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There was more than the trade war on the table at the Xi-Trump dinner in Argentina. Photo: Reuters

Six key things Xi Jinping and Donald Trump discussed at G20 summit dinner

  • A 90-day truce in the US-China trade war was the headline outcome from the Argentina summit
  • What else can we conclude from the statements from the two countries?

While a trade war truce was the biggest menu item at the 2½-hour dinner between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump, there were other key takeaways from their historic summit in Buenos Aires.

Both nations will be relieved that the escalating trade tensions – which erupted with the imposition of tariffs on July 6 – are contained, but the United States took the opportunity to raise demands which may lead to further confrontation ahead.

It also appears Taiwan may still be a stumbling block for the two nations.

US sets China 90-day deadline to reach trade deal

But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the talks as “friendly and candid”, indicating the Chinese side was satisfied with the outcome.

“The agreements reached not only prevent the trade confrontation from further escalating, but also open up more space for win-win cooperation of both nations,” Wang said after the two leaders’ met.

US conditions to tariff agreement

Both nations agreed that no additional tariffs would be imposed on January 1.

Trump agreed he would leave the existing tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products at the 10 per cent rate, rather than raising it to 25 per cent.

Wang said both nations were working towards removing the existing tariffs and that negotiations would continue.

What Trump’s slump tells us about his talks with Xi Jinping

But a White House statement said both sides would immediately begin negotiations over a wide range of issues, including forced technology transfers, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers and cyber intrusions.

If the two sides cannot reach agreement over these within the next 90 days, the US will raise tariffs to 25 per cent.

What did the US say about Taiwan?

According to Wang, the US said it would continue to adhere to the one-China policy regarding Taiwan. But the self-ruled island was not mentioned in the White House statement.

The US has in the past acknowledged the one-China position but has not recognised Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan.

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as its breakaway province, described the island as a core interest.

Taiwan hints F-16V fighter jets are back on its defence shopping list

China has repeatedly demanded that the US not support the island’s pro-independence forces and also cut off military exchanges with Taiwan.

The absence of a clear statement from the US side on the one-China policy could indicate a future source of tension between the two powers.

China will buy more from US, but how much?

Wang said China would buy more US products based on market demand to ease the trade imbalance with Washington.

The White House said China would purchase a not-yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the US. China would also buy agricultural products from US farmers immediately.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he is open to approving the Qualcomm-NXP deal when the document is presented to him again. Photo: Reuters

More market access for US firms

Wang said China would expand market access to American firms and take steps to address legitimate concerns of US companies.

Xi said he was open to approving the Qualcomm-NXP deal when the document was presented to him again, according to the White House, but Wang did not mention the deal, which was previously rejected.

Xi and Trump: a beginner’s guide to translating diplomatic speak

US chip maker Qualcomm walked away from its US$44 million bid for NXP Semiconductors – the biggest potential takeover in the chip industry – when it failed to secure the approval of China’s antitrust regulators.

China joins opioid war

The synthetic opioid fentanyl was one of the issues discussed between the two leaders. China said it would designate fentanyl as a controlled substance. The US has previously said efforts to stem the flow of synthetic opioids from China were being stymied by China’s inadequate regulations on pharmaceutical and chemical production.

Support for North Korea meeting

China supports the upcoming meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Wang said China hoped the US and North Korea could be accommodative of each other’s interests, and that the US would continue coordination with Beijing over North Korea.

The White House statement said Trump, Xi and Kim would work for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Key takeaways from meeting