Last month, their faces beaming with self-congratulatory enthusiasm, President Obama and China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced an agreement to drop tariffs on a range of high-technology products. On Friday, those talks on technology trade collapsed in acrimony, a sign that China is still unwilling to open its markets to competition where it is most vulnerable.
The Geneva talks aimed to reduce global tariffs on $1 trillion in high-tech goods, and experts say a breakthrough could have saved as much as $15 billion a year in tariffs and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs across the globe.
Though the United States still exports many high-technology goods, China is now the world’s dominant exporter of electronics and has much to gain from an elimination of tariffs. Nonetheless, Beijing protects companies in important industries (like semiconductors and LCD displays) that are not as competitive internationally as many of China’s other products.