China trade talks conclude on optimistic note in Beijing

Daniel Fowler
January 10, 2019

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce issued a statement saying the two sides had "detailed exchanges" and would "maintain close contact" but gave no details.

Meanwhile, confirming the conclusion of the trade talks, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing that "the extension of the talks indicates that both sides are serious about this consultation". In a Tweet Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said the talks were "going very well!".

It softened its stand by offering a mix of concessions by resuming purchases of United States soybeans, suspended punitive tariffs on imports of U.S. cars and toned down its "Made in China 2025" plan, which aimed at breaking the country's reliance on foreign technology and pull its hi-tech industries up to western levels.

Washington has presented Beijing with a long list of demands that would rewrite the terms of trade between the world's two largest economies.

Later this month, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to meet with Vice Premier Liu He, President Xi Jinping's top economic aide who is leading negotiations for China, a person familiar with the situation said last week.

"Negotiations between the two sides in this area made progress", he said.

U.S. -China trade talks ended on Wednesday with negotiators focused on Beijing's pledge to buy "a substantial amount" of agricultural, energy and manufactured goods and services from the United States, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said.

People familiar with the U.S.

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America is seeking assurances that China will buy more products from the U.S.in order to reduce the trade deficit, and it wants a fairer playing field for USA companies that do business inside China, NPR has reported.

The US smartphone maker has felt the pinch of the bruising trade spat, and warned that 2018 revenues would miss its forecast - in large part due to a slump in iPhone sales in China.

China has imposed penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for US companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses.

China - Pyongyang's sole diplomatic ally and main source of trade - said it would not use Kim's visit as a bargaining chip in the U.S. trade talks.

The midlevel talks in Beijing concluded on Wednesday.

The working-level talks opened Monday and were supposed to end the following day, but were extended an extra day, a sign that the two sides had made progress in resolving tariff disputes that have roiled world markets. Prior to the meeting, China made a number of concessions to USA demands including temporarily cutting punitive tariffs on US -made cars, promising to open up its markets for more foreign investment, and drafting a law to prevent forced technology transfers.

Almost halfway into the 90-day truce, there have been few concrete details on progress made so far.

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

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