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“Bigger” Trade Deal will Depend on “Application” of Chinese Promises

BEIJING – Hopes that a trade deal will come out between the United States and China were raised after both parties said that substantial progress had been made in Washington this week and China had agreed to “put execution” any promise made, Xinhua reported Friday.
US President Donald Trump said it would be the “biggest trade deal ever reached” – if an agreement had been reached – and he seemed to have hesitated since his previous tweet that the deadline of the 1st March for the introduction of new tariffs may have to be postponed.
China has pledged to “vigorously increase imports of agricultural products, energy products, industrial manufactures and US service products,” the Xinhua news agency reported.
Nick Coyle, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, said the chamber was following the negotiations closely, “particularly in the agriculture and energy sectors, given their obvious importance to relations between Australia and China”.
US beef, fruit and LNG may soon compete with booming Australian exports to China.
Coyle said the free trade agreement between Australia and China (ChAFTA) provided some protection for Australian exporters, as it included a “most favored nation” clause. China has made a better deal with another country; the Australia agreement would also be reset.
“ChAfta provides safety nets, but we are in a very competitive market and Australia needs to be prepared for that,” he said.
Trump said China had “opened up a lot” in the financial services sector and wanted it extended to US producers.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said China would sign an agreement that day for the purchase of an additional 5 million tons of US soybeans – an initiative hired by Trump, who asked translators to read out loud a “beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The soybean growers – a key political group of Trump – had already been targeted by Chinese retaliatory tariffs.
Trump said there had also been “considerable progress” on technology transfer.
His trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, was soberer and said there was “a lot of work to be done if we want to reach an agreement, but we have made substantial progress”.
He said the protection of intellectual property, the cessation of forced technology transfer and the US complaints about the structure of the Chinese economy had been discussed.
But Lighthizer pointed out that the discussions focused on “enforcement, execution, execution”.
Chinese media, which were optimistic about the negotiations, said China had agreed a framework to ensure that the agreed measures would come into effect.
In the past, American and European Chambers of Commerce have complained that China’s commitments to open its markets have often been negated.
The next step will be for Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Lighthizer and Treasury, to visit Beijing this month. The Chinese proposed a meeting between Trump and Xi in Hainan in February.
Trump said he would meet Xi when some points could be settled.
If a meeting between the two leaders is held in China, the pressure to sign an agreement before the cameras of the world will be enormous, on the eve of the annual Chinese session of Parliament on March 5.
According to Xinhua, Liu said “significant progress” had been made and discussions had “laid the groundwork for the next phase of consultation”.
Myron Brilliant, of the US Chamber of Commerce, complained that Chinese negotiators failed to come up with “substantial ideas” to respond to US complaints about Chinese government subsidies to corporations and forced transfer of technology.
According to the Global Times, Song Guoyou of the Fudan Center for Economic Diplomacy said, “It seems the US has accepted China’s bottom line.”
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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