“There are differing visions on particular elements,” Trudeau said.
China may have been concerned about a specific line about unfair trade practices, according to a US official involved in the negotiations. The two countries are embroiled in a bitter trade war that has seen each enact tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods.
The official said the most “problematic” line for the Chinese was: “We agree to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices.”
“They seemed to think that the ‘unfair trade practices’ was some kind of singling out,” the official contended.
“It’s a little concerning that it appears that China didn’t really have any intention in the end of reaching consensus,” the official said.
The Trump administration has repeatedly accused China of unfair trade practices to justify the tariffs it has imposed on $250 billion of Chinese goods.
“For many years, China has pursued industrial policies and unfair trade practices … that champion Chinese firms and make it impossible for many United States firms to compete on a level playing field,” the White House said in a fact sheet in May
about Trump’s confrontation with Beijing over trade.
Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the forum in President Donald Trump’s place, told the gathering in Port Moresby that “China has taken advantage of the United States for many, many years and those days are over.”
The language in Pence’s speech echoed his landmark address last month on China, during which he said the United States “will demand that Beijing break down its trade barriers, fulfill its obligations, fully open its economy — just as we have opened ours.”