Date
15 December 2018
Washington says it will monitor closely Chinese progress on enforcing some trade-related commitments following a 90-day truce deal reached last weekend. Photo: Reuters
Washington says it will monitor closely Chinese progress on enforcing some trade-related commitments following a 90-day truce deal reached last weekend. Photo: Reuters

US seeks immediate action from China on trade commitments

The United States said it expects immediate action by China on trade issues, including lower tariffs on automobiles and measures against intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, after a deal reached by the countries’ leaders this past weekend.

A White House official said on Monday that the 90-day period which US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed to as the timeframe for resolving some trade issues started on Dec. 1, Reuters reports.

Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on new tariffs for 90 days during talks in Argentina on Saturday, declaring a truce following months of escalating tensions on trade and other issues.

The Chinese offered more than US$1.2 trillion in additional commitments on trade, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Monday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that figure was a broad benchmark.

China also committed immediately to start lifting tariffs and non-tariff barriers, including reducing its 40 percent tariffs on autos, Kudlow said.

“We expect those tariffs to fall to zero,” he told reporters.

Americans will get majority ownership in companies in China for the first time, which should help address top US concerns about including intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

None of the commitments were agreed to in writing and specifics had yet to be hammered out, Reuters noted.

Mnuchin said there was a shift in tone at Buenos Aires from past discussions as Xi offered a clear commitment to open China’s markets to US companies.

“This is the first time that we have a commitment from them that this will be a real agreement,” Mnuchin told CNBC.

Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said he, Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held two private meetings with China’s Vice Premier Liu He in Argentina, and that the Chinese official told them that Beijing would move immediately on the new commitments.

“The history here with China promises is not very good. And we know that,” Kudlow said. “However, I will say this: President Xi has never been this involved.”

“They cannot slow walk this, stall this, meander this. Their word: ‘immediately’”, he said.

Kudlow said US officials will monitor Chinese progress on enforcing the commitments very closely.

Trump has appointed Lighthizer, one of the administration’s most vocal China critics, to oversee the new round of trade talks with China.

Kudlow said he and Mnuchin would be heavily involved as well, with the Treasury secretary dealing with financial and currency issues.

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RC

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