Economy

China confident of clinching US trade pact

China confident of clinching US trade pact

But the Chinese commerce ministry said negotiators will "actively push forward negotiations within 90 days in accordance with a clear timetable and roadmap" - marking Beijing's first public acknowledgement of the deadline announced by the U.S. at the weekend. Confusing and conflicting statements by Trump and USA officials, coupled with lack of Chinese confirmation, led to stock markets tumbling on Tuesday amid doubts about the chances for a final settlement of a fight over technology that threatens to chill global economic growth.

The remarks by the Chinese Commerce Ministry follow a period of relative quiet from Beijing after Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping reached a temporary truce in their trade war at a meeting over dinner in Argentina on Saturday.

But the verbal detente was broken Wednesday as China's foreign ministry lashed out at criticism from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It wasn't clear whether the preparations meant China would cut the retaliatory tariffs it imposed on those products, or when the purchases would happen.

'Narrow agreements and modest concessions in the ongoing trade dispute will not bridge the wide gulf in their respective economic, political and strategic interests'.

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"Teams from both sides are in contact and cooperating well, we are fully confident that we can reach an agreement in the coming 90 days", Gao said, without providing more specific details about what actions China will take.

Adding to the confusion, Trump indicated on Tuesday that the trade talks could go beyond the March 1 deadline. America has probably already missed its best chance to sell soybeans to China, according to Cargill Inc., one of the world's biggest agriculture commodity traders.

But the United States leader kept up the threats as he warned that he was ready to make China "pay for the privilege" of selling in the USA market if the negotiations fail.

The delay "isn't a sign of rejection, but of cautiousness", said Ma. Chinese shares closed lower on Wednesday amid similar doubts. -China relations "will remain contentious".

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"The market is trying to figure out, is there going to be a real deal at the end of 90 days or not", Mnuchin said at a Wall Street Journal event on Tuesday.

For its part, China has said it will import more USA products to reduce its trade surplus, but no dollar amount has been publicly discussed.

China, in turn, agreed to purchase a "substantial amount" of USA agricultural, energy and industrial products, among others, to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries, according to the White House. It also would begin buying products from United States farmers "immediately".

The White House has said China had committed to start buying more American products and lifting tariff and non-tariff barriers immediately, while beginning talks on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfers and intellectual property protection. "Officials now face the hard task of fleshing out a deal that is acceptable to the Chinese but also involves significant enough concessions not to be torpedoed by the China hawks in the Trump administration", Capital Economics said in a note this week, adding that higher tariffs could simply be delayed. China's state planner announced Tuesday stiffer punishments for serious violators of IP rights, a move that may help ease Washington's discontent.

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The two sides also will discuss intellectual property protection, technical co-operation, market access and their trade balance, Gao said.