U.S. negotiators head to China on Tuesday to try to hammer out details to end the two countries’ trade war, including the shape of an enforcement mechanism, the success or failure of which could set the trajectory of ties for years to come, Reuters reported.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for talks beginning on April 30, followed by a visit by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to Washington for more discussions starting on May 8.
Both sides have cited progress on issues including intellectual property and forced technology transfer to help end a conflict marked by tit-for-tat tariffs that have cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and rattled financial markets.
Those issues are still on the table, according to the White House, but U.S. officials say privately that an enforcement mechanism for a deal and timelines for lifting tariffs are sticking points.
Agreeing to a way to enforce a deal is one thing. Ensuring it holds up under ties strained by growing mistrust and geopolitical tensions will be another, say watchers of the relationship.
“An effective enforcement mechanism will define the deal,” Tim Stratford, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham), told Reuters.
“The deal doesn’t need to revamp China’s economy. But it does need to provide a new methodology for dealing with our differences,” said Stratford, a lawyer and former assistant U.S. Trade Representative who has worked in China for more than three decades, Reuters informs.
“This is incredibly high stakes. We have a particular window of opportunity, and a lot in the future of U.S.-China relations rests on this,” he said.
Earlier this month, Mnuchin said the two sides had agreed on establishing new “enforcement offices” to police an agreement, although he did not give specifics. On Sunday, he told the New York Times talks are entering a critical point: “We’re getting into the final laps.”