China, U.S. conclude latest trade talks with substantial progress

Chinese and U.S. negotiators on Sunday wrapped up the latest round of trade talks between the world’s top two economies with substantial progress on specific issues.

During the Feb. 21-24 talks in Washington, the seventh round since February last year, the two sides further implemented the important consensus reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, during their December meeting in Argentina, said the Chinese delegation.  They focused their talks on the text of an agreement and achieved substantial progress on such specific issues as technology transfer, protection of intellectual property rights, non-tariff barriers, service industry, agriculture and exchange rates, added the Chinese team.  On the basis of the latest progress, said the Chinese delegation, the two sides will continue their work for the next stage in accordance with the instructions of the two countries’ heads of state.

The Chinese team is headed by Vice Premier Liu He, who also came as Xi’s special envoy, and the U.S. team is led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.    After months of escalating trade frictions with the United States slapping extra tariffs on Chinese imports and China responding with retaliatory measures, Xi and Trump agreed in Argentina that the two countries should strive to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement within 90 days to break the impasse.  In order to realize that goal, Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators have since accelerated their talks. Working-level consultations for the latest round started in Washington on Feb. 19, just days after the sixth round took place in Beijing on Feb. 14-15.

With the just-concluded round counted in, there have been three rounds of talks in less than a month since the end of January, despite the week-long Lunar New Year holidays in China and the Washington’s Birthday long weekend in the United States.   The trade standoff has exerted negative impacts on both economies and added much uncertainty to global markets and the world economy.

During a meeting with the U.S. delegation in Beijing following the sixth round of trade talks, Xi once again highlighted the role of cooperation in resolving the economic and trade differences and frictions, and urged negotiators of the two sides to “make persistent efforts” to reach a mutually beneficial deal.  “Cooperation is the best choice for both sides,” Xi said, adding that “of course, there are principles in cooperation.”

For his part, Trump on Friday met with Liu at the White House, noting that the U.S.-China relationship is extremely important.  He added that “great progress” has been made in the past two days of talks, while there is still work to be done.  Also on Friday, the two sides decided to extend the talks by two days till Sunday. Trump tweeted on Sunday that he “will be delaying” the increase of tariffs on Chinese imports scheduled for March 1, citing “very productive” trade talks between the two countries.

Xinhua

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