Xi says trade talks progress, more
meetings next week in U.S
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[February 15, 2019]
By Michael Martina
BEIJING (Reuters) - Talks between China and
the United States this week made important progress, President Xi
Jinping told top U.S. trade negotiators on Friday, adding that efforts
would continue in Washington next week to resolve their bruising trade
Xi met U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin after a full week of trade negotiations at
senior and deputy levels in Beijing, and called for a deal both sides
could accept, state media said.
U.S. duties on $200 billion worth of imports from China are set to rise
to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 1 to
address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and
better enforce intellectual property rights.
After the conclusion of talks, which included a banquet on Thursday,
Mnuchin said on Twitter that he and Lighthizer had held "productive
meetings" with Xi's top economic adviser, Vice Premier Liu He.
"The consultations between the two sides' teams achieved important
step-by-step progress," Xi said, according to state television.
"Next week, both sides will meet again in Washington. I hope you will
continue efforts to advance reaching a mutually beneficial, win-win
agreement," Xi said during a meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the
He added that China was willing to take a "cooperative approach" to
settling bilateral trade frictions.
Lighthizer told Xi the senior officials had "two very good days" of
"We feel that we have made headway on very, very important, and very
difficult issues. We have additional work to do but we are hopeful,"
Lighthizer said, according to a foreign media pool video.
Neither country has yet offered new details on how the world's two
largest economies might de-escalate the tariff war that has roiled
financial markets and disrupted manufacturing supply chains.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump said this week that an extension of
the tariff deadline was possible if a "real deal" was close, Larry
Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, has said the White
House had made no such decision.
But several sources informed about the meetings told Reuters there was
little indication negotiators had made major progress on sticking points
to pave the way for a potential meeting between Xi and Trump in coming
weeks to hammer out a deal.
"Stalemate on the important stuff," said one of the sources, all of whom
requested anonymity because the talks are confidential.
"There's still a lot of distance between parties on structural and
enforcement issues," said a second source. "I wouldn't quite call it
hitting a wall, but it's not a field of dreams either."
[to top of second column]
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer shakes hands with
Chinese President Xi Jinping next to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin before proceeding to their meeting at the Great Hall of the
People in Beijing, China February 15, 2019. Andy Wong/Pool via
A third source told Reuters the White House was "irate" over earlier
reports that the Trump administration was considering a 60-day extension
of the tariff deadline.
Lighthizer and Mnuchin left their Beijing hotel on Friday afternoon
without taking questions from reporters.
'SLEIGHT OF HAND'
Reuters reported earlier that in recent meetings China has pledged
to make its industrial subsidy programs compliant with World Trade
Organization rules and end those that distort markets, but had
offered no details of how it will do so.
The offer has been met with scepticism from U.S. negotiators, in
part because China has long refused to disclose its subsidies.
And some in U.S. industry have been unimpressed with the extent of
other reported Chinese offers to address U.S. concerns, such as
Beijing's proposal to hike purchases of U.S. semiconductors to $200
billion over six years.
John Neuffer, president and chief executive of the Semiconductor
Industry Association (SIA), told Reuters the offer would be "akin to
an accounting sleight of hand" and "an attempt to rearrange our
supply chains and drive them deeper into China".
Neuffer added, "We are confident U.S. government negotiators will
wisely dismiss this offer and continue pushing for meaningful
reforms that create a fair and level playing field for U.S.
companies doing business in China."
The proposal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was part of
a "recycled" package of goods purchase offers that Beijing first
presented in the spring of 2018, a source told Reuters.
Many U.S. lawmakers and business groups have urged Trump in recent
weeks not to settle for a deal based largely on increased Chinese
purchases of farm and energy commodities.
Trump has said he did not expect to meet Xi before March 1, but
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has raised the possibility of
a meeting between the leaders at the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat
China has long denied Washington's accusations of trade abuses, and
it has retaliated to U.S. tariffs with its own duties on American
Some trade experts say China appears focused on securing a Xi-Trump
meeting, in the hope that it would make a near-term deal to limit or
reduce tariffs more likely.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Lusha Zhang,
Min Zhang, and Philip Wen; Editing by Kim Coghill and Clarence
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