Confusion reigns over official US-China trade dialogue

Confusion reigns over official US-China trade dialogue

19/03/18

Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

The strained trade relations between the US and China took a new turn yesterday, with a US official stating that the long-established US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED) had been terminated – only to clarify later that it has not been.

David Malpass, the US Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs, told reporters on Sunday that the Treasury had “discontinued” the CED – a longstanding channel for formal talks between the nations’ finance chiefs, Bloomberg reports.

However, hours later Mr Malpass said he had “misspoke”, and that the dialogue continued.

The fact that the CED’s future is even under discussion indicates the severity of the deterioration in trade relations between the world’s two largest economies.

The Washington Post reports that ‘the episode, which played out on the eve of tense trade-related discussions between international finance ministers, shows just how treacherous the U.S. government’s standing has become, as a growing number of countries have accused the White House of protectionist policies that could lead to isolationism.’

According to the South China Morning Post, the channel was set up during the George W. Bush administration and has since become a key conduit. ‘Chinese officials have relied on the ritual, which includes annual talks in person hosted in turn by each nation,’ the Post reports.

The CED’s cessation would be a backwards step in trade relations, and would do little to ease fears of a trade war.