China optimistic as trade negotiations with US kick off

Beijing: China on Monday said it was optimistic about the latest round of trade negotiations with the US that started here as both sides showed willingness to end their disputes.

A US delegation led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish arrived in the Chinese capital to start the two-day vice-ministerial level talks over a trade dispute since the beginning of 2018.

“Talks are underway. The two sides have expressed their willingness to hold constructive talks and to work together to resolve the disputes following the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press briefing.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump had agreed on a 90-day truce to hold negotiations when they met in Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on December 1 on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Lu also referred to Trump’s latest statement on Sunday, in which he said China’s weak economic situation would give Beijing an “incentive” to negotiate.

“From the beginning, we have believed that China-US trade friction is not a positive situation for either country or the world economy. China has the good faith, on the basis of mutual respect and equality, to resolve the bilateral trade frictions,” the spokesperson was cited as saying by Efe news.

The official Chinese media highlighted that the negotiations came at a time when the two countries toned down mutual criticism, offering hope of a possible agreement.

“With both countries facing an economic slowdown and market instability, there is greater willingness from both sides to reach an agreement,” Bai Ming, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Commerce’s International Market Research Institute, told official daily Global Times on Sunday.

According to the daily, the two sides would first seek to reach a deal about the “basics”, which could later lead to a final agreement on agriculture, energy and other sectors.

Since the December 1 truce, China adopted several goodwill measures including cutting tariffs on vehicles imported from the US, resuming the purchase of soy bean from the country and submitting a draft law to prohibit forced technology transfers.

Trump temporarily suspended the planned increase in tariffs from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on Chinese goods worth $200 billion, although warning that he would go ahead with the plan if a trade agreement was not sealed before the 90-day deadline.


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