Private sector takes on task of smoothing US-China trade friction
But making a more “equitable and balanced” bilateral trade relationship will not come easily
The inaugural US-China Business Leaders Summit closed on a note which echoed Trump administration rhetoric, with a call “to create a more equitable and balanced bilateral and global economic environment,” in a statement released Wednesday.
The group of business leaders was co-chaired by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
“A stable, growing economic relationship between the United States and China is mutually beneficial to the people of our two countries and for the world. This summit is a direct result of the positive conversation that began between President Trump, President Xi and their respective delegations at the historic Mar-a-Lago visit,” the statement read.
To accomplish the goal of a more balanced trade relationship, the Summit produced objectives that are largely in line with agreements reached at the first Trump-Xi summit held in April. While it is a positive step from the standpoint of the bilateral relationship, the more difficult issues with regard to the two countries trade must be decided by the two governments, who did not seem to make much progress this week at the US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.
For instance, dominant US products and services are increasingly concentrated in a tech sector subject to fierce protectionism in China, which may have already precluded many US tech firms from ever making signficant inroads in the Chinese market. It is of note that neither this summit, nor the economic dialogue this week, addressed cloud computing, data flows and localization, forced technology transfer, areas of contention for which US business leaders’ concern is only growing.
Objectives identified at summit from the press release:
To better support these efforts and to produce concrete outcomes, we agree to pursue a number of areas of cooperation:
- We commit to encouraging continued investment between our two countries, as well as cooperation on joint investment in global markets and specific topics such as manufacturing, U.S. infrastructure, environmental protection and the Belt and Road Initiative.
- We commit to increasing bilateral trade, including the export of agricultural products, liquefied natural gas, and high-quality consumer products from the U.S. to China, taking advantage of China’s economic transition.
- We commit to enhancing our dialogues with our two governments to streamline cumbersome customs and inspection requirements, including through the use of technologies.
- We call on the two governments to enhance transparency and reduce uncertainties regarding the process of investment approval in both countries.
- We agree on the importance of increasing protection of intellectual property rights（IPR) to encourage innovation, including through strengthening the rule of law, stricter enforcement of IPR laws and regulations, and the use of big data.