China, US had ‘constructive’ trade talks in Washington, Chinese state news agency says

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A Chinese and U.S. flag at a booth during the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

China and the United States had “constructive” discussions on trade in Washington, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday.

The two countries agreed to keep communicating on related issues, and discussed the details of the next round of trade talks in October, Xinhua said, without providing other details.

Chinese officials were expected to visit U.S. farmers next week as a goodwill gesture, but canceled to return to China sooner than originally scheduled, agriculture organizations from Montana and Nebraska said.

The United States had removed tariffs overnight from over 400 Chinese products in response to requests from U.S. companies.

The Chinese Embassy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office issued a brief statement characterizing the two days as “productive” and that a principal-level trade meeting in Washington would take place in October as previously planned.

Trade experts, executives and government officials in both countries say that even if the September and October talks produced an interim deal, the U.S.-China trade war has hardened into a political and ideological battle that runs far deeper than tariffs and could take years to resolve.

The Chinese delegation did not present any new proposals on core structural issues including intellectual property protections, forced technology transfers, industrial subsidies and other trade barriers, said a person briefed on the talks.

“The conclusion from the U.S. side was that we’re not close to an agreement,” the person said.

This source and another person familiar with the talks said that the Chinese delegation’s leader, Vice Finance Minister Liao Min, laid out China’s demands that any deal must remove all U.S. tariffs and be balanced so that it is not all concessions from Beijing and none from Washington.

The sources said that a lack of results from deputy meetings is not uncommon as they often are not authorized to make deals or present new offers.

The early October meeting will include the top trade negotiators: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is expected to determine whether the world’s two largest economies are starting to chart a path out of their 14-month trade war or headed for new and higher tariffs on each others’ goods.

Cancellation of the Chinese agriculture visits, which were seen as potentially leading to increased purchases of U.S. soybeans and pork, caused Wall Street’s main stock indexes to fall as early optimism about the talks faded.

Grain and soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade and livestock futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange also slumped. China is the world’s largest pork market and the largest importer of soybeans.

Source: CNBC

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