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  1. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal as Trump and his top trade negotiator both cited substantial progress in two days of high-level talks. Trump, speaking at the White House during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, said he was optimistic that the world’s two largest economies could reach “the biggest deal ever made.” No specific plans for a meeting with Xi were announced, but Trump said there could be more than one meeting. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were invited to bring a U.S. negotiating team to Beijing around mid-February, with dates still pending. At the end of two days of high-level talks next door to the White House, Liu told Trump that China would make a new, immediate commitment to increase soybean purchases. An administration official later clarified the amount as a total of 5 million tonnes, effectively doubling the amount bought by China since resuming limited purchases in December. U.S. soybean sales to China, which totaled 31.7 million tonnes in 2017, were largely cut off in the second half of last year by China’s retaliatory tariffs and the announcement drew a positive reaction from Trump, who said it would “make our farmers very happy.” While China has offered increased purchases of U.S. farm, energy and other goods to try to resolve the trade disputes, negotiators dug into thornier issues, including U.S. demands that China take steps to protect American intellectual property and end policies that Washington says force U.S. companies to turn over technology to Chinese firms. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said there was “substantial progress” on these issues, including verification mechanisms to “enforce” China’s follow-through on any reform commitments it makes. “At this point, it’s impossible for me to predict success. But we’re in a place that if things work out, it could happen,” Lighthizer said at the Oval Office meeting. Later, he told reporters that the U.S. objective was to make China’s commitments “more specific, all-encompassing and enforceable” with a mechanism for taking action if China fails to follow through, but declined to provide specific issues. Reuters previously reported that such an enforcement mechanism would involve a snap-back of U.S. tariffs. Asked whether the two sides discussed lifting U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, Lighthizer said tariffs were not part of the talks. A person familiar with the discussions said a broad range of concerns about access to Chinese agricultural markets were raised in the talks but little progress was made. The White House said in a statement that a scheduled March 2 tariff increase on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent was a “hard deadline” if no deal was reached by March 1. Trump said he did not think he would need to extend the deadline. “I think when president Xi and I meet, every point will be agreed to,” Trump added. But Trump has vetoed multiple proposed trade deals with China, choosing to push ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods to gain leverage. Earlier, Trump said on Twitter he was looking for China to open its markets “not only to Financial Services, which they are now doing, but also to our Manufacturing, Farmers and other U.S. businesses and industries. Without this a deal would be unacceptable!” The U.S. complaints on technology transfers, and intellectual property protections, along with accusations of Chinese cyber theft of American trade secrets and a systematic campaign to acquire U.S. technology firms, were used by Trump’s administration to justify punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. China has retaliated with tariffs of its own, but has suspended some and is allowing some purchases of U.S. soybeans during the talks. Chinese officials have said their policies do not coerce technology transfers. The U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are just one front in Trump’s efforts to upend the global trading order with his “America First” strategy. He has also imposed global tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, washing machines and solar panels and has threatened to raise tariffs on imported cars unless Japan and the European Union offer trade concessions. Source
  2. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-China trade negotiations need to reach a successful end by March 1 or new tariffs will be imposed, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday, clarifying there is a “hard deadline” after a week of seeming confusion among President Donald Trump and his advisers. Global markets are jittery about a collision between the world’s two largest economic powers over China’s huge trade surplus with the United States and U.S. claims that China is stealing intellectual property and technology. “As far as I am concerned it is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March,” Lighthizer said on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” referring to President Donald Trump’s recent decision to delay new tariffs while talks proceed. “The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised,” said Lighthizer, who has been tapped to lead the talks and appeared to tamp down expectations that the negotiation period could be extended. After a turbulent week in markets, investors “can be reassured that if there is a deal that can be made that will assure the protection of U.S. technology...and get additional market access...the president wants us to do it,” Lighthizer said. “If not we will have tariffs.” In Argentina last weekend, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce that delayed the planned Jan. 1 U.S. hike of tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal. However, the arrest of a top executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] has roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the China-U.S. trade row. In Beijing on Sunday, China’s foreign ministry protested the arrest to the U.S. ambassador. In a series of appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, Lighthizer, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro insisted the trade talks with China would not be derailed by the arrest, which they deemed solely a law enforcement matter. U.S. equity markets have staked much on the outcome of the talks. Stocks climbed early in the week on optimism tensions between the two sides were easing, then cratered after Trump claimed he was a “tariff man” after all. He also seemed to indicate the talks could be extended. But Lighthizer, in his first comments since being appointed to lead the negotiations, said the United States will need concessions across a number of areas in coming weeks if the higher tariffs are to be voided. That includes demands for increased purchases of U.S. goods in a more open Chinese market, as well as “structural changes” to a system that, for example, forces American firms to turn over technology to Chinese partners as a condition of doing business. “We need agricultural sales and we need manufacturing sales. We need structural changes on this fundamental issue of non-economic technology transfer,” Lighthizer said. The demands are similar to those made under previous Democratic and Republican presidents, but Lighthizer said he felt Trump’s willingness to go beyond “dialogue” and impose tariffs will produce results. Source
  3. (Reuters) - U.S. stocks hit fresh record levels on Friday after China said first phase trade talks with the United States have achieved major progress and that Beijing would cancel tariffs scheduled to take effect on Sunday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 107.74 points, or 0.38%, at 28,239.79, the S&P 500 .SPX 8.97 points, or 0.28%, at 3,177.54. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 41.69 points, or 0.48%, at 8,759.01. Wall Street opened lower after President Donald Trump said a report about a trade deal with China was completely wrong. The U.S. will phase out China tariffs, Beijing officials say BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has agreed to phase out tariffs on Chinese goods, Chinese officials said at a press conference in Beijing Friday evening. Trump: U.S. to suspend scheduled tariffs after reaching deal with China WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said the United States had reached a so-called Phase One trade deal with China in which Washington would suspend tariffs on Chinese imports scheduled for Sunday, while Beijing would step up purchases of U.S. agricultural products. “We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more,” Trump said on Twitter. Trump also said the United States would curb some tariffs on Chinese goods that had already been imposed. Sources: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-stocks/wall-st-rises-as-china-u-s-agree-on-context-of-trade-deal-idUSKBN1YH1D1 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china/the-u-s-will-phase-out-china-tariffs-beijing-officials-say-idUSKBN1YH1SA https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-trump/trump-u-s-to-suspend-scheduled-tariffs-after-reaching-deal-with-china-idUSKBN1YH1T3
  4. BEIJING (Reuters) - China is in close touch with the United States on signing a Phase 1 trade deal, the country’s commerce ministry said on Thursday, adding that both sides are still going through necessary procedures before the signing. Gao Feng, commerce ministry spokesman, made the comments to reporters at a regular briefing. Festive Wall St. set to stay near record levels on trade deal hopes (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set to open near record highs on Thursday and the S&P 500 was on course for its best year since 2013 on optimism over an imminent U.S.-China trade deal. Traders returned from the Christmas break to Beijing’s reaffirmation that it was in close contact with Washington about the initial agreement, which is widely expected to be signed in early January. President Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed that the pact would be formalized at a signing ceremony, but did not disclose a date or location. “It looks like everybody had a good Christmas, and that is slopping over into today’s stock action,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh. Hopes of a breakthrough in the prolonged trade war, combined with a loose monetary policy and robust domestic data, have powered U.S. stocks to record highs in the past few weeks. The S&P 500 is about one percentage point short of its best year since 1997. At 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 37 points, or 0.13%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 5.5 points, or 0.17% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 16.5 points, or 0.19%. Trading volumes are expected to remain thin this week. The recent gains have come as a relief to investors anxious of a repetition of the volatility from December 2018, when escalating trade tensions led to the worst December on Wall Street since the Great Depression. A Labor Department report on Thursday showed that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, indicating resilience in the labor market. Underlining relatively strong consumer confidence, a report on Wednesday showed U.S. shoppers spent more online during the holiday shopping season, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high. Among the handful of corporate movers premarket, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shares edged up 0.6% as Wedbush boosted its price target on the electric-car maker’s stock, partly on expectations of strong U.S. demand for the Model 3 sedans. Sources: Here & Here
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