China hails ‘important progress’ in US trade talks

China hails 'important progress' in US trade talks

China’s trade delegation says it made “important progress” in the latest round of talks with the US, China’s state media reports.

At the end of a two-day meeting in Washington, no deal was reached but China pledged to buy more US soybeans.

US President Donald Trump touted the promise as proof that the two sides were making progress.

They are pushing to reach a deal by 1 March to avert an escalation in tariffs.

At a press conference with Vice Premier Liu He on Thursday, President Trump said he hoped to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping to hash out a final agreement by the looming deadline.

“We have made tremendous progress,” President Trump said.

“That doesn’t mean you’re going to have a deal but there’s a tremendous relationship and a warm feeling.”

China also agreed to increase imports of “US agricultural products, energy products, industrial manufactured goods and service products” during the talks, Xinhua reported.

Is this progress?
The two sides are racing to come up with a trade deal by 1 March, or the US has said it will increase tariff rates on $200bn (£152bn) worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.

US trade negotiators agreed to visit China for more discussions in mid-February, Chinese state media reported.

In December, the two countries agreed to 90 days of negotiations, in an effort to defuse their escalating trade war, which had led to new tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods.

Soybean pledge
Shortly after the truce took effect, China – by far the world’s biggest importer of soybeans – bought 1.13 million tonnes of the crop from the US.

The White House said on Thursday the country had agreed to purchase an additional 5 million tonnes of soybeans.

Soybeans have been at the forefront of negotiations as US farmers have suffered from the sudden loss of their largest customer.

The country imported more than 30 million tonnes of soybeans from the US in 2017 – a figure that dropped sharply last year amid the trade war.

Chinese businesses, meanwhile, have been trying to find new sources to replace crops from the US, which was the country’s second biggest supplier after Brazil in 2017.

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