US-China trade negotiators reach preliminary deal

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 12, 2019 14:44 hrs
US - China Flag

Washington: Chinese and American trade negotiators have reached a preliminary agreement aimed at easing the ongoing trade war between the two nations after holding a new round of high-level talks in Washington, media reports said.

Addressing the media in the Oval Office on Friday alongside Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is also the country's chief negotiator, President Donald Trump called the agreement "a very substantial phase one deal", adding that it would take three to five weeks to finalise it on paper.

According to China's state-run Xinhua news agency, the two negotiation teams conducted candid, efficient and constructive discussions on economic and trade issues of mutual concern during the two-day talks.

The two sides achieved substantial progress in areas including agriculture, intellectual property rights protection, exchange rate, financial services, expansion of trade cooperation, technology transfer and dispute settlement.

The negotiators also discussed the arrangement for future consultations, and agreed to make joint efforts toward eventually reaching an agreement, Xinhua added.

During his address to the media, Trump also appeared to confirm a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit next month, when he said that "we're going to be in Chile together in the big summit".

At the Oval Office, Liu delivered a letter from Xi to Trump where the Chinese President conveyed his "best wishes" to the negotiations.

Liu added that he was "happy" with the progress with the talks.

Also present in the room, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed that the US won't "implement the increase on tariffs that were scheduled to go in place from 25 to 30 per cent" on October 15.

The US was scheduled to raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from 25 per cent to 30 per cent. That expected hike, which was originally scheduled to occur on October 1, had been postponed to October 15.

Friday's developments comes after the US on September 1 imposed 15 per cent tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese consumer goods, Efe news reported.

In retaliation, Beijing began implementing punitive levies of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent on US products valued at $75 billion, including agricultural products, crude oil and small aircraft.

The US has so far slapped tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese products since the trade war began in July 2018.

Also looming on December 15 is a proposed 15 per cent tariff on $156 billion in Chinese goods, including smartphones and other consumer goods.

Total tariffs applied to US goods by China thus far have totalled $185 billion.

Trump launched the trade war as part of his "America First" bid to lower a wide trade deficit with China, and the tit-for-tat tariffs levelled by the two superpowers have had an impact on the global economy.