Changing Time Line Anatomy of Trump's Trade Deal With China


Trump has changed his tune on a trade deal with China so many times it's hard to count.

  1. In December, Trump gave China 90 days to conclude a deal Otherwise. Trump said he would boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from the current 10%.Those 90 days ended March 1.
  2. On December 31, I noted Trump Hails "Big Progress" on Trade Deal With China. I commented "Supposedly there is 'big progress' on a comprehensive trade deal with China. Color me skeptical."
  3. On January 19, I noted China Pledges US Buying Spree to Reduce Trade Surplus With US to Zero By 2024. I commented "In discussions that are not yet public, and will likely be empty promises, sources say China Offers a Path to Eliminate U.S. Trade Imbalance."
  4. On February 22, the Washington Post reported Trump says he expects to meet with China’s Xi and finalize new trade deal but Trump would not rule out extending the deadline beyond March 1.
  5. On February 24, Trump Tweeted there was "substantial progress on intellectual property" and suspended tariffs.
  6. On February 25, I noted Hooray! "Substantial" Progress With China (Just Don't Ask Where) in response to Trump's Tweets.
  7. At the end of February, Trump expected a small delay in signing.
  8. On March 2, I noted Trump Assails WTO "Straitjacket", Attempts Pocket Veto of Entire Organization.
  9. On March 12, the Washington Post stated U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee “Our hope is that we are in the final weeks” of negotiations. However, Schumer said on the Senate floor, “It is abundantly clear that China is playing us.”
  10. On March 13, Trump stated that he is in No Rush to Complete China Trade Deal. “I think things are going along very well - we’ll just see what the date is,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Drum Roll Please. ......

Today, Bloomberg reports China and U.S. to Push Back Trump-Xi Meeting to at Least April

The key words here are "at least" April. Lighthizer warned ‘major issues’ remained outstanding in talks.

90 Days Till Who Knows When

We have gone from the certainty of "90 days or else" to canceled tariffs and who knows when.

As I said at the outset, there will be a deal, just don't expect much substance to it or for China to honor it if there is.

Meanwhile, I am sure a pause in Tariffs and a delay in the deal suits China just fine.

For the record, I think the pause in tariffs is a good thing because tariffs are a bad idea in the first place. US farmers were getting killed by China's retaliations.

Any deal that eliminates tariffs and retaliations will be a good thing, even if it otherwise accomplishes nothing.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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"What about China spying and hacking to steal technology from everywhere, with no effective means of control or repercussions?"

Spying is a different matter.

I doubt that China is spying anymore than we are. We spied on Germany, tapping Merkel. Germany did not put up enough of a stink. One wrong does not excuse another.

Outright theft is still another thing. I do not know if I believe all the charges, but some are surely true. Some Libertarians don't believe in patents at all. But I am not in that group.

My understanding from a friend is that many of these concerns are overstated. He has specific knowledge of Boeing. Even if China stole stuff no sensitive manufacturing takes place there, they could not get parts or training, and no one would trust their products straight up anyway. I do not remember the conversation precisely, but it was convincing. He has been a reliable contact for many years.

I have stuff on the crashes that I cannot use, but it is nothing the FAA does not know.

These are complicated setups. Sometimes I just have to say, I don't know.


Intellectual property rights lawyers can't save us from Chinese competition; we need to get our R&D and STEM education acts together. They're all over the floor.

In the 1980s, it was Japan Inc. and those sneaky French constantly in our headlines as the chief industrial espionage villains of the time. And It was common knowledge that you couldn't leave your hotel room at a certain Paris hotel and not expect your briefcase contents to have been photo copied while you were away.

I personally know the former IBM SE who was present in a certain major mainframe site when the final proof of IBM's operating system theft was produced by a card deck sent from IBM support that printed on the nearest IBM N1 printer the contents of a certain main memory location. Yes, it was the IBM logo and the mainframe operating system IP battle was over, licensing agreements were signed, etc. What a delightful lawyer goat rodeo!, but the war raged on...and Japan lost due to R&D, or lack thereof.

As to back doors, I assume we're still among the best at it. We were listening through one when Muammar Gaddafi's thugs arranged the American murders in the German Bar, prompting Reagan's attempt to kill him.

Let's compete, not lawyer up. We're good at it.


Much of his "deals" are long as he can continue to keep the negotiations going he looks like a master negotiator...sooner or later the bottom will fall out and the Chinese will continue their sneaky ways...just like Charlie Brown continues to want to believe Lucy will not pull the football away...


The Chinese can wait this out. I bet they're looking 20 years into the future. After the US is swamped by Spanish speakers and Europe is mostly Muslim. And thinking the west will be drowning in welfare while they have a more intelligent harder working population that can and will crush us.


The concept of intellectual property rights is problematic and loads of people don't accept it all that much. That applies particularly to the third world where they view intellectual achievements as the heritage of all mankind, and property rights as another imperialist scheme to keep the money flowing to the wealthy and powerful. And, in truth, only a fraction of whatever is collected in the name of property rights actually goes to the creative individuals it purports to sustain.

There's simply a big difference between making a copy of something and taking something away from someone: It's worse to have your TV or car stolen than to have them copied.