China vows quick trade deal as Trump sends mixed signals

Elias Hubbard
December 6, 2018

The US expects China to take immediate action to cut tariffs on US auto imports and end intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers as the two countries move toward a broader trade deal, Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Monday.

"Trump said China is planning to resume buying USA soybeans and natural gas, which he said confirms his claims that China had agreed to start "immediately" buying US products".

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that a reduction in Chinese tariffs on US cars and agricultural and energy commodities would be a "litmus test" for whether US-China trade talks were on track.

In a commerce ministry statement, Chinese officials called the talks between the two leaders a "great success".

"The Chinese side will start with implementing specifics on which there is already consensus, the faster the better".

Also hanging over the negotiations is Mr. Trump's threat of tariffs on another $267 billion of goods, which would impose duties on all Chinese imports shipped to the U.S.

Trump "shared his vision of all automakers producing in the United States and creating a more friendly business environment", the White House said in a statement afterward.

However, the verbal detente was broken yesterday as China's Foreign Ministry lashed out at criticism from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Trump has long accused China of unfair trade practices that hurt Americans and the USA economy.

Earlier on Tuesday, Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin also raised the prospect of the deadline extension.

But he added, "if that's real" - raising some doubt - it would close the USA trade deficit with China, and 'we have to have a negotiated agreement and have this on paper'.

"Very strong signals being sent by China once they returned home from their long trip, including stops, from Argentina", he wrote.

Officials from the US and a number of other major economies have often criticized China for its slow approach to negotiations and not following through on commitments.

"But if a fair deal is able to be made with China, one that does all of the many things we know must be finally done, I will happily sign".

Also contributing to the decline are increased fears about future US economic growth. Chinese shares closed lower on Wednesday amid similar doubts.

During the talks in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed to delay a scheduled escalation in USA tariffs on many Chinese goods, from 10 percent to 25 percent, that had been set to take effect January 1.

Referring to himself as a "Tariff Man", Trump issued a series of tweets that only further deepened the murkiness surrounding the trade truce that the two leaders said they had reached Saturday evening on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting. "The market is trying to figure out: "Is there going to be a real deal at the end of 90 days or not?'" Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council".

Beijing pledged to import more USA products to narrow its massive trade surplus with the U.S. following the Argentina talks, but it has given few details about what was agreed. China is supposed to start buying Agricultural product and more immediately.

The commerce ministry, in a brief statement on its website, also said China would work to implement specific issues already agreed upon as quickly as possible. These practices, according to the administration and outside analysts, include stealing intellectual property and forcing companies to turn over technology to gain access to China's market. Officials downplayed expectations about reaching a broader trade deal that would end the tariff war. China's state planner announced Tuesday stiffer punishments for serious violators of IP rights, a move that may help ease Washington's discontent.

He said the United States should look into a rule that would bar imports of Chinese products that used stolen USA intellectual property.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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