China says trade talks with U.S. set foundation to resolve concerns

Woman walks past a bench painted in the colours of the U.S. flag outside a clothing store in Beijing

American officials welcomed a "good few days" as they prepared to depart Beijing today, raising hopes that the world's two largest economies could draw a line under their acrimonious dispute and reach a deal.

"Both parties agreed to continue to maintain close contact".

Negotiations between the USA and China in Beijing this week on trade were "extensive, in-depth and detailed", and laid the foundation for the resolution of issues of mutual concern, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement Thursday. It is the first time that officials have met for face-to-face talks since President Trump and President Xi agreed a 90-day ceasefire in December.

"These issues are much more hard to solve immediately but are, frankly, much more compelling to US companies", said Jake Parker, vice president for China operations of the US-China Business Council, which represents American companies that do business with China.

So far, the USA side has described the exchanges in a positive light.

It softened its stand by offering a mix of concessions by resuming purchases of USA soybeans, suspended punitive tariffs on imports of U.S. cars and toned down its "Made in China 2025" plan, which aimed at breaking the country's reliance on foreign technology and pull its hi-tech industries up to western levels.

USA stocks surged Wednesday on optimism that the midlevel talks in Beijing will be followed up with discussions between higher-ranking US and Chinese officials.

According to China's Foreign Ministry, the talks extended into an unscheduled third day.

"The earlier escalation of the trade conflict between the USA and China and souring bilateral relations appear to have given way to a more conciliatory approach since early December", he wrote in a note Thursday.

Washington wants Beijing to change its plans to use government support to make Chinese companies world leaders in robotics and advanced technologies.

Chinese officials have suggested Beijing might alter its industrial plans but reject pressure to abandon what they consider a path to prosperity and global influence.

The US president is increasingly eager to strike a deal with China soon in an effort to perk up financial markets that have slumped on concerns over the trade war, according to people familiar with internal White House deliberations.

The USTR statement didn't say whether progress had been achieved on its main concerns. The council and other US business groups have pressed for a resolution to the trade hostilities between the world's two biggest economies.

"Talks with China are going very well!". Those include subsidies and other favors for high-tech and state-owned industry, rules on technology licensing and preferential treatment of domestic suppliers in government procurement.

But if the countries fail to reach a deal by March 2, Trump has threatened to restart the trade war, increasing tariffs on 200 billion dollars-worth of Chinese imports from ten to twenty-five percent.

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