Monday, 10 December, 2018

Donald Trump sees ‘strong signals’ as China vows action on trade

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Steven Clarke | 06 December, 2018, 16:31

Trump and Xi on Saturday agreed to the cease-fire in a trade war that has seen the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods between the world's two largest economies disrupted by tariffs.

U.S. and China have agreed to a 90-day truce in order to negotiate a new trade deal, without the latter committing to anything.

China has pledge to implement the changes agreed at trade talks between Presidents Trump and Xi "as soon as possible", but it has not repeated claims from senior figures in the USA that it will happen "immediately", he said.

"Very strong signals being sent by China once they returned home from their long trip, including stops, from Argentina", Trump said, speaking of China's attendance at the G-20 summit last weekend.

According to details released by the White House, Trump agreed to postpone a planned January 1 escalation of tariffs on Chinese goods for 90 days, while Xi agreed to buy more American agricultural goods in the meantime. As part of his Twitter storm today, the U.S. president called himself "Tariff Man" and then proceeded to demonstrate his lack of basic understanding about how tariffs work, seemingly ignorant of the fact that tariffs are in effect a tax paid by domestic consumers, not foreign countries.

Trump has said China is supposed to start buying agricultural products immediately and cut its 40 per cent tariffs on U.S. auto imports.

Bob Lighthizer will be working closely with Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro on seeing whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible.

While at the conclusion of Saturday's working dinner, both the USA and Chinese delegations said that what amounted to a trade war "truce" between the leaders had been reached, the messaging from the White House that followed seemed to only muddy the waters.

US President Donald Trump has held out the possibility of an extension of the 90-day trade truce with China but made clear he would revert to tariffs if the two sides could not resolve their differences.

The BBC's Robin Brant in Shanghai said China's comments put it at odds with the White House. "But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man", the commander-in-chief wrote about the agreement.

Instead, the two sides are to negotiate over United States complaints about China's trade practices, notably that it has used predatory tactics to try to achieve supremacy in technology.

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"There is already evidence of a normalization in relations with Tokyo", he said, noting a reduction in the frequency of Chinese incursions into the Diaoyudao islands in the East China Sea, which Japan calls the Senkaku islands.

"You should talk to him", replied Abe, encouraging Xi to engage in direct conversations with Trump, knowing that he respects the Chinese leader.

That approach so far has amounted to slapping tariffs on US$250 billion (NZ$361 billion) of Chinese imports and vowing to impose penalties on all other imports if China doesn't make changes.

Members of Trump's economic team continued to temper optimism about a deal Tuesday.

President Donald Trump met Tuesday with executives from Germany's big automakers amid U.S. Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal - either now or into the future. General Motors, which not only exports some models to China but also imports the Chinese-made Envision SUV, fell 5 percent to $36.52 a share.

"Ninety days is very little time to fix these perennial issues", said Bill Adams, senior economist at PNC.

But earlier this week, Mr Trump said Beijing must pay for the "privilege" to trade with Washington. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and opponent of Trump's tariff policy, criticized the president's tweets on that basis.

One Chinese official told Reuters officials were "waiting for the leaders to return" before publicising details.

"Let the negotiations begin", Trump wrote on Tuesday.

According to the White House, China has agreed to buy a "very substantial" amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the USA to reduce a yawning trade gap, as well as to negotiate over Washington's assertions that Beijing steals American technology.

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