Placebo trade war talks to be administered in Washington in October

Foreign Affairs

Photo credit: SupChina illustration

After the latest tariff escalation on September 1, we are now in a brief moment of calm in the U.S.-China techno-trade war.

Last week, the two governments agreed to meet in Washington, D.C., in early October, for the 13th (!) round of trade talks since large-scale import taxes were implemented on July 6, 2018.

Markets — the fools! — jumped immediately in response to the renewed negotiations, but you should not believe the hype. A more reliable way to view these talks comes via Beijing-based American lawyer and former four-term chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China James M. Zimmerman, on Twitter:

Beijing is done with Trump’s tactics. The October meeting is to get peacefully past the PRC’s 70th anniversary. They’ll stall to 2020 when Trump becomes desperate for an election year deal, any deal. Meanwhile, the economy suffers.

In other words, these talks will function as a placebo to keep the markets, and Trump, calm for the time being. No real cure to the chronic diseases of U.S.-China economic relations will be invented next month that hasn’t already been repeatedly derided as “WEAK” by Trump, or rejected by Beijing as an insult to its sovereignty.

More to read on the realities of the trade war: