China and the U.S. wrapped up three days of trade negotiations in Beijing on Wednesday, one day later than scheduled, and the U.S. delegation sounded upbeat about the talks. It has been "good few days," U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture Ted McKinney told reporters. The talks "went just fine," he added. "It's been a good one for us." President Trump tweeted late Tuesday night that "talks with China are going very well!" China's Foreign Ministry said only that "the two sides were indeed very serious in conducting the consultations," and a formal statement was forthcoming.
China and the U.S. are racing to reach a deal before a March 2 deadline set by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in December. This was the first face-to-face negotiations between China and the U.S. since that agreement, and if no deal is reached, Trump says he will raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent, from 10 percent. Analysts are skeptical that the two sides can reach a deal addressing America's concerns about Chinese structural trade barriers and investment regulations before the March 2 deadline.
"Even if a deal is cobbled together, the more strident trade hawks in the White House and Trump may not sign off," suggested Mizuho Bank's Vishnu Varathan. China has made concessions on agricultural and energy imports, but neither side seems to have shifted their position on the structural reforms, said Jake Parker at the U.S.-China Business Council. "These issues are much more difficult to solve immediately but are, frankly, much more compelling to U.S. companies." Higher-level talks are scheduled for later in January.