Posts Tagged ‘trade talks’

US President Donald Trump to meet Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He ahead of trade talks

May 17, 2018

Liu’s surprise visit to the White House ‘means that there’s great interest here in furthering’ the talks, Trump’s economic adviser says

South China Morning Post

Image result for Liu He, photos

Liu He

US President Donald Trump will meet with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He on Thursday to discuss the simmering bilateral dispute threatening more than US$200 billion in trade, the top White House economic adviser said.

The meeting between Trump and his Chinese counterpart’s top economic aide, taking place on the first day of a two-day visit by Liu, was not on the White House schedule or mentioned in the US State Department’s recent announcement about the trip.

“The president is meeting with Liu this afternoon,” National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow told White House reporters. “It means that there’s great interest here in furthering the deal and furthering negotiations and trying to reach some remedies regarding unfair and illegal trading practices.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading the trade negotiations, along with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, whose department is currently holding hearings in Washington with US companies and industry associations about proposed punitive tariffs on imports from China.

In its statement about the talks, the State Department said additional senior administration officials would also participate.

Liu‘s trip to America is his second in three months and follows the recent visit to Beijing by the US delegation led by Mnuchin, which ended without tangible achievements.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2146660/us-president-donald-trump-meet-chinese-vice-premier-liu

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Trump Shifts From Trade War Threats to Concessions in Rebuff to Hard-Liners

May 15, 2018

President Trump’s recent threat to impose tariffs on as much as $150 billion worth of Chinese goods appeared to be the first volley in what looked like a full-scale trade war with the nation’s greatest economic adversary. Now, suddenly, Mr. Trump seems ready to make peace.

To alleviate trade tensions, Mr. Trump is considering easing up on a major Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, in exchange for China agreeing to buy more American products and lifting its own crippling restrictions on American agriculture, people familiar with the deliberations said.

The United States government threatened the continued existence of ZTE as a business last month, when the Commerce Department ordered a seven-year halt in American shipments of computer microchips and software that lie at the heart of most of ZTE’s gear. Credit Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The shift is an abrupt reversal that reflects another twist in the pitched battle inside the White House between the economic nationalists, who channel Mr. Trump’s protectionist instincts, and more mainstream advisers, who worry about the effects of hard-line policies on the stock market and long-term economic growth.

While the nationalists had recently seemed ascendant — pushing Mr. Trump toward a showdown with the Chinese over steel exports and their co-opting of American technology — a deal on ZTE, and potentially a range of other trade actions, would represent a victory for the mainstream contingent, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mr. Mnuchin has taken the lead role in trying to head off potentially harmful tariffs and investment restrictions on China and has succeeded, at least for now, in persuading Mr. Trump to adopt a more conciliatory approach than the president’s more hard-line advisers have advocated, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

An agreement on ZTE, which administration officials said could be struck with a visiting Chinese vice premier, Liu He, later this week, would remove a major source of tension between the United States and China at a sensitive moment: In just a few weeks, Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, at a landmark summit meeting in Singapore.

Read the rest:

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/14/business/china-trump-zte.html

EU, Japan seek clarity from crunch US trade talks

March 10, 2018

AFP

© AFP / by Alex PIGMAN | Japan’s Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko was also in Brussels for the talks
BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU and Japan held crunch talks with their US counterparts in Brussels on Saturday hoping to get “clarity” on President Donald Trump’s controversial new steel and aluminium tariffs.

Trump’s announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium has stung the European Union and triggered warnings of an all-out international trade war.

Brussels has prepared a list of US products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs, but says it hopes to join Canada and Mexico in being exempted. Japan has decried the “grave impact” the Trump measures could have on the world economy.

The EU’s top trade official Cecilia Malmstroem and Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko began preliminary talks in Brussels ahead of the sitdown with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The talks, initially set to address China’s over-supply of steel, have long been in the diary but after Trump’s dramatic announcement they are now a de facto crisis meeting.

“Dialogue is always the prime option of the European Union,” Malmstroem told reporters on Friday, saying Brussels was “counting on being excluded” from the new duties.

