China says it hopes to reach phased trade pact with U.S. as soon as possible

China says it hopes to reach phased trade pact with U.S. as soon as possible
BEIJING (Reuters) – China hopes 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 U.S. 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.”

Chinese premier Li Keqiang said both China and the United States need to resolve the issues through dialogue. He made the comments on Thursday when he met delegates led by Evan Greenberg, chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council.

“China will create an internationalized business environment ruled by law where domestic and foreign firms are treated equally,” Li said. “Property and intellectual property rights will be strictly protected.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow meanwhile said he saw momentum to finalize the initial phase of a trade deal which could be signed at the APEC forum next month in Chile.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 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% from 25% on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods last week. But the U.S. administration has yet to make a decision on how to address planned 10% tariffs on roughly $156 billion of Chinese goods due to take effect on Dec. 15.

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are working on nailing down a Phase 1 trade deal text for their presidents to sign next month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

Mnuchin said the Trump administration’s “objective” was for the agreement to be signed between the presidents of the two countries at a Nov. 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 U.S. demands at the trade talks.

A day before, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed net sales of 142,172 tonnes of U.S. pork to China in the week ended Oct. 3, the largest weekly sale to the world’s top pork market on record.

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

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

“Since this year, under the effect of China-U.S. trade frictions, trade and investment between the U.S. and China have fallen,” Gao said.

“This fully demonstrates that trade wars have no winners.”

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Alex Richardson and Nick Macfie)

China wants more talks before signing Trump’s ‘Phase 1’ deal: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – China wants more talks as soon as the end of October to hammer out the details of the “phase one” trade deal outlined by U.S. President Donald Trump before Chinese President Xi Jinping agrees to sign it, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Beijing may send a delegation led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to finalize a written deal that could be signed by the two leaders at the Asia-Pacific Cooperation summit next month in Chile, Bloomberg said.

China wants Trump to also scrap a planned tariff hike in December in addition to the hike scheduled for this week, the report added.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Alex Richardson)

With U.S. tariffs looming, China drums up hope for a partial trade deal

By Yawen Chen and Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese state newspaper said on Friday that a “partial” trade deal would benefit China and the United States, and Washington should take the offer on the table, reflecting Beijing’s aim of cooling the row before more U.S. tariffs kick in.

Both sides have slapped duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods during the 15-month trade dispute, which has shaken financial markets and uprooted global supply chains as companies move production elsewhere.

As top U.S. and Chinese negotiators wrapped up a first day of trade talks in more than two months on Thursday, business groups expressed optimism the two sides might be able to ease the conflict and delay a U.S. tariff hike scheduled for next week.

China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, said on Thursday that China is willing to reach agreement with the United States on matters that both sides care about so as to prevent friction from leading to any further escalation.

He stressed that “the Chinese side came with great sincerity”.

Adding to that, the official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial in English: “A partial deal is a more feasible objective”.

“Not only would it be of tangible benefit by breaking the impasse, but it would also create badly needed breathing space for both sides to reflect on the bigger picture,” the paper said.

Hours ahead of an expected meeting between China’s Liu and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, China’s securities regulator unveiled a firm timetable for scrapping foreign ownership limits in futures, securities and mutual fund companies for the first time.

China previously said it would further open up its financial sector on its own terms and at its own pace, but the timing of Friday’s announcement suggests Beijing is keen to show progress in its plan to increase foreigners’ access to the sector, which is among a host of demands from Washington in the trade talks.

Chinese officials are offering to increase annual purchases of U.S. agricultural products as the two countries seek to resolve their trade dispute, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday confirmed net sales of 142,172 tonnes of U.S. pork to China in the week ended Oct. 3, the largest weekly sale to the world’s top pork market on record.

A U.S.-China currency agreement is also being floated as a symbol of progress in talks between the world’s two largest economies, although that would largely repeat past pledges by China, currency experts say, and will not change the dollar-yuan relationship that has been a thorn in the side of Trump.

PESSIMISM ‘STILL JUSTIFIED’

Analysts have noted China sent a larger-than-normal delegation of senior Chinese officials to Washington, with commerce minister Zhong Shan and deputy ministers on agriculture and technology also present.

