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US-China trade

The US-China economic relationship – A comprehensive approach


Published 12 March 2019 | 1 minute read

The U.S.-China economic relationship has reached a critical juncture.

President Xi and Trump have agreed to resolve immediate trade disputes through negotiations, but addressing more fundamental issues in a meaningful way will take time.

The policy brief by Brookings Institution suggests that the WTO should be central to resolving U.S.-China trade tensions. It also outlines a multi-pronged strategy, including bilateral, multilateral, and unilateral actions, as well as working with allies, for stabilizing the relationship with China. For instance, accession to the CPTPP could be used to encourage China’s compliance with its WTO commitments.

A key conclusion is that the U.S. should focus on addressing the real issues at hand in a free market manner. It should also strengthen the multilateral global trading system and rule of law that it has championed in the post-World War II era. Negotiating a short-term deal or creating a managed trade relationship will not solve the issues and create sustainable trade.

Support for this report was provided by the Hinrich Foundation.


Joshua Meltzer is a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution. 

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