Signs of progress as China-US trade talks are extended for extra day

Trump tweets that ‘talks with China are going very well’

 US president Donald  Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping. The Wall Street Journal has reported that trade differences have narrowed between the two sides.  Photograph:  EPA/Roman Pilipey

US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping. The Wall Street Journal has reported that trade differences have narrowed between the two sides. Photograph: EPA/Roman Pilipey

 

Trade negotiations between China and the United States have been extended for an extra day amid signs of progress between the sides. Negotiations in Beijing had due to conclude on Tuesday, but they will now continue for a third day on Wednesday, a senior US official confirmed.

President Donald Trump shed some light on the ongoing trade talks on Tuesday. “Talks with China are going very well!” he tweeted in an early-morning post.

While few details emerged about the negotiations, the Wall Street Journal reported that differences had narrowed between the two sides.

The high-stakes meeting in Beijing marks the first engagement between the two sides since Mr Trump met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in early December. The leaders of the world’s two largest economies agreed to a 90-day trade truce, giving both sides some breathing room to try and avoid an escalation of the trade tensions that have characterised economic relations between the two countries for almost a year.

However, the US has threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on March 2nd if concessions are not made by China. Washington is demanding that China buys more US agricultural and industrial products. It is also seeking to change Chinese rules that requires US companies operating in the country to share intellectual property.

US stock markets rose on Tuesday, reflecting cautious optimism that the negotiations could yield a breakthrough. If progress is made a senior Chinese delegation is likely to visit Washington later this month. Chinese media also reported that Mr Trump may meet Chinese vice president Wang Qishan at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month.

Bilateral negotiations

Meanwhile, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom arrived in Washington on Tuesday for talks with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer. The meeting between the two top trade representatives is expected to lay the groundwork for more formal bilateral negotiations in the coming weeks.

The meeting takes place as new figures show that the EU more than doubled its purchases of soybeans from the United States in the second half of 2018, a trend that is likely to please Mr Trump, who has long complained about America’s trade deficit in goods with the EU.

Mr Trump refrained from imposing tariffs on EU cars at a July meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.