The sudden optimism about a potential de-escalation is in stark contrast to much more gloomy predictions in business circles just days ago on the heels of a series of threatened crackdowns on China by the Trump administration.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government widened its trade blacklist to include Chinese public security bureaus and some of China’s top artificial intelligence startups, punishing Beijing for its treatment of Muslim minorities.

Surprised by the move, Chinese government officials told Reuters on the eve of talks that they had lowered expectations for significant progress.

Friday’s China Daily editorial also warned that “pessimism is still justified”, noting that the talks would finish just three days before Washington is due to raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The negotiations were the “only window” to end deteriorating relations, it added.

Trump, said on Thursday that the talks had so far gone very well. But he has previously insisted he would not be satisfied with a partial deal to resolve his two-year effort to change China’s trade, intellectual property and industrial policy practices, which he argues cost millions of U.S. jobs.

There have also been reports that the Trump administration is readying additional measures aimed at China, with unknown consequences for trade negotiations.

Such wildly shifting expectations have been a persistent feature of the trade war, and observers remained cautious over what might emerge from this week’s talks.

“China wants peace, but I don’t think China will give more,” one Chinese trade expert said on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Michael Martina; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore & Kim Coghill)

U.S., China resume high-level talks to end grueling trade war

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. and Chinese negotiators met on Thursday for the first time since late July to try to find a way out of a 15-month trade war as new irritants between the world’s two largest economies threatened hopes for progress.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer greeted Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on the steps of the USTR office before a meeting in which they will seek to narrow differences enough to avoid an escalation of tit-for-tat tariffs that have roiled financial markets and stoked fears of a global recession.

The mood surrounding the talks soured this week when the U.S. government blacklisted 28 Chinese public security bureaus, technology and surveillance firms and imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials over allegations of abuses of Muslim minorities in China.

Beijing is planning to tighten visa restrictions for U.S. nationals with ties to anti-China groups, sources said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods on Oct. 15 if no progress is made in the on-again, off-again negotiations.

That would make nearly all Chinese goods imports into the United States – more than $500 billion – subject to tariffs.

“Big day of negotiations with China,” Trump said on Twitter. “They want to make a deal, but do I?” He added that he would be meeting with Liu at the White House on Friday.

Chinese officials indicated more willingness to negotiate. “The Chinese side came with great sincerity, willing to cooperate with the U.S. on the trade balance, market access and investor protection,” Xinhua quoted Liu as saying on Thursday.

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said there was a possibility U.S. and Chinese negotiators would reach a currency agreement in exchange for a delay of the tariff hikes.

Major U.S. stock exchanges were trading higher on hopes of progress in the talks.

Although some media reports suggested both sides are considering an “interim” deal that would suspend the planned further U.S. tariffs in exchange for additional purchases of American farm products, Trump has repeatedly dismissed this idea, insisting he wants a “big deal” with Beijing that addresses core intellectual property issues.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday that private exporters reported a snap sale of 398,000 tonnes of soybeans to China, part of a flurry of purchases the top buyer of the oilseed has made since granting waivers to some importers to buy U.S. soy exempt from tariffs as a goodwill gesture.

Chinese firms have bought more than 3.5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans since the beginning of September. Soybeans, the most valuable U.S. agricultural export, have been among the products hardest hit by China’s retaliatory tariffs.

LOWERED EXPECTATIONS

The two sides have been at loggerheads over U.S. demands that China improve protections of American intellectual property, end cyber theft and the forced transfer of technology to Chinese firms, curb industrial subsidies and increase U.S. companies’ access to largely closed Chinese markets.

But Chinese officials, surprised by the U.S. blacklisting of Chinese companies, including video surveillance gear maker Hikvision, along with the suspension of U.S. visas for some Chinese officials, told Reuters that Beijing had lowered expectations for significant progress from the talks.

“I’ve never seen China respond with concessions to someone throwing down the gauntlet in this manner,” said Scott Kennedy, a China trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It suggests to me that the U.S. may have determined that progress was impossible, so everyone is just going through the motions.”

Other flashpoints that have cropped up in recent days include China’s swift action to cut corporate ties to the National Basketball Association over a team official’s tweet in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in Sydney on Thursday that the tariffs were working, forcing Beijing to pay attention to American concerns about its trade practices.

