Sino-US trade talks in final stages, formal deal likely by month’s end

Business | 4 Mar 2019 10:54 am

China and the U.S. are in the final stage of completing a trade deal, with Beijing offering to lower tariffs and other restrictions on American farm, chemical, auto and other products and Washington considering removing most, if not all, sanctions levied against Chinese products since last year, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The agreement is taking shape following February’s talks in Washington, people briefed on the matter on both sides said. They cautioned that hurdles remain, and each side faces possible resistance at home that the terms are too favorable to the other side.

Despite the remaining hurdles, the talks have progressed to the extent that a formal agreement could be reached at a summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, probably around March 27, after Xi finishes a trip to Italy and France, individuals with knowledge of the plans said.

As part of a deal, China is pledging to help level the playing field, including speeding up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on car ventures and reducing tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current auto tariff of 15 percent. Beijing would also step up purchases of U.S. goods — a tactic designed to appeal to Trump, who campaigned on closing the bilateral trade deficit with China. One of the sweeteners would be an US$18 billion natural-gas purchase from Cheniere Energy Inc, people familiar with the transaction said, the WSJ reports.

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