China wants US tariffs rolled back in phase one

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    Chinese staff members adjust US and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between US and Chinese trade representatives in Beijing. (Reuters Photo)
    Chinese staff members adjust US and Chinese flags before the opening session of trade negotiations between US and Chinese trade representatives in Beijing. (Reuters Photo)
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    BEIJING- Beijing is insisting US tariffs must be rolled back as part of any phase one trade deal with Washington, China’s Global Times newspaper said on Sunday citing unnamed sources, amid continued uncertainty on whether the two sides can strike a deal.

    “A US pledge to scrap tariffs scheduled for December 15 cannot replace the rollbacks of tariffs,” the newspaper said in a tweet, referring to an additional round of tariffs on Chinese imports to be implemented in the absence of a trade deal.

    The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party.

    On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said Washington was in the “final throes” of a deal aimed at defusing a 16-month trade war with China, a few days after Chinese President Xi Jinping had expressed his desire for a trade agreement. Top trade negotiators for both countries also spoke again and agreed to continue working on the remaining issues.

    Trade experts and people close to the White House told Reuters last month, however, that signing of a phase one agreement may not take place until the new year as China pressed for more extensive rollbacks of tariffs. An agreement was initially expected to be completed by the end of November.

    US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told reporters on Tuesday that Beijing invited US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for in-person talks in Beijing.

    Grassley said Lighthizer and Mnuchin were willing to go if they saw “a real chance of getting a final agreement”.

    A source familiar with the trade talks also told Reuters that US officials could travel to China after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.

    China is willing to work with the United States to resolve each other’s core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and will try hard to reach a “phase one” deal, Gao Feng, spokesman at the ministry, told reporters last week.

    “This is in line with the interests of both China and the United States, and of the world,” Gao said.

    Economists warn that the prolonged trade dispute between China and the United States is escalating risks to the global economy by disrupting supply chains, discouraging investment and dampening business confidence.

    Completion of a phase one deal could slide into next year, trade experts and people close to the White House told Reuters previously, as Beijing presses for more extensive tariff rollbacks and the US administration counters with heightened demands of its own.

    China has invited top US trade negotiators for a new round of face-to-face talks in Beijing, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources, adding Beijing hopes the round of talks can take place before next Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. – Reuters

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