15:32 GMT26 November 2020
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    In the lead up to the US presidential election in 2020, US President Trump is aiming to secure a trade guarantee with China and steer clear of geopolitical issues which could embolden hardline voices in both Beijing and Washington.

    The US and China are looking to delay the next arrangement of American-imposed tariffs which are set to take place on 15 December as both sides look to wind down the trade conflict, according to the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Tuesday.

    Trade negotiators are looking to lay "the groundwork” for the Trump administration to suspend the 15% tariffs on about $160 billion in Chinese-made products, as reported in the WSJ.

    The proposed “phase one” trade agreement between Beijing and Washington that the two sides failed to sign could potentially be reinvigorated. The pact involves China purchases of US agricultural products, which is the baseline for the limited deal, as announced in October.

    The news contributed to the increase in stock futures on Tuesday morning as it may continue to impact prospects for American consumers and producers.

    The US did not specify how long it would wait before imposing this round of tariffs, aimed at consumer goods including toys, phones, laptops and clothes from China.

    However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, whose views reflect those of President Trump, said on Friday that there would be “no arbitrary deadlines".

    He later said on Tuesday that tariffs “are still on the table” if Mr Trump is not satisfied with the outcome of trade talks between the two powers.

    Earlier this month, President Donald Trump suggested he may wait until after the 2020 election to finalise a trade deal with China, adding that there is “no deadline” for the agreement to be reached by.

    The US continues to press China to enshrine into the deal that they would conduct a quarterly review of promised purchases and that the amounts purchased would not drop below 10% in any quarter.

    The negotiations from the Chinese side, led by Vice Premier Liu He, have tried to reject the demands and argue that the agreement would breach World Trade Organization rules and create friction between China and other trade partners.

    Shifting towards a demand of guaranteed purchases is a significantly different approach from that of previous US governments, who had tried to push China into increasing its reliance on markets instead of state plans to manage its economy. 

    Experts such as Stephen Vaughn, a former general counsel at the USTR’s office during the Trump administration, are claiming that such changes are necessary as China is not a free-market economy.

    “The United States has to deal with China as it is, not as we would like it to be”, Vaughn said.


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