Say what you like about President Trump, the Donald is predictable. In his book, The Art Of The Deal, published three decades ago, he wrote: ‘My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.’
At first glance, Trump’s style of pushing and pushing at China with threats of sky-high tariffs on trade looks as though it has paid off.
He got his way after a lock-down dinner in Buenos Aires at the G20 summit with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, when they finally agreed a 90-day truce in their trade war to allow more time for jaw-jaw.
Table talk: President Trump sits down with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a lock-down dinner in Buenos Aires
The truce was enough of a victory to send US and European financial markets into spasms of relief, with some analysts predicting a pre-Christmas rally through December.
Trump as Santa is not what most people expect of the president. Yet he has agreed to defer his plan to raise the tariff on $200billion of Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, for 90 days so that talks can continue.
In exchange, Xi promised to buy a ‘very substantial’ amount of US goods, including farm, energy and industrial products which will help reduce the big trade gap between the two countries.
This is just what Trump wanted, as boosting trade for US farmers and manufacturers was a pivotal part to his electoral pitch.
There’s another plus. Cracking down on China economically is perhaps Trump’s only main policy for which there is support from the Democrats.
What’s not clear is whether his claim that Beijing will also ‘reduce and remove’ tariffs below the 40pc level that it charges on the imports of US cars is correct.
For now, the truce gives both sides some claim to victory. But the truth is this agreement is a de-escalation of the trade war rather than any ceasefire.
There’s a much bigger battle at stake in Trump’s war on China as the president has grander ambitions than cutting the trade deficit. He wants to throttle China’s position as a rival superpower by shattering its industrial base and tearing up its recent ‘Made in China 2025’ programme.
He has made no bones about accusing China of stealing US intellectual property, and wants to put a stop to this alleged theft. He also wants to end China’s dream of dominating industries such as car making. China’s latest ambition is to be the world’s biggest electric car-maker.
China is already feeling the pain of a weaker economy. The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen almost a third since the start of the year. Xi, who faces criticism for miscalculating Trump’s threats, is said to be willing do anything to avoid US tariffs as the country’s growth stalls.
And Trump? He will keep pushing.
Walmsley’s bold move
Emma Walmsley also has the makings of a formidable deal-maker. By swapping a night-time drinks company for one of the most cutting-edge cancer drugs on the market, she’s catapulted GSK to the forefront of cancer genetic research.
The GSK chief sold Horlicks for £3billion and is paying £4billion to buy the US cancer company Tesaro, all on the same day. Some swap.
Tesaro makes Zejula, an approved drug for treating ovarian cancer. Zejula belongs to a class of drugs called PARP inhibitors, which work by blocking enzymes involved in repairing damaged DNA, thus helping to kill cancer cells.
It’s a bold move and precisely the long-term ambition that we hope for from companies like GSK.
If it turns out that Zejula can also be used to treat breast, lung and prostate cancers as GSK believes, then this could prove to be a master-stroke for Walmsley.
It also shows she does what she says, having promised to put GSK back on the drugs after years of lagging behind rivals in finding new blockbusters.
With big pharma like GSK behind it, Zejula could save more lives too.
Waitrose is blaming the rioting in France by the ‘gilets jaunes’ (yellow vests), who are protesting over fuel price rises, for a shortage of courgettes.
Trucks carrying courgettes from Spain can’t get to the UK because of the protests.
We can cope without courgettes for a few days but has President Macron met his Waterloo?
He is getting close to a state of emergency and the street-fighting is spreading. But at least we won’t be hearing from him about French fishermen invading the UK’s waters for a while.