‘Tremendous’ progress in US-China trade talks: Trump

Washington | The United States has made “tremendous progress” in trade talks with China but much works needs to be done, the White House said Thursday as negotiations with the visiting Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He concluded with a meeting with President Donald Trump in his Oval Office.

“While progress has been made, much work remains to be done,” White House said after the conclusion of two-days of intense talks.

The meeting is part of the decision that Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had taken during their dinner meeting at Buenos Aires in Argentina on December 1, 2018 to pause their trade war and negotiate an agreement in 90 days.

Responding to a question, Trump said the two countries have made “tremendous progress in trade negotiations. It doesn’t mean you have a deal, but I can say there is a tremendous relationship and warm feeling.”

Trump has reiterated that the US tariffs will increase unless China agreed to reforms by March 1 deadline. Trump said that a substantial progress has been made in trade talks and exuded confidence that the countries could reach the biggest ever deal.

The Chinese delegation read out a letter from their president in which Xi said China-US relations were at a “critical” stage. “I hope that our two sides will continue to have mutual respect,” Xi was quoted as saying in the letter.

Both counties should meet “each other halfway in order to reach an early agreement that works in the best interest of both sides ….such an agreement will send a positive message to our two people and the broader international community,” the letter said.

Trump described it as a beautiful letter. The leaders are expected to meet soon. “We haven’t set up a meeting yet…we’re working on seeing where everybody is. Both countries would like to see a positive result,” he added.

Responding to a question, Trump said the two countries have made tremendous progress in trade negotiations. “It doesn’t mean you have a deal, but I can say there is a tremendous relationship and warm feeling and we’ve made tremendous progress,” he said.

He also said China has agreed to purchase five million tons of US soybeans. “That’s going to make our farmers happy, that’s a lot of soybeans”.

Later, the White House said, the talks covered a wide range of issues, including the ways in which the US companies are pressured to transfer technology to Chinese companies; the need for stronger protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in China; and the numerous tariff and non-tariff barriers faced by US companies in China.

They also discussed the harm resulting from China’s cyber-theft of the US commercial property; how market-distorting forces, including subsidies and state-owned enterprises, can lead to excess capacity; and the need to remove market barriers and tariffs that limit the US sales of manufactured goods, services, and agriculture to China.

Amongst other things the American and Chinese delegation discussed are the role of currencies in the US–China trading relationship. The two sides also discussed the need to reduce the enormous and growing trade deficit that the United States has with China. “The purchase of United States products by China from our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and businesses is a critical part of the negotiations,” the White House said.

“The two sides showed a helpful willingness to engage on all major issues, and the negotiating sessions featured productive and technical discussions on how to resolve our differences. The United States is particularly focused on reaching meaningful commitments on structural issues and deficit reduction. Both parties have agreed that any resolution will be fully enforceable,” the White House said.

After the talks, Senator Jerry Moran said he is encouraged by the continued dialogue between the two countries on resolving the ongoing trade war and China’s commitment to purchase more US soybeans. “I hope progress made in meetings this week will lay groundwork for a final agreement between our countries,” he said.

“This progress must include China changing its bad behaviour on trade, while also removing the tariffs that have been so damaging to Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers,” Moran said. “With China, our overarching strategy has to be to respect them when they compete, but also to stop them when they cheat,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro.

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