Sun, Jul 16, 2017 - Page 16 News List

China inks deals to sustain trade focus

UPGRADED:The Comprehensive Economic Dialogue aims to improve on the earlier Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade


As 100 days of trade talks between the two largest economies rumble to a close, Chinese officials and executives have been roaming the farmland of Iowa and doing what might appeal to US President Donald Trump most: deals.

Contracts signed on Thursday — for the import of 12.5 million tonnes of US soybeans and 371 tonnes of pork and beef — can be seen as another result of the renewed economic diplomacy push started by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at their April meeting in Florida.

Talks are yielding progress: China is buying US beef again after a 14-year ban, approving more biotech products and increasing US natural gas imports.

However, if the nations are to make any meaningful dent in the US$347 billion US deficit that is the object of Trump’s ire, they might have to keep negotiating beyond the modest agreements already signed.

The two nations have been working on “very major trade components,” Trump said at a news conference in Paris this week.

However, there still might be hiccups in the relationship: He has threatened tariffs or quotas on steel imports, which might hurt China and other nations.

Chinese officials have indicated the 100-day talks would be extended to stretch over a year.

Meanwhile, the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED), led by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang (汪洋), US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, is to begin its first round on Wednesday.

The CED is a new framework for trade and economic talks that revamps the earlier Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which was formalized during the administration of former US president Barack Obama, and the long-standing Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade.

Both have drawn criticism for involving too many people and too few results.

China’s exports to the US last month rose 19.8 percent from a year earlier, while imports climbed 14.8 percent, leaving the monthly trade surplus at US$25.4 billion and the year-to-date figure at US$117.5 billion, Bloomberg data showed.

The CED is to sum up the achievements of the 100-day trade talks and discuss what lies ahead for the one-year plan, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng (高峰) said at a news conference on Thursday.

The two sides are also to talk about economic coordination, global economic governance and trade and investment issues, he said.

“The 100-day is mostly about deals, say you import this and we export that, but the CED should cover more ground, and more profound issues,” Gao said.

It is unclear whether China will be as active in the CED as in the past 100 days, he said, adding that “everyone is looking forward” to the difference the new dialogue could make.

In future talks, China is likely to strike more deals with the US in agriculture, chemicals and tech, while opening more service sectors including accounting, advertising and law, Shanghai-based China International Capital Corp (中國國際金融) analyst Wang Hanfeng (王漢鋒) wrote in a note.

The Asian nation is also likely in following negotiations to reduce tariffs and lower market barriers for US companies while seeking more access to US infrastructure construction, he wrote.

In a May report, the ministry said that it wants to increase US agricultural imports, such as soybeans and cotton, along with US energy products, such as liquid natural gas, crude oil and refined oil, plus aircraft, ICs and machine tools.

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