BEIJING — Dec 6, 2018, 5:05 AM ET

China promises prompt action on US trade pact

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China's government said Thursday it will promptly carry out a tariff cease-fire with Washington and is confident they can reach a trade agreement, suggesting Beijing wants to avoid disruptions due to the arrest of a tech executive.

Talks during the 90 day period during which President Donald Trump has agreed to suspend U.S. tariff hikes will start by focusing on farm goods, energy and automobiles, said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng.

Asked to confirm whether Beijing promised to buy American goods immediately, Gao said China will "immediately implement the consensus reached by the two sides on farm products, cars and energy." He said nothing about purchases.

That optimistic tone contrasted with Chinese criticism of Canada's arrest of an executive of technology giant Huawei who a Toronto newspaper said is accused by the United States of trying to violate trade curbs on Iran. That suggested President Xi Jinping's government sees the trade negotiations as too important to disrupt.

President Donald Trump agreed Saturday to postpone U.S. tariff hikes in a fight over Beijing's technology policy by 90 days while the two sides negotiate.

China has promised to act quickly but failed to release details. That caused global stock markets to sink Tuesday after Trump revived threats of tariff hikes, though share prices rebounded following positive Chinese statements on Wednesday.

The two sides also will discuss intellectual property protection, technical cooperation, market access and their trade balance, Gao said. He said they have a "clear timetable and roadmap."

"China is full of confidence in reaching an agreement within the next 90 days," the spokesman said.

Asked about Trump's statement that Beijing would cancel tariff hikes on U.S.-made autos, Gao referred reporters to the Cabinet's tax commission.

Trade experts have said 90 days is scant time for resolving sprawling conflicts over technology, state industries and other issues that have bedeviled U.S.-Chinese relations for years. They say that suggests China will need to find issues on which it can show progress to persuade Trump to extend his deadline.

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Chinese Ministry of Commerce (in Chinese): www.mofcom.gov.cn

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  • Paul

    I don't trust China to follow through.

  • Thao D

    Communist china has keep a lot of things in US and Canada.So they can make a lot of money for three years.Communist china has play the game for the times

  • fmd160

    Without a written agreement to show what was decided for a temporary stalemate, it's hard to tell who's going to do what. Also, unless Trump backs off from any of his "my way, or the highway", and keeps his fingers and mouth quiet, something may actually happen. I'm just not holding my breath.

  • Prophet With Honor

    So how are tariffs working out?
    Foreign countries are buying less of our production due to THEIR tariffs.
    We are buying MORE foreign despite OUR tariffs.
    We are paying higher prices with lower income.
    We are losing the "war".

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    The only people who know less about economics than Donald J. Trump are the fools who voted for him. The man is worse than a bull in a china shop because the bull causes damage by accident. Donnie does it on purpose because he doesn't know any better. Impeach NOW to stem the damage.

  • RedSoxPatriotsCelticsBruinsFan

    International trade deficit surges to highest in a decade as imports rise, US exports drop Trump is a joke.

  • McDo

    China should promise to import a million barrels of oil a day from US as long as Trump remains president.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    The Chinese on one side and DJT on the other. Is this the Trumpian version of a Mexican standoff? Both sides will end up losers?

  • BluntNotPC

    We'll see where this goes... The markets have already factored in the outcome.

  • TexWho

    I suspect that their reaction to the arrest of the Huawei CFO will be much more prompt.

  • CaptnBlynd

    Until I read an agreement there is nothing to review. I am in favor of less trade with China myself. Just bringing them to the table is better than nothing but far from something.