US, China trade negotiators hold talks

28/05/2021    17

US and Chinese trade negotiators have made contact over the two countries' ongoing trade dispute for the first time since US President Joe Biden took office.

The new US trade representative Katherine Tai and China's Vice Premier Liu He spoke on Thursday, both sides said in separate statements.

"The two sides had frank, pragmatic and constructive exchanges," China's trade ministry said.

The US gave a similar evaluation, noting a "candid exchange" between the two.

The choice of words in diplomatic scenarios usually indicates there were some differences of opinion during discussions.

The US side said that during an "introductory virtual meeting," Ambassador Tai discussed "the guiding principles of the Biden-Harris Administration's worker-centred trade policy and her ongoing review of the US-China trade relationship, while also raising issues of concern."

Ambassador Tai also noted that she looks forward to future discussions with Vice Premier Liu, according to the US statement.

Both sides emphasised the importance of their trading relationship.

But Joe Biden's new US administration sees China as its biggest competitor and has indicated that it will also pursue a tough course against Beijing - albeit in coordination with international allies.

China has been accused of unfair trade practices, government subsidies, market barriers, intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.

Beijing and Washington have been embroiled in a trade war for three years.

The last contact between negotiators was in August during the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

The US and China reached a partial agreement last January with a so-called phase-one trade deal that served as a ceasefire in the trade war, with compliance to be reviewed every six months.

China pledged to significantly increase its imports from the US as part of the agreement. Beijing is also demanding the US withdraw punitive tariffs imposed by Trump on almost all imports from China - more than Beijing could respond to with counter-tariffs.

Source: The West Australian