Trade talks with China going ‘very well’, says Trump as new rounds of negotiations open


File Photo of Donald Trump

File Photo of Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has said that trade talks with China are going “very well” as top negotiators from the two countries began the two-day negotiations on Thursday to resolve their tariff war ahead of a March 1 deadline.

The world’s two biggest economies are holding rounds of negotiation to resolve the trade war ahead of a March 1 deadline set by Trump after which US tariffs on USD 200 billion worth of Chinese imports are expected to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are meeting with China’s top economic czar Liu He in Beijing, seeking to build on progress made in talks held in Washington last month.

President Trump has earlier indicated that he is open to extending the deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products if the two sides are near an agreement.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that his administration has a “big team of people, very talented people” in China to negotiate a deal.

“The economy is doing incredibly well. Numbers are really high, really good. We have a big team of very talented people over in China right now negotiating on the China deal. It’s going along very well, Trump said.

Trump said China is now showing “tremendous respect” to the US.

(This is) something which a lot of countries didn’t show to the US. They’re showing us respect now. Big difference from the old days, I will tell you that, he said.

“So the deal with China is going very well. The economy is doing fantastically. You saw the Gallup poll that came out: Sixty-nine percent or so say they’re going to be in better shape next year than even this year. And they’re very happy right now, he said, adding it is the best numbers they have had in 16 or 17 years.

“But the economy is strong. We have a lot of companies coming into the United States. They want to come into the US. So we have a lot of good things happening, he said.

Meanwhile, a group of seven top Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to make sure that any trade agreement with China adequately addresses its “predatory” intellectual property practices and establishes a monitoring and enforcement mechanism to hold China accountable.

In a letter to Trump, the Democratic lawmakers said the US Trade Representative (USTR) has found that despite at least eight previous commitments to stop requiring US companies to transfer technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market, China continues to coerce American firms.

The letter was signed by Senators Robert Menendez, Sheldon Whitehouse, Mark Warner, Maggie Hassan, Ben Cardin, Michael Bennet and Catherine Cortez Masto.

For decades, China has used unfair trade practices to undermine American jobs and innovation. While the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 investigation did not address all the threats unfair Chinese trade practices pose to the U.S., it did identify several serious concerns faced by American workers and businesses, the Senators wrote.

Senators sent this letter a day after Trump suggested he may extend the March 2 deadline for concluding an agreement, and highlighted the importance of committing China to cease the “predatory” practices identified in the Section 301 investigation, which described four main methods by which China attempts to coerce or steal US intellectual property.

Your negotiations should seek to extract meaningful commitments from China on each of these elements and end the threats that these policies pose to the US economy and national security, the Senators added.

A satisfactory agreement must include a clear and transparent monitoring and enforcement mechanism that allows the United States to hold China accountable, the letter said.

Ending those practices is, therefore, a critical step towards reversing the damage such policies have had on the US economy and restoring balance to the US-China trade relationship, the Senators wrote.

We hope that you will use these final weeks of negotiations to achieve a deal that makes substantial, verifiable, and enforceable progress to address these concerns, the Senators concluded.

Trump in December postponed plans to sharply hike tariffs on USD 200 billion of Chinese imports to allow more time for negotiation. The two countries have already imposed tariffs on more than USD 360 billion in two-way trade, which has shaken global financial markets.