Date
12 November 2019
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He looks over as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer gestures near Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the start of talks in Shanghai on Wednesday. Pool photo via Reuters
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He looks over as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer gestures near Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the start of talks in Shanghai on Wednesday. Pool photo via Reuters

US, China end Shanghai trade talks with little sign of progress

US and Chinese negotiators ended a brief round of trade talks on Wednesday with little sign of progress and agreed to meet again in September, prolonging an uneasy truce in a year-long trade war, Reuters reports.

The White House and China’s Commerce Ministry each described the meetings in Shanghai as constructive, but neither announced any agreements or goodwill gestures that might have cleared the path to more substantive future talks, the report said.

The talks were the first face-to-face meetings since US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in June and agreed to get negotiators back together to try to find a way out of the trade dispute.

Concern that the lack of progress could point to a protracted trade war weighed on global markets on Wednesday.

According to Reuters sources, the latest talks focused largely on goodwill gestures including Chinese purchases of US soybeans, pork, ethanol and other commodities, and US moves to relax restrictions on sales to Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei.

The month-long delay until the next meeting gives both sides time to take action on these commitments, the Washington-based sources said.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left China with little in hand save a pledge to keep talking, following a half-day meeting and a working dinner at Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel.

China’s Commerce Ministry said “both sides … had a candid, highly effective, constructive and deep exchange on major trade and economic issues of mutual interest.”

It said negotiators discussed more Chinese purchases of US agricultural products, but did not say there was any agreement to buy more.

The White House said China restated its commitment to buy more US farm goods and said negotiations on “an enforceable trade deal” would continue in Washington in early September, but gave no details about expected agricultural purchases.

The White House said in its statement that Chinese state subsidies, forced technology transfers and intellectual property violations were discussed.

China’s account of the discussions did not mention any of these non-agricultural issues, Reuters noted.

Trump on Tuesday warned China against waiting out his first term to finalize any trade deal, saying the outcome would be worse for China if he wins re-election in November 2020. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news briefing that the United States is the one that continues to “flip-flop.”

“It’s pointless to tell others to take medication when you’re the one who is sick,” she said.

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