Very odd indeed

Reuters:

The diplomatic cable from Beijing arrived in Washington late on Friday night, with systematic edits to a nearly 150-page draft trade agreement that would blow up months of negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, according to three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources briefed on the talks.

The document was riddled with reversals by China that undermined core U.S. demands, the sources told Reuters.

In each of the seven chapters of the draft trade deal, China had deleted its commitments to change laws to resolve core complaints that caused the United States to launch a trade war: Theft of U.S. intellectual property and trade secrets; forced technology transfers; competition policy; access to financial services; and currency manipulation.

The stripping of binding legal language from the draft struck directly at the highest priority of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – who views changes to Chinese laws as essential to verifying compliance after years of what U.S. officials have called empty reform promises.

Lighthizer has pushed hard for an enforcement regime more like those used for punitive economic sanctions – such as those imposed on North Korea or Iran – than a typical trade deal. “This undermines the core architecture of the deal,” said a Washington-based source with knowledge of the talks.

Changing any law in China requires a unique set of processes that can’t be navigated quickly, said a Chinese official familiar with the talks. The official disputed the assertion that China was backtracking on its promises, adding that U.S. demands were becoming more “harsh” and the path to a deal more “narrow” as the negotiations drag on.

Liu is set to arrive in Washington on Thursday for two days of talks that just last week were widely seen as pivotal – a possible last round before a historic trade deal. Now, U.S. officials have little hope that Liu will come bearing any offer that can get talks back on track, said two of the sources.

To avert escalation, some of the sources said, Liu would have to scrap China’s proposed text changes and agree to make new laws. China would also have to move further toward the U.S. position on other sticking points, such as demands for curbs on Chinese industrial subsidies and a streamlined approval process for genetically engineered U.S. crops.

As Marty Zweig used to say on WSW, “it doesn’t look good Lou.”

One Response to “Very odd indeed”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    I am given to understand that in Chinese culture, this is a negotiating ploy. Wait until the contract/agreement is ready to be signed and then begin to quibble over already agreed to points. The strategy is to gain concessions by wearing down and frustrating the other party.

    I would be surprised if it worked with Trump.

Leave a Reply