Trade talks between the United States and China appear to be in serious trouble after China reportedly walked back some of its commitments and President Trump launched a tirade against Chinese negotiators on social media. This marks a sharp turn from last week, when Mr. Trump said talks were “going along pretty well.” As with most negotiations, the most intractable issues have been left for the final stages.
据报道,在中国收回了一些承诺,特朗普总统在社交媒体上对中国谈判代表发起连番抨击之后,美中贸易谈判似乎陷入严重困境。与上周相比,这是一个明显的转变,当时特朗普曾表示,谈判“进展相当顺利”。和大多数谈判一样,最棘手的问题被留到最后的阶段。
But this round of trade talks, which are to resume on Thursday, is different from those that have come before. If these negotiations fail, there is no going back to the status quo and waiting for another day to re-engage. Further tariff increases and other punitive measures, from both the United States and China, are likely to follow with little restraint.
但是,于周四恢复的本轮贸易谈判不同以往。如果这些谈判失败,就不可能回到现状,改日再重新进行接触。届时美国和中国可能会无限制地进一步提高关税和采取其他惩罚性措施。
Among the most difficult questions still on the table are the so-called structural issues that are at the core of the Chinese economic model. These include subsidies and other financial assistance provided to state-owned businesses, which make them unfair competitors. So far, China has reportedly agreed to more transparency on subsidies, an important first step, but there has not been enough progress on controlling them. Mr. Trump will need more than that to placate his political base. The president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., Richard Trumka, has already warned, in a recent interview with The Financial Times, that he will consider any deal that fails to reduce industrial subsidies “inferior.”
目前仍在讨论中的最困难问题之一,是中国经济模式核心的所谓结构性问题。这些措施包括向国有企业提供补贴和其他财政援助,使它们成为不公平的竞争对手。据报道,到目前为止,中国已经同意提高补贴的透明度,这是重要的第一步,但在控制补贴方面还没有取得足够的进展。特朗普需要更多东西才能安抚自己的票仓。美国劳工联合会-产业工会联合会(AFL-CIO)主席理查德·特拉姆卡(Richard Trumka)最近在接受英国《金融时报》(The Financial Times)采访时已警告,他认为任何未能削减工业补贴的协议都是“低劣的”。
Even if they can address the structural issues, the United States and China must still decide how the deal would be enforced. In particular, they have not agreed on whether tariffs could be reimposed if violations occur. The United States is demanding that it retain the right to use unilateral tariffs, while China gives up its right to retaliate. That is a tough sell politically for Beijing, and so far neither side appears to be budging.
即使能够解决结构性问题,美国和中国仍然必须决定如何执行该协议。特别是如果发生违规行为是否可重新征收关税,双方在这个问题上尚未达成一致。美国要求保留单方面征收关税的权利,同时要求中国放弃报复的权利。对于北京来说,这在政治上很难说得过去,而且迄今为止双方似乎都没有做出任何让步。
Finally, the two sides have not yet agreed on what to do with the $360 billion in tariffs in place — specifically, whether to remove some or all of them.
最后,关于如何处理现有的价值3600亿美元产品的关税,双方还没有达成一致,具体来说,是取消部分关税,还是全部取消。
中国东部江苏省东海县的一家服装厂,工人们正在缝制出口服装。
中国东部江苏省东海县的一家服装厂,工人们正在缝制出口服装。 CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press
The stakes for this negotiation are high: The United States and China comprise nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product. Chinese industrial output has been falling since tariffs took effect in mid-2018, leading to China’s slowest quarterly G.D.P. growth in almost 30 years. In the United States, consumers have paid tens of billions of dollars in added costs, and farmers have suffered over $1 billion in lost exports, mostly to China. If tariffs escalate, the United States economy would shrink by 0.6 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund, while China’s economy could contract by 1.5 percent.
这次谈判干系重大:美国和中国占全球国内生产总值的近40%。自2018年年中关税生效以来,中国工业产出一直在下降,导致中国季度GDP增速降至近30年来的最低水平。在美国,消费者已经支付了数百亿美元的额外成本,农民在出口方面遭受了超过10亿美元的损失,其中大部分是对中国的出口。根据国际货币基金组织的数据,如果关税提高,美国经济将收缩0.6%,而中国经济可能收缩1.5%。
These are tough matters to resolve, but they are not impossible. For China, the biggest hurdle is political: reaching a deal that satisfies the United States without appearing to cave to American pressure. There is also serious concern in Beijing that China might have problems delivering whatever it agrees to on paper, particularly if it is unable to rein in local governments — a major source of the subsidies and intellectual property practices that the United States wants to stop.
这些问题很难解决,但并非不可能解决。对中国来说,最大的障碍是政治上的:如何令协议既能让美国满意、又不会显得像是屈服于美国的压力。北京还严重担心,中国可能难以兑现其在纸面上达成的任何协议,特别是如果它无法控制地方政府的话——美国希望制止的补贴和知识产权侵犯主要就是来自地方政府。
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Meanwhile, the United States’ all-or-nothing negotiating tactics could leave China with no choice but to walk away from the table, making the risk of no deal very real. American negotiators should at least identify what trade-offs they are willing to make in order to reach an agreement.
与此同时,美国孤注一掷的谈判策略可能会让中国别无选择,只能离开谈判桌,从而使无法达成协议的可能性变得非常现实。美国谈判代表至少应该确定,为了达成协议,他们愿意做出哪些妥协。
To be sure, the United States and China have narrowed differences that only a year ago seemed insurmountable. China has agreed to purchase more goods and services from the United States, to open its market more fully to American exporters and investors, to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement, and to stop forced technology transfer.
可以肯定的是,美国和中国缩小了分歧,而就在一年前,这些分歧似乎还无法克服。中国同意从美国购买更多的商品和服务,向美国出口商和投资者更全面地开放市场,改善知识产权保护和执法,并停止强迫技术转让。
But it’s critical that both sides play fair in this final stage of the talks. For China, this means not retreating from what has been agreed to so far, as American officials on Monday accused it of doing. For the United States, this means not moving the goal posts at this late stage.
但至关重要的是,双方在谈判的最后阶段都要公平行事。对中国来说,这意味着不要像美国官员周一指责的那样,放弃迄今已达成的协议。对美国来说,这意味着不要在最后关头改变条件。
These last-minute disruptions are not unusual in any trade negotiation. But if they end up derailing a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies, the damage could be enormous.
在任何贸易谈判中,这种最后时刻的中断都是司空见惯的。但是,如果它们最终破坏了世界上最大的两个经济体之间的贸易协议,其损害可能会极为巨大。