China trade talks conclude on optimistic note in Beijing

USS Mc Campbell departs Sydney Aus. July 2017

USS Mc Campbell departs Sydney Aus. July 2017

Productive talks could be a boon to the economies of both countries, which spent most of 2018 mired in a trade war that imposed hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs on each other's goods. US President Donald Trump tweeted that they were "going really well!"

While Chinese officials expressed optimism at the start of the two-day talks, Beijing at the same time complained about the sighting of the U.S.S. McCampbell, a warship, in what it said were Chinese waters near disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Chinese exports to the US have held up despite tariff increases of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports, partly due to exporters rushing to fill orders before more increases hit. It has said China's companies are treated unfairly in US national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though nearly all deals are approved unchanged.

Beijing has tried to defuse pressure from its trading partners for more sweeping changes by offering concessions on investment regulations and stepping up purchases of American soybeans, natural gas and other exports.

Meanwhile, confirming the conclusion of the trade talks, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing that "the extension of the talks indicates that both sides are serious about this consultation".

United States and Chinese negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks in Beijing on Wednesday as they seek a way out of a damaging trade war.

US companies also want action on Chinese policies they complain improperly favor local companies.

The US Trade Representative office said Wednesday that the talks focused on "ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity, and balance in trade relations", as well as the need for "ongoing verification and effective enforcement" of any agreement. 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.

Beijing also faces pressure over technology from the European Union.

Freight costs for shipments scheduled to arrive in Asia in late March and April this year are US$0.50 lower per barrel of oil than they were for shipments scheduled to arrive at refineries in December as buyers were in a rush to secure crude ahead of the Iran sanctions that went into effect in early November.

The talks went ahead despite tensions over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on USA charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran. They say China's companies are treated unfairly in national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though nearly all deals are approved unchanged. Forecasters expect American orders to slump this year.

The US delegation, led by Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, included representatives from the departments of energy, agriculture, treasury and commerce, while the Chinese side was led by Commerce Vice Minister Wang Shouwen.

Increased purchases by China of U.S. soybeans, oil, liquefied natural gas and financial services are viewed as easier to achieve than major changes to China's industrial policies aimed at transferring USA technology to Chinese firms.

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