Date
21 October 2019
Washington and Beijing have made some conciliatory gestures as they prepare for new rounds of talks to resolve their trade dispute. Photo: Reuters
Washington and Beijing have made some conciliatory gestures as they prepare for new rounds of talks to resolve their trade dispute. Photo: Reuters

Trump says he prefers ‘whole’ China trade deal over interim pact

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he prefers a comprehensive trade deal with China but did not rule out the possibility of an interim pact, Reuters reports.

“I’d rather get the whole deal done,” Trump was quoted as saying at the White House. “I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. But it’s something we would consider, I guess.”

The remarks came as Washington and Beijing prepare for new rounds of talks aimed at curbing a more-than-year-long trade war.

The two sides have been making conciliatory gestures ahead of the talks, lowering the temperature between them, the report noted.

China renewed purchases of US farm goods, and Trump delayed a tariff increase on certain Chinese goods by two weeks.

Lower-level U.S. and Chinese officials are expected to meet next week in Washington ahead of talks between senior trade negotiators in early October.

Top-level negotiators last met face-to-face in China in July.

Washington is pressing China to end practices it considers unfair, including intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, currency manipulation, and forced technology transfer from US companies to Chinese counterparts.

Trump has made clear he wants such elements to be part of a deal and has demonstrated his resolve through tariff increases.

China importers bought at least 10 cargoes, or 600,000 tons, of US soybeans for October-December shipment, the country’s most significant purchases since at least June, according to Reuters sources.

While welcoming China’s overtures, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to temper optimism in markets that the gestures might lead to a trade deal.

He told CNBC that Trump is prepared to keep or even raise tariffs on Chinese imports and that Beijing had asked for more concessions beyond the removal of tariffs.

The Wall Street Journal reported that China was seeking to narrow the scope of negotiations to trade matters by excluding national security issues. 

Earlier in the day in Beijing, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Chinese firms have started to inquire about prices for US farm goods. He also said that China welcomes the US delay to its scheduled tariff hike on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods.

“(China) hopes both sides would continue to meet each other half way and adopt concrete actions to create favorable conditions for negotiations,” Gao told a briefing, noting that possible purchases included pork and soybeans, both of which are still subject to hefty Chinese duties.

On Wednesday Trump announced a delay in increasing tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports to Oct. 15 from Oct. 1. The tariffs on those goods were set to increase to 30 percent from 25 percent.

Earlier that day China announced it was exempting 16 types of US products from tariffs, including some anti-cancer drugs and lubricants, as well as animal feed ingredients whey and fish meal.

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