New trade talks have been announced for China and the U.S. later this month. The talks, which will be the first in over two months, will be led by China's Commerce Vice-Minister Wang Shouwen and Davis Malpass, the U.S. Treasury Department's under secretary for international affairs. According to Bloomberg, Wang Shouwen, leader of the Chinese delegation, is a "veteran trade bureaucrat and fluent English speaker who's called America a 'trade bully.'" The choice of low-level officials to conduct the talks has led to low expectations of success among observers. "Treasury is not in charge of trade, and Malpass is not the right person to be talking to," said Derek Scissors, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, according to the South China Morning Post. In reality, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, led by Robert E. Lighthizer, oversees the lists of Chinese goods facing tariffs.
However, previous high level trade negotiations led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to yield a productive agreement due to lack of support from President Trump — frustrating China's leaders and reducing optimism about negotiations that are not endorsed by the president. It is considered politically risky for a senior Chinese official to enter talks that could be unexpectedly vetoed by Trump.The new round of trade talks, scheduled for August 22 and 23, are considered "exploratory" as the low-level officials will haggle to decide whether higher-level talks should recommence. U.S. demands on the agenda include lowering of tariffs, ending forced technology transfer, improving market access for foreign companies, and raising the value of the yuan to its pre-dispute level. On the other side, China seeks the removal of U.S. tariffs as well as equal treatment of Chinese companies in national security review among others. This comes at a time when the Trump administration is moving forward with plans to impose an additional $200 billion of tariffs on China. China has vowed to retaliate with $60 billion penalties on U.S. goods.
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