CARTOON: Trump's China Deals – US$250 Billion or Baloney?

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Donald Trump's trade deals with China may not be all they are cracked up to be.

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Donald Trump left China Nov. 9 for a date addressing an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Vietnam feeling rather pleased with himself.

The U.S. president had just announced some US$250 billion worth of agreements between U.S. and Chinese companies, amid typical rhetoric deploring the “very unfair and one-sided” nature of bilateral trade.

But commentators suggested that it was unclear how many of the headline tie-ups were repackages of past agreements and cast doubt as to how many would actually come to fruition.

Chipmaker Qualcomm’s US$12-billion agreement with Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo, for example, was non-binding, while Boeing’s deal to sell 300 jets to China Aviation Suppliers Holding Co. may well have included old orders.

China’s foreign ministry did vow to lower barriers to entry in financial industries, as well as reduce vehicle tariffs, but U.S. automakers remain committed to operating through joint ventures, and tech companies such as Facebook and Google continue to be blocked.

So while Trump walks away looking like the cat who got the cream, China President Xi Jinping rests safe in the knowledge that this week’s deals will do little to address the structural issues that drive the U.S. trade deficit, and may total up to be significantly less than the quarter of a trillion dollars trumpeted in the media.

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