Trump-Xi meeting at G20 raises hope of trade spat truce


Thu, Jun 20, 2019 - Page 1

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) have agreed to meet at the G20 summit in Japan next week, raising hopes for a truce in the bruising trade dispute between the world’s top two economies.

The two leaders on Tuesday spoke by telephone, weeks after negotiations broke down when Trump accused Beijing of reneging on its commitments, increasing tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods and blacklisting Huawei Technologies Co (華為).

The US president took a conciliatory approach this time.

“Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan,” Trump said on Twitter.

“Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” he said.

Xi said that bilateral relations had encountered difficulties that were “not in the interest of either side,” but warned that dialogue must be conducted on “an equal footing.”

“China and the US will both gain by cooperating and lose by fighting,” Xi told Trump, according to Chinese state media.

Global shares were buoyed by the announcement, with Wall Street rallying on Tuesday and Asian stock markets surging yesterday.

The White House readout of the call said the leaders “discussed the importance of leveling the playing field for US farmers, workers and businesses through a fair and reciprocal economic relationship.”

“I think we have a chance. China wants a deal. They don’t like the tariffs,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I have a very good relationship with President Xi. We’ll see what happens.”

The White House said that the focus of the talks would be to address “structural barriers to trade with China, and achieving meaningful reforms that are enforceable and verifiable.”

The US and China seemed close to an agreement when talks collapsed last month.

Beijing retaliated to Trump’s tariffs and moves against Huawei by increasing custom taxes on US$60 billion of US goods, creating its own list of “unreliable” companies and individuals, and threatening to ban exports of rare earths to the US.

Xi told Trump that the two nations must “accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns” and that “China hopes the US side can treat Chinese firms in a fair manner,” Xinhua news agency reported.

Trump had requested the call between the two leaders, Xinhua said.

Xi is to visit North Korea today and tomorrow, his first trip there as president.

China is North Korea’s sole major ally and analysts said Xi could use any leverage Beijing might have in the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang as a “bargaining chip” in his talks with Trump.

US National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that there are “no guarantees” of any resolution in Osaka, Japan.

“Our position continues to be [that] we want structural changes,” Kudlow told reporters. “They’ll have a good conversation. The fact that they’re meeting is a good thing.”