Sat, Nov 03, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Trump, Xi look to G20 after phone call

SKEPTICISM:European ambassadors and foreign business lobbies urged China to introduce ‘bold’ and concrete market reforms at a Shanghai trade fair next week

AFP, WASHINGTON and Shanghai

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had “very good” talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping (習近平), on the trade conflict between the two economic giants, and meetings were being planned at the G20 summit at the end of this month.

The phone call comes as tensions between the world’s two biggest economies are rising on several fronts, including commerce and security.

“Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China. We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade,” Trump tweeted.

Trump said trade talks were “moving along nicely” and that meetings were “being scheduled” at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Xi said he was “very happy” to talk to Trump again and attaches “great importance to good relations with the president,” Xinhua news agency reported.

The Chinese president also said he would like to meet Trump at the G20.

Disagreements on trade have “adversely affected” industries from both countries, as well as global trade, Xi said.

“China does not want to see this,” he said, according to Xinhua.

“The economic teams of the two countries should strengthen contact, conduct consultations on issues of mutual concern, and push for a mutually acceptable solution to China-US economic and trade issues,” Xi said.

Washington and Beijing are in an increasingly high-stakes standoff over Trump’s aggressive move to end what he says have been years of unfair trade practices by China, including rampant intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and market access barriers.

Trump imposed new tariffs on about half of Chinese imports this summer while Beijing fired back with tariffs on most US products.

Meanwhile, European ambassadors and foreign business lobbies are calling on China to introduce “bold” and concrete market reforms at a Shanghai trade fair next week that the government touts as proof of its commitment to opening up.

The week-long China International Import Expo (CIIE) is to gather more than 3,000 foreign businesses from 130 countries seeking to sell their products in China’s market.

Xi has raised expectations by saying it would be unlike any trade fair staged in the nation and help reduce the massive trading surpluses it runs with other countries, such as the US.

However, trading partners and foreign firms remain skeptical, saying China continually backtracks on promises.

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China urged leaders to “move beyond rhetoric” in a position paper released yesterday.

“The reform deficit has already sparked serious tensions with China’s major trading partners, so it is imperative that the government makes a concerted effort to address the issue at all levels,” it said.

It remains unknown whether China will unveil any substantive measures next week to address the long-standing complaints.

The French and German ambassadors to Beijing said in a commentary published in Chinese media on Thursday that the expo was an opportunity to “level the playing field.”

French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert and Germany’s Clemens von Goetze wrote that the time was right, with China nearing next month’s 40th anniversary of its historic shift toward economic reforms, urging Beijing to give that effort “fresh impetus.”

China is pivoting from an economic model dominated by export manufacturing and investment toward one based increasingly on domestic consumer demand, and the expo purports to welcome more foreign imports.

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