Trump optimistic despite haze around China trade

Blanche Robertson
December 6, 2018

Washington and Beijing agreed to a 90 day cease fire in their meeting in Argentina, as the two sides try to work out an escalating trade war.

The Ministry of Commerce statement described the meeting with the USA as "very successful" and said China is "confident" of implementing the results agreed upon at the talks, but didn't provide any further details on the outcome. "Bob Lighthizer will be working closely with Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro. on seeing whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible", Trump wrote in part of a four-tweet message.

Earlier this year Trump imposed an import tax of 25 percent on $50 billion in Chinese products, then hit an additional $200 billion worth of goods with 10 percent tariffs.

Trump, however, has threatened to slap tariffs on auto imports from Europe and other countries, citing USA trade deficits with those nations.

"We should also not rule out the possibility in 2019 of China pitching any tariff reforms that it is prepared to implement to resolve the U.S. China trade war to the wider worldwide community as well", Rudd said.

US negotiators have a list of 142 requirements that China has to agree to before it enters into a trade deal.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said earlier this week the US won Chinese commitments to buy more than $1 trillion in American products. Besides escalating existing tariffs, Trump had threatened to impose import taxes on the remaining US$267 billion of United States goods from China.

The US expects China to take immediate action to cut tariffs on US vehicle imports and end intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers as the two countries move toward a broader trade deal, Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Monday.

Meanwhile, as Trump and White House officials tout the truce, Beijing has said little on a pact that cheered markets but left many questions unanswered.

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Bush then shook hands with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, causing her to smile when he passed her what appeared to be a piece of candy.

Noting the applause at the end of Xi-Trump summit, Mr Geng asked: "I don't know (what) people clapping at that time now mean by saying this type of thing".

Trump has argued that China for decades has abused global trade rules to lure away United States jobs, steal U.S. intellectual property, subsidise its own companies, and strong-arm USA firms.

The comments by the president and his top advisers over the past 48 hours have only added to China's confusion about their negotiating partners. But Mnuchin added, "If that's real" - thereby raising some doubt - it would close the U.S. trade deficit with China, and added: "We have to have a negotiated agreement and have this on paper".

Members of Trump's economic team continued to temper optimism about a deal Tuesday.

Trump's words had the effect of making the already vague and uncertain weekend agreement seem even less likely to produce a long-lasting trade accord. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power.

In London, the FTSE 100 was on course to open around 1% lower according to financial spreadbetters despite help for its strong contingent of dollar-earning companies from a weaker pound. "ALL subjects discussed!" Trump tweeted on 5 December.

One Chinese official told Reuters officials were "waiting for the leaders to return" before publicising details.

He also said that China's vice premier, Liu He, had told him there would be changes made "immediately" to show the Chinese were serious about a new agreement. The statement did not mention Trump or Xi, however the state news agency Xinhua later said the ministry statement was hailing their meeting.

According to the White House, China has agreed to buy a "very substantial" amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the United States to reduce a yawning trade gap, as well as to negotiate over Washington's assertions that Beijing steals American technology.

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