In a report published last year, Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s top trade negotiator, said that government subsidies were a major element of China’s plan to surpass the U.S on technological leadership. China is “grossly subsidizing and taking over our markets,” he insisted to the Senate Finance Committee this summer. And yet!
“White House officials have acknowledged that some key issues remain unresolved. Lighthizer has said “a lot of hard things” have been left to future talks, which most analysts say will be arduous and unlikely to bear fruit before the November election. Bargaining over industrial subsidies is expected to be particularly tough. Though Trump launched the trade war to get China to change practices including its numerous subsidies, the commercial conflict has only convinced Xi to accelerate efforts to become self-sufficient — no matter the cost.”
In other words, one of the major reasons Trump launched his trade war has yet to be resolved, and while getting a “phase one“ deal sounds well and good, it’s not at all clear that President Art of the Deal will be able to advance to beyond that (though he’ll assuredly claim as much in an quickly debunked tweet some time soon.) Happy New Year!