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US and Beijing seek to end trade war

International Business
Sat, 05 Jan 2019

BEIJING: China and the US will hold vice-ministerial level trade talks in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, as the two countries face pressure to end a trade war that is hurting the world’s two top economies and roiling global financial markets.

For much of the past year, the trade war has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and hit the global economy. Official data this week showed manufacturing activity slowed in both countries, and companies such as Apple and Cargill said the trade battle had hit earnings.

A team led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will come to China to have “positive and constructive discussions” with Chinese counterparts, China’s commerce ministry said.

In a separate statement yesterday, USTR said the delegation will also include under-secretaries from the US Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Treasury, as well as senior officials from those agencies and the White House.

Neither statement provided more details about the talks, but White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News Business Network the discussions will examine “the whole story,” including commodities, agriculture and industrial capital goods.

Last year, China and the US imposed tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of each other’s goods. President Trump initiated the trade war over complaints of unfair Chinese trading practices. He campaigned on a pledge to make trade fairer for the US and to help American manufacturers.

At a summit in Argentina late last year, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on additional tariffs for 90 days while they attempted to negotiate a deal.

Now, the countries face a March deadline for talks to end the damaging trade war, or Washington could proceed with a sharp hike in US tariffs and Beijing could retaliate.

Trump has said talks are progressing well, but it remained unclear if Beijing will yield to US demands for more open markets, forced technology transfer and industrial subsidies. Meeting some of those demands would require difficult structural reform.

“We know what sort of changes we need. Now, the question is can we negotiate these changes and can we do so with enforcement (and) with timetables,” Kudlow said.

USTR said in the statement the delegation will include chief agricultural negotiator Gregg Doud, USDA under-secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs Ted McKinney, Commerce Department under-secretary for international trade Gilbert Kaplan, Energy Department assistant secretary for fossil energy Steven Winberg, and Treasury’s under-secretary for international affairs David Malpass.