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July 11, 2019

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China, US trade officials discuss implementing G20 consensus

CHINESE Vice Premier Liu He has had a telephone conversation with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

Liu, 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, exchanged views with the US officials on implementing the consensus reached by the two heads of state on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka.

Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan joined the conversation, the ministry said.

The phone conversation was “constructive,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said.

Kudlow said the talks “went well” and were constructive. He said the two sides were talking about a face-to-face meeting.

“There are no miracles here,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House. “There was headway last winter and spring, then it stopped. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off, but I don’t know that yet.”

The United States and China agreed during the G20 summit in Japan last month to resume discussions, easing fears of an escalation.

During the meeting, Xi stressed that “cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation,” noting that the essence of the China-US economic and trade cooperation is to discover mutually beneficial and win-win situations, while Trump affirmed that the US would not be adding tariffs on the US$300 billion worth of Chinese exports, expressing his willingness to reach a mutually acceptable trade deal with China.

A face-to-face meeting between the two negotiating teams would be a good thing, Kudlow said, but no details were available yet.

“Both sides will continue these talks as appropriate,” a separate US official said in an e-mail, declining to provide details on what was discussed and the next steps for talks.

The negotiations picked up after a two-month hiatus, but a year since a tit-for-tat tariff battle began between the two countries.

The two sides have made a lot of progress in 11 rounds of talks before the tensions escalated in May after Trump imposed higher tariffs of up to 25 percent on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods and took steps to levy duties on an additional US$300 billion in Chinese exports.

Beijing then retaliated with tariff hikes on a revised list of US$60 billion worth of US goods.

Meanwhile, the US will issue licenses to companies seeking to sell American-made goods to Chinese tech giant Huawei where there is “no threat to national security,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday, without mentioning specific products that will pass muster.

“To implement the president’s G20 summit directive two weeks ago, Commerce will issue licenses where there is no threat to US national security,” Ross said.

After his meeting with President Xi last month, Trump also confirmed that US companies will be allowed to continue selling products to Huawei.

“US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei ... there’s no great, national emergency problem,” he said.

Huawei was formally added to the list of companies the US government considers to be undermining America’s interests and national security in May, meaning a US export license is necessary for US companies when selling products to Huawei, which aimed to cut off Huawei’s primary supply chain.


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