China’s 2019 to-do list in­cludes tack­ling US trade spat

The Hindu Business Line - - TAKE 500 - BLOOMBERG

China will work to tackle trade fric­tion with the US this year, Com­merce Min­is­ter Zhong Shan said in an in­ter­view with Chi­nese state me­dia that fol­lowed three days of talks be­tween the na­tions and perked-up trou­bled fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

The Min­istry of Com­merce, which has set trade ne­go­ti­a­tions as one of its pri­or­i­ties in 2019, will push talks for­ward and boost co­op­er­a­tion with US states, cities, busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties and non-gov­ern­men­tal groups in or­der to pro­mote a stable bi­lat­eral trade re­la­tion­ship, the state news ser­vice Xin­hua re­ported, cit­ing an in­ter­view Zhong granted to it and a num­ber of other Chi­nese agen­cies.

Talks be­tween mid-level US and Chi­nese of­fi­cials in Bei­jing con­cluded on Wed­nes­day. The ne­go­ti­a­tions were ex­tended for a day, which added to op­ti­mism fu­elled by re­cent tweets from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that the two sides are mak­ing progress to­ward agree­ment.

US and Chi­nese stocks have ad­vanced in the early days of 2019 on fresh hope for a break­through in the show­down be­tween the world’s two largest economies. There are about seven weeks be­fore the an US-im­posed dead­line for a deal, after which Trump may or­der a re­sump­tion of tar­iff hikes on im­ports from China.

Wash­ing­ton talks

The US Pres­i­dent is in­creas­ingly ea­ger to strike a deal with China in an ef­fort to perk up fi­nan­cial mar­kets that have slumped on con­cerns over the trade war, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with in­ter­nal White House de­lib­er­a­tions. Chi­nese VicePremier Liu He, a key eco­nomic ad­viser to China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, is set to visit Wash­ing­ton late this month for fur­ther trade talks, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the plans said on Fri­day. Liu would meet with US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin, the peo­ple said.

Sep­a­rately, Zhong told Xin­hua that China’s goods con­sump­tion grew by around 9.1 per cent in 2018 to 38 tril­lion yuan ($5.6 tril­lion) and in­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in­creased by 3 per cent last year to $135 bil­lion.

Other pri­or­i­ties for the min­istry this year in­clude ex­pand­ing mar­ket ac­cess for for­eign cap­i­tal. Such work in­cludes short­en­ing the so-called neg­a­tive list na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing for free-trade pi­lot zones, and pro­vides for al­low­ing for­eign in­vestors to set up 100 per cent-owned com­pa­nies in more in­dus­tries. It also en­tails ef­forts to open up ser­vice sec­tors more, he said.

The min­istry will also fo­cus on host­ing the sec­ond in­ter­na­tional im­port expo and pro­mote the con­struc­tion of more free-trade pi­lot zones as well as ex­per­i­ment­ing with free-trade ports, Zhong said.

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