White House optimistic on China trade talks

Senior White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington

The NYT says the deal would "largely require Beijing to make big purchases of American agricultural and energy goods and to lower some barriers that prevent American companies from operating in China". That reflected a deterioration of more than US$100 billion from the figure that Trump inherited from President Barack Obama.

But a larger trade deficit runs directly counter to the narrative Trump has been pushing ever since he started campaigning for the presidency.

Still, tariffs so far have proven to be a blunt weapon.

If talking doesn't yield progress, Lighthizer said the USA will respond with "proportional" and "unilateral" action, likely referring to tariffs.

Chinese negotiators have also offered to speed up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limits on auto ventures and to reduce tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current 15 percent rate, according to the Journal.

Lawrence Summers, a Harvard economist and former chairman of President Barack Obama's National Economic Council, told The Times that "the trade deficit is a awful metric for judging economic policy".

The trade war was only one factor affecting the US economy, Weinstein said, and with the USA less exposed to trade than other major Western economies such as Germany, it was not having as much of an impact as it might.

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President Donald Trump first imposed tariffs on China in January 2018, and the Chinese government retaliated two and a half months later with tariffs on about $3 billion worth of USA goods, including a tariff on soybeans that disproportionately affected farmers. Their research also revealed that workers in many Republican-leaning counties suffered the most economically from Trump's trade disputes.

A truck passes a stack of China Shipping containers at the Port of Savannah in Georgia on July 5, 2018. Data from December 2018 was released Wednesday.

David Dollar, economist, expert on China and senior fellow at the China Center at the Brookings Institute, told students and faculty the world is nervous about rising protectionism in the USA and America's imposition of trade tariffs on China during a lecture February 26 in Mandeville Hall.

"'... I will be delaying the USA increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1, '" Trump tweeted on February 24, according to The New York Times. If the tariffs continue, about US$165 billion worth of trade would be redirected each year, they added.

His enthusiasm for a pact could shape crucial decisions such as balancing Chinese pressure to lift tariffs immediately against trade hawks' arguments to initially maintain duties as leverage to assure good behavior by Beijing. Trump called the request "very important for our great farmers".

The study also found sizable costs relative to any expected benefits. But that doesn't mean the trade war ends. We had to dust them off.