Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary who is reportedly not leading U.S.-China trade talks but joined U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in his phone call with Chinese vice minister Liú Hè 刘鹤 last week, spoke to Bloomberg (porous paywall) about the discussions:
- The two sides “held vice-ministerial level talks” today, and have “held several rounds of talks in recent weeks,” Bloomberg reports.
- “We expect there will be meetings in January,” Mnuchin said. Chinese officials also confirmed that is the plan.
- “China understands that these are separate tracks,” he added, referring to the Meng Wanzhou arrest that Trump tied to the trade war last week.
- “We are determined that if we have an agreement [by March 1] it will be specific enough that time frames and details and everything else will be laid out,” Mnuchin emphasized, addressing a common worry in Washington that Beijing is happy to overpromise and underdeliver on economic reforms.
In other trade war news:
- Another shipment of American soybeans has been bought by China, Reuters reports, taking the total up to “about 3 million tonnes” since the trade war ceasefire on December 1.
- But an analyst said this was far short of expectations: “The expectation coming out the Argentina meeting was 10 to 12 million tonnes.”
- The two countries traded barbs at the World Trade Organization (again). Also per Reuters:
- “The crisis is caused by the fundamental incompatibility of China’s trade-distorting, non-market economic regime with an open, transparent and predictable international trading system,” U.S. Ambassador Dennis Shea argued in a closed-door session.
- “China absolutely refuses to be the scapegoat and excuse for unilateralism and protectionism,” and “reckless actions” by the Trump administration were instead the cause of the trade war, a Chinese ministry of commerce official responded.
- The EU apparently agrees with China, and Shea objected to European officials’ use of the word “epicentre” to describe Washington when talking about the trade war.
More links related to the U.S.-China trade war and its global effects:
The US and China aren’t in a “cold war” so stop calling it that / MIT Technology Review
Graham Webster argues: “In our globalized economy, the term is not only outdated, it’s harmful.”
China’s Reform Progress Grinding to Halt Says Goldman’s Former China Chair / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Fred Hu, the chairman of Primavera Capital Chairman and former head of Goldman Sachs China spoke exclusively to Bloomberg’s China correspondent Tom Mackenzie in Beijing.”
- Germany becoming more cautious on China
Germany Tightens Foreign Investment Rules With Eye on China / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Germany tightened its grip on investment by companies from outside the European Union, lowering the threshold [to 10 percent] for government probes of stakes in German businesses considered ‘critical infrastructure.’”
German security office warned German firms about Chinese hacking: report / Reuters
“Germany’s Office for Information Security (BSI) has issued warnings to several German firms named by the United States as possible victims of hacking attacks, a newspaper [the Sueddeutsche Zeitung] reported, adding that Chinese activity against German firms had increased.”
- Tariffs exemptions
Uber Asks for Chinese Tariff Exclusion as It Cranks Out E-Bikes / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Uber Technologies Inc., which is producing a new generation of its electric bikes in China by the thousands [nearly 1,000 per day, it claims], has asked the U.S. government for an exclusion from new tariffs on Chinese imports.”
- Businesses expanding in China
Under Siege in the U.S., Toy Stores Find New Life in China / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“China will be world’s largest toy-and-game market by 2022…Toys ‘R’ Us outlets are closed in the U.S., but the brand’s stores are still a popular destination for Shanghai resident Pan Wei.”
- American stock market
Stocks on track for worst December since the Great Depression / CNN
Donald Trump can’t have his tariffs and the stock market too / SCMP
- Effects on EU
Europe Has Little to Gain, Much to Lose in U.S.-China Trade War / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
Jerker Hellström on Twitter: “’Three of Sweden’s most advanced semiconductor companies have been sold to China, in spite of military connections’: top story in today’s Svenska Dagbladet.”
- Effects on Thailand
Thailand can cash in on US-China trade war, but there’s no gain without pain / SCMP
“If the trade war between the United States and China escalates, Thailand is poised to enjoy some short-term benefits as companies look to relocate within Asia, but observers have warned that it may also bring economic risks.”
- Asian manufacturing
US-China trade war weighs on Asian manufacturers / FT (paywall)
Previously in SupChina’s trade war coverage: