Washington, Beijing lay ground for trade deal talks; China buys U.S. soybeans

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13 September 2019

The United States on Thursday welcomed China’s renewed purchases of U.S. farm goods while maintaining the threat of U.S. tariff hikes as the world’s two largest economies prepared the ground for talks aimed at breaking the logjam in their trade war, APA reports citing Reuters.

Lower-level U.S. and Chinese officials are expected to meet within days in Washington ahead of talks between top trade negotiators in early October, seeking to ease a dispute that for more than a year has rattled financial markets and fueled fears of a global recession.

Top-level negotiators last met face-to-face in China in July.

Washington is pressing China for an end to policies and practices including industrial subsidies and forced technology transfer. Meeting those demands would require structural change that it is unclear China would be willing to undertake.

The trade war is impacting the global economy. The International Monetary Fund on Thursday forecast that U.S. and Chinese tit-for-tat tariffs could reduce global GDP in 2020 by 0.8% and trigger more losses afterward.

Global stocks rose on Thursday after both sides made concessions ahead of the talks. On Thursday, China importers bought at least 10 cargoes, or 600,000 tonnes, of U.S. soybeans for October-December shipment, the country’s most significant purchases since at least June, U.S. traders with direct knowledge of the deals said.

That came after U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday delayed an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods by two weeks and China exempted some U.S. drugs and other goods from tariffs.

While welcoming China’s overtures, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to temper optimism in markets that the gestures might lead to a trade deal. He told CNBC that Trump was prepared to keep or even raise tariffs on Chinese imports and that Beijing had asked for more concessions beyond the removal of tariffs.

The Wall Street Journal reported that China was seeking to narrow the scope of negotiations to trade matters by excluding national security issues.

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