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Opinion
The Will to Cooperate
By Lan Xinzhen | NO. 21 MAY 25, 2017

China published on May 12 the Initial Actions of the China-U.S. Economic Cooperation 100-Day Plan. The plan, reached after 30 rounds of negotiations between the two nations, listed 10 agreements regarding bilateral economic and trade issues such as China allowing imports of U.S. beef and allowing wholly U.S.-owned e-payment service providers to apply for licenses to operate in China.

During President Xi Jinping's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida in April, they agreed to advance China-U.S. economic cooperation with a 100-day plan under the framework of the China-U.S. Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. Following intensive talks between the two sides on key issues, the three co-chairs of the dialogue—Vice Premier Wang Yang of China and Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross of the United States—reached consensus on initial commitments for the plan as well as next-step objectives.

The release of the plan demonstrates both nations' confidence in economic cooperation and helps to avert bilateral trade frictions.

Trump had vowed to impose a 45-percent tariff on imports from China and to label China as a currency manipulator during his election campaign, which cast a shadow over Sino-U.S. economic and trade relations and led to fears of a trade war between China and the United States after his election.

However, since taking office, Trump has realized the harm of possible confrontation between the two sides and chosen the smart option of cooperation. Trump's choice has enabled the world to breathe a sigh of relief and injected vitality into Sino-U.S. economic and trade relations. Stable and healthy ties between China and the United States will not only benefit the two nations, but also boost world economic recovery.

The 100-day plan shows the great importance the Trump administration attaches to mutually beneficial Sino-U.S. economic and trade relations. From the U.S. standpoint, the plan primarily aims to reduce the bilateral trade deficits. Nevertheless, these cannot be solved within a short span of time, given that they result from the two nations' different roles in the global economy as well as U.S. restrictions on hi-tech exports. Dialogue rather than friction should be the best way to handle the trade deficit issue, and the plan indicates the two sides' resolve and goodwill to solve the problem.

Some suspect that the plan is a concession made by China to the United States. This view is incorrect. The plan's 10 agreements show that it is concerned with mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation. The aspirations of both sides are balanced, and neither side has made any kind of concession under the plan.

Besides the initial results, both sides have also identified other issues that will require great efforts if progress or resolution is to be achieved within the 100-day period. Further, as concrete progress is made in implementing the actions under the 100-day plan, the two sides will begin discussing a one-year plan with the aim to advance their economic engagement and cooperation.

Sino-U.S. economic cooperation conforms to the trend of the times. The 100-day plan proves once again that although new problems frequently emerge in bilateral relations, they can be solved through deepened communication, strengthened coordination and increased mutual trust.

Cooperation Commitments

1. China is to allow imports of U.S. beef on conditions consistent with international food safety and animal health standards and consistent with the 1999 Agricultural Cooperation Agreement beginning as soon as possible, but no later than July 16.

2. After the two sides reach a consensus, the United States is to publish a proposed rule, by July 16 at the latest, and to realize China poultry imports as soon as possible.

3. China's National Biosafety Committee is to conduct science-based evaluations of all eight pending U.S. biotechnology product applications by the end of May to assess the safety of the products for their intended use.

4. The United States welcomes China, as well as any of its trading partners, to receive imports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from the United States. The United States treats China no less favorably than other non-FTA trade partners with regard to LNG export authorizations.

5. By July 16, China is to allow wholly foreign-owned financial services firms in China to provide credit rating services and to apply for credit investigation licenses.

6. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission intends to extend by July 16 its current no-action relief for Shanghai Clearing House for six months, with further extensions of up to three years in total to be granted if appropriate and consistent with the conditions set forth in the no-action relief.

7. By July 16, China is to issue any further necessary guidelines and allow wholly U.S.-owned suppliers of electronic payment services (EPS) to apply for licenses to operate in China. This should lead to full and prompt market access. China is to continue to permit its domestic banks to issue dual brand-dual currency bankcards that allow U.S. EPS providers to process foreign currency payment card transactions in China.

8. The applicable U.S. federal regulatory authorities remain committed to apply in the United States the same bank prudential supervisory and regulatory standards to Chinese banking institutions as they do to other foreign banking institutions, in like circumstances and in accordance with U.S. law.

9. China is to issue both bond underwriting and settlement licenses to two qualified U.S. financial institutions by July 16.

10. The United States is to send delegates to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14-15.

(Source: Initial Actions of the China-U.S. Economic Cooperation 100-Day Plan;compiled by Beijing Review)

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to yanwei@bjreview.com

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