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US-China trade talks: Will the Chinese keep promises to stop bad behavior?

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TALKS between the US and China to end the trade war appear to be in trouble with the March 2 deadline for a deal fast approaching.

In the ongoing trade talks between the US and China, a lack of trust – key to any successful negotiation – appears to be hobbling the ability to reach a deal. Hence it is not clear negotiators will be able to achieve anything substantive before they hit President Donald Trump’s deadline, triggering automatic tariff hikes if there’s no agreement.

As a trade economist, I believe the answer to the trust conundrum lies in learning from an international body the president disdains: the World Trade Organization.

Empty words?

From the American perspective, a key issue is that in the past the Chinese have made all sorts of promises to address US concerns that they later reneged on. Or, China has taken so long to act that when it finally did it made little difference.

Several examples of Chinese promises going unkept readily come to mind.

When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, it was given “developing country” status. This allowed China to levy high tariffs on imports from the US and Europe even as it benefited from low duties on its exports.

SEE ALSO: The US-China trade war is hurting tech companies on both sides

The understanding at that time was that as its economy grew, China would gradually adopt market-based economic principles and commit itself to the basic tenets of liberalized trade and globalization. But this........

© Asian Correspondent