US-China Trade Talks End With No Clear Solution In Sight

TALKS
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He smiles as he talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as he arrives at the office of the Trade Representative for further trade talks in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2019.
(Photo: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo)

Officials from Beijing and Washington have finally sat down to put life back in their dying economic affair, but it seems it was all just mere rhetoric as both sides still couldn't find closure to their feud.

The two economic superpowers concurred that their 2-day trade tete-a-tete was positive but expectations were low in the run-up to the highly-publicized meeting since US and China decided recently that a ceasefire of sorts was needed to give the two sides ample breathing room.

In a report by state-run Xinhua news by China, the two sides exchanged "frank" and "constructive" exchanges of key issues on a mutual interest in trade and economics. Xinhua disclosed that the buying of American agricultural produce by the Chinese government was among the main topics discussed.

Stalemate

China's commerce officials said the meeting on Wednesday was "honest and efficient", with Washington saying their Chinese counterparts confirmed their "commitment to increase the purchase of US agricultural exports," which is seen to ease their heavily-burdened trade discord.

As the US bared that the two countries also talked about other longstanding grievances, which include trade barriers, forced technology transfer, and intellectual property rights, they did not give further details on how and when a concrete accord could materialize.

In a note by Eurasia Group on Thursday, the latest indications have it that "neither country feels such urgency to strike a deal that they're willing to quickly bend on fundamental positions."

What now?

Chinese traded officials stressed that any deal will require their American counterparts to suspend all its tariffs on China, respect its sovereignty and focus on a more "realistic" commitment to buy US goods, Eurasia Group added.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer had arrived on Tuesday and joined Chinese economic leaders for dinner and informal discussions - just as US President Trump took a jab on Twitter against China for "always changing the deal in the end to their benefit." Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, a straightforward negotiator who has publicly shown a more prominent role in the issue, was one of the top Beijing officials at the meeting.

Meanwhile, China-US Business Council senior vice president Jake Parker said that the two sides have agreed to move forward with purchases on US agricultural products and hope that negotiators "will continue to take a pragmatic and realistic approach to compromise and reach a conclusion."

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