China reiterates US must lift all tariffs to end trade war, but Beijing open to partial interim deal, spokesman says


China’s ultimate condition for ending the trade war with the United States is that Washington should lift all tariffs levied on Chinese products since July last year, although Beijing is still open to a partial trade deal under the current conditions, China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

"The ultimate goal for the negotiations between the two sides is to end the trade war, cancel all additional tariffs. This is good for China, good for the US and good for the whole world,” said ministry spokesman Gao Feng.

However, China is willing to reach a partial deal with the US that would include “progress in the direction of cancelling all tariffs” imposed during the the trade war, which has roiled the global economy for the last 15 months, Gao added.

Gao said that China will continue to increase purchases of US farm products as part of the “phase one” trade deal tentatively agreed during last week’s talks in Washington, with Gao also confirming that the negotiation teams from both sides have maintained “close communications” as they work towards finalising the partial deal.

This is expected to lead to US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping signing the deal at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile in the middle of November.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that he and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer would likely meet Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He in the capital of Santiago before the presidential summit.

The talks in Washington last week produced a limited trade deal, with the US agreeing to postpone a tariff rate increase originally scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, while China said it would increase orders of US farm products including soybeans and pork.

Gao confirmed China had bought 20 million tonnes of soybeans from the US this year, in addition to 700,000 tonnes of pork, 700,000 tonnes of sorghum, 230,000 tonnes of wheat as well as 320,000 tonnes of cotton.

“China’s market size is huge, and if we can end the trade war and lift all additional tariffs, it will help to deepen trade cooperation in many areas, including agriculture,” Gao said.

The Ministry of Commerce also confirmed on Thursday that foreign direct investment in China rose by 2.9 per cent to US$100.78 billion in the first nine month of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

Gao, though, said that trade and investment between China and the US had declined since the beginning of 2019 due to the trade war as well as other influencing factors.

“That fully shows that there is no winner in the trade war, the trade war is neither in line with the interest of China and the US, nor the interest of the whole world,” said the ministry spokesman.

Source: South China Morning Post