Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Trump claims 'BIG leap forward' in China trade talks, but details unclear

Xi Jinping donald trump g20 Donald Trump hails 'amazing and productive' talks, as US agrees to suspend new China tariffs for 90 days
Kelvin Reese | 03 December, 2018, 22:37

After a two-and-a-half hour dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Saturday in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed to postpone an increase in the tariff rate on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent that was scheduled for January 1.

Prior to having dinner with Trump, Xi said he was "very happy" to have an opportunity to address issues with the USA leader.

It will be relatively simple for China's buyers of crude oil, LNG, coal and soybeans to re-enter the market and fix cargoes from the United States.

As far as fundamental concessions are concerned, both Xi and Trump appear to have held fast.

While the Trump administration emphasized trade issues such as a 90-day moratorium on raising tariffs and Xi's concession to buy "very substantial" amounts of USA goods, China focused on diplomacy, regional issues and an agreement to try to quickly resolve their differences.

The U.S. side, he added, is ready to increase cooperation with China through consultations and actively seek mutually beneficial solutions to their problems.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said afterward in a statement that, as part of the agreement, China will tighten supervision of fentanyl and revise rules on the drug, while enhancing law enforcement work with the U.S.

Xi's government has announced a drumbeat of changes this year that Washington and other trading might have welcomed at another time as progress.

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping

"There's a specific understanding that we're going to now turn the agreement the presidents have into a real agreement over the 90 days", Mnuchin told reporters during a gaggle outside the West Wing, while the president was busy tweeting on the topic and said he has a "very strong and personal relationship" with President Xi. "Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA", he said.

A senior USA official told Reuters that it was the first time that the G20 had recognised that the WTO was "currently falling short of meeting its objectives" and needed reform.

"The consensus reached by the leaders of our two countries is to halt the imposition of new tariffs and at the same time the two sides' leaders instructed the economics teams of both sides to intensify talks towards the removal of all tariffs that have been imposed", Geng told a daily news briefing. The downside for China is that it also needs US sourced LNG as its insatiable gas demand expands amid Beijing's mandate that gas make up at least 10 percent of its power generation energy mix by 2020, with further earmarks set for 2030.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula situation and other major worldwide and regional issues.

"China's trade and investment practices have prevented USA companies from competing on a level playing field and hurt US workers".

President Trump called Saturday night's two-and-a-half dinner meeting - an hour longer than scheduled - "amazing and productive".

"It is my great honor to be working with President Xi", Trump said. The White House said intellectual property rights was one of the areas where China agreed to negotiate further, but it did not say whether it had been discussed at the meeting. As recently as Tuesday, some of Trump's top aides advised against expecting that a Trump-Xi dinner in Argentina would produce a deal.

The U.S. firm, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has said it will cut prices to make its cars "more affordable" and absorb more of the hit from the tariffs.

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