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US official says China trade talks ‘went just fine’

10 January 2019
US official says China trade talks ‘went just fine’

Lu Kang, China's foreign ministry spokesman, confirmed at a press briefing that the talks had ended and said that more details would be released soon.

United States and Chinese negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday as they seek a way out of a damaging trade war.

China and the United States held a talk at the vice-ministerial level on economic and trade issues in Beijing from Monday to Wednesday, said a statement from the Ministry of Commerce.

Both sides have agreed to continuously keep in close contact.

Trump and Xi have given their officials until March 1 to reach an accord on "structural changes" to China's economy on issues such as the forced transfer of American technology, intellectual-property rights, and non-tariff barriers.

But they are a key step before both countries' top negotiators - US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He - can sit down to thrash out a deal.

But as meetings wound down in Beijing on Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted: "Talks with China are going very well!".

Also Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Beijing in a possible effort to co-ordinate with the North's only major ally ahead of a possible meeting with Trump.

Trump imposed tariff increases of up to 25 per cent on $250 billion United States in Chinese imports.

The global economy has been suffering from the chilling effect of a trade war between the world's two largest economies. US and North Korean officials are believed to have met in Vietnam to discuss a location. Hong Kong's main market index closed up 2.1 percent and Tokyo rose 1.1 percent. These include expanded Chinese purchases of American products, greater protections for U.S. intellectual property, constraints on Chinese industrial policy, and enforcement and verification of follow-through by China.

That added to advances since last week in equity markets around the world, following a strong USA employment report and comments from the Federal Reserve chief that calmed worries us interest rate hikes would hurt growth. WTI is among the most popular US light crude grades with Asian buyers.

The U.S. statement said the negotiations dealt with the need for any deal with China to be "subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement" - a comment that reflects U.S. frustration that the Chinese have failed to live up to past commitments. Economists say the 90-day postponement of additional tariff increases that had been meant to take effect January 1 may be too short to settle the disputes bedeviling U.S.

However, headwinds remain, chief among them the development of trade talks between Washington and Beijing. "We hope your company can become an in-depth participant in China's opening and a promoter of the stability of Chinese-U.S. relations".

The extra day of talks came amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of USA farm and energy commodities and increased access to China's markets.

If talks continue to go well, a cabinet-level meeting is likely to happen before the end of the month.

As the trade talks wound down, China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, met with CEO Elon Musk of electric vehicle brand Tesla Inc. "I really believe they want to make a deal".

The U.S. team is led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, and includes under secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Treasury, as well as senior officials from the White House.

For their part, Chinese officials are unhappy with US curbs on exports of "dual use" technology with possible military applications.