China Trade Talks Kick-Off


A Chinese trade delegation has been meeting with USA counterparts this week in Washington, part of a 90 day tariff truce that began with a meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Argentina G20 on December 1.

Liu and a delegation will met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Wednesday.

Trump tweets the meetings are "going well with good intent and spirit on both sides", even though the odds seem stacked against any substantive resolution.

United States negotiators also cited substantial progress following the conclusion of the talks but the White House emphasised a scheduled tariff increase on $200bn of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent was a "hard deadline" if no deal was reached by March 1.

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The sides are expected to discuss protection of U.S. intellectual property, the forced transfer of USA technology through joint ventures, and enforcement mechanisms to verify that China follows through on any promised changes.

But the president's top negotiator also warned many issues remained unresolved. "There's still work to be done, there are still gaps in some of the important issues, and we're hopeful that the two sides will work through this in a continuing, constructive and positive manner".

"They started on a smaller scale", he said, describing the new pledge as "tremendous". "This is either going to be a very big deal, or it's going to be a deal that we'll just postpone for a little while", Trump, who has engaged in a series of fights with a variety of trade partners since becoming president in 2017, said earlier at the White House. Can you get it down on paper by March 1st, I don't know. Instead, analysts said, good progress in Washington could result in the deadline being pushed back. China agreed to increase imports of USA agriculture, energy, industrial products and services, it said, without providing details. We're talking about they're going to buy some corn.

President Donald Trump has said he favors a healthy Chinese economy, but not at the expense of American business and know-how.

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China's economy was slowing even before the US tariffs began depressing demand for its exports, so the trade war is making a hard situation worse for Xi.

"All of the many problems are being discussed and will be hopefully resolved", he said.

But the summit will raise the stakes, put pressure on Trump not to walk away empty-handed and make it more likely the USA will agree to less than it originally hoped to get from the Chinese, setting the stage for continued conflict over trade. As part of the standoff between the world's two biggest economies, Washington imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters that drawn-out trade talks with China could hurt the United States economy by sapping business confidence.

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Lighthizer, who has taken a hard line on Chinese trade practices, led the US delegation.