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China promises prompt action on US trade pact

By Joe McDonald, Associated Press | Posted - Dec 6th, 2018 @ 8:04am


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BEIJING (AP) — China's government said Thursday it will promptly carry out a tariff cease-fire with Washington and is confident they can reach a trade agreement, suggesting Beijing wants to avoid disruptions due to the arrest of a tech executive.

Talks during the 90 day period during which President Donald Trump has agreed to suspend U.S. tariff hikes will start by focusing on farm goods, energy and automobiles, said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng.

Asked to confirm whether Beijing promised to buy American goods immediately, Gao said China will "immediately implement the consensus reached by the two sides on farm products, cars and energy." He said nothing about purchases.

That optimistic tone contrasted with Chinese criticism of Canada's arrest of an executive of technology giant Huawei who a Toronto newspaper said is accused by the United States of trying to violate trade curbs on Iran. That suggested President Xi Jinping's government sees the trade negotiations as too important to disrupt.

President Donald Trump agreed Saturday to postpone U.S. tariff hikes in a fight over Beijing's technology policy by 90 days while the two sides negotiate.

China has promised to act quickly but failed to release details. That caused global stock markets to sink Tuesday after Trump revived threats of tariff hikes, though share prices rebounded following positive Chinese statements on Wednesday.

The two sides also will discuss intellectual property protection, technical cooperation, market access and their trade balance, Gao said. He said they have a "clear timetable and roadmap."

"China is full of confidence in reaching an agreement within the next 90 days," the spokesman said.

Asked about Trump's statement that Beijing would cancel tariff hikes on U.S.-made autos, Gao referred reporters to the Cabinet's tax commission.

Trade experts have said 90 days is scant time for resolving sprawling conflicts over technology, state industries and other issues that have bedeviled U.S.-Chinese relations for years. They say that suggests China will need to find issues on which it can show progress to persuade Trump to extend his deadline.

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Chinese Ministry of Commerce (in Chinese): www.mofcom.gov.cn

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