US willing to face ‘repercussions’ from China on trade — Mnuchin


The US is willing to face “repercussions” from China if it fails to comply with the terms of a likely deal to end the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, Steven Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary said, suggesting the US will meet Beijing’s demand for a “two-way” system to enforce the agreement.

美国财政部长史蒂文•姆努钦(Steven Mnuchin)表示,如果美国未能遵守为结束美中贸易战而可能达成的协议的条款,美国愿意面对来自中国的“反应”。此言似乎表明,美国将会满足北京方面关于建立“双向”执行机制的要求。

Speaking on Saturday in Washington, Mr Mnuchin said that both the US and China would be making “certain commitments” in the deal that would have to be respected and enforced on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.


“I would expect that the enforcement mechanism works in both directions, that we expect to honour our commitments, and if we don’t, there should be certain repercussions, and the same way in the other direction,” Mr Mnuchin said.


Beijing and Washington are now in the final stretch of talks to resolve their trade dispute, with US president Donald Trump saying that he expected to know if an agreement was possible by next month.

中美为解决贸易争端而展开的谈判已到了最后阶段,美国总统唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)表示,他预期最迟在下月知道是否有可能达成协议。

Until now, the discussion over enforcing and implementing a deal has mostly been focused on US demands for a system to ensure that China complies with its pledges in the deal, including promises to purchase more American goods and move towards a more market-based economy. The US has demanded that it be allowed to impose penalties on China unilaterally, and without retaliation, if it finds that Beijing has flouted the deal.


But Mr Mnuchin’s comments, reported by Bloomberg News, suggest that China also has serious concerns about the US sticking to the agreement. The main US commitment in the deal is expected to be the lifting of existing tariffs on Chinese imports, probably over time and according to a certain schedule — and Beijing may well wonder if Mr Trump will follow through given his unpredictability. Last month, Wang Shouwen, China’s vice-minister of commerce, said that any enforcement mechanism had to be “two-way, fair and equal”.

但彭博新闻社(Bloomberg News)报道的姆努钦的言论似乎表明,中国也对美国会不会遵守协议抱有严重担忧。预计美国在协议中的主要承诺将是取消针对中国输美商品加征的关税,很可能会按照一定的进度表在一段时间内逐渐取消——而北京方面很可能会揣测,考虑到特朗普的不可预测性,他会不会说话算话。上月,中国商务部副部长王受文表示,任何执行机制都必须是“双向的、公平的、平等的”。

In recent days, Mr Mnuchin had already said that “enforcement offices” would be set up both in the US and China to monitor the deal, another indication that some reciprocity would be included on the enforcement side of the agreement.


However, while allowing China to impose punitive measures on the US for failure to comply further narrows the gap between the two sides on the way to a deal, the US administration’s acceptance of this could raise eyebrows in corporate America, since they would likely be on the receiving end of those countermeasures.


“If such an arrangement were agreed and reciprocal, it would expose US companies to adverse actions by China, which the US would have committed not to challenge in the WTO,” Daniel Price, managing director of Rock Creek Global Advisors, a Washington-based consultancy, and a former senior economic official in the George W Bush administration. “The right unilaterally to retaliate for non-compliance looks a lot different if it’s reciprocal. I can’t imagine the US business community would be enthusiastic about that,” he added.

“如果双方同意了这样的对等安排,那将使美国企业暴露于中国可能采取的不利行动,而美国已承诺不会在世贸组织(WTO)框架下发起挑战,”曾在乔治•W•布什(George W Bush)政府担任高级经济官员、现在是华盛顿咨询机构Rock Creek Global Advisors董事总经理的丹尼尔•普莱斯(Daniel Price)表示。“如果它是对等的,对不遵守协议进行单方面报复的权利看起来就会有很大不同。我无法想象美国商界对此会充满热情,”他补充道。

Although Mr Mnuchin is a key player in the negotiations, the talks are being led by Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative who is known to hold more hardline views on China. Mr Lighthizer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the US had accepted that the enforcement mechanism would be reciprocal.

虽然姆努钦是谈判中的关键角色,但当前谈判由美国贸易代表罗伯特•莱特希泽(Robert Lighthizer)领导,而他以对中国的立场更为强硬出名。对于美国是否已接受对等执行机制,莱特希泽的办公室没有立即回应记者的置评请求。

Mr Mnuchin said that he expected more conversations over the phone with top Chinese officials in the coming week, to establish whether a new round of face-to-face talks was necessary. The US and China have been negotiating a deal to end their trade war since December, when Mr Trump and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, struck a truce in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Despite multiple rounds of talks, and claims of significant progress by the negotiators, several deadlines to finalise a deal in March and April have slipped, making May or even June the most likely date for an agreement.