Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

The shutdown is now involved. And that certainly isn't any help!

Time for a quick update on U.S.-China trade negotiations! What’s going on?

In Washington, DC:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, owner of the freshest Twitter handle in the U.S. Senate ...

… met with U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer to get an update on how the U.S.-China trade negotiations are going. According to the senator: They aren’t going good!

“He (Lighthizer) said that there hasn’t been any progress made on structural changes that need to be made,” Grassley said in his weekly conference call with reporters, adding that those issues would include intellectual property, stealing trade secrets and putting pressure on corporations to share information.

Elsewhere in Washington:

We aren’t making it any easier on Ambassador Lighthizer to do his job as President Trump and House Democrats are at loggerheads over federal spending on the wall. And so we're more than three weeks into a partial government shutdown.

Okay, so how does that affect the negotiating team? Well, the shutdown has caused USTR to run out of funding, and so it’s now functioning with only 79 of its 265 full-time employees. I’m sure the administration has a lot of confidence in its negotiators, but that’s a dumb weight to tie to their ankles.

Meanwhile, over in China:

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has announced approximately $193 billion in stimulus measures to maintain domestic economic growth. It appears the Chinese economy – which has grown at a crazy rate for decades – is slowing down, but because it’s so opaque, it’s hard to know for sure. And it's unclear how much influence this strain is having on China's negotiating position. 

For what it's worth, though, a high-level Chinese government official, Vice-Premier Liu He, has accepted an invitation to visit Washington at the end of the month. He'll be here with a trade delegation to meet with Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, reports Politico.

But 

The takeaway?

At any rate: China’s economy isn’t doing super hot right now. But that doesn’t mean it’s about to give ground easy at the negotiating table. And we aren't making it any easier on ourselves!