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Extended Talks Signal Progress In Efforts To End Trade War With China


In Beijing, there are reports that three days of negotiations between a U.S. trade delegation and their Chinese counterparts have wrapped up. As NPR's Rob Schmitz reports, there were signs of progress.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: The group of U.S. trade officials was only expected to stay in Beijing for two days. So when a third day was added to their itinerary, economists were hopeful.

ANDY XIE: Without some progress already made, there will not be an extension to the negotiations.

SCHMITZ: Shanghai economist Andy Xie sees the extension as a good sign, so did President Trump. At the end of his team's second day in Beijing, he tweeted, talks with China are going very well. Asian markets responded, climbing to nearly one month highs on speculation that a deal between the world's two largest economies was being hammered out. Xie says it's clear to the Chinese negotiators that Trump, a president concerned about a stock market crash and a deal fall-through, is ready to end the trade war.

XIE: If it breaks down, the stock market has a lot of downside. I wouldn't be surprised if the U.S. stock market goes down another 30 percent.

SCHMITZ: Xie says President Trump's obsession with the performance of the U.S. stock market has weakened his team's negotiating position with the Chinese. And that's why he says the likely outcome will be China agreeing to buy more American goods in order to draw down the trade deficit, a big concern of President Trump's. But he says, it'll be unlikely the U.S. will be able to persuade China to make the necessary changes to how it manages its economy that would make it easier for U.S. companies to succeed in the Chinese marketplace. For years, China's government has controlled its own markets to the benefit of its own companies.

Should this week's talks succeed, China's expected to send a more senior-level trade delegation to Washington within the next few weeks. Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Shanghai.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAD TOI'S "JEUX D'EAU") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.