She predicted a “long day” of talks on Saturday, while European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen sought to play down expectations, saying it was “a meeting, not THE meeting”.

Katainen said Brussels wanted “clarity” on how the tariffs will be implemented and was ready to enforce retaliatory measures to protect European interests if needed.

“We are prepared and will be prepared if need be to use rebalancing measures,” Katainen said.

– US ‘affront’ –

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU’s hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

Germany — singled out for particular criticism by Trump — accused Washington of protectionism, calling the tariffs an “affront to close partners”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged dialogue and warned that “no one can win in such a race to the bottom”.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned his US counterpart Trump against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive “trade war”.

Trump said the tariffs, which will come into effect after 15 days, will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico. He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

Complicating matters, Trump indicated on Friday that Australia’s carveout was linked to an unspecified “security agreement” outside of trade policy.

This shed some light on the tycoon’s specific barbs against Germany — the biggest economy in the European Union — that have finger-pointed Berlin for contributing much less than the US towards the funding of NATO.

The EU exports around five billion euros’ ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros’ worth of aluminium to the US each year, and the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, estimates Trump’s tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.

Brussels is also looking at “safeguard” measures to protect its industry — restricting the bloc’s imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

The EU and Japan last year formally agreed the broad outlines of a landmark trade deal that was announced as a direct challenge to the protectionism championed by Trump.

by Alex PIGMAN

EU leaders agree to move on to second stage of Brexit talks

December 15, 2017

AFP and The Associated Press

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© Daniel Leal-Olivas, AFP | Pro-EU anti-Brexit demonstrators wave an EU flag outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on December 13 as MPs debate a proposed amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-12-15

The European Union completed a giant first step in the Brexit negotiations with Britain, giving the green light on Friday to move to trade talks which are poised to be even trickier than the acrimonious divorce proceedings have been so far.

The European Union cleared the way Friday for Brexit talks with Britain to move onto the second stage, which will involve wide-ranging – and potentially far trickier – discussions on their future relationship and trade.

The 27 leaders authorized the move, almost nine months after Britain triggered the two-year mechanism by which it will leave the bloc.

“EU leaders agree to move on to the second phase,” EU chief Donald Tusk said on Twitter. Tusk, who is EU Council President, also congratulated British Prime Minister Theresa May in his tweet.

Since March, the EU side has been marked by a high degree of cohesion, which contrasts with the sometime-chaotic nature of Britain’s approach. The coming talks could well test that cohesion in the EU, not least because of the divergent trading relationships the 27 remaining EU countries have with Britain.

Still, time is running out for Britain – EU negotiators have said that an agreement has to be in place by October next year in order for it to get the requisite clearance from national parliaments in time for the actual day of Brexit in March, 2019.

To get to the second stage, Britain had to satisfy the EU on three issues.

At Friday’s meeting, the leaders said Friday “sufficient progress” had been reached on the outstanding EU bill Britain will have to pay, the rights of citizens in each other’s areas and the commitment to maintain a transparent border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Friday’s clearance provides a welcome boost to May, who earlier this week lost a key parliamentary vote over giving lawmakers the final say on the Brexit deal.

May received a round of applause from EU leaders Thursday night after giving her assessment of progress in the talks.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday that “some of us thought, including me, that she did make big efforts and this has to be recognized.”

Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said “there was appreciation from everyone,” despite concerns in the EU about developments in London.

May’s first priority in the next phase of talks is to establish a transition period, likely involving Britain remaining part of the single market and the customs union and probably lasting about two years. A transition period would ease Britain out of the EU and provide some certainty to business. Many British firms, particularly in the finance sector, have warned that they might put contingency plans in place soon that could involve them relocating activities into the EU.

We will deliver on the will of the British people and get the best Brexit deal for our country – securing the greatest possible access to European markets, boosting free trade with countries across the world, and delivering control over our borders, laws and money.

During any transition, the EU is demanding that London should give up its seat at the leaders’ table, lose all its lawmakers in the European Parliament and remove its judges from Europe’s courts. However, it would still have to obey EU laws and respect the primacy of the European Court of Justice.

