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US-China Talks to Resolve Their Trade War

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A US delegation arrived in Beijing on January 7 for the first face-to-face dialogue with officials in Beijing since President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to a three-month tariff truce during a meeting held on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina on December 1.

The extended US-China talks to resolve the trade war between the world’s two greatest economy concluded on a positive note on January 9 with an American official describing the dialogue as “good one” for the US.

The US delegation was supposed to end its visit on January 8. However, the two-day vice-ministerial talks were extended till January 9 which China said reflected the seriousness of the negotiations.

“It’s been a good one for us,” Ted McKinney, US Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, said after the talks concluded.

The discussions “went just fine”, he said without elaborating, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Meanwhile, confirming the conclusion of the trade talks, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing that “the extension of the talks indicates that both sides are serious about this consultation”.

“If the results of the talks are positive, it would be beneficial for both China and the US and also a good news for the global economy,” he added.

Analysts said the positive momentum of the talks will need to be followed up by more senior officials.

Signals from the latest round of talks were upbeat, the Post report said.

Officials say talks are expected to deliver specific commitments to expand market access for US in China, improve protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and reduce the trade surplus with the US, but it would take time to reform state-owned firms another major source of friction.

The US delegation, led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, included representatives from the departments of energy, agriculture, treasury and commerce, while the Chinese side was led by Commerce Vice Minister Wang Shouwen.

The results of the talks would be analysed at a separate meeting between US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He.

Trump, who has been accusing China of indulging in unfair trade practices contributing to the huge trade deficit amounting to $375 billion, on January 8 said the trade talks with Beijing were going on “very well”. He had earlier warned that if a deal is not reached by March 1, the end of the 90-day grace period, the US will increase the tariffs on the $200 billions of goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Trump has been demanding China to drastically reduce the $375 billion trade deficit and ensure IPR production for US technology and services. The escalating trade war raised concerns in China as its economy was on the downward trend amid efforts by the government to rejig the export-dependent economy to that of relying more on domestic consumption.

China is facing the daunting task of presenting a credible plan to meet Trump’s demands to cut down the trade deficit. In recent weeks, China has showed some signs of flexibility or acceding to the American demands.