By Meg Kelly

The Barack Obama-Xi Jinping presidential bilateral meeting, slated for September 3 according to Chinese sources, will be the penultimate chance for the two leaders to meet during the Obama administration. Accompanied by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Obama is expected to discuss key issues in the US-China trade relationship with his Chinese counterpart before the G20 Summit.

As the the bilateral meeting approaches, USCBC has met with senior US government officials to explain and advocate for our members’ priorities on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), technology and security issues, overcapacity, and other items from the USCBC board of directors’ Statement of Priorities in the US-China Commercial Relationship.

The bilateral meeting will be immediately followed by the larger September 4-5 G20 Summit in Hangzhou. In this two-day meeting, the United States will focus on discussions regarding international tax reform and the implementation of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) expansion, in addition to those listed above, according to Adewale Adeyemo, deputy national security adviser for International Economic Affairs, who recently outlined President Barack Obama’s priorities.

Expected progress

During the July G20 meeting of finance ministers in Chengdu, China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei proposed a new international taxation system to stop tax evasion through the abuse of incongruities in different countries’ laws. He also called for an international standard for the automated exchange of information by 2018. Expanding on China’s new taxation of goods imported through ecommerce, which began in April, Lou also acknowledged the need to expand taxes on emerging technologies, specifically financial technology—such as Alipay—and shared economy services—such as carsharing applications. The recent willingness to address this issue suggests it might be a topic that will see some forward movement at the G20 meeting.

China agreed at the G20 trade ministers meeting to eliminate tariffs on a range of EGA goods, making it possible to move forward with this agreement. The United States aims to finish a broad agreement on the major issues covered by the EGA before the G20 Leaders Summit, with the hope of completing negotiations by the end of the year. China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said July 10 during a meeting of G20 trade ministers that further discussion about the EGA should be expected at the Hangzhou meeting.

Expectations

While US government officials privately recognize many of these issues are too large and complex to fully resolve at the G20, there is some hope that China’s host nation status and the international spotlight on Hangzhou may spur China to action.

Diverging from the practice of previous years, five developing countries outside of the G20—Chad, Laos, Egypt, Senegal, and Kazakhstan—were invited to attend this year’s summit to give those states a stronger voice, as an echo of the 2016 theme: Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected, and Inclusive. Foreign Minister Wang Yi in May said China wants to change the “G20 from a crisis-handling mechanism to one that leads the world’s economic growth and international economic cooperation in the long term.”

 

Posted by Meg Kelly