VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images
Charlene Barshefsky, senior international partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, speaks during the U.S.-China Investment Cooperation Forum on July 17, 2012.
Asked if she could give a timeline to a formal trade agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump — even if it remains a stop-gap, band-aid temporary deal — she was optimistic that it could be within weeks, not months.
“I don’t think we’re months away. I think first of all, it doesn’t matter when the deal occurs, provided the environment that currently exists remains stable,” she said, adding: “If that stays stable and there’s no escalation, either in rhetoric or in action, I don’t really think it matters when the deal occurs.”
She did, however, qualify that tariffs have definitely hit the U.S. consumers’ pockets and that is “unfortunate.”
“But how does is feel? It feels by the end of April,” she said referring to when she expects a deal.
At the heart of the trade conflict is the widening trade gap between the U.S. and China. America’s trade deficit with China in December last year was $38.7 billion, by far the most of any nation. Talks have also run into difficulties over topics such as China forcing American companies to hand over technology in exchange for market access.