Trade deal so near, yet so far

Business | 15 Nov 2019 12:11 pm

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said negotiations over the first phase of a trade agreement with China were coming down to the final stages, with the two sides in close contact, Bloomber reports.

Speaking after an event at the Council on Foreign Relations late Thursday in Washington, Kudlow told reporters that a deal was close though “not done yet.”

President Donald Trump’s top trade advisers met on Thursday evening to discuss the China talks, said Kudlow, who heads Trump’s National Economic Council.

“We are coming down to the short strokes,” Kudlow said. “We are in communication with them every single day right now.”

The two sides have held working-level video conferences in recent days focused on issues ranging from the details and time line of Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural goods such as pork and soybeans to commitments to curtail theft of intellectual property that Trump is demanding from China, according to people familiar with the discussions.

A U.S. demand that China spell out how it plans to reach as much as US$50 billion in agricultural imports annually has been one sticking point as have discussions over what action the U.S. will take to roll back tariffs in return for a phase one deal, people familiar said.

China has reiterated its position that removing existing tariffs is a precondition of reaching a deal.Still, both sides have sent signals that they are intent on an agreement. China has resumed significant purchases of U.S. farm exports since Trump first announced plans for the phase one deal October 11.

On Thursday, Beijing also lifted a ban on American poultry that began in 2015, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture made a similar decision to allow Chinese poultry into the U.S.

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