US, China 'on the cusp' of possible end to trade war: Pompeo

March 05, 2019 09:17
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed optimism that Washington and Beijing will reach an agreement to end their trade row. Photo: Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he believes the United States and China are “on the cusp” of a deal to end their trade war, Reuters reports.

In a series of interviews with Iowa radio and television stations, Pompeo was quoted as saying that he hopes a deal could be agreed in coming weeks to make trade between the world’s two largest economies fairer and eliminate China’s retaliatory tariffs on US farm commodities such as soybeans.

“We’re trying to get that rectified, get that fixed, make it fair and reciprocal and I think we’re on the cusp of doing that and I hope all those tariffs will go away, all those barriers,” Pompeo told KCCI television in Des Moines, where he was attending a farmers conference.

His comments echoed positive sentiments earlier on Monday from White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett and a spokesman for China’s parliament.

Hassett told Fox Business Network that a deal with China is now possible, given recent progress in talks reported by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“I think that it looks like Ambassador Lighthizer has made a lot of progress, and we might get there on China,” Hassett said, adding that details of any deal were still being worked out.

“I think everybody’s hopeful, as the markets are, that this is going to get to the finish line sometime soon,” Hassett said.

The United States has demanded that China make substantial changes to its laws and practices to protect US intellectual property, end forced transfers of American technology to Chinese firms, curb generous industrial subsidies and open the domestic market to US companies.

In addition, Washington has sought increased Chinese purchases of US goods, including farm and energy commodities and manufactured products, to reduce a US trade deficit with China that USTR estimates at more than US$417 billion for 2018.

People familiar with the talks told Reuters that the two sides still have substantial work ahead to reach agreement on a way to ensure China’s follow through on any pledges.

Talks could still collapse if a deal cannot be reached on enforcement of these so-called “structural” issues, according to the sources.

In Beijing, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for China’s parliament, said China and countries around the world welcome “substantive progress” in the trade talks.

“We hope that both sides can continue to step up consultations, to reach a mutually-beneficial, win-win agreement,” Zhang told a news briefing ahead of Tuesday’s opening of China’s parliament.

-- Contact us at [email protected]