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Diplomacy, Economics

Beijing, Washington expected to complete first phase of trade deal soon

Trump has boasted about the deal before it has been completed.

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Updated: November 5, 2019

China and the United States are expected to wrap up their phase-one trade agreement soon, a step toward ending the yearlong trade dispute and stimulating the global economy, experts and business leaders said.

The comments came after China and the US held what was characterized as “serious and constructive” discussions on Friday to address their core concerns and reach consensus on principles. The two sides also discussed arrangements for the next step in consultations, the Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday.

Yang Weiyong, an economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said signing a preliminary deal should be an “urgent” priority for both China and the US.

To some extent, external pressures can drive Chinese homegrown companies, especially State-owned ones, to perform more competently, but ending the trade dispute will benefit both countries and help cushion the sluggish world economy, Yang said.

Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said he is optimistic that the world’s two largest economies will solve their problems peacefully. He said China’s attitude is that the country is unwilling to confront the US but urges the countries to respect each other’s core interests.

Vice-Premier Liu He, responding to a US invitation, spoke with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by telephone on Friday, the ministry said in a brief statement.

The call was made days after Chile announced that it had canceled the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting scheduled for Nov 16 to 17 after nearly two weeks in which protests, sometimes violent, rocked the nation.

It was unclear whether the two sides discussed an arrangement for the signing of a phase-one deal, which was originally planned to take place concurrent with APEC. Indications are that they have essentially completed their technical consultations regarding part of the text for a preliminary trade agreement as outlined during the latest high-level trade talks in early October in Washington.

Earlier on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a news briefing that China-US trade consultations are progressing smoothly and both sides will press ahead with their work as planned.

“It is China’s hope that the two sides can find a way to resolve the economic and trade issues on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” Geng said.

“As to whether the two heads of state will meet, I can tell you that they maintain contact through various means,” he added.

Matt Deppe, chief executive of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, which has about 10,000 members, said the organization hopes both sides will get a great trade agreement for all different goods and services that are trading back and forth, because “we think it’s going to benefit both countries”.

Deppe said he was encouraged by the positive moves, because the two countries economically have a lot to offer one another and the rest of the world.

Andrew Ainslie, dean of the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester in New York state, said even though the China-US trade tensions have led to a decline in student applications to US universities overall, the school has been working to help candidates through the visa process.

“I don’t think it is going to be there for the long term,” Ainslie said. “I think this is short term.”

In another development on Friday, a World Trade Organization panel said that China can impose tariffs on US imports worth $3.58 billion annually because of the US failure to abide by anti-dumping rules with regard to Chinese products.

Yang said the WTO ruling showed that the US had violated the international organization’s rules, abused trade remedy provisions and seriously damaged fairness in the global trade environment.

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