U.S. officials used three days of trade talks in Beijing to demand more details on China’s pledge to make big purchases of American goods, as well as to push for ways to hold China to any commitments on changes to industrial policies, Trend reports referring to Reuters.
The meetings in China were the first face-to-face negotiations since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires in December and agreed a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.
Washington has presented Beijing with a long list of demands that would rewrite the terms of trade between the world’s two largest economies. They include changes to China’s policies on intellectual property protection, technology transfers, industrial subsidies and other non-tariff barriers to trade.
Some 40 days into the 90-day truce, there were few concrete details on progress made so far. The meetings in Beijing were not at a ministerial level, so were not expected to produce a deal to end the trade war.
U.S. and Chinese officials discussed “ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement.
“The talks also focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured, and other products and services from the United States,” the USTR said.
China made that pledge after the Xi-Trump meeting in Buenos Aires, when U.S. officials said China would start buying immediately. But aside from some soybean purchases, there has been little sign of big-ticket acquisitions.
In December, top Trump administration officials had said the trade commitments amounted to $1.2 trillion, but did not specify the composition or time period.
Those purchases would help meet another key demand from Trump: that China take action to reduce the massive U.S. trade deficit with its biggest economic rival.
Big spending on commodities and goods would send a positive signal on China’s intent to work with the United States, but would do nothing to resolve the U.S. demands that require difficult structural change from China.
It is unclear how much progress on those issues negotiators can make in 90 days, nor how much progress Trump would want to see to stop him from further escalating the trade war. The issues at play have soured the wider U.S.-China relationship for years.
At stake are scheduled U.S. tariff increase on $200 billion in Chinese imports. Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 percent from 10 percent currently if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if Beijing fails to cede to U.S. demands.
Beijing has said it will not give up ground on issues it conceives as core. China will not make any “unreasonable concessions” and any agreement must involve compromise on both sides, the China Daily, a state newspaper, said on Wednesday.
The paper said in an editorial that the dispute harms both countries and disrupts the international trade order and supply chains.