Date
22 October 2019
US President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

Trump: China trade talks ‘back on track’; new tariffs on hold

The United States and China agreed to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions, including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing, Reuters reports.

China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of US farm products and return to the negotiating table, Trump said. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world’s two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement.

The last major round of talks collapsed in May.

“We’re right back on track,” Trump told reporters on Saturday after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan.

“We’re holding back on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products,” Trump said, without giving details about the purchases.

Trump tweeted hours later that the meeting with Xi went “far better than expected”.

“The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed,” he tweeted. “I am in no hurry, but things look very good!”

The US president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly US$300 billion of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products, if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the US.

In a lengthy statement on the two-way talks, China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Trump he hoped the US could treat Chinese companies fairly.

“China is sincere about continuing negotiations with the United States … but negotiations should be equal and show mutual respect,” the foreign ministry quoted Xi as saying.

Trump offered an olive branch to Xi on Huawei Technologies, the world’s biggest telecom network gear maker.

The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China’s government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied US allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure.

Trump’s Commerce Department has put Huawei on its “entity list”, effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

But Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to US suppliers, who were upset by the move. “We’re allowing that, because that wasn’t national security,” he said.

Trump said the US Commerce Department would study in the next few days whether to take Huawei off the list of firms banned from buying components and technology from US companies without government approval.

China welcomed the step. “If the US does what it says, then, of course, we welcome it,” said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese foreign ministry’s envoy for G20 affairs.

US microchip makers also applauded the move. “We are encouraged the talks are restarting and additional tariffs are on hold and we look forward to getting more detail on the president’s remarks on Huawei,” John Neuffer, president of the US Semiconductor Association, said in a statement.

Republican US Senator Marco Rubio, however, tweeted that any agreement to reverse the recent US action against Huawei would be a “catastrophic mistake” and that legislation would be needed to put the restrictions back in place if that turned out to be the case.

Last month, Rubio and Democratic US Senator Mark Warner urged Trump to not use Huawei as a bargaining chip for trade negotiations.

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RC/CG