US-China trade talks end. Now high-level talks can begin

Still little sense of when two sides will reach deal

The scheduled two-day talks extended into a third day as US officials pressed China for more details on how it will live up to its commitments. Photograph: iStock

The scheduled two-day talks extended into a third day as US officials pressed China for more details on how it will live up to its commitments. Photograph: iStock

 

Three days of trade negotiations between mid-level American and Chinese officials ended in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon with progress in identifying and narrowing the two sides’ differences but little sense of when they might reach a deal.

The trade talks could help clear the way for higher-level talks later this month, when US president Donald Trump attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Vice premier Liu He, China’s economic czar, is expected to go to Washington at some point after that.

A US government official confirmed that the talks had ended but declined to elaborate. Chinese officials had no immediate comment, although the Chinese commerce ministry is expected to address the negotiations on Thursday. While neither side issued a statement, the talks have raised prospects that the two sides could reach some kind of deal in the weeks before a March 2nd White House deadline for raising tariffs on roughly two-fifths of annual US imports from China.

“I’m optimistic that they’re making progress – the tone of the talks is important, and this tone has been good,” said Dean Pinkert, a former commissioner of the United States International Trade Commission. At issue is the extent to which China is willing to offer binding commitments to change trade practices that have long irked president Trump and his administration.

Third day

The scheduled two-day talks extended into a third day as US officials pressed China for more details on how it will live up to its commitments, said people with knowledge of the negotiations, who insisted on anonymity.

China has made a series of offers to the Trump administration in recent weeks to end the trade war. But many of the administration’s trade hawks regard them as nebulous. They allege that officials in China pressure foreign companies to transfer key technologies to Chinese rivals as a condition for entering the country’s market. They also protest lavish government subsidies granted through the Made in China 2025 program to build local companies into global powerhouses in sectors like commercial aircraft, semiconductors and electric cars.

China denies that its trade practices have been unfair. Nevertheless, officials have agreed to make it easier for multinational corporations to participate in manufacturing development programs in China. They have also promised to improve intellectual property protection and to ban the forced transfer of technology. – The New York Times Service