China ‘confident’ of reaching trade deal

Trump warns tariffs back on table if talks fail to bear fruit

SHANGHAI: China expressed confidence yesterday that it can reach a trade deal with the US, despite fresh warnings from President Donald Trump that he would revert to more tariffs if the two sides cannot resolve their differences.

The remarks by the Chinese Commerce Ministry follow a period of relative quiet from Beijing after Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached a temporary truce in their trade war at a meeting over dinner in Argentina on Saturday.

In a brief statement on its website, the ministry said China would try to work quickly to implement specific issues already agreed upon, as both sides "actively promote the work of negotiations within 90 days in accordance with a clear timetable and road map".

"We are confident in implementation," it said, calling the latest bilateral talks "very successful".

Mr Trump held out the possibility of an extension of the ceasefire but warned tariffs would be back on the table if the talks failed to bear fruit.

"The negotiations with China have already started. Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonderful and warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina," he tweeted.

Mr Trump said he would place "major tariffs" on Chinese goods imported into the US if they are unable to reach an effective trade deal.


"We are either going to have a real deal with China, or no deal at all.... Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal - either now or into the future," he tweeted within minutes of the Commerce Ministry statement.

The threat of further escalation in the trade war between the world's two largest economies has loomed large over financial markets and the global economy for much of the year, and investors initially greeted the ceasefire with relief. But the mood has quickly soured on scepticism that the two sides will be able to reach a substantive deal within the short negotiating period agreed.

The White House has said hat China had committed to start buying more US products and lifting tariff and non-tariff barriers immediately, while beginning talks on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfers and intellectual property protection.

Sources told Reuters that Chinese oil trader Unipec plans to resume buying US crude by March after the Xi-Trump deal reduced the risk of tariffs on those imports.

Global financial markets tumbled on Tuesday as doubts over what could realistically be accomplished in the tight negotiating window added to concerns about fading global growth.

The benchmark Shanghai stock index slipped 0.2 percent by midday yesterday.

"Despite a temporary de-escalation of hostilities following the G-20 summit, the relationship between the US and China will remain contentious," said Moody's Investors Service in a report. - REUTERS