China to Purchase More US Goods to Reduce Trade Deficit

China will ramp up its purchase of US goods to reduce its massive trade imbalance with the United States, the two countries said in a joint statement at the conclusion of the latest round of high-level trade talks between them. The two sides also agreed on “meaningful increases” in United States agriculture and energy exports.

The joint statement at the conclusion of the trade delegation level talks between the two countries on 17 and 18 May stated that the US will be sending a team to China to work out the details.

“There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China. To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services,” the joint statement said.

The United States delegation included Secretary of the Treasury Steven T Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L Ross, and United States Trade Representative Robert E Lighthizer. The Chinese delegation was led by State Council Vice Premier Liu He, Special Envoy of President Xi.

The delegations also discussed expanding trade in manufactured goods and services. There was consensus on the need to create favourable conditions to increase trade in these areas.

“Both sides attach paramount importance to intellectual property protections, and agreed to strengthen cooperation. China will advance relevant amendments to its laws and regulations in this area, including the Patent Law,” the joint statement said.

The two trade delegations agreed to encourage two-way investment and to strive to create a fair, level playing field for competition. “Both sides agreed to continue to engage at high levels on these issues and to seek to resolve their economic and trade concerns in a proactive manner,” said the joint statement.

Opposition Unhappy

The opposition Democratic Party, however, criticised the Trump Administration for "having failed to make much progress in trade disputes with China”.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the trade agreement had a glaring hole in lack of a “specific agreement” on protecting America's intellectual property in China.

“The key to a strong agreement is protecting our intellectual property here in America and stopping the Chinese from keeping out our best goods until we hand over our trade secrets and know how in such things as required joint ventures,” Schumer said, adding that the the joint statement lacked anything specific on those fronts.

“Furthermore, there is no mention of ZTE. If the administration capitulates on ZTE and allows it to continue to exist, even if they are fined - they've been fined once already - that will signal to President Xi that we are weak negotiators,”Schumer alleged.

Last month, the US Commerce Department moved to block the ZTE Corp, a major supplier of telecoms networks and smartphones based in China, from importing American components for seven years, accusing it of misleading American regulators after the company settled charges of violating sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

In a surprising move, President Trump said he would help the Chinese telecommunications company get "back into business. In a news report ‘The Wall Street Journal’ said the Trump administration failed to get China to accept its demand for a USD 200 billion cut in the US bilateral trade deficit.

“Chinese officials resisted committing to any specific targets after two days of contentious negotiation,” the US daily said.

Also Read: US, China need cooperation, not trade wars: Bloomberg

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