Talks lay foundation for future trade deal, says China

Talks lay foundation for future trade deal, says China

As the talks began Monday at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Beijing complained about a USA warship in what it said were Chinese waters, but it was unclear whether that would disrupt the proceedings.

That pledge, addressing a trade deficit in goods, was however mentioned only at the end of the statement which focused on the United States demands for structural changes to China's domestic policies.

"The talk has enhanced mutual understanding and laid a foundation for addressing each other's concerns", it said.

While differences remain, experts are optimistic that the two sides will be able to reach an agreement on trade by March 1, the deadline before the U.S. imposes heightened tariffs on Chinese goods.

But the statement did not say if the two sides have reached any agreement during the talks that concluded on Wednesday.

Interestingly, while officially this was a vice minister-level dialogue, China's top man for the trade negotiations, Vice Premier Liu He, made an appearance anyway.

The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and accompanied by senior officials from the White House, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, and Treasury, according to the USTR.

If talks continue to go well, a cabinet-level meeting is likely to happen before the end of the month.

"It's been a good one for us", Ted McKinney, US Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, said after the talks.

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They include changes to China's policies on intellectual property protection, technology transfers, industrial subsidies and other non-tariff barriers to trade.

Mofcom spokesman Gao Feng said that these issues were an important item of the negotiations, and that progress has been made.

The restrictions on cars and soybeans were imposed as part of China's retaliation against Trump's decision to place tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

It's unclear from the United States statement how much headway negotiators made regarding United States concerns over forced technology transfers and cybertheft of trade secrets for commercial purposes. He and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to hold off on further tariff increases for 90 days to allow time for negotiations.

The extra day of talks came amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of US farm and energy commodities and increased access to China's markets. Among many things, the Communist leader pledged to buy more USA agricultural and industrial products, allow increased access to Chinese markets, and abide by more cybersecurity and property theft rules.

With cooling economic growth raising the urgency for a settlement, this week's talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on USA charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

Commenting on the reaction in the White House to China's concessions, the New York Times observed: "The Trump administration's trade hawks are pushing for a lot more, while even the doves fret that the new promises need effective enforcement to make sure that China follows through".

China's trade data for the full year of 2018 is due to be released on January 14, and economists see year-on-year export growth slowing in December from November.

She added that the Trump administration's complaint that China is stealing USA intellectual property is "top of mind" in the negotiations with Beijing. "We hope your company can become an in-depth participant in China's opening and a promoter of the stability of Chinese-U.S. relations".

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