Chinese President Xi Jinping(right) and his US counterpart Donald Trump take a walk at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Friday. Photo: Xinhua
Recent talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump have set a positive tone for upcoming negotiations on bilateral investment and trade matters, where both countries could make some concessions, despite differences, Chinese experts noted on Monday.
During their first meeting in Florida last week, both leaders acknowledged that bilateral trade between China and the US is imbalanced and that some issues need to be tackled in the coming months.
Following the meeting, a 100-day plan was set to tackle trade issues, with the aim of increasing US exports to China and reducing the trade deficit, according to a briefing by US Secretary Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross published on the White House website on Friday (US time).
Though details of the plan remain unclear, Chinese experts said there are areas where both sides can make concessions to improve ties.
"It is crucial to know what the US' bargaining chips are and what we could offer them," Mei Xinyu, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times on Monday.
For instance, the US could further lift restrictions on some exports to China and ease Chinese companies' access to the US market, especially in the infrastructure sector, Mei said. "China could enlarge exports from the US in energy and agriculture, even Hollywood movies," he added.
The Chinese government is considering offering the Trump administration better market access in the financial sector and for US beef exports, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing US officials involved in talks between the two sides.
The report noted that the Chinese government was prepared to raise the investment ceiling on the Bilateral Investment Treaty but those negotiations were halted after Trump's win.
The Chinese government is expected to respond actively to the US' demand of further opening up the Chinese market to US exports, He Weiwen, an executive council member at the China Society for the WTO, told the Global Times on Monday.
"But it will not be administrative intervention, the opening up will be market driven, which is in line with the WTO's rules and regulations," He said.
The US exported $115.78 billion worth of goods to China in 2016 while it imported $462.81 billion in goods from China, according to the US Census Bureau, a $367.04 billion deficit.
Ongoing trade friction
Although the meetings did not lead to results on concrete matters and US officials described some issues vaguely, the two leaders showed firm attitude to resolve problems in bilateral trade.
"We are certain that there will be no trade war between the countries, instead, the two sides will launch a full-scale dialogue concerning trade matters," He said.
However, trade frictions will continue to exist, experts noted.
"The US government always adopts a carrot-and-stick approach when dealing with China. On one side, they will make progress in trade discussions. On the other side, US authorities will launch anti-dumping and anti-subsidy campaigns against Chinese exports," Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Monday.
The Trump administration is mulling its first concrete measure against China, as the US President reportedly plans to sign an executive order targeting countries that dump steel products into the US market, the New York Times reported on Thursday. The executive order is expected to extend to other sectors such as aluminum imports and even household goods, according to a CNN report on Sunday.
But that "doesn't mean the US would start a trade war with China," Mei said, noting that China's dependence on US imports is far less than the US' dependence on Chinese goods. "The US is unlikely to bear the outcome of the war once China decides to retaliate," he said.
In addition, the recent meetings set the basic tone for US-China trade relations, which are expected to remain on a "stable and health" track, He noted.