“We do not love tariffs – in fact we would prefer not to use them – but after years of discussions and no action, tariffs are finally forcing China to pay attention to our concerns,” Ross said in remarks prepared for delivery on an official visit to Australia.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Paul Simao)

White House confirms U.S.-China trade talks starting Thursday

White House confirms U.S.-China trade talks starting Thursday
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. officials will welcome a high-ranking Chinese delegation starting Oct. 10 for the latest round of trade talks aimed at easing tensions between the world’s two largest economies, the White House confirmed on Monday.

“The two sides will look to build on the deputy-level talks of the past weeks. Topics of discussion will include forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, services, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, and enforcement,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Kudlow says Trump team ‘open-minded’ about U.S.-China talks next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Friday that the U.S. team was “open-minded” about the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks next week, which will include deputy-level meetings on Monday and Tuesday, with minister-level meetings Thursday and Friday.

Kudlow declined to make any predictions about the talks but said that there had been a “softening of the psychology on both sides” in the past month, with the United States delaying some tariff increases and China making some modest purchases of American farm products.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

China’s top diplomat says Beijing willing to buy more U.S. products

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – China’s top diplomat said on Thursday that China was willing to buy more U.S. products and said trade talks would yield results if both sides “take more enthusiastic measures” to show goodwill and reduce “pessimistic language” in the trade dispute.

Wang Yi, China’s state councilor and foreign minister, said in response to questions from Reuters that the Trump administration had shown goodwill by waiving tariffs on many Chinese products.

“And so, (on) the Chinese side, we are willing to buy more products that are needed by the Chinese market,” Wang said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. “We hope both sides can take more enthusiastic measures, reduce pessimistic language and actions. If everyone does this, talks will not only resume, but will proceed and yield results.”

(Reporting by David Lawder, Koh Gui Qing and Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)

China buys about 10 cargoes of U.S. soybeans after trade talks

By Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chinese importers bought about 10 boatloads of U.S. soybeans on Monday following deputy-level trade talks in Washington last week that were overshadowed by the abrupt cancellation of a U.S. farm state visit by Chinese agriculture officials.

The deals for about 600,000 tonnes, slated for shipment from Pacific Northwest export terminals from October to December, were similar in size to a wave of buying earlier this month, two traders with direct knowledge of the deals said.

Benchmark U.S. soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade <0#S:> jumped about 1.5% on news of the renewed buying, the market’s steepest rise since Chinese buyers bought a large volume of U.S. soybeans on Sept. 12.

Purchases of U.S. agricultural products like soybeans, the most valuable U.S. farm export, and pork are seen as key to securing a deal to end a bilateral trade war between the United States and China that has lasted more than a year.

A trade deal appeared elusive late last week after Chinese officials unexpectedly canceled a visit to farms in Montana and Nebraska and after U.S. President Donald Trump said that agricultural purchases would not go far enough.

U.S. and Chinese officials have since said that talks went well and plans for high-level talks next month remain on track.

Monday’s soybean deals were among the largest by private Chinese importers since Beijing raised import tariffs by 25% on U.S. soybeans in July 2018 in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods.

Other soybean purchases over the past year have been made almost exclusively by state-owned Chinese firms which are exempted from the steep import tariffs.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

U.S., Chinese trade deputies face off in Washington amid deep differences

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and Chinese deputy trade negotiators were set to resume face-to-face talks for the first time in nearly two months on Thursday, as the world’s two largest economies try to bridge deep policy differences and find a way out of a bitter and protracted trade war.

The negotiations, on Thursday and Friday, are aimed at laying the groundwork for high-level talks in early October that will determine whether the two countries are working toward a solution or headed for new and higher tariffs on each other’s goods.

A delegation of about 30 Chinese officials, led by Vice Finance Minister Liao Min, arrived at the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office near the White House for the talks scheduled to start at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT). Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish also arrived to represent the United States.

The discussions are likely to focus heavily on agriculture, including U.S. demands that China substantially increase purchases of American soybeans and other farm commodities, a person with knowledge of the planned discussions told Reuters.

Two negotiating sessions over the two days will cover agricultural issues, while just one will be devoted to the strengthening of China’s intellectual property protections and the forced transfer of U.S. technology to Chinese firms.

“Sessions on agriculture will get a disproportionate amount of air time,” the source said, adding that one of these sessions also will include a focus on U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand that China cut off shipments of the synthetic opioid fentanyl to the United States.

