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US-China trade talks gather pace

November 2, 2019

Beijing has said there is a "consensus on principles" regarding a deal with the United States. Specifics have yet to emerge, but Donald Trump has been talking up the prospect of progress between the two nations.

Robert Lighthizer gestures as he talks to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looks on
Image: REUTERS/N. H. Guan

The United States and China moved a step nearer to completing trade negotiations on Friday.

After a telephone call between the chief negotiators, the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing said both sides had "held serious and constructive talks on how to address their key concerns and reached consensus on principles."

The call was conducted between China's chief negotiator, Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

There are few details available on the content of the potential deal, and the positive proclamations were almost identical to those made just last week, even though President Donald Trump announced the partial deal on October 11.

Donald Trump in Washington
Trump showed a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping last month as he announced an initial deal Image: AFP/N. Kamm

The president had planned to sign a deal of some description with Chinese leader Xi Jinping later this month, but arranging that meeting is proving to be logistically difficult.

Read more: US blacklists 28 Chinese firms over Xinjiang 'rights abuses'

Trump told reporters on Friday he was "looking [at] a different couple locations" for an encounter with Xi, saying that it "could even be in Iowa."

First phase almost complete

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said negotiations on the first phase of the deal were progressing "very well."

Kudlow told US television station Fox News that talks were continuing between the top negotiators as he spoke. He said the talks had been positive, constructive and steady.

While the first phase is still to be concluded, Kudlow said its chapters on agriculture and financial services are "virtually" complete.

The agricultural element "will open up and reduce a lot of barriers and onerous regulations," he said, adding that the financial services part of the deal will give US firms the ability to fully own operations in the country.

jsi/aw (dpa, AP, AFP)

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