Tag Archives: Trade Talks

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is insisting to keep agriculture out of the EU-U.S. trade negotiations despites Washington’s wishes to include the vast sector.

The EU Commission announced Friday its proposals for a negotiating mandate from the 28 member states and said that the EU negotiations will be “strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products.”

EU Trade Chief Cecilia Malmstrom insisted also that she is preparing a target list of American products it will hit with punitive tariffs if the Trump administration goes through with its threat to impose tariffs on European auto imports.

The United States and China gave no indication of their next step after wrapping up talks aimed at resolving a tariff fight that threatens to chill global growth.

The two sides will “maintain close contact,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday. But they announced no agreements or date for meeting again during the 90-day truce declared on Dec. 1 by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in their fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions.

That uncertainty dampened Asian investor sentiment. Stock markets in Germany, France, Japan and China fell back after rising Wednesday following Trump’s comment on Twitter that the talks were “going well!”

Negotiators focused on China’s pledge to buy a “substantial amount” of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods and other products and services, the U.S. Trade Representative said.

However, a USTR statement emphasized American insistence on “structural changes” in Chinese technology policy, market access, protection of foreign patents and copyrights and cyber theft of trade secrets. It gave no sign of progress in those areas.

It also said the negotiations dealt with the need for “ongoing verification and effective enforcement.” That reflects American frustration that the Chinese have failed to live up to past commitments.

A Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng, said the talks “enhanced mutual understanding and laid the foundation for addressing each other’s concerns.”

Trump hiked tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods over complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

Washington also wants changes in an array of areas including the ruling Communist Party’s initiatives for government-led creation of global competitors in robotics, artificial intelligence and other industries.

American leaders worry those plans might erode U.S. industrial leadership. Chinese leaders see them as a path to prosperity and global influence and are reluctant to abandon them.

The two sides might be moving toward a “narrow agreement,” but “U.S. trade hawks” want to “limit the scope of that agreement and keep the pressure up on Beijing,” Eurasia Group analysts Michael Hirson, Jeffrey Wright and Paul Triolo said in a report.

“The risk of talks breaking down remains significant,” they wrote.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed optimism to Fox Business Network. She said Wednesday the timing was unclear but the two sides are moving toward “more balanced and reciprocal” trade.

Beijing has tried to mollify Washington and other trading partners by promising to buy more of their goods and open its industries wider to foreign competitors.

Trump has complained repeatedly about the U.S. trade deficit with China, which last year likely exceeded the 2017 gap of $336 billion.

Economists say the 90-day window is too short to resolve all the conflicts between the biggest and second-biggest global economies.

“We can confidently say that enough progress was made that the discussions will continue at a higher level,” said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council. “That is very positive.”

Chinese exports to the U.S. have held up despite tariff increases, partly due to exporters rushing to fill orders before more increases hit. Forecasters expect American orders to slump this year.

China has imposed penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for U.S. companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses.

U.S. companies want action on Chinese policies they complain improperly favor local companies. Those include subsidies and other favors for high-tech and state-owned industry, rules on technology licensing and preferential treatment of domestic suppliers in government procurement.

For its part, Beijing is unhappy with U.S. export curbs on “dual use” technology with possible military applications. Chinese officials say their companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though almost all deals are approved unchanged.

This week’s talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

China and the United States will continue their vice ministerial-level trade talks in Beijing for a third day on Wednesday, a U.S. official said, as financial market players closely watch the outlook for the trade dispute between the world’s two major powers.

The official was speaking to reporters late Tuesday following two days of talks in which Washington is believed to have called on Beijing to implement measures to protect intellectual property rights and increase imports of U.S. products.

Details of the talks were not immediately available, but U.S. President Donald said in a Twitter post, “Talks with China are going very well!”

The direct dialogue on trade between the world’s two largest economies came around one month after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump held a summit.

At their meeting on Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires, Xi and Trump agreed that the United States and China will hold off on imposing further tariffs on each other’s imports and try to complete talks on technology and intellectual property rights issues within 90 days.

The Trump administration warned at the time that “if at the end of this period of time, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the 10 percent tariffs will be raised to 25 percent,” suggesting that a failure to finish negotiations will rekindle trade strains.

Amid escalating U.S.-China trade tensions, global stock markets have recently become shaky and concern has been mounting that the world economy would be weighed down by a slowdown of the Chinese and U.S. economies.

Beijing and Washington hope the latest talks will pave the way for a ministerial-level meeting that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Xi’s economic adviser, will attend, sources close to the matter said.

The United States has so far imposed tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports, with Trump urging Beijing to curb its huge trade surplus with the United States and improve the country’s alleged unfair business practices.

In retaliation, China has levied tariffs on more than 80 percent of all U.S. imports.

The second day of the vice ministerial-level trade talks coincided with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s unexpected arrival in Beijing on Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters later in the day that the holding of the two diplomatic events on the same day was unintentional.

In another sign of progress, China’s farm ministry has newly approved the import of five genetically modified crops, local media said on Tuesday, with the United States putting pressure on the Asian nation to open up its agricultural market further.