China, US finish third round of trade negotiations, claim progress

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  • Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:41
China, US finish third round of trade negotiations, claim progress
  • EFE

The third round of negotiations between representatives of China and the United States to resolve an ongoing trade conflict ended in Beijing on Friday without any concrete announcements, although the participants said significant progress had been achieved.

The trade talks ended with a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping, US Foreign Trade Representative Robert Lightizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with Jinping saying important progress had been made during the negotiations, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Xi said he hoped that both sides would be able to reach a "mutually beneficial" deal during the next round of talks, to be held in Washington next week.

The Chinese president met the two US envoys at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, a gesture similar to the one made by US President Donald Trump, who had received Chinese representatives personally during the second round of talks held in early February in Washington.

"The two countries share broad common interests and shoulder important responsibilities in safeguarding world peace and stability, as well as promoting global development," Xi said after the meeting, stressing the need to adopt a cooperative attitude for securing a final agreement.

According to Xinhua, Lighthizer and Mnuchin said during the meeting that they were hopeful of reaching an agreement which satisfies both sides, even though much work remained to be done.

No official body or media outlets in China have mentioned any concrete results of the negotiations, held on Thursday and Friday between Vice Premier Liu He and Lighthizer and Mnuchin.

However, state newspaper Global Times said the fact that both delegations took and published photos together showed there was a good atmosphere, while Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily said the two sides discussed a wide range of subjects, including trade and structural problems.

Mnuchin tweeted on Friday that he and Lighthizer had had "productive meetings" with Liu, along with a photo of the two delegations.

This was the third round of negotiations between Beijing and Washington since Trump and Xi agreed on a 90-day commercial truce on Dec. 1 to allow for negotiations, which is set to expire on Mar. 1.

In December Trump agreed to provisionally suspend the increase in US tariff rates on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10 percent to 25 percent, although he had warned that the hike would be implemented if a deal could not be reached within the given period.

As part of its own goodwill gestures, China lowered tariffs on vehicles imported from the US, resumed the purchase of soya and submitted a bill to ban the forced transfer of technology.

Xinhua had said negotiators made "important progress" in the last round of talks in Washington, but the most disputed topics, such as the transfer of technology or intellectual property rights, are yet to be resolved.

Data released earlier this week revealed that China's foreign trade grew 8.7 percent year on year in January, showing that the Chinese economy was recovering despite the crisis with the US, which has led to bilateral trade between the world's two biggest economies shrinking by more than 10 percent.

According to Chinese customs data, China's trade surplus with the US dropped 23.3 percent to 188.4 billion yuan ($23.8 billion) since the trade truce began.

China's trade surplus with the US has been one of the main grievances of the Trump administration and a key reason behind the trade war.


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