Ted McKinney (2nd R), the US undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs and a member of the US trade delegation to China, leaves a hotel with other officials in Beijing, China January 7, 2019. (Reuters Photo/Thomas Peter)

US Trade Delegation Wrapping Up Meetings in China, Hopes of a Deal Build

BY : CATE CADELL

JANUARY 10, 2019

Beijing. The US trade delegation in Beijing is "wrapping up" meetings with Chinese officials and will return to the United States later on Wednesday after a "good few days," a US official said.

Asian stocks markets jumped after the talks were extended for an unscheduled third day, fueling optimism that the world's largest economies can strike a trade deal to avoid an all-out confrontation that would severely disrupt the global economy.

Ted McKinney, US undersecretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, made the comments to reporters at the delegation's hotel.

"I think they went just fine," McKinney said of the talks. "It's been a good one for us," he said without elaborating.

This week's meetings are the first face-to-face talks since US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled global financial markets.

Originally scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, the negotiations were extended by a day amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of US farm and energy commodities and increased access to China's markets.

However, people familiar with the talks told Reuters on Tuesday that the two sides were further apart on Chinese structural reforms that the Trump administration is demanding in order to stop alleged theft and forced transfer of US technology, and on how Beijing will be held to its promises.

If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, at a time when China's economy is slowing significantly. Beijing has retaliated in turn to US tariffs.

But as meetings wound down in Beijing on Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted: "Talks with China are going very well!"

The US team is led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, and includes under secretaries from the US departments of agriculture, commerce, energy and treasury, as well as senior White House officials.

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen heads the vice-ministerial-level talks for China, though Vice Premier Liu He, a top economic adviser to Xi, made an appearance at a meeting on Monday.

China is keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States but will not make any "unreasonable concessions" and any agreement must involve compromise on both sides, state newspaper the China Daily said on Wednesday.

The paper said in an editorial that Beijing's stance remains firm that the dispute harms both countries and disrupts the international trade order and supply chains.

In what is widely seen as a goodwill gesture, China on Tuesday issued long-awaited approvals for the import of five genetically modified crops, which could boost its purchases of US grains as farmers decide which crops to plant in the spring.

On Monday, Chinese importers made another large purchase of US soybeans, their third in the past month.

Reuters

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