U.S. Lawmakers Plan Trip to China Amid Trade Talks Impasse

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are planning to meet next in September but in the meantime a group of U.S. lawmakers will travel to Beijing in a push to expand links between the world’s two largest economies.

The group includes Democratic Representative Alan Lowenthal of a California district that’s centered in Long Beach, whose port -- together with the twin Port of Los Angeles -- are a major U.S. gateway for the Asian market.

U.S. Lawmakers Plan Trip to China Amid Trade Talks Impasse

“On this trip I want to be an advocate for American trade and interests,” said Lowenthal in an emailed statement, adding the tensions over trade were hurting U.S. businesses. “We see it at the Port of Long Beach.”

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which moved almost half of Asian imports last year, have been hard hit by the U.S.-China dispute. Exports to China moving through the port complex declined 35%, and imports dropped 11.5% in the first quarter of this year from the same period of 2018.

Economy, Constituents

Lowenthal said he wanted to understand what is at the core of the current economic issues. The House lawmaker, who represents some of the largest Cambodian and Vietnamese communities in the U.S., said he also wants to learn how China’s Belt and Road initiatives are impacting the Southeast Asian nations that many of his constituents have a connection to.

Foreign direct investment flows between the U.S. and China dropped almost 60% in 2018 as the trade war kicked off, according to a Rhodium Group report.

The U.S. and China wrapped-up a round of trade talks Wednesday, but there was little evidence of progress. The two sides have agreed to hold the next round of talks in early September in Washington.

Co-hosting the trip are the U.S.-Asia Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based non-governmental organization focused on improving bilateral relations, and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, according to Chris Fenton, trustee at the U.S. NGO. This month’s tour will also include at least two other lawmakers.

The main objective of the 10-day visit will be “to listen, learn, interact, and continue constructive bilateral dialogue,” said Fenton, with the focus on trade, investment, tourism and infrastructure.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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