Trade Disputes Are at the Heart of Washington's New Diplomacy

Media Coverage | April 03, 2019

Reports indicate that the United States and China are closing in on a trade deal that will block new tariffs on Chinese goods entering the United States. But, as we saw at the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February, nothing is finished until signatures are put to paper—in this case, a formal trade agreement. It is a self-conscious hallmark of Trump's diplomatic style that unpredictability is a key element of negotiation, and wrong-footing the adversary is just part of the way in which one wins the best possible deal.

Assuming the Americans and the Chinese come to an agreement, terms will almost certainly include arrangements for the Chinese to purchase more American goods—from soybeans to Boeings—with the express goal of narrowing the trade deficit between the two countries. Similarly, the press has speculated about arrangements to prevent, or at least minimize, Chinese currency manipulation, resulting in fairer and more transparent pricing.

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