China, US to Attend Presidential Summit in March

Trump has made the trade deficit a focus of his economic foreign policy and frequently mentions it when discussing worldwide trade.

December's trade imbalance worsened because US imports rose 2.1 per cent as Americans bought more household appliances, cellphones and computer products from overseas.

Trump also slapped tariffs, which are a kind of tax on imported goods, on steel and aluminum imports, a move that led to retaliation from some USA trading partners.

Tai Hui, Asia-Pacific chief market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, said that while there were a number of hurdles to a final agreement such as on intellectual property rights, traders were broadly confident.

Over the past year, even as he imposed tariffs on foreign-made solar panels, washing machines, steel, aluminum and assorted goods from China, imports roared ahead of exports. Trump has taken measures to fight trade deficits, including urging companies to manufacture in the US, and renegotiating trade deals with partners like the European Union and China.

The newspaper, as well as Bloomberg News, also said Beijing had tentatively agreed to lower tariffs or ease certain restrictions, work quicker to open up its auto market and increase its purchases of United States goods. Economists disagree about whether or not such a deficit is good or bad, since more importing could be an indicator of a healthy economy and consumers with more disposable income.

But the trade war is also hitting business operations at home in the U.S., as well as the American consumer.

The U.S. lawmakers said it was a particular concern that U.S. firms might be contributing to the Xinjiang persecution, given commercial ties to Chinese tech companies that had profited from a surge in security spending there.

A bipartisan group of USA lawmakers complained to the Trump administration on Monday that its response to rights abuses against China's Muslim minority was inadequate months after it said it was looking into imposing sanctions. He might get one soon as USA and Chinese negotiators narrow in on a trade deal.

That was offset by the gains from protectionism derived by USA producers benefiting from the tariffs, the economists found.

It had been set to take effect Mar 1, but now the rate will remain at 10%, according to a statement from the US Trade Representative's office.

"The costs of the trade war are quite large relative to optimistic estimates of any gains that are likely to be achieved", wrote the trio of economists. "In return, the United States would most likely drop its tariffs on at least $200 billion of the $250 billion worth of Chinese imports now subject to American levies". In a March 2 speech to a conservative political group, he called them "the greatest negotiating tool in the history of our country" and credited them with bringing trade partners such as China to the bargaining table.

Following a spat between the U.S. and the EU when America lifted tariffs on steel and aluminium, Mr Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker previous year reached a truce. We had to dust them off.

  • Anthony Vega