US-China trade talks set next week

Published July 4, 2019, 5:27 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Reuters and Bloomberg

WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump’s Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said that the US-China trade talks will resume next week in a bid to resolve a year-long trade war.

US and Chinese officials will talk by phone in the coming week, Trump’s chief economic adviser said.

US-CHINA TRADE TALKS SET – The United States and China are expected to resume trade talks next week to resolve a year-long trade war. In this file photo, Chinese staffers adjust US and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between US and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing last February. (AP / MANILA BULLETIN)
US-CHINA TRADE TALKS SET – The United States and China are expected to resume trade talks next week to resolve a year-long trade war. In this file photo,
Chinese staffers adjust US and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between US and Chinese trade representatives at the Diaoyutai
State Guesthouse in Beijing last February. (AP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“They’re on the phone,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “They will be on the phone this coming week. And they will be scheduling face-to-face meetings. Lots of communications.”

An official from the Office of the US Trade Representative said later that the two sides were in the process of scheduling a principal-level phone call with Chinese officials for next week.

The principal negotiators on the US side are US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while China’s top negotiator is Vice Premier Liu He.

The two sides have already been in communication by phone since last weekend, when US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to relaunch talks that had stalled in May.

Kudlow was unclear about the timeline for relaunching face-to-face talks, saying that these would begin “soon” and that an announcement would be forthcoming.

“I don’t know precisely when. They’re on the phone. They’re going to be on the phone this coming week and they’ll be scheduling face-to-face meetings,” he said.

Talks between the two sides broke down in May after US officials accused China of pulling back from commitments it had made previously in the text of an agreement that negotiators said was nearly finished.

Washington accuses Beijing of allowing intellectual property theft and forcing US companies to share their technology with Chinese counterparts in order to do business in China. It wants China to change its laws on those and other issues. China denies such practices and is reluctant to make sweeping legal changes.

Both countries have levied tariffs on the other, but Trump made two major concessions at the meeting with Xi to get talks started again: he agreed not to put tariffs on some $300 billion in additional Chinese imports and to loosen restrictions on Chinese technology company Huawei.

The United States has 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods now ranging from semi-conductors to furniture.

“We’ve been accommodative. We will not lift tariffs during the talks,” Kudlow said. “We are hoping that China will toe its end of it by purchasing a good many of American imports.”

First-ever US rice sale to China

Meanwhile, a private importer in China last week bought US rice for the first time ever, in the midst of a trade war between the two nations, a rice industry group said on Wednesday.

The Chinese importer bought two containers, about 40 tons, of medium-grain rice from California-based Sun Valley Rice, said Michael Klein, a spokesman for USA Rice, a trade group that promotes the sale of the US grain.

The US rice was milled and packaged into bags for consumer and food service use, Klein said.

China was a major buyer of US soybeans and pork before the trade war started by the Trump administration.

Trump said on Monday that China had agreed to make unspecified new purchases of US farm products after he met with Chinese President Xi, but purchases of major export crops have so far been elusive.

It was not immediately clear whether the rice purchase was a goodwill gesture following the Trump-Xi meeting. The rice deal follows a sale of 544,000 tons of US soybeans to China confirmed last week by the US Department of Agriculture, the largest such sale since March.

China is the world’s largest rice grower and consumer, producing 148.5 million tons of the grain in the 2018/19 marketing year and importing 3.5 million tons.

The United States produced 7.1 million tons of rice in 2018/19 and exported less than 3 million tons.

Chinese officials agreed to allow imports of US rice in July, 2017, following years of negotiations. But a nearly year-long trade dispute between the two countries threatened the first sale.

“It looked dicey for us for a while, with the hostility going back and forth … We were about to have a market, and saw it snatched away, or so we thought,” Klein said.

Sun Valley Rice hopes the deal lays the groundwork for more sales of US rice to China in the future, representatives said.

 
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