The Wall Street Journal: Why the U.S. probably won’t succeed in halving its trade deficit with China

The White House is likely to fall well short of a plan to slash the U.S. trade deficit with China by half, in large part because American farms and factories will find it hard to produce enough exports to meet that goal, trade experts say.

China’s chief economic envoy, Liu He, is in Washington for talks with the Trump administration that began Thursday on the U.S. plan, which was presented during earlier talks in Beijing. The eight-point plan’s first goal: “China commits to work with Chinese importers” to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020, according to a copy of the proposal.

Read: Beijing proposes cutting trade surplus with U.S. by $200 billion: reports

Although economists say trade deficits are caused by broader macroeconomic trends tied to how much a country saves and spends—not by changes in trade policy or exports of particular goods—President Donald Trump has sought to manage trade flows to reduce the deficit, and has sought China’s cooperation in achieving that goal.

Read: Congress set to advance bill easing ability to block Chinese acquisitions of U.S. firms

Even if the two sides could agree on items to target—they don’t—and even if China cooperated by lowering import barriers, trade experts say the U.S. simply doesn’t have the capacity to ramp up production enough to make the $200 billion goal.

An expanded version of this report can be found at WSJ.com

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