China, US end trade talks a day later than scheduled

BEIJING Chinese and US teams ended trade talks in Beijing yesterday that lasted longer than expected and officials said details will be released soon, raising hopes an all-out trade war that could badly disrupt the global economy can be avoided.

The talks were extended into an unscheduled third day, showing both sides were "serious", China's Foreign Ministry said.

Share prices jumped in Asia and markets in Europe and the US were expected to follow suit as the extended talks fuelled optimism that the world's largest economies were inching towards an agreement.

Mr Ted McKinney, US Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, said the US trade delegation would return home after a "good few days".

"I think they went just fine," Mr McKinney said of the talks.

"It's been a good one for us."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang confirmed both sides agreed to extend the talks beyond Monday and Tuesday as originally scheduled.

Asked if that meant they were difficult talks, Mr Lu said: "I can only say that extending the consultations shows that the two sides were indeed very serious in conducting the consultations."

The extra day of talks came amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of US farm and energy commodities and more access to China's markets.

However, sources told Reuters on Tuesday the two sides were further apart on Chinese structural reforms the Trump administration is demanding to stop alleged theft and forced transfer of US technology, and on how Beijing will be held to its promises.

If no deal is reached by March 2, Mr Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) worth of Chinese imports, at a time when China's economy is slowing significantly.

Beijing has retaliated in turn to US tariffs.

But as meetings wound down in Beijing on Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted: "Talks with China are going very well." - REUTERS