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'Concrete progress' made for 'phased deal' to end US-China trade war: Top Chinese negotiator

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 19, 2019  | 17:32 IST

By K J M Varma Beijing, Oct 19 (PTI) China and the US made “concrete progress” in many areas and laid foundation for signing of a “phased deal” at their latest round of talks to resolve the bruising trade war, China’s chief negotiator and Vice Premier Liu He has said. US President Donald Trump, who had launched the trade war last year demanding China to reduce massive trade deficit, said after the 13 round of trade talks on Oct 11 that the two countries reached a “very substantial phase one deal” Trump is also demanding an intrusive verification mechanism to supervise Beijing’s promise to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets. In his first public comments on the talks Liu said the two sides had built an important foundation for the signing of a “phased deal”. China would work with the US on the basis of “equality and mutual respect” to address each other's core concerns, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Saturday. Preventing an escalation of the trade war would be good for both nations and the world as a whole, he said. "The two sides have made substantial progress in many fields, laying an important foundation for the signing of a phased agreement,” the paper quoted him as saying at a 'virtual reality conference' in Nanchang, in eastern China’s Jiangxi province. “China will work with the United States on the basis of equal and mutual respect to address each other's core concerns,” he said. The agreement would take three to five weeks to draw up, and work on a second phase would begin as soon as the first was signed, Trump said, adding that the deal might be ratified by himself and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Ahead of the 13th round of talks Beijing also confirmed it has stepped up purchase of American agricultural produce in large quantities in bid to address the trade deficit with US which last year climbed to USD 539 billion. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang recently said according to the preliminary statistics, this year, Chinese companies have purchased 20 million tons of soybeans, 700 thousand tons of pork, 700 thousand tons of sorghum, 230 thousand tons of wheat and 320 thousand tons of cotton from the US. “We will continue to buy more American agricultural goods,” he said on October 15. Commenting on the progress of the US China trade talks, Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said that with the initial agreement the two countries were starting with “super light” issues to rebuild trust before moving to more profound conflicts. Wuttke said China and the US were at odds in a range of areas, from technology to personal exchanges, and “trade seems to be the most minor of those conflicts”. “A technology war could possibly be far more severe and far more sustainable, unfortunately,” he said. "We have to see if they could hammer out a paper which has any sort of substance,” he was quoted by the paper as saying. Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday that Chinese officials were working closely with their US counterparts on the text for the agreement and had already begun discussions on the second stage. The further opening up of China's financial services market would be an element of the first phase of the deal, while the issue of technology transfers would be addressed in the second, he said. PTI KJV RUP

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