US, China to resume trade talks in October to end trade war

Beijing, September 5

China and the US have agreed to hold the next round of trade negotiations in Washington in early October to end the bruising trade war following an agreement that both sides will jointly take concrete actions to create favourable conditions for the talks, Chinese officials said here on Thursday.  

Twelve rounds of talks so far have failed to make a headway as China continued to resist US President Donald Trump's demand for an intrusive verification mechanism to supervise Beijing's promise to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) technology transfer and more access to American goods for the Chinese markets. 

Trump kicked off the trade war in June last year demanding China to reduce the massive trade deficit which last year climbed to over USD 539 billion. Both the countries slapped additional tariffs on each other's goods which also resulted in global trade and economic slowdown. 

China itself is grappling with the slowdown of its economy which touched a 27-year low of 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

Chinese and American chief trade negotiators agreed on Thursday to jointly take concrete actions to create favourable conditions for further consultations in October, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

No specific date has been mentioned for the talks. 

The agreement was reached in a phone conversation between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is China's chief negotiator and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The two sides agreed to hold the 13th round of China-US high-level economic and trade consultations in early October in Washington and maintain close communication before that, Xinhua reported. 

China and the US agreed to jointly take concrete actions to create favourable conditions for subsequent consultations, Gao Feng, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC), told the media here on Thursday.

Working groups of the two sides will conduct consultations in mid-September to make full preparations for the high-level talks to achieve substantial progress, Gao said.

China firmly opposes escalating the trade war, which harms China, the United States and the whole world, he said. 

Chinese analysts, however, do not hold an optimistic view of the upcoming talks, considering the US' previous flip-flopping attitude and lack of sincerity in reaching a deal, state-run Global Times reported.

The US began imposing a 15-per cent tax on Sunday on an estimated USD 125 billion worth of Chinese products, including clothing, footwear, sunglasses, cameras, television components, turkeys and beef cuts.

This latest round of tariffs could have been the direct trigger of the delay in trade talks, Bai Ming, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the daily.

"China has always been open to conversation, but the negotiations so far have been stifled by the extreme pressure from the US and the arbitrary attitudes of the Trump administration. The talks will be tough," Bai said.

"The US customers and exporters are paying for the Trump administration's decisions. As the trade war drags on, the US government will face more pressure from its own people," Bai said.

President Trump for his part has not stopped escalating pressure as part of his negotiation tactics.

Reiterating that China has taken advantage of the US and the World Trade Organisation, Trump on Wednesday asserted that the Chinese economy is not doing good because of his trade and tariff actions. 

"They're having their worst year in many, many decades. They're having a supply chain that's being absolutely fractured and broken, which is very bad for them," Trump told reporters at the White House in response to a question. —PTI