China to offer concessions to avert US trade war: Report

US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping chatting as they walk along the front patio of the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting, on April 7, 2017.
US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping chatting as they walk along the front patio of the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting, on April 7, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Beijing 'willing to end beef import ban, raise investment ceiling'

BEIJING/WASHINGTON • China will offer the Trump administration better market access for financial sector investments and US beef exports to help avert a trade war, the Financial Times reported, citing officials familiar with the matter.

China is prepared to raise the investment ceiling in the Bilateral Investment Treaty and is also willing to end the ban on US beef imports, the newspaper also said in its report on Sunday.

Those negotiations had earlier been put on hold after Mr Donald Trump's election victory, the report added, citing a Chinese official involved in the talks.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last Friday that President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to a new 100-day plan for trade talks during their summit last week. He did not give details.

The US trade department was not available for comment while China's Ministry of Commerce could not be reached for comment.

Officials cited by the Financial Times said China is willing to end the beef ban and buy more US grains and other agricultural products, as it seeks to reduce tensions over the US$347 billion (S$488 billion) annual trade surplus in goods that it enjoys with its biggest trading partner.

After predicting a "very difficult" encounter with his Chinese counterpart, Mr Trump emerged from their first meeting hailing an "outstanding relationship".

Mr Xi was similarly upbeat after the 18-hour summit in Florida that ended last Friday, saying they "got deeply acquainted, established a kind of trust and built an initial working relationship and friendship".

In a tweet after the visit, Mr Trump said it was a "great honour" to host Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, adding: "Tremendous goodwill and friendship (were) formed, but only time will tell on trade."

Foreign investors cannot hold a majority stake in securities and insurance companies in China. China has also banned US beef since a mad cow disease scare in 2003.

Officials cited by the Financial Times said China is willing to end that ban and buy more US grains and other agricultural products, as it seeks to reduce tensions over the US$347 billion (S$488 billion) annual trade surplus in goods that it enjoys with its biggest trading partner.

US officials are also pressing their Chinese counterparts to lower their current 25 per cent tariff on automotive imports, the newspaper said.

Beijing, in return, is seeking greater protection for Chinese investment in the US, which tripled last year to more than US$45 billion, and also for Washington to relax restrictions on the sale of certain high-tech products to China.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'China to offer concessions to avert US trade war: Report'. Print Edition | Subscribe