China says ‘still lots left to do’ in US trade talks

China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said the ‘negotiation process was very difficult and taxing’. — Reuters pic
China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said the ‘negotiation process was very difficult and taxing’. — Reuters pic

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BEIJING, March 5 — US-China trade talks have been “very difficult and taxing” and negotiators still have “lots left to do”, but breakthroughs have been made in some areas, China’s commerce minister said today.

The comments as President Donald Trump has voiced confidence that he could soon sign a deal with President Xi Jinping to end a trade war that led to bruising tit-for-tat tariffs on goods from each country.

Recounting top economic official Liu He’s recent trip to Washington for trade talks, commerce minister Zhong Shan said the “negotiation process was very difficult and taxing”.

The content under discussion was very hard, Zhong stressed, “requiring our team to work overtime, day and night”.

“Two days of negotiations had been agreed to, and then two days were added, and this was still very tense,” Zhong told reporters on the sidelines of the opening session of the National People’s Congress.

“The bilateral talks have been highly effective — through 90 days of talks the two sides have achieved step by step, important results and breakthroughs in some areas,” he said.

“Right now both teams are still negotiating because there is still lots left to do,” Zhong said.

To reach an agreement “both sides need to walk towards each other and work hard together”, he said.

The head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission said substantial breakthroughs had been reached in six areas, including technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, agricultural, services and exchange rates, according to local news site The Paper.

“This progress is substantial. I think it will be further expanded. There is no doubt about it,” banking regulator Guo Shuqing said, according to The Paper.

Trump has for years railed against China’s unfair trade practices, singling his ire on what he calls deliberate devaluation of its currency, the renminbi, also called the yuan.

“Some officials of the US government, including President Trump, accuse China of manipulating the exchange rate and promoting the devaluation of the renminbi to gain a competitive advantage,” said Guo.

“There is no such thing, and everyone knows this,” Guo said, adding it would be easier to reach a consensus on the exchange rate in future negotiations.

“It is certain that in the opening of the financial sector, China and the US are fully capable of reaching an agreement,” he said. — AFP

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