Sunday 20 October 2019

Very little progress in latest US-China trade talks

Talks: US trade rep Robert Lighthizer has met Chinese counterparts
Talks: US trade rep Robert Lighthizer has met Chinese counterparts

Saleha Mohsin, Haze Fan and Jennifer Jacobs

THE US and China have made little progress so far during trade talks in Beijing, leaving much work to be done before President Donald Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping look to seal a deal at a yet-to-be scheduled summit, according to sources familiar with discussions.

In closed-door sessions, the sides have failed to narrow the gap around structural reforms to China's economy that the US has requested, even as both seek to avoid an increase in tariffs after March 1, according to three US and Chinese officials who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

Yesterday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with counterparts including Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for the first of two days of high-level talks.

The US has not relented on demands for China to dial back government subsidies for state-owned enterprises and improve corporate governance, one of the sources said, an extremely sensitive issue that is seen as a non-starter for Chinese leaders.

The hurdles raise questions about whether negotiators can meet Mr Trump's criteria for pushing back the March 1 deadline for a plan to more than double the tariffs on $200bn (€177.5bn) of Chinese goods.

On Tuesday he said he was open to doing so if the two countries were close to a deal that addresses deep structural changes to China's economic and trade policies.

The lack of progress signalled to China that it would take a meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Xi to get a deal done. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Tuesday that Mr Trump wants to meet Mr Xi "very soon."

A meeting date has not been set however and it is unlikely the pair can meet before the March 1 deadline.

Mr Trump is considering pushing back the deadline for imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports by 60 days, Bloomberg News reported late Wednesday.


Irish Independent

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