China said on Thursday that the foundation for reaching a trade agreement between Beijing and Washington in the future has been laid at the just-concluded trade discussions between the United States and China.
And despite the existence of some of the more contentious issues between the two countries, experts believe that the talks have increased the possibilities of a complete agreement on trade between the two sides.
Both sides held “extensive, in-depth and detailed exchanges” on trade as well as structural issues that were raised by both sides, said statement released by China’s Commerce Ministry on Thursday morning.
The statement said that the closed-door talks that lasted for three days – a day more than was scheduled, “enhanced mutual understanding, and established a foundation for solving each other’s concerns”.
While not providing much details, the Chinese statement said that both sides agreed to maintain closer communications in the future.
The talks were headed by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He.
It is expected that more talks would be held between the two sides when Liu goes to Washington later this month.
Some of the “structural issues” of Chinese trade policies that the US was most peeved about were also included in the wide-ranging discussions in Beijing.
The talks were held with “a view to achieving needed structural changes in China with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft of trade secrets for commercial purposes, services, and agriculture,” said the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in a statement issued by it earlier.
The USTR statement said that the negotiations were focused on “China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the US” in addition to the obvious issue of the large trade deficit that the US has with China.
“The officials also discussed the need for any agreement to provide for complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement,” said the US statement. The statement further added that further reports on the talks would be submitted by the US officials who after they return from China.
The trade imbalance problem was “solved most smoothly”, said Hu Xijin, the editor of the state affiliated news paper Global Times.
“In other respects, China accepted parts that are in line with its reform, but rejected requests that harm its national security,” Xu tweeted on Thursday while revealing some of the details of the closed door negotiations.
The extension of the negotiations by a day were signals that both the US and China were “very serious about these negotiations”, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
This is the first face-to-face meeting between trade representatives of both countries since the announcement of a 90 day truce to the US-China trade war after a meeting between the Chinese President Xi Jinping and the US President Donald Trump in early December.
Import tariffs on each other’s goods worth billions of dollars have been imposed by both side in the acrimonious trade war.
China and the US would not possibly have altered their bottomlines after just one round of talks, said professor Zhu Feng, director of Nanjing University’s Institute of International Studies.
“There are a lot of different opinions and disputes, but both sides need precisely this kind of collisions at this time, to make their demands, positions and views known to the other party,” he said.
(Adapted from StraitsTimes.com)