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China says open to more trade negotiations with US in January

December 21, 2018 – BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – China’s Ministry of Commerce has confirmed a plan for more trade talks with the United States in January, adding that Beijing continues to make positive gestures.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a weekly briefing on Thursday (Dec 20) in Beijing that there were plans to hold further talks on trade with the US, and the two sides have been in close contact.

“The two sides will arrange negotiations through meetings or phone calls at any time based on the progress,” he said.

Commenting on the ongoing 90-day tariff truce, Mr Gao said China appreciated the Office of the US Trade Representative’s decision to postpone the effective date for possible additional tariffs until March.

“China has also lowered tariffs on imported vehicles from the US to fulfil the agreement the two sides have reached,” he added. “China so far is taking progressive action and is making positive gestures,” the spokesman said.

On Wednesday, China’s major state-owned enterprise Sinograin announced new purchases of soybeans from the US “to implement the consensus achieved by Chinese and US heads of state”.

The two countries’ arrangement for a next round of trade talks was a “positive signal”, said Mr Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister of commerce.

Mr Wei said it is of great significance that the two countries have been maintaining closer contacts, and he predicted that key issues in the next talks would include trade imbalances and intellectual property protection.

He stressed that resolving trade disputes is an “urgent task” for both sides. The US needs to cope with certain economic uncertainties like stock market fluctuations, while China needs to increase quality imports, such as airplanes and agricultural products, to meet growing domestic demand.

Mr Shen Jianguang, chief economist at JD Finance, said that if the trade relationship between the two countries destabilises, it can lead to problems in other areas.

“It is not easy for the two sides to reach a truce and push talks forward to avoid an escalation,” Mr Shen said.

Mr Benjamin Shobert, a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, said that although the world’s two largest economies are going to continue a very “challenging” relationship, he, as an American, is “much more concerned with and focused on what happens here (in the US)”.

He added that: “Much of the administration’s attempt to characterise America’s economic problems as being entirely a by-product of the US-China relationship is a mistake. There are significant challenges relative to technology and financial engineering that actually constitute much more significant problems for the average Americans than the US-China relationship specifically.”

Nevertheless, despite all the challenges ahead for the evolving China-US partnership, Mr Shobert said it is very possible that the two nations could manage to compete and cooperate at the same time.