Caixin
Oct 09, 2021 06:53 PM
WORLD

Top Trade Negotiators From China, U.S. Agree to Solve Disputes Through Discussion

Liu He, vice premier of China’s State Council. Photo: Xinhua
Liu He, vice premier of China’s State Council. Photo: Xinhua

China’s Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai agreed in a video call Saturday to resolve bilateral economic and trade disputes through consultation, sending a signal that the two sides are continuing to stabilize economic relations that suffered from tit-for-tat tariffs and sanctions.

It marked the second time the two lead trade negotiators had a discussion on economic and trade issues since their first phone conversation in late May. It also came three days after the latest round of diplomatic and security talks between Politburo member Yang Jiechi and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Zurich, Switzerland.

Describing the video call as including “pragmatic, candid and constructive” exchanges, China’s commerce ministry said in a statement that the two sides should strengthen bilateral economic and trade exchanges and cooperation.

Liu and Tai also exchanged views on the implementation of the China-U.S. economic and trade agreement, known as the phase-one trade deal, signed in early 2020 under the Trump administration after a prolonged trade war, according to the statement.

Under the agreement, China agreed to expand purchases of certain U.S. goods and services by a combined $200 billion for the two-year period from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31 this year, above the 2017 baseline levels.

The statement also said that both sides “expressed their core concerns and agreed to resolve each other's legitimate concerns through consultation.”

The Chinese side lodged representations on the lifting of additional tariffs and sanctions and expounded its position on such issues as China's economic development model and industrial policy, the statement added.

Also on the topic of stabilizing China’s economic relationship with the U.S., Liu previously spoke with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in June on the state of macroeconomy and bilateral cooperation.

After Saturday’s video call, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that the two sides acknowledged the importance of the bilateral trade relationship, reviewed the implementation of the phase-one trade deal, and agreed to continue consultation on certain outstanding issues.

Tai also emphasized U.S. concerns relating to China’s “state-led, non-market policies and practices that harm American workers, farmers and businesses,” the statement added.

Prior to the video call, Tai said in a Monday speech that the Biden administration will seek a new round of trade talks with China, but didn’t rule out new tariffs.

Tai also said the U.S. “will start a targeted tariff exclusion process” but “will ensure that the existing enforcement structure optimally serves our economic interests.”

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua (zhenhualu@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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