Talks on trade war with China making headway, says US

With billions of dollars in two-way trade now subject to steep tariffs, there are mounting signs that the trade war has damaged the world economy, adding to pressure on both sides to strike a deal.
With billions of dollars in two-way trade now subject to steep tariffs, there are mounting signs that the trade war has damaged the world economy, adding to pressure on both sides to strike a deal.PHOTO: REUTERS

Phase one of deal said to be in the works; but details scarce with no sign of tariff rollbacks

WASHINGTON • Washington and Beijing are making "headway" on key issues in their ongoing trade dispute and discussions will continue, the US Trade Representative's office (USTR) said following a phone call between senior officials.

President Donald Trump heralded a major win in his offensive against China two weeks ago, saying the economic powers were close to concluding a "substantial phase one deal".

However, the details were - and remain - scarce and the two sides have not announced rollbacks of existing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with China's Vice-Premier Liu He last Friday on phase one of the US-China trade agreement, the USTR announced. "They made headway on specific issues and the two sides are close to finalising some sections of the agreement," it said.

China said parts of the text for the first phase of a trade deal with the US are basically completed as the two sides reached a consensus in areas including standards used by agricultural regulators.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said yesterday both sides agreed to properly address each other's core concerns.

China will lift a ban on US poultry imports while the United States will import Chinese-made cooked poultry and catfish products, it said in a statement.

China will also apply the Public Health Information System for meat products, the ministry said.

Mr Trump said China committed to a surge in purchases of US farm products and the deal also covers intellectual property, financial services and currencies.

BOOST FOR FARM SECTOR

They really want a deal. They're going to be buying much more farm products than anybody ever thought possible.

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, insisting that the US-China trade deal will be a boon for the farm sector.

Both sides have said discussions will go on continuously at the deputy level and the top trade officials will have another call in the near future.

Mr Trump said he expected to sign an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile, next month.

"We're doing very well with China," Mr Trump told reporters last Friday.

"China wants a deal. They'd like to see some reductions in tariffs."

With billions of dollars in two-way trade now subject to steep tariffs, there are mounting signs that the trade war has damaged the world economy, adding to pressure on both sides to strike a deal.

Mr Trump insists the deal will be a boon for the farm sector.

 
 

"They (China) really want a deal. They're going to be buying much more farm products than anybody ever thought possible," he said.

The White House held off on a massive tariff increase planned for Oct 15 on US$250 billion (S$341 billion) in Chinese goods, but new 15 per cent tariffs on another US$150 billion in goods are still scheduled for December.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 27, 2019, with the headline 'Talks on trade war with China making headway, says US'. Print Edition | Subscribe