The Trump White House added to a busy week of China trade-related moves on Thursday, when an administration official declared a recently established high-level trade dialogue framework all but dead.
The Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED) was the product of Trump’s first bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and was touted at the time as a breakthrough which could facilitate more efficient high-level negotiations on sticky trade issues.
But David Malpass, a top Trump administration economic diplomat, told the Financial Times this week that the CED is “stalled,” and there are no plans to revive talks.
The first CED was held in Washington over the summer, but the two sides failed to even produce a joint statement.
The comments come on the heels of the Commerce Department’s announcement of a probe into Chinese aluminum imports on Tuesday, and an official US rejection, in the form of a filing Wednesday, of China’s bid in a WTO case to be afforded market economy status.
As we wrote earlier this week, the increasingly hard line on trade with China comes as the Trump administration is trying to enlist Xi Jinping’s help on the North Korea issue. But while the US actions on trade may give Xi less motivation to help, the Trump administration also may have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more China is willing to, or can, do to stop the North. Pursuing the hawkish trade agenda promised by Trump, and consistently advocated by his top trade officials, would logically follow.