U.S. and Beijing officials, lawyers, and other trade experts say that a “phase two” trade deal between the U.S. and China is nowhere near imminent. The two largest economies in the world are still having trouble getting the phase one deal signed. Back in October, U.S. President Trump said he expects to quickly start on phase two negotiations after the phase one deal is completed.
The phase two trade deal would focus on the U.S. accusations that China steals U.S. intellectual property by forcing U.S. companies to transfer technology to Chinese rivals. Things like the 2020 presidential election, phase one deal difficulties, combined with the president’s reluctance to work with other countries to pressure China into playing by World Trade Organization rules are starting to dampen hopes for a more ambitious agreement in the future.
Officials in Beijing have already commented publicly that they won’t start discussions on a phase two agreement until after the 2020 election because they want to see if Trump wins a second term. Reports came last week that signing the phase one agreement has the potential to slide into 2020.