China hopes to reach phased trade pact with US as soon as possible

Reuters . Beijing | Published: 00:00, Oct 18,2019


China hoped to reach a phased agreement in a protracted trade dispute with the United States and cancel tariffs as soon as possible, the commerce ministry said on Thursday, adding that trade wars had no winners.

A phased agreement would help restore market confidence and reduce uncertainty, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters, adding that both sides were maintaining close communication.

‘The final goal of both sides’ negotiations is to end the trade war and cancel all additional tariffs,’ Gao said. ‘This would benefit China, the US and the whole world. We hope that both sides will continue to work together, advance negotiations, and reach a phased agreement as soon as possible.’

US president Donald Trump on October 11 outlined the first phase of a deal and suspended a threatened tariff hike, but officials on both sides said much more work needed to be done.

Trump had originally planned to proceed with a rise in tariffs to 30 per cent from 25 per cent on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods last week. But the US administration has yet to make a decision on how to address planned 10 per cent tariffs on roughly $156 billion of Chinese goods due to take effect on December 15.

US and Chinese trade negotiators are working on nailing down a Phase 1 trade deal text for their presidents to sign next month, US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

Mnuchin said that the Trump administration’s ‘objective’ was for the agreement to be signed between the presidents of the two countries at a November 16-17 summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries in Santiago, Chile.

Working-level representatives from both countries were working on specifics of an agreement now, Gao said.

There have been positive signs from China in recent days.

China’s securities regulator on Friday unveiled a firm timetable for scrapping foreign ownership limits in futures, securities and mutual fund companies for the first time. Increasing foreign access to the sector is among the US demands at the trade talks.

A day before, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed net sales of 1,42,172 tonnes of US pork to China in the week ended October 3, the largest weekly sale to the world’s top pork market on record.

Trump said that China had agreed to make purchases of $40 billion to $50 billion of US agricultural goods. Mnuchin said that the purchases would be scaled up to that amount annually.

On Wednesday, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said that China would remove business restrictions on foreign banks, brokerages and fund management firms, without giving details.

‘Since this year, under the effect of China-US trade frictions, trade and investment between the US and China have fallen,’ Gao said.

‘This fully demonstrates that trade wars have no winners.’

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