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US, China upbeat on trade talks amid South China Sea tensions

14 February, 2019, 07:16 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the delegation

While China has offered to buy more United States soybeans and beef, officials have yet even to agree on a draft of a deal that would address key USA concerns, according to media reports.

On the US-China end, following the dashing of hopes for a Trump-Xi meeting prior to the March 1 deadline last week, President Donald Trump's latest hint of openness to extending the deadline lifted hopes for an eventual resolution. While it remains hard to tell how close the two countries are towards achieving an agreement, President Donald Trump does appear eager to see a deal being reached enthusing the markets.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday he hopes for "productive" trade meetings in China this week, as the two countries seek to hammer out an agreement amid a festering dispute that has seen both level tariffs at each other. "I could see myself letting that slide for a little while", Trump said at the White House.

As a result, some aides privately acknowledge the most likely scenario is for the March 1 deadline to be extended, and for tariffs on some $200 billion in Chinese imports not to be raised to 25 percent as Trump has threatened.

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The last round of talks in Washington late last month resulted in China importing American soybeans as it implemented promises to buy more US goods.

The next leg of trade talk is due to resume in Beijing on Monday, the 11th of February, which will also be followed by a high-level talk between February 14th and 15th. Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address unfair practices it says are deeply unfair, including theft of American intellectual property and the massive Chinese trade surplus.

But US stock markets were less enthusiastic about prospects for a deal, with any optimism overshadowed by concerns about another government shutdown and a diminished 2019 US corporate earnings outlook.

China's economy already has shown signs of slowing, while the trade war has shaken the confidence of USA businesses, as retaliatory tariffs have raised prices and helped choke off a key export market.

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