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