A US-China Deal Decoder

This week marks the near half-way point through the 90-day process Presidents Trump and Xi agreed to in Buenos Aires. Mid-level US officials from Washington are in Beijing for the first time since Argentina, to make progress on the agenda for when senior Chinese officials head to Washington later this month to meet US counterparts. That later-in-January meeting would hope to pin down the framework and agreed points, leaving the hardest issues for either another round or haggling between the leaders in February in advance of the March 2 deadline.

Six weeks down and seven to go, and the two sides are still maneuvering for position to set expectations, rather than battling over details. That is very late for such a high-stakes negotiation: the broad strokes are the easy part, the details will be harder. There is no publicly announced template for what a deal is supposed to look like, so it is hard to tell whether we are on track to resolving a Trade War. In this note we describe the elements we think will and will not be in a deal if one can be fashioned.

Posted January 23, 2019
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