US-China trade talks resume in Shanghai | News | DW | 30.07.2019
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US-China trade talks resume in Shanghai

Negotiators from the world's top two economies are meeting in Shanghai to discuss ways to ease their trade tensions, which have irked businesses and governments worldwide. Expectations for a breakthrough are running low.

The latest round of trade talks between the United States and China are taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Chinese financial hub of Shanghai. The two-day negotiations are the first face-to-face discussions since talks between the two sides collapsed in May, when US President Donald Trump accused Beijing of reneging on its commitments.  

Washington and Beijing have so far hit each other with punitive tariffs covering more than $360 billion (€323 billion) in two-way trade.

Read more: IMF warns of trade tensions in global outlook downgrade

This is the first time Shanghai has hosted US-China talks since the trade row began and the 12th round of negotiations overall. The US delegation is being led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, while Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan lead the Chinese side.

But hours after the US officials landed in China, Trump took to Twitter to slam Beijing. "My team is negotiating with them now, but they always change the deal in the end to their benefit," Trump tweeted. The US president complained that China was supposed to start buying American agricultural products, but there have shown "no signs that they are doing so."

"That is the problem with China, they just don't come through," he said.

The latest talks are an attempt to build on the truce agreed by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka at the end of June.

Washington then said it would not slap new tariffs on Chinese exports "for at least the time being," while Beijing agreed to buy more US agricultural goods. Prior to their meeting, Trump had threatened to slap levies on all remaining imports from China — more than $300 billion worth. 

Watch video 01:21

China trade dispute: Deescalation or the next round?

Low expectations

The deepening rift in US-China trade and investment relations has triggered jitters among businesses and investors over economic growth prospects worldwide. The escalating row has also jeopardized the rule-based multilateral trading system.

Separately, Trump has angered Beijing by blacklisting Chinese tech giant Huawei.

Read more: One-third of EU firms hit hard by US-China trade war

Although investors hope Beijing and Washington will avoid another escalation in tariffs, they expect the Shanghai talks to produce little of substance.

Both the US and China also worked to lower expectations in the run-up to the meeting. Mnuchin told CNBC last week there were still "a lot of issues" while Chinese state-run daily The Global Times wrote that it is "widely believed that trade talks will take a long time."

"Realistically, this round of talks is about clarifying where the two sides stand after a significant lull in engagement," Jake Parker, senior vice president at the US-China Business Council, told the AFP news agency. "There also needs to be a focus on rebuilding trust that was present in April but has since dissipated."

In a commentary on Tuesday, China's state news agency Xinhua admitted relations were "strained" and called for the US to "treat China with due respect if it wants a trade deal."

sri/rt (AFP, AP)

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