U.S.-China trade deal: A ‘herculean accomplishment’ or ‘not a breakthrough’? – China business and technology news from May 12, 2017

Business & Technology

A summary of today’s top news in Chinese business and technology. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "China’s Belt and Road: Coming soon to a theater near you."

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters building of Anbang Insurance Group are pictured in Beijing, China, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

On May 11, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that America and China, in the midst of their “100-day” negotiating period, had reached agreements on 10 items in trade between the two countries, Bloomberg reports. Many of the agreements are preliminary and not binding, and some — including on the export of U.S. beef to China and on U.S. payments companies operating in China — had already been agreed, but not implemented, in years prior. Ross hailed the deal as a “herculean accomplishment,” but the chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai dismissed the deal as “not a breakthrough.”

Other items agreed upon, according to the joint statement, include:

  • That China would open itself to imports of U.S. beef “no later than July 16, 2017,” and the U.S. would “publish a proposed rule by July 16” to open itself to imports of Chinese cooked poultry “as soon as possible.”
  • That “the United States welcomes China…to receive imports of [liquefied natural gas] from the United States.”
  • That China will “conduct science-based evaluations of all eight pending U.S. biotechnology product applications,” including bioengineered seeds.
  • That China will allow U.S. electronic payment services “full and prompt market access” in the country, through further guidelines issued by July 16 if necessary.
  • That the U.S. “recognizes the importance of China’s One Belt and One Road initiative,” and, as mentioned in a separate Reuters report, will send White House adviser Matt Pottinger to Beijing for its OBOR conference.

What comes next? Further negotiations will inevitably focus on issues tougher to resolve than the low-hanging fruit picked in this first round. In addition, the U.S. just confirmed that the next U.S. trade representative will be Robert Lighthizer, who was nominated in January and praised by respected China businessman James McGregor in February, and is noted for pushing very aggressive tactics on China and blaming the country for a “U.S. manufacturing crisis.”