China Trade Talks End on Note of Cautious Optimism

China US

China said Thursday (Jan 10) that trade talks in Beijing with a USA negotiating team had "laid the foundation" to resolve concerns held by both sides in a bruising trade war.

China said talks with the U.S. "laid the foundations" to resolve a damaging trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. China's Ministry of Commerce said there were "detailed exchanges" and both sides would "maintain close contact", without offering specifics.

Washington wants Beijing to change its plans to use government support to make Chinese companies world leaders in robotics and advanced technologies.

Negotiations between US and Chinese trade officials, which began Monday in the Commerce Ministry in Beijing, finally concluded on Wednesday as both sides sought to inch closer to an understanding on a number of disagreements. After that meeting, top USA officials said China had made an additional $1.2 trillion in trade commitments.

Share prices had risen Wednesday after President Donald Trump fueled optimism about possible progress by saying on Twitter talks were "going well!"

However, the USA side is pressing Beijing to scrap or change rules Washington says block market access or improperly help Chinese companies.

In December, top Trump administration officials had said the trade commitments amounted to $1.2 trillion, but did not specify the composition or time period.

Trump agreed to suspend plans to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10 percent to 25 percent while the countries attempt to negotiate a compromise on several issues during the trade talks.

Such a move would likely prompt further retaliation by China, which has already levied tariffs on USA goods, further rattling investors who are nervous about a significant slowdown in China's economy. Liu made a brief appearance at the talks in Beijing on Monday, boosting optimism that China was serious about making progress.

She added that the Trump administration's complaint that China is stealing USA intellectual property is "top of mind" in the negotiations with Beijing.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures rose $2.38 to $52.16 a barrel, a 4.8 percent gain, by 1:15 p.m. EST (1815 GMT), the first time this year that WTI has topped $50.

China Trade Talks End on Note of Cautious Optimism
China Trade Talks End on Note of Cautious Optimism

The oil price jumps were in line with Asian stock markets, which climbed to 3-1/2 week highs on Wednesday.

China also restarted purchases of American soybeans last month, providing relief for a crop hit by Chinese retaliatory tariffs. "If the results of the talks are positive, it would be beneficial for both China and the U.S. and it would be good news for the global economy".

Those purchases would help meet another key demand from Trump: that China take actions to reduce the massive USA trade deficit with its biggest economic rival.

So far, the US side has described the exchanges in a positive light.

The USTR gave no indication as to what, if any, new agreements had been made during the latest round of talks, but its statement said the US side pushed verification and enforcement of previous agreements.

Companies in both the United States and China are feeling the pain from the effects of the U.S.

As the trade talks wound down, China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, met with CEO Elon Musk of electric auto brand Tesla Inc. But if a deal doesn't happen, remember, "I am a Tariff Man", Trump said. Those include subsidies and other favors for high-tech and state-owned industry, rules on technology licensing and preferential treatment of domestic suppliers in government procurement.

On Monday, Chinese importers made another large purchase of US soybeans, their third in the past month.

"Talks with China are going very well!".

The US delegation to Beijing this week was led by Jeff Gerrish, deputy to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who is leading the negotiations for the Trump administration.

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