Donald Trump says US-China trade talks ‘going very well’ as negotiations continue late into night

  • US President hails progress made as negotiators in Beijing try to iron out their differences ahead of a March 1 deadline
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 9:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 9:52pm

US President Donald Trump hailed the smooth progress of the China-US trade talks on Tuesday as negotiators extended the negotiations into the night in an apparent attempt to iron out more of their differences.

“Talks with China are going very well!” Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Since the talks began in Beijing on Monday, negotiators from both sides have kept details of the closely watched negotiations close to their chests.

A source told Reuters that the two-day negotiations were “ongoing” but few other details emerged.

The talks between the US delegation – led by deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish and including officials from the Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture and Energy departments – and the Chinese side headed by commerce vice-minister Wang Shouwen were still ongoing late Tuesday, a source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Earlier in the day, delegates ignored reporters’ questions on Tuesday morning about the progress of the discussions and the surprise appearance of Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s chief negotiator, who was pictured attending the start of the talks on Monday in leaked photos.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China planned to release a statement after the talks were concluded.

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The trade talks were the first face-to-face ones since Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed a 90-day tariff truce on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina at the start of December.

While insiders and analysts said the latest round of talks were promising, they warned that it would be difficult to resolve the main economic sticking points between the two sides, such as alleged intellectual property theft and China’s structural economic problems, within such a short time period.

Both sides have already imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each others’ exports and the US has threatened to raise duties on US$200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent if a consensus is not reached by March 1.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Monday that China’s slowing economy showed its vulnerabilities in the trade war.

He told reporters there was “a very good chance” of reaching a deal, even if following up on compliance would be difficult.

China appears to have acted to address Washington’s concerns since the Trump-Xi meeting with a number of measures, including the resumption of soybean imports and rolling back tariffs on US car imports.

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It has also introduced a draft law to ban forced technology transfers and downplayed its Made in China 2025 initiative – a state-backed policy to achieve tech supremacy that has caused growing concern in Washington.

But Nick Marro, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said that China still needed to “significantly re-calibrate its industrial policies” to meet US demands.

“The limited policy movement that we’ve seen so far suggests that a game-changing deal remains unlikely,” he said.