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Trump says China trade talks ‘back on track,’ new tariffs on hold

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Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with US President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan. Xinhua

OSAKA (Reuters) – The United States and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing.

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China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of US farm products and return to the negotiating table, Mr Trump said. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world’s two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement.

The last major round of talks collapsed in May.

Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s imports, stoking fears of a wider global trade war. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume.

“We’re right back on track,” Mr Trump told reporters after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan.

“We’re holding back on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products,” Mr Trump said, without giving details about the purchases.

Mr Trump tweeted hours later that the meeting with Xi went “far better than expected.”

“The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed,” he tweeted. “I am in no hurry, but things look very good!”

The US president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly $300 billion of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products, if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the United States.

In a lengthy statement on the two-way talks, China’s foreign ministry quoted Mr Xi as telling Mr Trump he hoped the United States could treat Chinese companies fairly.

“China is sincere about continuing negotiations with the United States … but negotiations should be equal and show mutual respect,” the foreign ministry quoted Mr Xi as saying.

Mr Trump offered an olive branch to Mr Xi on Huawei Technologies Co, the world’s biggest telecom network gear maker. The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China’s government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied US allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure.

Mr Trump’s Commerce Department has put Huawei on its “entity list,” effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

But Mr Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to US suppliers, who were upset by the move. “We’re allowing that, because that wasn’t national security,” he said.

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