China and US make ‘concrete progress’ on trade deal text

16-Mar-2019 Intellasia | Reuters | 6:00 AM Print This Post

China and the United States have made “concrete progress” on the text of their trade agreement, Chinese state media reported on Friday.

Xinhua reported that Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He held a telephone conversation with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthiser and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

“The two sides have further made concrete progress on the text of the trade agreement between the two sides,” the report said, without giving further details.

The statement came after US President Donald Trump said Washington would know where things stood regarding a possible trade deal with China in the next three or four weeks.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

“We’ll have news on China. Probably one way or the other, we’re going to know over the next three to four weeks,” Trump said during a St Patrick’s Day reception in the White House’s East Room.

He said China had been “very responsible and very reasonable”.

“If that one gets done, it will be something that people will be talking about for a long time,” Trump said.

The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a trade war since July 6. The two countries agreed to suspend further tariff increases after several rounds of talks, but details of a potential agreement to end the dispute are yet to be finalised, with an enforcement mechanism and reform of China’s state-owned enterprises among the key difficulties.

Mnuchin said after a US Senate finance committee hearing on Thursday that the two sides were “working in good faith” to try to reach a deal “as quickly as possible”, but that a summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to seal a trade deal would not happen at the end of March as had been suggested previously.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re very comfortable with where we are,” Mnuchin said. “I don’t think there’s anything significantly different on the currency issue from where we were last time.”

At a separate hearing in the House of Representatives on Thursday, Mnuchin said he expected elements of the discussions to be resolved in the near future, as the two sides pore over a 150-page document they are working on.

US news network CNBC reported on Thursday that Chinese negotiators had suggested combining a long-discussed state visit by Xi to the US with the announcement of any forthcoming trade deal, citing three sources briefed on discussions.

If confirmed, the state visit to the US would reciprocate Trump’s visit to Beijing in November 2017. The report said discussion of Xi’s state visit had been under way since last year.

It was unclear how receptive the White House had been to Beijing’s informal proposal, the report added.



Category: China

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