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The US-China trade war is on hold

PERHAPS IT was the dessert of caramel-rolled pancakes, crispy chocolate and fresh cream. Or perhaps President Donald Trump had already decided that, during a working dinner on December 1st, he wanted a deal with President Xi Jinping of China. Whatever it was, after sounds of applause drifted out to assembled journalists, the two announced a “highly successful” negotiation. "This was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China,” said Mr Trump.A more realistic assessment would be that the meeting produced a truce based on two elements: some murky mercantilism, and a deal to talk about a deal. China will increase its purchase of American farm produce, energy and some industrial goods. In exchange America will delay an escalation in tariffs, from 10% to 25% on $200bn of goods planned for January 1st. That is on hold until March 1st at the earliest. But because the formal talks between the two countries could well fail, this truce is worryingly fragile.
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