While sympathizing with May, leaders said they wanted the British prime minister to provide more details on what she is looking for both in the transition period and in the future relationship.

“We need a little bit more clarity from the U.K.; what type of relationship we shall be entering into,” said Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

“She is having to cope with all sorts of pressure,” he said.

And Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said “lot of thinking” needs to be done about future relations.

“There has been a lot of divergent thinking on what that should look like,” he told reporters.

Varadkar held separate talks with May overnight “to compare notes,” and he said they would meet again early in the new year.

When asked about the chances that Britain might not leave in 2019 as planned, most leaders said only that this should be up to the British people and parliament.

(AP)

EU parliament backs outline Brexit deal — Withdrawal accord will be legally binding

December 13, 2017

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – The European Parliament urged EU leaders on Wednesday to allow the next phase of EU negotiations to start, backing a motion that recognized the talks had made sufficient progress as a well a line criticizing Britain’s Brexit negotiator David Davis.

Earlier on Wednesday, the EU’s chief negotiator told lawmakers that Britain could not renege on commitments made to ensure Brexit talks with the European Union move on to discussions on the future relationship between the two.

European Union leaders are almost certain to judge on Friday that “sufficient progress” has been made on the rights of citizens, the Brexit divorce bill and the Irish border to allow negotiations to move to the next phase. The EU executive recommended last week that the leaders approve trade talks.

European Parliament — FILE photo

The European Parliament will have to approve any Brexit deal, although its motion on Wednesday was not binding.

The agreement, presented in a joint report last Friday, was in the view of some in Brussels, undermined by Brexit minister David Davis’s comment that it was more “a statement of intent” than a legally binding. Davis has subsequently said he wants the accord swiftly translated into a legal text.

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

David Davis

“We will not accept any going back on this joint report. This progress has been agreed and will be rapidly translated into a withdrawal accord that is legally binding in all three areas and on some others that remain to be negotiated,” EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told EU lawmakers.

Barnier said a lot more further steps were required to secure an orderly withdrawal.

“We are not at the end of the road, neither regarding citizens’ rights nor for the other subjects of the orderly withdrawal. We remain vigilant,” he said.

Barnier said the next phase of talks would focus on a “short and defined” transition period and initial discussions on a future relationship, which he stressed would not erode the EU single market and its four freedoms, including free movement of people.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

EU sets Sunday deadline after ‘no white smoke’ on Brexit

December 7, 2017

AFP

© AFP | British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker met for talks at the European Commission in Brussels on Monday

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Commission said Thursday that there was still “no white smoke” on a Brexit deal and set a limit of Sunday for British Prime Minister Theresa May to return to Brussels with an acceptable deal.”So far no white smoke. We stand ready to receive prime minister May at any moment in time when they are ready,” Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesman for commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, told reporters in Brussels.

The Vatican sends up white smoke when a new pope is chosen.

“But I would like to repeat what President Juncker said on this, namely that this will have to happen this week, in this building. We work for a full week, 24/7, and our week includes Sunday.”

Talks between May and Juncker broke up on Monday without a deal after a pro-British party in Northern Ireland that props up the British leader’s government objected to a clause about future arrangements for the Irish border.

Time is now running out for a deal on Brexit divorce terms, which would allow the opening of talks on a future trade deal at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on December 14-15.

Schinas dismissed British newspaper reports that the deadline could be extended into next week as “not correct”.

Diplomats from the other EU 27 nations are to meet on Monday and would need to see European Council chief Donald Tusk’s draft guidelines for opening the next phase of talks then in order to approve them for the summit, he said.

The EU has demanded “sufficient progress” on the divorce issues of the Ireland border with Northern Ireland, Britain’s bill for leaving the bloc, and the rights of European citizens in Britain in order to move on to the second stage.

“Every day lost makes this more difficult,” he said. “President Juncker is a born optimist… but it takes two to tango, two to be optimist.”

