China, US extend trade negotiations to a third day

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/8 23:55:54

Trade talks extend to Wednesday, thorny issues to be addressed

Chinese and US trade officials are set to make another attempt at striking a trade deal to defuse an increasingly bruising trade war that has rattled global markets and presented mounting challenges to both economies. Photo: VCG

China and the US extended their latest round of tough trade negotiations into Tuesday midnight in Beijing, and talks will continue on a third day.

Analysts noted that the longer-than-scheduled talks suggested that officials from both sides are committed to an agreement to end their bruising trade frictions on a much-needed upbeat note.

The talks, the first face-to-face meeting between Chinese and US officials after a truce was reached in December 2018, laid the groundwork for later negotiations by higher-levels and offered some optimism for skittish global markets that have been anxiously waiting for any clue from the meeting.

The second day of US-China trade talks in Beijing extended into Tuesday evening. Sources close to the matter said that talks will continue on Wednesday. 

No information has been released by both sides as of press time. 

On Tuesday night, US President Donald Trump twitted that "Talks with China are going very well!"

But this round of talks was surrounded by optimism from both sides, pointing to a certain degree of eagerness to end the trade war.

On Monday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who has been leading the Chinese team in trade talks with US officials, attended the supposedly mid-level meeting to the surprise of many.

Liu's presence was widely viewed as a positive sign of how seriously China is taking the trade negotiations. When asked about the move at a press briefing on Tuesday, Lu Kang, spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, said that as the leader of the Chinese team, Liu's visit to the two teams was "reasonable."

In Washington, officials also seemed optimistic about the negotiations. On Monday, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview with CNBC that there is a "very good chance" that the two sides would reach a deal.

Mixed reactions

"We are finally seeing some pragmatism in this round of talks," Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times. 

Amid the trade talks, major global stock markets were mixed. In the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.26 percent on Tuesday, while the smaller Shenzhen Component closed 0.12 percent lower. But stocks in Japan, the UK, Germany and France closed slightly higher on Tuesday. 

"Given the market turmoil at the end of 2018, the biggest goal for this round of negotiations is to calm the markets," said Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Analysts said that the two sides might have agreed on some areas, including China's purchase of US agricultural and energy products, but thorny issues such as economic policy changes are likely left for higher-level talks later.

Liu is scheduled to travel to Washington later this month for talks with top US officials, CNN reported. Under the truce, Chinese and US officials have until March 1 to strike a deal. 

While no official announcement has yet been made, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and Trump, who are both scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland later this month, could meet. 

"It is likely we will reach some kind of deal to hold off tariffs, but let's not be overly optimistic," Mei told the Global Times on Tuesday, "[The US] could walk back anytime as it did before."

The trade talks did not end without geopolitical distractions. On Monday, while talks were underway in Beijing, the US dispatched a guided-missile destroyer to the South China Sea, prompting China to send aircraft and warships to warn the US vessel and lodge a protest against the move.

The timing of the US vessel sailing in the South China Sea, a sensitive area in China-US relations, prompting some analysts to suggest that by dispatching a warship to the area while holding conciliatory talks, the US was trying to have it both ways.

"Trump wants to reach a trade deal with China, but he also does not want to look weak in his own country. So this is a move aimed more at saving face than a tactic," Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Newspaper headline: China, US extend trade negotiations


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