Trump-Xi talks will address trade imbalances, says US Commerce Secretary as US$9 billion deals signed

US President Donald Trump and US first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China’s President Xi Jinping and China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing on Nov 8, 2017.
US President Donald Trump and US first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China’s President Xi Jinping and China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing on Nov 8, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Meetings between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing this week will focus on addressing trade imbalances between the two countries, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday (Nov 8). 

Ross was speaking at a signing ceremony in the Chinese capital for commercial deals worth about US$9 billion on Trump’s visit.  Trump has ratcheted up his criticism of China’s massive trade surplus with the U.S. – calling it “embarrassing” and“horrible” last week – and has accused Beijing of unfair trade practices, fuelling worries of increased tension between the world’s two largest trading countries. 

“Addressing the imbalance in China trade has been the central focus of collaborative discussions between President Trump and President Xi and achieving fair and reciprocal treatment for the companies is a shared objective,” Ross said. 

Data on Wednesday showed China’s exports to the US rose 8.3 per cent in October on the year, while imports grew 4.3 per cent. That led to a trade surplus of US$26.62 billion with the US last month, down from September’s record US$28.08 billion, but higher than recent trends.  

Deals signed on Wednesday included a pledge by Chinese ecommerce company JD.com to buy more than US$2 billion of food products from the US over three years and a pact for Reignwood International to buy additional helicopters from US firm Bell Helicopter. 

While 19 deals were signed on Wednesday, some in the US business community have expressed worry that contract wins could come at the expense of resolving long-standing complaints over market access restrictions in China. 

At the ceremony, China’s vice premier Wang Yang said deals signed between China and US firms would “contribute to the stabilisation of the general and overall economic relations between the two countries”. 

The ceremony was a prelude to a “more important” signing ceremony set for Thursday, he added. Among the companies expected to sign 
deals on Thursday are Qualcomm, Boeing and Goldman Sachs. 

Chinese commerce minister Zhong Shan also attended the event in the Great Hall of the People next to Tiananmen Square.