China-US trade talks could resume soon, but Washington’s tariffs have to go, state media say

Catherine Wong

China’s recent purchases of US agricultural products could signal the resumption soon of trade talks, Chinese state media said on Sunday, adding that the removal of all American tariffs on Chinese goods remains Beijing’s top priority.

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed late last month to restart discussions but since then officials from the world’s two biggest economies have only spoken by phone about “further consultations”.

However, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said face-to-face talks could follow.

Taoran Notes, a social media account affiliated with the official Economic Daily newspaper, echoed the optimism in a commentary on Sunday, saying the phone calls could lead to a resumption of negotiations soon “if there are no major changes in situation in recent times”.

It suggested that such negotiations could take place before the end of the month and before the August summer holiday period.

Soy imports from the US to China may herald a resumption of trade talks, Chinese state media say. Photo: TNS

But the commentary said that a final deal would not be reached unless the US removed all the tariffs it had imposed since the start of the trade war.

“What started the Sino-US trade conflict was the additional tariffs imposed by the US on Chinese imported goods, so if the two sides are to reach an agreement, all the tariffs must be removed,” it said.

Both countries have recently shown willingness to resume talks. On July 9, Washington announced that it would exempt 110 Chinese products – from medical equipment to key electronic components – from import tariffs.

US Department of Agriculture reports surprise soybean deal with China just a day before Donald Trump-Xi Jinping G20 meeting

Several Chinese companies wanted to buy American agricultural products such as soybeans and have applied for exemptions from the tariffs imposed by Beijing.

The applications for exemptions had been filed and would be heard by a panel of experts from the government, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday. The report did not say how long the review would take.

A separate commentary by Xinhua said that any purchase of US farm products must be made according to domestic demands but not dictated by American pressure.

“The new purchase of American farm products has shown that China is honouring its commitment and also a response to the recent signals of goodwill by the US side,” the Xinhua commentary said.

A June meeting between US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, gave impetus to renewed trade talks. Photo: Reuters

But it also said China had diversified its imports to include agricultural products from countries such as Brazil and Australia, and to uphold the spirit of self-reliance and ensure a firm grip of its own “rice bowl”, meaning it would rely on domestic output for its food supply.

“No matter how much uncertainty lies ahead of us, China will continue its own path, do its own thing and to strengthen its ability in handling risks and challenges.”

More from South China Morning Post:

This article China-US trade talks could resume soon, but Washington’s tariffs have to go, state media say first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2019.