Chinese and American officials are meeting in China for trade talks right now as I write this but, to my own surprise, high level talks apparently will not occur until at least Thursday.
Reuters reports that talks are currently being handled by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish while Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trump's trade representative Robert Lighthizer won't speak to anyone until later this week.
And in hindsight, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that observers don't believe this week's talks will produce a deal.
“We are hearing the list of issues the two presidents will ultimately have to make decisions on is being narrowed, so that’s an indication that things are being addressed. But we’re also hearing that there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Erin Ennis, senior vice president of the US-China Business Council, who says she has spoken with officials in both the United States and China. “I don’t think either side is expecting a draft of something next week.”
Another source who had been briefed on the talks said a lot of work also needed to be done on an enforcement mechanism for a potential deal.
“If there’s some indication that they’re making progress on subsidies, forced tech transfer and the constellation of issues there and an enforcement mechanism, that would be interesting. The word coming out of this last round was that there was very limited, measly progress on those issues,” the source said.
If this week's talks don't lead to a deal or at least some semblance of a deal, that will leave just two weeks between the end of talks and the deadline for Trump's tariffs which will increase from 10 to 25 percent on March 2nd. That's two weeks to hammer out a deal governing over $600 billion in trade per year. The Trump regime has had nearly a year to come up with something so I don't necessarily expect they'll pull a rabbit out of a hat now.
It's anyone's guess what will happen at this point, but I still expect Trump's tariffs will be delayed again.
When Trump originally delayed his tariff hikes from January 1st to March 2nd, he did so while proclaiming that he had already reached some kind of deal with China, but that was not true and it probably won't be true if he does the same thing again.