China, US begin talks to sort out trade differences


Team Udayavani, Dec 12, 2018, 11:14 AM IST

Washington: Top officials from the US and China have begun talks to sort out their trade differences, in particular to identify steps that address the concerns of US President Donald Trump on intellectual property and reduce the balance of trade, a media report said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held a tele-conference with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He Monday night, The Wall Street Journal reported. Tuesday morning, Trump, without referring to the tele-conference, reported that great progress was being made.

About two weeks ago, Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in Argentina on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit. During their dinner meeting, the two leaders agreed to come out with a solution in the next 90 days. Till then, Trump agreed to give a pause to his additional import tariffs on Chinese products.

“Very productive conversations going on with China! Watch for some important announcements!,” Trump said in a tweet the morning after the first of the talks between the officials of the two countries.

According to The Wall Street Journal, sharp differences remain between the two countries, but China has agreed to take a few measures like reducing auto tariffs and buying more American products.

“On the auto front, Mr Liu said Beijing would reduce tariffs on US autos to 15 per cent, down from 40 per cent, said people familiar with the call,” the daily reported. It was not clear when the change would take effect, but Washington was pushing Beijing to make the concessions as soon as possible, it added.

The Wall Street Journal said the US was preparing additional measures against China. Some of those being using export controls, indictments and other tools to counter the theft of intellectual property.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tuesday asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to explain how a Chinese state-owned firm was able to use offshore companies to potentially acquire restricted American technology.

According to a December 4 article in the Wall Street Journal, the China Orient used subsidiaries and offshore third parties to evade US export control laws and acquire a majority stake in a US company seeking to purchase a US-made satellite.

Menendez sent to the secretaries a list of 13 detailed questions about the transaction and urged them to provide briefings on any review of the deal. “Failure to review this and other similarly-situated transactions, in which Chinese state-owned entities may gain footholds in sensitive technologies, poses a significant threat to the US national security,” Menendez said.

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