As the latest round of trade talks between China and the United States gets underway, China Beige Book CEO Leland Miller blames China for derailing negotations last week.
“Substantively we are very close [to a deal.] We’re almost there,” Miller told Yahoo Finance’s “The Ticker” on Wednesday. “But the Chinese decided to get greedy last week. You saw them push back on certain aspects of the deal: cybertheft, subsidies. The Chinese are going to have to walk back everything they did in the past week in order to just get us back on track.”
On Thursday, trade negotiations will get underway the evening before President Donald Trump plans to hike tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods if a deal isn’t reached. Trump asserted on Wednesday that China “broke the deal” after the country backtracked on key measures in a draft trade agreement.
For its part, China’s Commerce Ministry says it will retaliate if Trump hits the country with new tariffs.
"The escalation of trade friction is not in the interests of the people of the two countries and the people of the world,” The Ministry said in a statement. “The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures."
That followed a decision by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to impose new tariffs that would take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday if a new trade deal is not reached.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, "The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to 'negotiate' with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come.”
The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to “negotiate” with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
Still, Miller says the United States has the upper hand.
“It’s amazing because for a while there, China had chipped away and they probably would have gotten away with it,” Miller says. “But because the economy improved, they got overconfident and they decided to make this power play at the end and it’s really blowing up in their faces right now.”
Besides increasing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for 25%, Trump threatened tariffs on an additional $325 billion of imported goods. This is part of all an effort by the U.S. to stop what it calls unfair trade practices by China, including theft of intellectual property and currency manipulation. China denies those claims.
China reportedly considered abandoning trade talks following Trump’s threats, but Miller says a relationship with the U.S. is too valuable for China not to negotiate a deal.
“I don’t think anyone has the leverage the U.S. does, so the U.S. consumer is very important to China right now. There’s nobody else that can actually throw their weight around the way the U.S. can.”