US-China trade talks extend into evening of second day: Source

Asia Business

BEIJING: A second day of US-China trade talks in Beijing extended into Tuesday (Jan 8) evening, a source with knowledge of the meetings said, as the world’s two largest economies looked to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

The source confirmed to Reuters that talks were “ongoing”, but few other details had emerged.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross predicted on Monday that Beijing and Washington could reach a trade deal that “we can live with”.

But he said that immediate trade issues would be easiest to tackle while enforcement issues and structural reforms, such as intellectual property rights and market access, would be more challenging.

The US team was being led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.

The meetings are the first face-to-face talks since US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled global markets.

Trump imposed import tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods last year and has threatened more to pressure Beijing to change its practices on issues ranging from industrial subsidies to intellectual property to hacking. China has retaliated with tariffs of its own.

Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and
Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass of the US Department of the Treasury and other members of the US trade delegation to China, return from talks to a hotel in Beijing, China, Jan 7, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter)

The US delegation also included under secretaries from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Treasury, as well as senior officials from those agencies and the White House.

Earlier on Tuesday, China approved five genetically modified (GM) crops for import, a move seen as a “goodwill gesture” by some in the US agriculture industry that could boost China’s overseas grains purchases and ease pressure from the United States to open its markets to more farm goods. 

The timely approval of GM crops had been an early Trump administration demand in trade talks dating back to 2017.

US farmers and global seed companies have long complained about Beijing’s slow and unpredictable process for approving GM crops for import, stoking trade tensions between the two sides.

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