China, US make progress in trade deal, says negotiator

Andrew Cummings
October 20, 2019

The speech will be delivered just weeks after US President Donald Trump, flanked by Chinese negotiators, gave a vague outline of the first phase of a deal with Beijing and suspended a threatened tariff hike, signalling a thaw in trade relations between the two countries. He stressed that China is "willing to work in concert with the address each other's core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect".

It did not however roll back any of the stinging import duties already imposed up to now on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade between the economic powers.

"The two sides have made substantial progress in many fields, laying an important foundation for the signing of a phased agreement", Vice Premier Liu said during a technology conference on Saturday. But three US soya bean exporters said that there had been no US sales to China since last week's talks in Washington, and none had been confirmed by the US Department of Agriculture. Led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer, the meetings have been a source of anxiety for investors.

In contrast, around 89 million acres of soybeans were planted in the US previous year - in the thick of the trade war - according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Trump last week said he hopes to sign the agreement with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Chile next month.

U.S. officials said a second phase of negotiations could address thornier issues like forced technology transfer and non-financial services issues.

"We're working with China very well", Trump said.

In an interview on CNBC earlier, Kudlow said the first phase of the China trade deal was "for real" and pointed to great progress in talks. Both the countries are now working on the written official details about the agreement.

China's economic growth slowed further to 6% in the third quarter, according to data released on Friday, increasing pressure on Beijing to put an end to the trade conflict. While the country remained the largest importer of US soybeans, the American Farm Bureau said that exports to China plummeted 53% in the 2018-2019 marketing year. "We have every confidence in our ability to meet macroeconomic targets for the year", he said.

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