U.S., China working on multiple memorandums for trade deal

February 21 , 2019

U.S. and Chinese negotiators are working on multiple memorandums of understanding that would form the basis of a final trade deal, according to Bloomberg, citing a person briefed on the talks.

The MoUs would reportedly cover areas including agriculture, non-tariff barriers, services, technology transfer and intellectual property, said the source who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

The enforcement mechanism remains unclear, but there would likely be a threat that tariffs would be reimposed if conditions aren’t met, the person said.

No breakthrough is expected during this week’s talks in Washington on major structural issues, the person said, but there is an effort underway to potentially extend a March 1 deadline for U.S. tariffs to rise on Chinese goods, Bloomberg reported.

Liu He, China’s chief negotiator, is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, according to a separate person familiar with the situation.

While President Trump has been most vocal on bilateral trade deficit with China, the U.S. has numerous issues with China’s economic and trade policies, and the administration is pushing for what it terms ‘fair and reciprocal’ trade.

In response, China has repeatedly offered to increase purchases of agricultural and energy products to shrink the deficit. Since the tariff truce agreed in December it has resumed imports of some farm products and a deal may see a substantial increase in that trade.

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