Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

US, China trade talks conclude on positive note

US, China trade talks conclude on positive note

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday that Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels were dispatched to identify the USA vessel and warn it to leave the area near disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Most Asian markets opened lower after the talks wrapped up the day before without clear indications of whether progress was made on resolving a dispute over Chinese technology policies that has the world's two biggest economies embroiled in a bruising trade war.

-China talks raised hopes of easing trade tensions between the two superpowers, while OPEC-led crude output cuts also provided support. "Both sides agreed to keep in close contact", the statement said.

U.S. and Chinese officials discussed "ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations", the U.S. Trade Representative's office said in a statement. United States president Donald Trump tweeted without elaborating, as talks wound down late on Tuesday evening in Beijing.

However, the USA side is pressing Beijing to scrap or change rules Washington says block market access or improperly help Chinese companies.

Also Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Beijing in a possible effort to co-ordinate with the North's only major ally ahead of a possible meeting with Trump.

While signals from the latest round of talks were upbeat, if a deal is not reached by March 1, the USA side may follow through on raising tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

The U.S. -China trade war began when Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods last July and August. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Fox Business Network, "We're optimistic".

Additionally, the USA and China will meet for a third day on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rallied 2.3 percent.

"The positive news around the trade talks is giving a boost to risk assets it's what the global economy needs to see, said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets in London".

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Companies, disappointed that Beijing hasn't kept past commitments, also want any deal to ensure that China faces "some kind of penalty for not doing what they promised", Parker said.

"It's been a good one for us", he told reporters at the delegation's hotel, without elaborating.

So far, the USA side has described the exchanges in a positive light.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "While there was agreement on less thorny issues such as agriculture and energy, USA demands for verification and enforceable targets on intellectual property rights, transfer of technologies and non-tariff barriers may not be that easily addressed", DBS Group Research strategists Eugene Leow and Neel Gopalakrishnan said in a commentary.

Oil prices jumped, helped by the hopes of easing trade tensions between China and the USA, while OPEC-led crude output cuts also provided support. "The two sides are in serious talks and working hard to solve the disagreements between them".

The extra day of talks came amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of USA farm and energy commodities and increased access to China's markets.

Later this month, Lighthizer is expected to meet with Vice Premier Liu He, Xi's top economic aide who is leading negotiations for China.

USA exports of crude will also enjoy the support of a still sizeable discount of West Texas Intermediate to Brent crude, which is close to US$10 a barrel. "I really believe they want to make a deal". Those include subsidies and other favors for high-tech and state-owned industry, rules on technology licensing and preferential treatment of domestic suppliers in government procurement.

With cooling economic growth raising the urgency for a settlement, this week's talks went ahead despite tension over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on USA charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

For their part, Chinese officials are unhappy with US curbs on exports of "dual use" technology with possible military applications.

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