Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US negotiators in Beijing for trade talks

US negotiators in Beijing for trade talks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish (center) and members of his negotiation team leave a hotel ahead of a meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing on Sunday. AFP

US negotiators in Beijing for trade talks

US NEGOTIATORS were in Beijing on Monday for a new round of high-stakes trade talks, hoping to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline set by US President Donald Trump as the IMF warned of a possible global economic “storm”.

Preliminary discussions had been expected to start on Monday, according to the White House, before US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin step in for the main event on Thursday and Friday.

In December, Washington suspended for three months its plan to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports – to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent – to allow time for negotiators to work out a trade spat that has triggered fears of a global economic slowdown.

Deputy trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish was due to lead the US delegation in preparatory meetings to begin on Monday, the White House had said.

The talks will include officials from the agriculture, energy and commerce departments.

No confirmation

Gerrish left his hotel in central Beijing on Monday morning without talking to the media. Neither side offered any confirmation that talks actually started.

Mnuchin and Lighthizer will be joined by David Malpass, Trump’s nominee for president of the World Bank who has worked to limit the bank’s assistance to Beijing.

The Chinese delegation will be led by Vice Premier Liu He, who will be joined by central bank governor Yi Gang.

Liu, China’s chief trade negotiator, met last month with Trump, who announced that a final resolution of the trade dispute would depend on a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping “in the near future” to iron out the “more difficult points” fuelling the spat.

While the two sides said major progress was made after talks last month in Washington, more recent comments have jarred financial markets, amplifying concerns about how the dispute will affect global growth.

Trump said last week that he did not expect to meet his Chinese counterpart before the trade truce expires on March 1, and top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said while Trump was “optimistic” about a deal, a “sizable distance” still separated the two sides.

Washington is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address commercial practices that it says are deeply unfair, including theft of US intellectual property and myriad barriers that US and other foreign companies face in the Chinese domestic market.

China has offered to boost its purchases of US goods during the truce, but is likely to resist calls for structural changes to its industrial policy including slashing government subsidies, said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics.

“The US side will not fully remove the spectre of tariff hikes any time soon,” Kuijs said, given that there is “broad support in the US for a hard stance on China”.

The two sides have already slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which has weighed on the two countries’ manufacturing sectors and sent jitters through global markets.

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong