US, Chinese officials extend trade talks in Beijing

January 09, 2019 09:04
David Malpass, the US Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for International Affairs, and other members of Washington’s trade delegation to China return from talks to a hotel in Beijing on Monday. Photo: Reuters

The United States and China will continue trade talks in Beijing for an unscheduled third day, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of US farm and energy commodities and increased access to China's markets, Reuters reports.

A spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative’s office, which is leading Washington's negotiating team, was quoted as saying that talks will continue on Wednesday and that "a statement will likely follow."

Steven Winberg, assistant secretary for Fossil Energy at the US Department of Energy, told reporters in Beijing that the talks, which began on Monday, had gone well.

“I confirm we’re continuing tomorrow, yes,” Winberg said, declining to answer further questions.

This week’s meetings are the first face-to-face talks since US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled global financial markets.

Trump is increasingly eager to reach an agreement to help lift the markets, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with internal White House deliberations. 

In what is widely seen as a goodwill gesture, China on Tuesday issued long-awaited approvals for the import of five genetically modified crops, which could boost its purchases of American grains as farmers decide which crops to plant in the spring.

On Monday, Chinese importers made another large purchase of US soybeans, their third in the past month.

Increased purchases by China of US soybeans, oil, liquefied natural gas and financial services are viewed as easier to achieve than major changes to China’s industrial policies aimed at transferring American technology to Chinese firms.

“Overall the talks have been constructive. Our sense is that there’s good progress on the purchase piece,” a source told Reuters.

But the person added that it is more difficult to determine how to hold China to its commitments to better protect intellectual property.

If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

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