Xi Jinping, China’s president, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Goldman Says China-U.S. Deal Would Be 2019's Top Economic Event

(Bloomberg) -- In a sweepy note rattling through Asia’s eventful year and the resumption of China’s "bumpy deceleration," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. identified the prospect of a genuine accord resolving the U.S-China trade impasse as potentially the biggest economic development next year.

As the U.S. and Chinese sides negotiate, Andrew Tilton, Goldman’s chief economist for Asia Pacific in Hong Kong, said markets need more than just positive comments about reform, which are nothing new.

"What market participants, both domestic and foreign, will be looking for is specific commitments and timetables," Tilton wrote in the note. "A meaningful shift here, were it to occur, would likely be the most important global macroeconomic development of 2019."

With trade uncertainty prolonged until at least March 1 -- when the current truce is set to expire if a deal can’t be struck -- and larger policy measures potentially awaiting the National People’s Congress session in March, China’s economic growth is unlikely to bottom out until late in the first quarter or maybe the second, according to Tilton.

China’s policy makers rolled out more targeted measures aimed at shoring up the flagging economy late Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Goldman noted these as themes to watch:

  • South Korea’s export growth faces headwinds from slower global growth and a weakening tech cycle. The won will be a likely underperformer relative to the region.
  • In Thailand, the big question for the February election is not only which parties fare best in the polls, but whether the results are broadly accepted and foster stability.
  • As for Australia, a key question in the months ahead is whether fiscal loosening can provide a meaningful offset to the ongoing cooling in the housing market.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.