04:29 GMT +318 October 2019
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    U.S. President Donald Trump, second right, and China's President Xi Jinping, second left, attend their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    China, US Attempt to Intensify Trade Talks, Yield No Visible Progress - Scholar

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    Trade talks between China and the United States have reached a critical stage. On Tuesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee that while progress is being made, “there still are major, major issues” and he's not ready to predict an agreement yet.

    Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had several phone calls with China's Vice Premier Liu He on the deal. Some key issues were discussed, but big differences still remain, according to US officials.

    Meanwhile, some media reports suggest that the Chinese side cancelled Xi Jinping's meeting with US President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a potential signing ceremony which was tentatively scheduled for the third decade of March. However, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump has yet to set a date for their meeting.

    On 12 March, at a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, Robert Lighthizer refused to comment on the possible dates for signing an agreement, making it clear that this would take several more weeks. He said that progress in the negotiations has already been achieved, but noted that there are still serious problems that need to be resolved. Headway in negotiations with China doesn't mean that the sides will get a deal, he said. The chief US trade negotiator stressed that the President would not sign any deal until he was satisfied and made sure that it was binding.

    Chen Fengying, a senior economic researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations told Sputnik that it is difficult to predict what concessions both sides could make for a future deal.

    "The texts of the Chinese and American drafts of the future agreement have not been published, so it's hard to say where China will make concessions and where there will be no concessions. As of 3 May of last year, the US was not happy with, for example, the RMB exchange rate. We cannot yet judge whether there is a concession on this issue, since it is a subject of negotiations."

    READ MORE: Dollar's End: Bright Future Awaits Yuan, But There's No Need to Hurry — Analyst

    Commenting further on concessions, Fengying stated that they have made some already adding that this "can be seen in the current law on foreign investments, during the preparation and adoption of which the opinions of foreign investors, including the United States, were taken into account." Meanwhile, the Chinese expert said that he believed that this wasn't a concession noting that they "have made promises of a tactical or strategic nature to the United States." 

    His comments come after last week, China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Wang Shouwen, said that the parties were working on ways to eliminate the tariffs on each other's goods. According to him, the further strengthening of mutual protectionist barriers cannot benefit either Beijing or Washington. Meanwhile, judging by the scant information on the progress of the negotiations, the United States is seeking to reserve the right to increase customs tariffs. They believe that this will give them an opportunity to have a lever of pressure on the progress of China's implementation of the trade agreement, as well as allow Washington to respond more effectively to violations of the provisions of the document.

    Senators asked Robert Lighthizer if the United States would remove additional tariffs on Chinese imports before they had convincing evidence that China was complying with the agreement. The chief US trade negotiator refused to answer this question but said that the focus of the negotiation from the Chinese side is removing American tariffs. "If that is a concession, that is something that is under debate," the US trade representative said.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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