China vows it will act promptly on US trade pact

The Star Late Edition - - WORLD - JOE MCDON­ALD

YE­MEN’S war­ring sides be­gan peace ne­go­ti­a­tions in Swe­den yes­ter­day, with UN spe­cial en­voy to Ye­men Martin Grif­fiths de­scrib­ing the meet­ing as “an im­por­tant mile­stone”.

“Af­ter two and a half years without a for­mal po­lit­i­cal process, the con­ven­ing of the two del­e­ga­tions here is an im­por­tant mile­stone,” Grif­fiths said in the Swedish town of Rimbo.

Ye­men, one of the Arab world’s poor­est coun­tries, has been em­broiled in a dis­as­trous power strug­gle be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and the Houthi rebels since late 2014. A Saudi-led coali­tion has been fight­ing the Iran-linked rebels since March 2015.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ye­men’s Saudi-backed gov­ern­ment and the Houthi rebels were seated in the same room yes­ter­day fac­ing each other as Grif­fiths and Swedish For­eign Min­is­ter Mar­got Wall­strom gave state­ments.

“It’s now up to you, the Ye­meni par­ties, to truly en­gage con­struc­tively and in good faith,” Wall­strom said. | dpa CHINA’S gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day that it would promptly carry out a tar­iff cease­fire with Wash­ing­ton and was con­fi­dent they could reach a trade agree­ment, sug­gest­ing Bei­jing wants to avoid dis­rup­tions due to the ar­rest of a tech ex­ec­u­tive.

Talks dur­ing the 90-day pe­riod dur­ing which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has agreed to sus­pend US tar­iff hikes will start by fo­cus­ing on farm goods, en­ergy and au­to­mo­biles, said Min­istry of Com­merce spokesper­son Gao Feng.

Asked to con­firm whether Bei­jing promised to buy Amer­i­can goods im­me­di­ately, Gao said China would “im­me­di­ately im­ple­ment the con­sen­sus reached by the two sides on farm prod­ucts, cars and en­ergy”. He said noth­ing about pur­chases.

That op­ti­mistic tone con­trasted with Chi­nese crit­i­cism of Canada’s ar­rest of an ex­ec­u­tive of tech­nol­ogy gi­ant Huawei, who a Toronto news­pa­per said was ac­cused by the US of try­ing to vi­o­late trade curbs on Iran.

That sug­gested Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s gov­ern­ment sees the trade ne­go­ti­a­tions as too im­por­tant to dis­rupt.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump agreed on Satur­day to post­pone US tar­iff hikes in a fight over Bei­jing’s tech­nol­ogy pol­icy by 90 days while the two sides ne­go­ti­ated.

China has promised to act quickly but failed to re­lease de­tails. That caused global stock mar­kets to sink on Tues­day af­ter Trump re­vived threats of tar­iff hikes, though share prices re­bounded fol­low­ing pos­i­tive Chi­nese state­ments on Wed­nes­day.

The two sides will also dis­cuss in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tion, tech­ni­cal co-op­er­a­tion, mar­ket ac­cess and their trade bal­ance, Gao said. He said they had a “clear timetable and road map”.

“China is full of con­fi­dence in reach­ing an agree­ment within the next 90 days,” the spokesper­son said.

Asked about Trump’s state­ment that Bei­jing would can­cel tar­iff hikes on US-made cars, Gao re­ferred re­porters to the cab­i­net’s tax com­mis­sion.

Trade ex­perts have said 90 days is scant time for re­solv­ing sprawl­ing con­flicts over tech­nol­ogy, state in­dus­tries and other is­sues. | AP/

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