Talks lay foundation for future trade deal, says China

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.

According to a brief statement from the Chinese Commerce Ministry, the two sides held an "extensive, in-depth, and detailed exchange" on trade issues, including structural factors.

The two sides are meeting face-to-face for the first time since Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed December 1 to suspend further punitive action against each other's imports for 90 days while they negotiate over the fight sparked by American complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

That uncertainty dampened Asian investor sentiment. "China trade talks earlier in the week appeared to have run its course".

The USTR statement emphasised 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.

The USTR said officials broached those topics and discussed the need for any agreement to include "complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement".

For its part, Beijing is unhappy with USA export and investment curbs, such as controls on "dual use" technology with possible military applications.

The two sides will keep in close contact, it added. The move prompted China to increase tariffs on United States dollars 110 billion of U.S. goods.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the third quarter, and unemployment is at a five-decade low.

The talks went ahead despite tensions over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on USA charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

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With talks expected to move into a second day Tuesday, it's not clear whether the flap over the warship might throw them off track.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed optimism to Fox Business Network.

United States stocks surged on Wednesday on optimism that the mid-level talks in Beijing would be followed up with discussions between higher-ranking U.S. and Chinese officials.

At stake are scheduled USA tariff increase on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

Companies, disappointed that Beijing hasn't kept past commitments, also want any deal to ensure that China faces "some kind of penalty for not doing what they promised", Parker said.

However, no concrete details have been released on the progress made so far in negotiations.

"High-end consumers, even though they're making decent money (and) the economy is going on relatively strong, it may have affected their willingness to splurge over the holidays", said Ken Perkins, president of the research firm Retail Metrics.

Chinese exports to the USA 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. That includes giving specific dates for making purchases, and making assurances that Beijing won't hinder US companies from gaining access to China's market.

While the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that crude inventories shrank by 1.68 million barrels last week, the steepest drop since November, there were substantial increases in supplies of refined products such as gasoline. Chinese officials say their companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though nearly all deals are approved unchanged.

With cooling economic growth raising the urgency for a settlement, this week's talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on USA charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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