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China-U.S. trade disputes can only be settled through rational consultations

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨China Plus

09-06-2019 10:00 BJT

Chief trade negotiators from China and the United States have agreed to meet in Washington for further consultations next month. The agreement, reached in a phone conversation involving Chinese chief negotiator Vice Premier Liu He, and made at the request of his U.S. counterparts, sends out positive signals to the international community.

As China and the United States are in different phases of development with different economic institutions, it’s not unusual for both sides to experience economic and trade disputes occasionally. To solve the problems, the key lies in seeking solutions on an equal basis with mutual respect. Both sides need to deepen their understanding of each other and seek common ground while reserving differences.

Over the past one and half years, China and the United States have seen progress as well as twists and turns in negotiations. Both sides had planned to hold a new round of consultations in Washington this month. But the procedure suffered another setback due to Washington’s abrupt move to further raise the import tariffs on Chinese goods, in relation to which Beijing was forced to take countermeasures. The escalation in trade tensions dealt a blow to both economies as well as global growth.

According to the latest statistics on the U.S. side, its manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to 49.9 in August, below the neutral 50.0 threshold for the first time since September 2009, which means the country’s manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in nearly a decade. In the first half of this year, the U.S. overall trade deficit stood above 410 billion US dollars, up 3 percent over the same period last year. It provides ample evidence that raising tariffs is not the solution to the U.S. trade deficit. International institutions including the IMF and the World Bank have time and time again warned against rising trade tensions, saying the world economy would be dragged further down a recessionary trap if trade frictions continued.

History has proved that trade wars have no winners. Extra tariffs will not solve any problems but can only hurt those involved. The China-U.S. trade disputes can only be settled via dialogue and consultations. Beijing has voiced its firm opposition to the escalation of the trade war. The fact that the Chinese negotiators agreed to carry on the consultations in Washington in early October shows the sense of responsibility and rationality on the Chinese side with an aim of minimizing the impact of the trade war on all sides.

It is reported that both working groups will start taking concrete actions to create favorable conditions so that substantive progress can be achieved in the next round of consultations. To take the negotiations back onto the right track, both sides need to revisit the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump during their meetings at the G20 summits held in Buenos Aires and Osaka.

The economic and trade issues between the world’s two largest economies cannot be expected to be resolved overnight as they are complicated. But the disputes will eventually be settled as long as both sides move toward each other in pursuit of win-win, mutually beneficial results, patiently and rationally.

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