The U.S. and China just can't seem to bridge their differences on trade, even as the world's largest economy's discussions with Europe and its North American neighbors appear to be making progress.
This week, President Donald Trump stood side by side with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to announce talks and a truce on tariffs. The administration also met with Mexican negotiators, and officials are planning more talks aimed at wrapping up a deal for a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by September.
But when it comes to China, there are no talks underway. Within the next few days, the U.S. is expected to release a final list of another $16 billion of Chinese goods that will subject to a 25 percent tariff, and China is expected to retaliate in kind. These tariffs are part of a bigger, $50 billion package that had been put in place earlier this month.
Washington has sent several signals this past week that the stalemate with Beijing won't be resolved quickly. Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters to look for discussions to bear fruit in the next "six to 12 months."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested China still had yet to make the type of qualitative offer that would satisfy the president. "There continue to be some quiet conversations, but we're prepared if they're going to make serious moves to negotiate," he said.
China's message, meanwhile, has not been subtle. Just after Trump stood in the Rose Garden with Juncker Wednesday, U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm revealed that a plan to buy NXP Semiconductors for $43 billion had become a casualty of the trade war. The deal died as the deadline expired without China approving it, and analysts see no immediate end in sight to the impasse.
"The U.S. has no incentive to do this until after midterms. China has no incentive to do this until after the midterms," noted Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas Research.
"That's why months and months is probably a better case. Could there be an event that pushes this forward? Both parties would need something big to change," he added.