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March 22, 2019

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China, US set for new round of talks

CHINA and the United States will hold their eighth round of high-level economic and trade consultations in Beijing next Thursday and Friday, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were invited to visit China for the talks, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a news conference.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue, was invited to visit Washington for the ninth round of talks in early April, Gao said.

Recently, both sides have held several rounds of talks on phone on economic and trade issues and agreed on holding the eighth and ninth rounds of high-level consultations, he said.

The face-to-face talks will be the first since late February when US President Donald Trump delayed a March 1 deadline to avert an increase in tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent from the current 10 percent, citing “very productive” trade talks between the two countries.

After months of escalating trade frictions with the US slapping extra tariffs on Chinese imports and China responding with retaliatory measures, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump agreed during their December meeting in Argentina that the two countries should strive to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement within 90 days to break the impasse.

In order to realize that goal, Chinese and US trade negotiators have since accelerated their talks.

Also yesterday, the commerce ministry said China’s foreign trade is expected to register steady growth in the first quarter of 2019, with the growth of imports and exports accelerating earlier this month.

Customs data showed the country’s goods trade surged 24.7 percent year on year in the first eight days of March.

China’s foreign trade saw rising momentum despite increasing external uncertainties, Gao said.

During the first two months, the country’s foreign trade amounted to US$622.72 billion, down 3.9 percent year on year.

Imports and exports usually fluctuate in the month when the Spring Festival falls according to historical data, the spokesman said.

China’s goods trade rebounded strongly after the Spring Festival this year, customs data showed.

Foreign trade in the first two months was also influenced by the China-US trade frictions as some enterprises tended to front-load imports and exports in the second half of 2018, Gao said.

The commerce ministry also said it is working with other authorities in preparing relevant rules to ensure the successful implementation of the foreign investment law.

It is reviewing and reorganizing current regulations on foreign investment management, the spokesman said.

The ministry will listen attentively to comments and suggestions from foreign-invested enterprises and other relevant parties during the rule-making process, he said.

China’s national legislature passed the foreign investment law at the closing meeting of its annual session on March 15.

The law, a landmark legislation that will provide stronger protection and a better business environment for overseas investors, will become effective on January 1, 2020.


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