xi's moments

Negotiating in good faith can stop trade war shots: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-05-08 22:52

That China and the United States are to have more trade talks is welcome news. That the two sides are to continue their discussions in Washington next week suggests they believe they can bridge their differences. And it is to be hoped that proves to be the case.

The fact that they are willing to continue to talk has raised hopes that some progress might have been made during their discussions in Beijing last week. Although the two sides failed to find solutions to their bilateral trade frictions, they seem, at least, to be no longer exchanging barbs.

If the two sides can continue to signal that they believe that continuing their discussions will come up with the goods, that would help to calm the widespread concerns a trade war is looming.

That the two parties have seemingly indicated that they prefer dialogue to resolve the issues has also hopefully put an end to them trading tariff threats.

Yet optimism still needs to be tempered. Although the US has shown a commitment to resolving the trade quarrel through talks, it is evident that it still holds the same view of China-US trade relations.

It still claims to be a victim of the big bilateral trade gap and demands that China take substantial steps to reduce its trade surplus. Seemingly, without offering much in exchange. And certainly not the high-tech products that would significantly shrink the trade gap, unless it is planning to make a backroom deal.

Now that the two sides have to make clear that a negotiated agreement remains on the cards, Washington really does have to get over its penchant for using national security as an excuse for blocking high-tech exports to China. And for also using that as an excuse to block Chinese investments in the US. It is these politically motivated practices that prevent the bilateral trade gap from narrowing.

Which is why, ahead of the Washington talks, China has urged the US to “engage in equal-footed consultation to resolve the differences and handle China-US trade frictions”.

It will be hard for the talks to fare well next week if the US stubbornly persists on wanting to take without giving. After all the talks should be all about bartering. A good haggle can be very satisfying if both parties walk away happy.

So in order to strike a bargain, both sides must be sincere about seeking to close the deal.

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