China, US agree to ‘pragmatically solve problems for producers, consumers’ as trade talks resume
- Vice-Premier Liu He met US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday having held talks with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai last week
- Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said ‘normal communication’ between the US and China on trade and economic matters had begun
China and the United States have agreed to “pragmatically solve some specific problems for producers and consumers” as bilateral trade talks resumed after a nine-month hiatus with two high-level discussions in the space of a week, the Ministry of Commerce said in Beijing on Thursday.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng confirmed on Thursday that both talks, which took place via video, lasted around 50 minutes each, and contained “several characteristics”.
“During the two calls, the two sides exchanged views on the China-US economic and trade relations, the macroeconomic situation and domestic policies on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” he said, characterising the communications as having “started smoothly”.
“Both sides believe that the exchanges were professional, candid and constructive. Normal communication between China and the US has begun in the economic and trade fields.”
Gao added that both sides sought “common ground while reserving differences in consensus”.
“Both sides believe that China-US economic and trade relations are very important, and there are many specific areas for cooperation,” he said.
“Both sides also raised their concerns. China has fully considered the background and status of its domestic economic development and expressed our specific concerns.”
Looking forward, China and the US will “start with pragmatic problem-solving” he explained.
“The two sides agreed that the next step is to work together from the perspective of benefiting China, the US and the world as a whole, to pragmatically solve some specific problems for producers and consumers, and promote the healthy and stable development of the China-US economic and trade relations,” Gao said, without being more specific.
Taoran Notes, a social media account affiliated with the state-run Economic Daily that is used by Beijing to manage expectations on China-US trade talks, was upbeat on the outlook for future discussions, urging both sides to “keep the China-US normal communication in the economic and trade field going”.
“It is a very important judgement that China and the US have begun normal communication in the economic and trade field,” it added. “We must take an extremely pragmatic attitude, carefully consider where our fundamental interests lie, and calmly communicate with the US.
“Don’t be emotional when dealing with problems, also don’t be complacent about small achievements, and it is even more important to avoid incurring real misfortune by chasing false reputation.”
A brief statement from the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday after the talks between Liu and Yellen said that both sides agreed China-US economic relations were “very important”, and discussions included the macro economic situation, as well as bilateral and multilateral cooperation “in an attitude of equality and mutual respect”.
They also had “candid” exchanges on issues of concern and agreed to keep communicating, the statement added.
The US Treasury Department said that Yellen had discussed US plans to “support a continued strong economic recovery and the importance of cooperation on areas that are in US interest”, while at the same time “frankly” talking about issues of concern.
Yellen noted that she looked forward to further discussions with Liu, the US statement added.
“Since the beginning of this year, China’s exports have maintained rapid growth. We conducted a questionnaire survey of over 20,000 companies participating in the 129th Canton Fair. The results showed that 43.2 per cent of companies have orders on hand that can last for more than three months,” he said.
New Zealand has joined the panel as a third party, although a resolution could still take many years.
“The Chinese government always respects the WTO rules and has always managed foreign trade in a manner consistent with the WTO rules,” he said.
“China will properly handle this case in accordance with the WTO dispute settlement procedures. At the same time, China respects New Zealand‘s right to participate in relevant dispute cases as a third party and a member of the WTO.”