US, China ‘close to fi­nal­iz­ing’ parts of trade deal

The Korea Times - - WORLD BUSINESS -

WASH­ING­TON (Reuters) — U.S. and Chi­nese of­fi­cials are “close to fi­nal­iz­ing” some parts of a trade agree­ment after high-level tele­phone dis­cus­sions on Fri­day, the U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s of­fice and China’s Com­merce Min­istry said, with talks to con­tinue.

The USTR pro­vided no de­tails on the ar­eas of progress.

“They made head­way on spe­cific is­sues and the two sides are close to fi­nal­iz­ing some sec­tions of the agree­ment. Dis­cus­sions will go on con­tin­u­ously at the deputy level, and the prin­ci­pals will have an­other call in the near fu­ture,” a state­ment said.

Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing are work­ing to agree on the text for a “Phase 1” trade agree­ment an­nounced by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Oct. 11. Trump has said he hopes to sign the deal with China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping next month at a sum­mit in Chile.

In a sep­a­rate state­ment posted on China’s Min­istry of Com­merce web­site on Satur­day morn­ing, Bei­jing con­firmed “tech­ni­cal con­sul­ta­tions” on some parts of a trade agree­ment were ba­si­cally com­pleted.

Agri­cul­tural prod­ucts are a ma­jor area of dis­cus­sion.

China’s Com­merce Min­istry said both sides con­firmed the United States will im­port Chi­nese-made cooked poul­try and cat­fish prod­ucts, while China will lift a ban on U.S. poul­try.

Bei­jing wants the United States to can­cel some ex­ist­ing U.S. tar­iffs on Chi­nese im­ports, peo­ple briefed on the Fri­day call told Reuters, in re­turn for pledg­ing to step up its pur­chases of U.S. com­modi­ties like soy­beans.

The United States wants Bei­jing to com­mit to buy­ing these prod­ucts at a spe­cific time and price, while Chi­nese buy­ers would like the dis­cre­tion to buy based on mar­ket con­di­tions.

The world’s two largest economies are try­ing to calm a nearly 16-month trade war that is roil­ing fi­nan­cial mar­kets, dis­rupt­ing sup­ply chains and slow­ing global eco­nomic growth.

“They want to make a deal very badly,” Trump told re­porters at the White

House on Fri­day. “They’re go­ing to be buy­ing much more farm prod­ucts than any­body thought pos­si­ble.”

Trump agreed ear­lier this month to can­cel an Oct. 15 in­crease in tar­iffs on $250 bil­lion in Chi­nese goods as part of a ten­ta­tive agree­ment on agri­cul­tural pur­chases, in­creased ac­cess to China’s fi­nan­cial ser­vices mar­kets, im­proved pro­tec­tions for in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and a cur­rency pact.

White House ad­vis­ers are hop­ing to ce­ment a bind­ing, en­force­able agree­ment with Bei­jing, in­clud­ing a pledge not to force U.S. com­pa­nies to trans­fer tech­nol­ogy to Chi­nese com­pa­nies to do busi­ness there.

Bei­jing was ex­pected to ask Wash­ing­ton dur­ing Fri­day’s call to drop its plan to im­pose tar­iffs on $156 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese goods, in­clud­ing cell phones, lap­top com­put­ers and toys, on Dec. 15, two U.S.-based sources told Reuters.

Bei­jing is also seek­ing re­moval of 15 per­cent tar­iffs im­posed on Sept. 1 on about $125 bil­lion of Chi­nese goods, one of the sources said. Trump im­posed the tar­iffs in Au­gust after a failed round of talks.

AFP-Yon­hap

U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer, left, lis­tens as Chi­nese Vice Premier Liu He talks while they line up for a group photo at the Diaoyu­tai State Guest­house in Bei­jing, in this Feb. 15 file photo.

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