The president is eager to provide export opportunities for U.S. farmers, a key Trump political constituency that has been battered by China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other agricultural commodities.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in an interview on Fox Business Network on Thursday, said it remained unclear what China wanted and that “we will find out very, very shortly in the next couple of weeks.”

“What we need is to correct the big imbalances, not just the current trade deficit,” Ross said. “It’s more complicated than just buying a few more soybeans.”

CURRENCY ON TABLE

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who will participate in the October talks along with USTR Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, has said that currency issues will be a focus of the new rounds of talks.

Mnuchin formally declared China a currency manipulator last month after the yuan weakened against the dollar, accusing Beijing of reducing the strength of its currency to gain a trade advantage.

Trump has said that China failed to follow through on agricultural purchase commitments made by its president, Xi Jinping, at a G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan as a goodwill gesture to get stalled talks back on track. China has denied making such commitments.

When such purchases failed to materialize during U.S.-China trade talks in late July, Trump quickly moved to impose 10% tariffs on virtually all remaining Chinese imports untouched by previous rounds of tariffs.

But in an easing of tensions last week, Trump delayed a scheduled Oct. 1 tariff increase on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports until mid-month, as China postponed tariffs on some U.S. cancer drugs, animal feed ingredients and lubricants.

White House officials signaled warming negotiations as the deputies were set to begin their sitdown.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, in a Fox Business Network interview that aired on Thursday, said: “The atmospherics are improving but … President Trump is going to stand firm.”

“There’s a little softening in the air,” White House adviser Larry Kudlow said in a separate interview on the television network Thursday morning.

Beijing also is seeking an easing of U.S. national security sanctions against telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies, which has been largely cut off from buying sensitive U.S. technology products.

The trade war, which has dragged on for 14 months, has rattled financial markets as policymakers and investors worry about the broadening global economic fallout of the dispute.

The specter of a global recession has prompted central banks around the world to loosen policy in recent months. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut rates for the second time this year, saying the reduction provided “insurance against ongoing risks,” including weak world growth and resurgent trade tensions.

Trade experts, executives and government officials in both countries say that even if the September and October talks produce an interim deal that includes purchases and a reprieve for Huawei, the U.S.-China trade war has hardened into a political and ideological battle that runs far deeper than tariffs and could take years to resolve.

Jon Lieber, a principal in PwC’s national tax services practice, said a “very narrow agreement” in October would do little to solve fundamental differences between the two countries.

To keep markets steady, the two sides could well “string along the talks for a longer period of time,” he added.

(Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Steve Orlofsky and Alex Richardson)

China, U.S. to hold trade talks in October; Beijing says phone call went well

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States on Thursday agreed to hold high-level trade talks in early October in Washington, amid fears that an escalating trade war could trigger a global economic recession.

The talks were agreed to in a phone call between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, China’s commerce ministry said in a statement on its website. China’s central bank governor Yi Gang was also on the call.

“Both sides agreed that they should work together and take practical actions to create good conditions for consultations,” the ministry said.

“Lead negotiators from both sides had a really good phone call this morning,” ministry spokesman Gao Feng said in a weekly briefing. “We’ll strive to achieve substantial progress during the 13th Sino-U.S. high-level negotiations in early October.”

Gao also said Beijing opposes any escalation in the trade war.

Trade teams from the two countries will hold talks in mid-September before the high-level talks next month, the ministry said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office confirmed that Lighthizer and Mnuchin spoke with Liu and said they agreed to hold ministerial-level trade talks in Washington “in the coming weeks”.

News of the early October talks lifted most Asian share markets on Thursday, raising hopes these can de-escalate the U.S.-China trade war before it inflicts further damage on the global economy.

On Sunday, Washington began imposing 15% tariffs on an array of Chinese imports, while China began placing duties on U.S. crude oil. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organization.

The United States plans to increase the tariff rate to 30% from the 25% duty already in place on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from Oct. 1.

U.S. President Donald Trump had warned on Tuesday he would be tougher on Beijing in a second term if trade talks dragged on, compounding market fears that disputes between the United States and China could trigger a U.S. recession.

Chinese leaders will have a packed schedule next month, gearing up for National Day celebrations scheduled for Oct. 1.

They will also hold a key meeting in October to discuss improving governance and “perfecting” the country’s socialist system, state media has said.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao, Yawen Chen and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Paul Tait and Richard Borsuk)