The deal also contains commitments, at least on paper, to halt the forced transfer of American technology to Chinese competitors. Companies have long complained that in order to do business in China, they had to hand over valuable technology and trade secrets. China has pledged not to require such transfers, including when companies apply for certain licenses or government approvals.
China also pledged not to “support or direct” acquisitions and investment by Chinese companies of foreign technology in “industries targeted by its industrial plans that create distortion.” The provision is vaguely worded, but American officials say it is targeted at addressing the issues created by industrial plans like Made in China 2025.
Getting China to comply with the deal could be hard
To ensure prompt and effective implementation of this Agreement, the Parties establish the following Bilateral Evaluation and Dispute Resolution Arrangement (the “Arrangement”).
Among the biggest questions going in to the negotiations with China was how any agreement would be enforced. Having watched previous agreements with China fail to live up to their promise, many American experts and business executives were skeptical that the Trump administration could get China to keep the commitments it makes.
Unlike other trade deals, which typically refer disputes to a neutral third party, the United States and China have decided to work out any issues on their own. The deal creates something called the Bilateral Evaluation and Dispute Resolution Offices to receive and evaluate complaints. The deal also includes an appeals process where issues can be elevated from midlevel officials all the way up to the offices of the United States trade representative and the vice premier of China.
If those talks can’t resolve the dispute, more tariffs will go into effect. Under such a scenario, the other party promises not to retaliate with tariffs of its own. If they do, either country can give written notice and withdraw from the deal — quickly returning the two countries to a trade war scenario.
Wall Street’s gains appear incremental and it is unclear if the deal will be a boon for all financial firms
The Parties shall work constructively to provide fair, effective, and nondiscriminatory market access for each other’s services and services suppliers. To that end, the Parties shall take specific actions beginning with the actions set forth in this Chapter with respect to the financial services sector.
The agreement gives the United States some gains in financial services, including in electronic payments, securities, fund management and insurance, but many of these changes were already in the works. In an attempt to defuse tension with the Trump administration, China had already moved in 2017 to give foreign firms more sway in its financial sector, and American banks and other firms have been taking majority stakes in Chinese ventures.
For years, credit card companies Visa, Mastercard and American Express sought entry into China. In the deal, China agreed to accept license applications by these companies, but it did not automatically grant them access to its market. Even if China does approve their applications, it is not clear that those businesses would make many inroads in the country’s advanced electronic payment system, which is dominated by domestic companies.