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Trade talks journey arduous, but can be done step by step: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-07-18 21:12
[Photo/IC]

Responding to Washington's latest threat to impose additional tariffs on another $325 billion of Chinese exports, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called on Washington to show "determination and perseverance" and work with Beijing to find a way out of the current impasse.

Washington says the two sides still have a long way to go before they can conclude a trade deal, but as the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

The question that the two sides now have to answer is what that first step is to be to get the stalled trade negotiations moving again.

In recent remarks on the trade talks, US officials claim Washington is not in a hurry, and a quality deal is all that matters.

Yet their remarks over the lack of progress in restarting the talks, and the subsequent threats betray Washington's anxiety that time is a luxury it does not possess and its eagerness to get a deal over the line. A sign that, instead of intimidating Beijing, the "maximum pressure" Washington has been employing is biting itself, despite all claims to the contrary.

Considering their dramatically divergent assessments of bilateral trade and what has left them at loggerheads, it is unrealistic to anticipate that a deal that is acceptable to both sides will be conjured up in a very short period of time, no matter how much it might have appeared that a deal was within reach. It will take time to reach complete agreement on the outstanding issues, as Beijing and Washington still have divergent ideas of what would constitute a fair and acceptable deal.

Patiently addressing the remaining sticking points is the only way to ensure the talks are constructive and the only viable path to producing a negotiated resolution to their trade conflict.

If the threatened tariffs are imposed, and the impasse drags on, Washington will sooner or later appreciate what Beijing means when it says it has "systemic advantages" on its side.

Washington always talks a good game, but it's not going to be fooled by its own words. It's well aware that it is playing a game where either both will be winners or both will be losers.

Thus, despite all the verbal bravado, it remains in favor of a negotiated outcome.

Since both parties want to resume the negotiations and don't really want to cause negative impacts for the other, they should be able to walk back a bit and find a point where they can agree to restart their talks and proceed step by step from there.

  
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