As crucial US-China talks loom, Trump may be better placed

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Absent some agreement, the rate of the existing tariffs on US$200 billion (NZ$291 billion) of China's exports to the U.S. will rise from 10 per cent to 25 per cent from January 1.

The U.S. Trade Representative "has been teeing up protection (probably export restraints) for over a year, as shown by the side letters exchanged in the USMCA process", Mary Lovely of the Peterson Institute for International Economics told CBS MoneyWatch in an e-mail. The latter, while quite possible considering the track record of the White House, seems unlikely to succeed.

All eyes will be on Trump and and Chinese President Xi Jinping as clouds gather over the global economy.

The chief executive of worldwide financial services firm Sun Global Investments (SGI) said on Thursday that while a thawing of relations between the US and China may be at hand, US President Donald Trump will enter talks with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina "with a slight advantage".

Trump also said British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit agreement "sounds like a great deal for the EU" that would make it more hard for the U.K.to strike a trade deal with the U.S. The British pound fell in the wake of his comments, which were countered by May.

Trump said on Twitter that the 25 percent tariff placed on imported pickup trucks and commercial vans from markets outside North America in the 1960s had long boosted US vehicle production.

Separately, Trump hinted Wednesday that he's looking into imposing tariffs on auto imports, a day after threatening to slash federal subsidies to General Motors.

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But tensions came to the fore again at a summit when Xi and US Vice President Mike Pence delivered competing speeches criticizing each other's trade and investment practices. "I beat the people from China".

Cui Lei, an expert at the Department for American Studies at Beijing's China Institute of International Studies, said the signs were not promising following the stormy APEC summit and new U.S. accusations of Chinese sharp practice on fronts such as intellectual property rights and technology transfers. "China, not so good".

Later he described what he said was the "bottom line" in the dealings with China. In that interview, Trump set a high bar for a potential deal with China - a standard that is likely a nonstarter for Xi and the Chinese government. GM makes the Buick Envision in China, but so far this year has shipped fewer than 25,000 of the SUVs to the United States. In 2011, Trump claimed "China is raping this country" during a tour of a defense manufacturer in New Hampshire, local media reported. They are, of course, ultimately a tax on United States consumers and shareholders. The president has defended US ties with Saudi Arabia, although sources say the Central Intelligence Agency believes the crown prince ordered the journalist's murder.

If Apple does get hit with tariffs, the impact may not be profound.

Trump lashed out at General Motors Co after the company's recent announcement of US layoffs and plant closures and threatened additional tariffs. A final decision on the proposed arrangement would reportedly not be decided until then.

"It would be hard to argue that (China) has behaved fairly in its trade practices", said Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy this week at an S&P Global event in NY.

It doesn't help that neither Trump nor his trade or economic advisers are prepared to acknowledge (if, indeed, they recognise it) that a trade conflict harms the USA along with those it targets, or that a country that issues the world's reserve currency is inevitably going to run structural current account deficits.

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