China economy

China and US teams bypass Washington and go straight to Buenos Aires for trade war talks

  • US and China trade negotiation teams change venue for high-level talks at last minute
  • New venue intended to help prepare ground for Xi-Trump G20 meeting
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 4:25am

Chinese and American trade negotiators have made a last-minute change to their original plans and rescheduled their talks for Buenos Aires instead of Washington, a source who was briefed on the matter has told the South China Morning Post.

The Post reported last week that Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s chief trade negotiator and the top economic aide to President Xi Jinping, was planning to fly to Washington for talks with the US delegation, possibly led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

However, a person who was updated on the latest changes said the plan had been adjusted after “work-level discussions” between Beijing and Washington.

“The latest plan is that the two countries’ trade negotiation teams will meet in Buenos Aires,” the person, who declined to be identified, said.

Trump says US is ‘doing extremely well’ with China but deal not done yet

The source said the change was partly intended to ensure the talks would have a more direct effect on the meeting between Xi and US President Donald Trump during the G20 summit in the Argentine capital late next week.

The change, if confirmed, suggests that stakes will be raised for the leaders’ meeting, with more weighty matters likely to be on the agenda.

It also will mark the first time that bilateral trade negotiations between the world’s two biggest economies have taken place in a third-party country.

The progress of the scheduled trade talks will have a direct effect on the meeting between Xi and Trump.

The Post reported earlier that the two leaders would meet for dinner on December 1 immediately after the G20 meeting. Both countries confirmed the meeting.

However, the two sides have not released any information regarding the trade team talks.

Trump said on Friday that the US had made progress towards resolving the trade dispute after receiving a response to his demands from Beijing. But he told reporters that it was lacking in four or five key areas.

“China wants to make a deal, they sent a list of things they are willing to do, which is a large list, and it is just not acceptable to me yet. But at some point I think that we are doing extremely well with respect to China,” he said.

China’s ‘truce deal’ includes offer to buy more US natural gas

Trump said he would proceed with his threat to impose additional tariffs on US$267 billion worth of Chinese products if the two countries did not reach a deal, but added: “We may not have to do that; China would like to make a deal.”

Meanwhile, Xi told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday that China was committed to giving more market access to foreign companies. He urged Asia-Pacific leaders to help protect the global trade system.

“Mankind will have to choose between cooperation or resistance – opening up for mutual benefits or a zero-sum game,” he said.

“History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war, will produce no winners.”