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Business, Diplomacy

Talks calm trade climate for Beijing, Washington

For the trade war, more talks means less tension.


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Updated: January 11, 2019

The latest round of vice-ministerial level trade talks between China and the United States, which concluded on Wednesday, have laid a foundation for addressing each other’s concerns, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

Both sides have actively implemented the significant consensus reached by their heads of state and conducted extensive, in-depth and detailed exchanges on trade and structural issues of common concern, Gao Feng, the ministry’s spokesman, said at a news briefing on Thursday.

The meetings between China and the US began on Monday in Beijing.

According to a statement released by the ministry on Thursday morning, the two sides improved mutual understanding.

Both sides agreed to continue to keep in close contact, the statement said.

On Dec 1, the top leaders of China and the US met on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They agreed to continue negotiations, suspend the imposition of new tariffs and exchange visits at an appropriate time.

The US delegation was led by US Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.

Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, said he was pleased that the two governments have had substantive discussions over the past three days and looked forward to hearing details about the negotiations.

Any agreement between the governments should include positive incentives, such as a mechanism for removing tariff hikes the two countries have imposed on each other, as progress is made in the talks, Allen said.

He said removal of those tariffs should be a priority to address the damage that has been done to US companies that depend on trade with China and to the US economy as a whole. The council will continue to work with both governments to encourage that result, he said.

China has already shown its determination to put its foreign trade on a firmer footing, said Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. The country also has increased moves to accelerate the pace of its reform and opening-up, especially to further safeguard intellectual property rights, expand market access, increase imports from the US and make the business environment even more transparent and fairer, Wei said.

“These moves are not only to respond to concerns from the US but also to realize the potential of high-level opening-up to the rest of the world,” he said. “China has always adopted an open stance toward solving trade disputes with the US. It has shown its sincerity in settling disputes through concrete measures.”

Trade volume between China and the US amounted to $582.8 billion between January and November last year, up 10.9 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

To further improve the business environment, China has already removed the import license requirement for 118 products and 29 product restrictions on imports, said Song Xianmao, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department at the Ministry of Commerce. It also has suspended export quotas for phosphorus ore and silver starting Jan 1, he said.

China’s imports are expected to exceed $2 trillion in 2018, which would be a record, Song said.



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About the Author: ANN’s Board member Ms Esther Ng, Malaysia’s The Star’s Chief Content Officer, has been bestowed the 2019 Asian Women Entrepreneurs Leadership Award in the Media and Communications category.

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