China trade war talks end on a positive note

Oil rises one per cent on US, China trade talk optimism

Vice minister-level trade officials from the US and China concluded negotiations in Beijing on Wednesday after three days of discussions.

The US statement said that the negotiations dealt with the need for any agreement with China to be "subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement".

Macy's announcement came as a surprise because investor expectations for the holiday season have been high. The Chinese side was led by Commerce Vice Minister Wang Shouwen. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the extension of the trade talks to an additional day showed but sides were "indeed very serious" about resolving trade issues. That statement added that the consultations had "established a foundation" for solving the most pressing issues.

China was believed to be preparing its own separate statement on the talks.

US officials are meeting with their counterparts in Beijing this week for the first face-to-face talks since Trump and China's President Xi Jinping in December agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled worldwide markets.

Those purchases would help meet another key demand from Trump: that China take action to reduce the massive USA trade deficit with its biggest economic rival.

Meanwhile, the US and China wrapped up three days of mid-level trade talks on Wednesday, boosting the S&P 500 Index for a fourth day to the highest in nearly a month.

As Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of China's Global Times newspaper, noted on Twitter, trade issues were addressed "most smoothly".

The so-called "structural issues" are not about "fair trade", but reflect fears in Washington that China is a threat to USA ambitions for global domination.

"In other respects, China accepted parts that are in line with its reform, but rejected requests that harm its national security", Mr Hu tweeted yesterday. Or, to use President Xi Jinping's words from a speech in December, "We will resolutely reform what should and can be reformed, and make no change where there should not and cannot be any reform".

The just-concluded trade discussions between the United States and China have laid the foundation for a future deal, with progress being made on thorny issues including forced technology transfers and intellectual property protection, China's Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) said yesterday.

US officials have long complained that China has failed to live up to trade promises, often citing Beijing's pledges to resume imports of American beef that took more than a decade to implement.

No schedule for further face-to-face negotiations was released after the talks, and USTR said the American delegation was returning to Washington to report on the meetings and "to receive guidance on the next steps", USTR said.

China has imposed penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for US companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses. That throws into doubt the possibility of a trade agreement based largely on Chinese promises to raise USA imports.

The next phase of trade negotiations will involve higher-level talks, likely when Trump attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later in January.

Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if it fails to cede to USA demands.

Of course, it's entirely possible Trump could overrule Lighthizer instead this time, and embrace what is essentially a revamp of Mnuchin's May 2018 deal as the end of the trade war. The truce took place at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and resulted in Trump postponing his planned tariff hike for 90 days while negotiators work towards a finalized deal.

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