SHANGHAI - China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday trade talks with the United States this week were extensive and detailed, and established a foundation for the resolution of each others’ concerns.
The two sides “held extensive, deep and thorough exchanges on trade and structural issues of common concern, which promoted mutual understanding and established a foundation for the resolution of each others’ concerns”, it said.
Both parties agreed to continue to maintain close contact, the ministry said in a brief statement on its website.
The three-day talks in Beijing that wrapped up on Wednesday were the first face-to-face negotiations since U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires in December and agreed a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.
Washington has presented Beijing with a long list of demands that would rewrite the terms of trade between the world’s two largest economies. They include changes to China’s policies on intellectual property protection, technology transfers, industrial subsidies and other non-tariff barriers to trade.
Nearly halfway into the 90-day truce, there have been few concrete details on progress made so far. The meetings in Beijing were not at a ministerial level, so were not expected to produce a deal to end the trade war.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Trade Representative’s offices said in a statement officials from the two sides discussed “ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations”.
“The talks also focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured, and other products and services from the United States,” the USTR said.
At stake are scheduled U.S. tariff increase on $200 billion in Chinese imports. Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 percent from 10 percent currently if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if Beijing fails to cede to U.S. demands.
U.S. officials have long complained that China has failed to live up to trade promises, often citing Beijing’s pledges to resume imports of American beef that took more than a decade to implement.
No schedule for further face-to-face negotiations was released after the talks, and USTR said the American delegation was returning to Washington to report on the meetings and “to receive guidance on the next steps”.