China sends written response to US trade reform demands

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – China has delivered a written response to US demands for wide-ranging trade reforms, three US government sources said on Wednesday (Nov 14), a move that could trigger negotiations to bring an end to a withering trade war between the world’s top economies.

US President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on US$250 billion (S$344.66 billion) of Chinese imports to force concessions from Beijing on the list of demands that would change the terms of trade between the two countries. China has responded with import tariffs on US goods.

Mr Trump is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in Argentina at the end of November and in early December.

The US President has repeatedly railed against Beijing over intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, Chinese entry barriers to American businesses and the US trade deficit with China.

Three US government sources told Reuters on Wednesday that China had sent a response to US demands on those and other issues.

The sources gave no further details on the content of the response. It was unclear if the response contained concessions that would satisfy Mr Trump’s demands for change.

A US team led by Treasury Under Secretary David Malpass discussed trade issues with a Chinese team via video-conference on Tuesday, a US Treasury spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The United States had said it would not start negotiations on trade until it saw concrete proposals from China to address its concerns.

Earlier this month, after a phone conversation with Mr Xi, Mr Trump said he thought the United States would make a deal with China on trade but stood ready to levy more tariffs on Chinese goods if no progress is made.

The tariff rate on US$200 billion in Chinese goods is set to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on Jan. 1. Mr Trump has also threatened to impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports, about US$267 billion worth, if Beijing fails to address US demands.

The two countries resumed talks after the call between the two leaders, ending a three-month hiatus that saw relations deteriorate as the US accused China of interfering in US domestic politics and seeking to undermine Mr Trump.

US Vice-President Mike Pence on Tuesday said Beijing needed to change its behaviour to avoid a new cold war with the United States.

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