Interim China Trade Deal Only a Starting Point, Says Leading Tech Think Tank

December 12, 2019

WASHINGTON—Following reports that U.S. negotiators have reached an interim trade agreement with China, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from ITIF President Rob Atkinson:

A phase one U.S.-China trade deal will see the U.S. roll back some existing and eschewing a new round of tariffs on Chinese exports in exchange for China committing to increase purchases of agricultural, energy, and other products; and broaden access to financial markets.

While the agreement represents progress, it should be seen only as a starting point. The United States must still comprehensively address China’s rampant innovation mercantilist practices—the most critical issue at stake in the U.S.-China trade relationship. Resolution of U.S.-China trade issues will not be complete until the administration effectively reigns in massive Chinese industrial subsidies; implements a regime to roll back unremitting Chinese commercial cyber espionage; and obtains clear promises regarding the rollback of China’s forced technology transfer policies.

Moreover, responding to Chinese trade violations unilaterally will not be an effective or sustainable strategy going forward. The United States needs a long-term, results-oriented approach that works with a coalition of global partners to concertedly pressure China on its innovation mercantilist practices. Convening a grand alliance of like-minded countries, coupled with ambitious WTO reform, is the only answer if a lasting resolution of these challenges is to be achieved.