Asia-Pacific

China reports progress in US trade talks

China says trade talks with the US have set the basis to solve concerns even as the US presented Beijing with a long list of demands to rewrite terms of trade.

China's commerce ministry has said trade talks between China and the United States this week were extensive, and helped establish a foundation for the resolution of each others' concerns, but gave no details on the issues at stake.

The three-day talks in Beijing that wrapped up on Wednesday were the first face-to-face negotiations since US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires in December and agreed on a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

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", the Chinese commerce ministry said.

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.

On Wednesday, the US Trade Representative's offices said 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 US tariff increase on $US200 billion in Chinese imports. Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 per cent from 10 per cent currently if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if Beijing fails to cede to US demands.

US 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. Both sides agreed to continue to maintain close contact, the Chinese commerce ministry said.

Since the Trump-Xi meeting in Argentina, Beijing has resumed purchases of US soybeans, which had slumped after China imposed a 25 per cent import duty on US shipments of oilseed on July 6.

China has also cut tariffs on imports of cars from the US, dialled back on an industrial development plan known as 'Made in China 2025,' and told its state refiners to buy more US oil.

Earlier this week, China also approved five genetically modified (GM) crops for import, in a move that could ease pressure from the US to open its markets to more farm goods.

Beijing has said it will not give up ground on issues that it perceives as core.

One of the biggest challenges to any deal would be to ensure that China enforces whatever is agreed to stop technology transfers, intellectual property theft and hacking of US computer networks.

The USTR office said officials broached those topics and discussed the need for any agreement to include "complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement."

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