Venue for Sino-U.S. trade pact signing becomes growing concern
China and US have been making laudable progress enough for ‘phase one’ to get signed this month. However, the signing venue is still unclear as it ranges from Alaska to Greece.
U.S. President Donald Trump disclosed his willingness to sign ‘phase one’ of the trade pact with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Iowa. The state has historical ties with Xi and a possible beneficiary of China’s scheme of purchasing US farm goods.
On the other hand, a Chinese official stated that Beijing looks forward to signing the pact in Greece where Xi is expected to arrive on Sunday for a meeting. After such, the Chinese president will attend a summit of emerging market countries in Brazil this Nov. 13.
Several sources with information about the trade talks disclosed that signing the pact in Greece is not possible as according to Greek government officials, there were no requests made during Xi’s visit.
However, multiple US sources said that both countries can plot halfway such as Alaska or Hawaii.
“There was a suggestion about Alaska, there was a suggestion about Hawaii. I’m sure the Chinese will have some suggestions in China,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. He added, “that should be the easiest part of the whole thing to negotiate.”
In line with this, this concern implies that any venue is politically charged as both leaders don’t want to resort to home court or to foreign rivals, trade experts said.
Iowa is viewed to be the Trump administration’s first resort due to state’s potential of boosting U.S. exports of soybeans, pork, and other products which suffered from the 16-month trade dispute.
Beijing on the other hand is asking for tariff roll-back to fully sell the agreement domestically. “China needs political cover to come to the United States without a state visit. It can’t be seen as a capitulation,” said one source.
Indefinite agreement over the signing venue is indicative of trade talks’ fluid nature since there are details yet to be finalized. This includes enforcement mechanism and the extent of tariff scheme for China.