As Asia Unhedged predicted last week, the much-hyped Trump-Xi extravaganza last week did not produce big moves on the bilateral trade relationship of the world’s largest two economies.
Also as expected, the framework for bilateral dialogues saw significant changes. The meeting notably produced a 100-day action plan on trade, according to a statement from commerce secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday.
The most important change made to the existing US-China dialogue framework was the upgrading of one dialogue to include the two countries’ presidents. A presidential-level dialogue will have a much better chance of producing substantive agreements.
All in all, the first meeting carefully avoided surprises. There was little movement on trade, but not insignificant movement towards a more action-oriented mechanism for exchange moving forward.
Also of note was the positive coverage in China of Trump’s tweet that “tremendous goodwill and friendship was formed, (…).” That statement was certainly interpreted in China as Xi Jinping getting something significant – friendship – without giving anything up in return.