S. demands into three buckets. Roughly 30% to 40% of the U.S. requests involved additional Chinese purchases of U.S. goods, which Chinese officials believe could be met immediately. Another 30% to 40% involved market openings, such as allowing foreign financial firms to own a greater percentage of Chinese ventures and giving them broader authority to operate. Those could take several years of negotiations.


The remaining 20% to 40% involve U.S. demands for changes in Chinese industrial policy. Those include ending unfair subsidies of Chinese high-tech firms, letting U.S. data firms operate without interference or ending pressure on U.S. firms to transfer technology. The Chinese won’t agree to negotiate on many of these, those briefed on the plan said, because of national security or political reasons. Beijing has said it doesn’t force U.S. companies to share technology with their Chinese counterparts.


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