China, US to hold trade talks next week

A Chinese worker at a port in Qingdao, China. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce in the US-China trade war after a meeting in Argentina last month.
A Chinese worker at a port in Qingdao, China. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce in the US-China trade war after a meeting in Argentina last month.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Meeting will be first face-to-face one since Trump, Xi agreed on 90-day truce last month

BEIJING • China said a US delegation will visit next week for trade talks, confirming that the two sides will have their first face-to-face negotiation since President Donald Trump and his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, agreed to a 90-day truce in their trade war last month.

Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the US delegation for the talks on Monday and Tuesday, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement. Vice-ministers from the two countries talked on the phone yesterday, and will discuss how to implement the consensus reached in Argentina when the two leaders meet in Beijing, it said.

The talks add to signs that the world's two largest economies are looking for a way to cool trade tensions. The S&P 500 Index tumbled 2.5 per cent on Thursday amid mounting indications that US business is starting to feel the pinch from the trade war. Apple plunged the most since 2013 in part due to slowing iPhone sales in China, where the economy has slowed.

"The negotiations next week are important because they will establish expectations, but we shouldn't expect major breakthroughs," said Mr Myron Brilliant, vice-president of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce.

The talks will be divided into groups dealing with non-tariff measures, intellectual property, agriculture and industrial purchases, people familiar with the matter said.

Other administration officials at the talks will include Mr Gregg Doud, the US Trade Representative's chief agricultural negotiator, and Mr David Malpass, the Treasury Department's Undersecretary for International Affairs, said the sources.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to meet Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, President Xi's top economic adviser, later this month, a source said.

 
 

Chinese officials have been in constant contact with the US to try to determine what else is needed to move things forward, those familiar with the talks said separately last month. It appears to them that the US itself is not clear on what it wants, said the sources.

Those familiar said other US attendees include Mr Gil Kaplan, Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade; Mr Ted McKinney, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs; and Ms Merry Lin, director for global and Asia economics at the National Security Council.

Mr Trump reported "big progress" in trade negotiations after a phone call with Mr Xi last week. Beijing also announced a third round of tariff cuts, lowering import taxes on more than 700 goods from Jan 1 as part of its efforts to open up the economy and lower costs for domestic consumers.

After meeting Mr Xi on Dec 1, Mr Trump agreed to put on hold a scheduled increase in tariffs on US$200 billion (S$272 billion) in annual imports from China for 90 days while the negotiations take place. In response, China temporarily lowered tariffs on US car imports for the same period.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2019, with the headline 'China, US to hold trade talks next week'. Print Edition | Subscribe