Beijing appeals to US for quick end to trade war

China | 17 Oct 2019 6:31 pm

China appealed to Washington for a quick end to their trade war but gave no indication today what additional steps Beijing might want before carrying out what President Donald Trump says is a promise to buy up to US$50 billion of American farm goods.

Trump agreed Friday to delay a tariff hike in exchange for Chinese purchases of U.S. exports. Beijing says it will buy more American goods but has yet to confirm the details, leaving companies wondering whether Chinese leaders have other demands including a possible end to punitive U.S. tariffs before that goes ahead.

Negotiators are “striving to reach a consensus on the text of the agreement as soon as possible,” said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng. “I can’t disclose the specific details.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters yesterday that officials were still ironing out details of a preliminary agreement.

Companies welcomed the deal as a small but promising possible step toward breaking a deadlock in the 15-month-old fight over China’s trade surplus and technology ambitions.

Tariff hikes by both sides on billions of dollars of imports have battered factories and farmers, weighing on global economic growth. Trump delayed a tariff due to take effect Tuesday on US$250 billion of Chinese goods but another increase on US$160 billion of imports still is scheduled for December 15.

Economists warned the truce fails to address more basic complaints about Beijing’s plans for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other technologies.

Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners say those violate Chinese market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over know-how.

China wants “economic and trade relations back on the right track at an early date,” Gao said at a weekly news briefing.

Achieving results will “restore market confidence and also is highly significant for stabilizing the global economic situation,” he said.

On Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman said China would “further speed up procurement” of American farm exports but gave no scale or time frame.

China has bought 20 million tons of U.S. soybeans and 700,000 tons of pork this year, according to the spokesman, Geng Shuang. China imported about 33 million tons of American soybeans annually before the tariff fight and collapsed to 16.6 million tons last year.-AP

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