China’s economy czar going to Washington to sign trade deal

BEIJING (AP) — China’s economy czar will visit Washington next week for the signing of an interim trade deal, the government said yesterday. Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s chief envoy in talks with Washington over their tariff war, had been expected to attend the signing but the Commerce Ministry’s statement was the first official confirmation.

Washington postponed planned tariff increases following the announcement of the ‘Phase 1’ deal in October. But earlier punitive duties imposed by both sides on billions of dollars of each other’s goods stayed in place, dampening global trade and threatening to chill economic growth.

Liu will lead a delegation to Washington from Monday through Wednesday, said ministry spokesman Gao Feng. Under the ‘Phase 1’ deal, Beijing agreed to buy more American farm goods and Washington’s chief negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said it would make changes to respond to complaints about its

industrial policies. Details have yet to be announced and Chinese officials have yet to confirm any regulatory changes or the size of purchases of American soybeans and other exports. Both sides have soothed financial market jitters by announcing conciliatory steps including postponing planned tariff hikes.

Beijing also has resumed purchases of soybeans, the biggest American export to China, and meat. Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners complain Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Washington is pressing China to roll back plans for state-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other industries that its trading partners said violate its market-opening commitments.

United States (US) President Donald Trump announced last month he would sign the ‘Phase 1’ agreement January 15 and travel to Beijing after that to start the second stage of talks.

Trump hailed the interim agreement as a step toward ending the tariff war, but Beijing has been more measured in its public statements.

American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags on top of a trishaw in Beijing on September 16, 2018. PHOTO: AP