This article appeared in the February 26, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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US-China trade talks: Some doubt rise of real reforms

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
US and Chinese delegations met in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington Feb. 21 during continuing bilateral meetings on trade.

President Trump has won kudos for taking a tough stance on China’s dodgy trade practices. But the closer the two nations edge toward an agreement, the greater the skepticism that it will involve fundamental reform. The thinking is that the president is more anxious to get a deal and keep Wall Street happy than to push for substantive change.

On Sunday, announcing he was delaying his threatened increase of tariffs on Chinese imports, Mr. Trump cited “substantial progress” and said the agreement would address key issues, such as intellectual property protection and currency manipulation. On Monday he tweeted: “If a deal is made with China, our great American Farmers will be treated better than they have ever been treated before!” 

But China has committed to reforms before with no real follow-through. What really matters, trade experts say, is how the deal enforces compliance.

Rob Atkinson, who heads the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, offers four components Americans should look for: a dramatic reduction in cybertheft; the end of forced technology transfer from foreign companies to Chinese firms; a 75 percent reduction in subsidies to companies; and real market opening to foreign firms in most industries with no requirement of a Chinese partner company. Also needed: a deadline and an outline of the consequences of noncompliance.

The administration needs “to make the Chinese [undertake] structural reforms,” Mr. Atkinson says. “They don't need the Chinese to buy more [American] soybeans.”

We’re also watching India and Pakistan. As a bonus read today, here’s a quick look at why tensions there – simmering since 1947 – have reached new levels.

Now to our five stories for today.

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This article appeared in the February 26, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/26 edition