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Daniel Moss

How to Stop a U.S.-China Trade War Before It Starts

Both sides need a face-saving way to sit down and talk. Why not use a negotiating channel that already exists?
Looking for a way out?

Looking for a way out?

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

It may be one of the most opportune flubs in economics.

A slip of the tongue by the U.S. Treasury's top international official offers one way out of the trade skirmish between the U.S. and China. Few serious people want tariffs ordered by President Donald Trump and the Chinese import restrictions imposed in response to degenerate into a trade war that would harm both countries. The trick is to find a decorous way for each side to back off. Maybe that formula already exists in a shelved channel for formal talks between the two nations.