Trade war, day 104: Talks on ‘hiatus’


A week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House is “moving ahead with” a meeting between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the G20 in Argentina at the end of November.

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin then said a few days later, “I don’t think any decision has been made with regard to a meeting.”
  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has now weighed in as well, dismissing the significance of the possible meeting: “Meetings of world leaders at the G-20 never get into huge amounts of detail,” he told CNBC.
  • “In any negotiation, there are ups and downs,” Ross also said. “There are hiatuses and there are much more active periods. So, it appears as though we may be in something of a hiatus now.”

There are two other pieces of important U.S.-China economic news:

  • China was not labeled a “currency manipulator” by the U.S. Treasury Department in its annual report on currencies, but it was “put on a watch list along with Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Korea and India,” CNBC reports.
  • The U.S. is pulling out of an international treaty, signed 144 years ago to establish the Universal Postal Union, which has kept postage rates from China and other developing countries at a low level since 1969, Bloomberg says (porous paywall).
  • Peter “Death by China” Navarro was behind the latest economic escalation against Beijing, the New York Times reports (porous paywall):

“The decision to withdraw was made at the urging of Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s hard-line trade adviser, who sees the move as a way to thwart China and an opportunity to challenge the authority of international groups, like the World Trade Organization, that, in his view, fail to give the United States voting powers commensurate with the country’s economic stature.”

Other trade-related news:

  • Asian trade negotiations take a turn
    TPP takes back seat as Malaysia sets sights on early conclusion to RCEP trade deal / Japan Times
    “Malaysia is putting a premium on a free trade deal led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, its trade minister told The Japan Times in a recent interview, while also apparently relegating the Japan-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership to the back burner for the time being.”
  • Commentary
    Ex-Amb. Baucus says Trump is the problem on US-China policy / Bloomberg (video)
    Former American ambassador to China Max Baucus expresses the common view that Trump’s “whimsical” rather than strategic thinking on U.S.-China relations is bewildering Beijing and worsening trade relations.
  • Lack of trust in Chinese antitrust regulators
    Can US-China tensions derail two big deals? / WSJ (paywall)
    “Investors are pricing in a roughly 43% chance that Walt Disney’s $71 billion deal for 21st Century Fox’s major assets won’t be completed, according to Churchill Capital — pretty much a coin toss. Worries are also high about the fate of Industrial conglomerate United Technologies $23 billion acquisition of Rockwell Collins, a deal on the desk of Chinese bureaucrats.”

Previously in SupChina’s trade war coverage:

Trade war, day 103: ‘Christmas 2019 could be tricky’