The United States and China inked business deals worth about US$9 billion as US President Donald Trump arrived in Beijing, the third-stop of his 12-day multi-nation Asia tour, on Wednesday.
Among the deals, which were announced by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, were agreements by General Electric, DowDuPont and Smithfield Foods with Chinese counterparts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Today’s signings are good examples of how we can productively build up our bilateral trade,” Ross was quoted as saying in Beijing.
Some more contracts would be unveiled on Thursday, the US commerce chief said.
The deals signed Wednesday included a letter of intent to ship billions of dollars worth of American-grown soybeans to China.
A separate deal on soybeans is expected to be signed Thursday by Archers Daniel Midland and China’s state-owned Cofco Corp.
The skew toward export contracts in the deals reflects the Trump administration’s difficult progress on more fundamental China trade issues, such as barriers to entry for US firms to key Chinese sectors, the Journal noted.
Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Trump to China with the business deals and a private tour of the Forbidden City.
Hours before Trump landed, China reported an almost US$27 billion trade surplus with the US for the month of October.
Wednesday afternoon, Xi and Trump and their wives toured the former imperial palace off Beijing’s Tiananmen Square before a Peking opera performance and a private dinner.
Trump arrived in Beijing from South Korea, where he took direct aim at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a speech that both opened a path to negotiation and warned of the potential consequences of his nuclear-weapons program.
The US president also put Beijing on notice ahead of his talks with President Xi, again calling on China to do more to pressure Pyongyang to change course.
“Why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?” said Trump in his 35-minute address to the South Korean National Assembly.
China is by far North Korea’s top trading partner.
A senior White House official told reporters en route to Beijing that Trump would raise those concerns directly with Xi.
There were still financial links between the countries that shouldn’t exist under UN sanctions, the official said.
“We’re going to work closely with the Chinese to identify that activity and end it,” the official was quoted as saying.
The official also said Trump would raise “severe imbalances in the US-China economic relationship” including a “grossly unlevel playing field”.
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