Optimism surrounds trade talks between China, US
Published: Oct 11, 2019 11:23 PM Updated: Oct 12, 2019 08:47 AM

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (right) and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (left) greet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He as he arrives for trade talks at the Office of the US Trade Representative in Washington, DC, on Thursday. Photo: VCG

A positive atmosphere hovers over the latest round of trade talks between China and the US, as the two sides appear willing to find a way out in the two-day talks, amid hopes to reach a partial trade deal.

Top trade officials from China and the US met on Thursday after a more than two-month deadlock, with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He expected to meet US President Donald Trump on Friday in Washington. 

The visit comes ahead of October 15, when the US is due to levy additional tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods.

"We hope we can work together with the US on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment to promote progress in the trade talks," Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Friday. 

Liu told representatives from the US industrial and commercial sectors Wednesday that the Chinese trade delegation came to the negotiations with utmost sincerity, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

China is willing to engage in serious discussions with the US over trade balance, market access and investor protection, and for positive progress in the talks, Liu was quoted as saying.

He also said China is willing to reach an agreement on matters of common concern on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and can avoid a further escalation of trade friction between the two sides.

Although there has been no official statement from either side on the results of trade talks after the first day, insiders said some sort of agreement may be reached.

Trump gave reporters an upbeat assessment at day's end on Thursday. He said the talks were "going really, really well," adding "they're basically wrapping it up," according to the Washington Post.

It is possible for the two sides to reach a partial agreement, an anonymous insider familiar with the negotiations told the Global Times on Friday. 

"There could be more possibilities for this round of trade talks," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China's think tank, told the Global Times on Friday. Gao also expected a follow-up negotiation arrangement and a timetable for canceling other tariffs and that China could increase purchases according to domestic demand. 

"There are positive signs so far, and also from the market performance," Cheng Dawei, a research fellower from Institute of China's Economic Reform and Development under Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Friday.

"The delegation is composed of senior officials from various ministries, including the nation's top economic planner and agriculture minister, indicating that the topics could be wider and deeper, which also shows that the Chinese side will take practical action," she noted. 

Widely circulated pictures online showed that the delegation had a tight schedule, as they talked while eating takeaway food.

However, just before the Chinese delegation left for the US, Washington said on Monday that it had blacklisted 28 Chinese organizations over alleged human rights violations, creating complications for the high-level consultations.

In September, China and the US frequently exchanged goodwill after ups and downs continued during the more than 60-day gap, when the last round of consultations ended on July 31.

Reuters reported that the US Department of Agriculture confirmed a net 1.18 million tons in soybean sales to China in the week ending October 3 and record sales of pork, including 18,810 tons this year and 123,362 tons in 2020.

"The trade war will bring greater damage if it continues to escalate between the world's top two economies, not only to the US, but also to China and the world," Cheng said. But she remains cautiously optimistic with this round of trade talks, saying that both sides may give concessions.

"If the trade partnership between China and the US breaks, the global trade system will also fall apart, which will be a very bad sign for the global economy," she said. "If the two countries make a little progress, it will raise global confidence."