Saturday, 16 February, 2019

United States and China launch trade talks amid differences over economic reforms

The collapse of talks would dash hopes of a lasting truce that would remove one of the darkest clouds hanging over the world economy US and China launch trade talks amid differences over economic reforms
Russell Knight | 31 January, 2019, 19:56

Writing on Twitter, Trump said that while he plans to meet with "China's top trade negotiators" today in the Oval Office, he has no intentions of striking a formal trade deal until he meets face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The White House did not immediately comment on the report.

"No final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future to discuss and agree on some of the long-standing and more hard points", Mr. Trump tweeted.

Chinese officials deny that their policies coerce technology transfers.

Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative and the Trump administration's lead negotiator this week, wants China to toughen intellectual property protections and to stop what he said is unfairly subsidizing its state-owned enterprises.

A little over three years ago, Beijing launched a strategic plan dubbed "Made in China 2025" that aimed to make the nation the global leader in aerospace, robotics, artificial intelligence, new-generation autos and other areas - sectors USA officials say now represent the "crown jewels" of American technology and innovation.

Early Thursday, Trump tweeted about the discussions, saying that "meetings are going well with good intent and spirit on both sides".

While a breakthrough deal is seen as unlikely from this round of negotiations, the White House has said a concluding statement will be released on the progress they've made on core issues such as Chinese technology transfers and intellectual property practices, market access and Beijing's pledge to buy more American goods.

Meanwhile, earnings warnings from United States companies hit by the slowdown in China's economy - due in part to the tariffs - are piling up. If both sides fail to reach an agreement by March 1, USA tariffs on Chinese goods will be raised to 25 percent from 10 percent.

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According to a person familiar with the meeting agenda, Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were scheduled to give opening remarks at the talks Wednesday morning.

Washington also doesn't like that Beijing subsidizes its tech industry as part of its "Belt and Road" initiative to become the world's leader in critical sectors, such as artificial intelligence and robotics.

Trump has set a March deadline for increasing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Trade experts say China has begun to crack down on intellectual property theft as well as the forced transfer of technology.

The business community remains more anxious about slowing growth in China and the prospect that the tariffs complicating life for many companies will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

This round of talks is scheduled for two days from January 30th to 31st.

The U.S. document lists 70 questions about Beijing's subsidy programs that highlight Washington's misgivings about the role the state plays in China's huge and growing market.

Recent charges against Huawei have added to the complications.

Last year, the Asian country recorded its slowest growth in almost 30 years, making the USA trade war an unwelcome development.

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