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April 15, 2019

U.S.-China Reportedly Agree To Trade Enforcement Measures, But IMF Warns About Deal

As Reuters reported, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced last week that the United States and China “have largely agreed on a mechanism to police any trade agreement they reach, including establishing new ‘enforcement offices.’” The secretary did not offer further details, and also did not say whether President Donald Trump is willing to end the tariffs the United States currently has in place on more than $250 billion in Chinese products if the two countries eventually ink a deal.

Secretary Mnuchin said, “As soon as we’re ready and we have this done, he’s ready and willing to meet with President Xi (Jinping) and it’s important for the two leaders to meet and we’re hopeful we can do this quickly …” Officials from the United States and China will continue discussions over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, a representative from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also weighed in on a potential U.S.-China agreement last week – and the comments weren’t entirely optimistic. Over the weekend, the South China Morning Post reported IMF Asia-Pacific director Changyong Rhee warned any agreement between China and the United States must be “consistent with multilateralism, rather than bilateral” and that if a “deal involved preferential access for the U.S. to Chinese markets” it “could lead to broader worries about the future of the multilateral trading system” and have “a negative impact on third [party] countries whose exports to China would be crowded out.”

To be sure, China isn’t the only nation with whom the United States is seeking a trade pact.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will hold discussions this week with Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. As Bloomberg noted, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to the bilateral talks last year after President Donald Trump “hit Japan’s steel and aluminum exports with punitive tariffs last year and later threatened to impose levies of as much as 25 percent on all imported cars, including those made in Japan.”