But EU sources said it was still possible that European leaders could agree at the summit next week that there had been “sufficient progress”, in order to give May a win, while postponing their approval of the guidelines for trade talks.

They could then approve those guidelines at EU summits due in February, or failing that in March, sources said.

Theresa May has handled Brexit about as well as it could be handled – she will cling on to power

November 26, 2017

This is not to say that Brexit itself is going well, but that any country wanting to leave the EU would be in an inherently weak bargaining position. She has played a weak hand with some skill

By John Rentoul

Independent Voices

The usual pattern is for European negotiations to run late into the night, long after the deadline, and then for a deal to be done. Each leader claims victory to their own country’s journalists and everyone calms down until the next crisis.

That’s the usual pattern. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that, such as the moment in 2011 when David Cameron found himself after 10 hours of overnight talks saying that the United Kingdom was using its veto to stop an EU fiscal pact. He seemed to have taken himself by surprise, assuming that the others would compromise.

So it could all go wrong for Theresa May in the next few weeks. Donald Tusk, the EU president, gave her until Monday 4 December to finalise her proposals. Then EU leaders have to decide at the summit 10 days later if “sufficient progress” has been made for the next stage of the Brexit talks to start.

This time it is the UK that is keen to do a deal, and the other countries that have to be convinced. In 2011, it was the eurozone countries that wanted a deal to prop up the currency, and we British didn’t want to end up paying for it. Cameron’s veto didn’t make much difference, because the other countries (bar the Czech Republic) went ahead with their own deal without us. The main effect of the veto was a temporary boost to Cameron’s popularity back home.

Now the tables really have been turned. Other leaders are well aware of the benefits to them domestically of saying no to the troublemaking British. This is true in Ireland, where Leo Varadkar’s minority government could be forced at any moment to hold an early election. He does not want to look like a soft touch.

This pinch-point in the Brexit talks is also Ireland’s moment of maximum leverage. The decision on whether to move to the second stage of the negotiations requires all EU countries to agree. (This is important because the final decision on the UK’s exit deal could be taken by the EU’s system of Qualified Majority Voting, QMV, which requires the support of 15 of the 27 EU states representing 65 per cent of the EU27’s population. That means that Ireland has a veto now, which it may not have at the end of the talks. This being the EU, it is more complicated than that. The terms of exit could be decided by QMV, but the transition period and the future relationship require unanimity – so the EU is likely to decide that the whole thing needs to be unanimous.)

The problem for Varadkar is that Ireland’s choice is similar to Britain’s. The Irish can either have a deal that they don’t like, because it would mean some kind of border checks between north and south, or they can have no deal at all, which would definitely mean a hard border.

So, who knows? Ireland should agree to move onto the next stage, but this is politics not mechanics. The same tension, at a lower intensity, runs through the thinking of all the other leaders: how hard do they want to make it for Britain?

They are also worried, apparently, about who they would end up negotiating with if Theresa May falls. There is no harm in their worrying about the prospect of having to negotiate with Boris Johnson, if that means they are slightly more likely to give ground to May.

EU gives Theresa May 10 days to improve her offer before trade talks can begin

But I don’t think it is going to happen.

Even if May fails to achieve breakthrough in Brussels in mid-December, I doubt that it would bring her down. It would be bad, causing another three months’ delay, but no one expects a “good” Brexit deal any more, do they? Would the Cabinet and Conservative MPs get rid of her? I don’t think so.

This is an unfashionable opinion, I know, but Theresa May has handled Brexit about as well as it could be handled. This is not to say that it is going well, but that any country wanting to leave the EU would be in an inherently weak bargaining position. She has played a weak hand with some skill, and held a divided party together.

If May comes away from the EU Council empty-handed, the question the Conservative Party has to ask itself is: who could do better? Although a minority of Tory MPs were Leave voters in the referendum – 43 per cent – it wouldn’t be possible for another Remainer such as Amber Rudd or Philip Hammond to do it. Of the Leavers, it certainly could not be Boris “Busted Flush” Johnson. Nor Michael “Economicky Words” Gove.

The only one it could be is David Davis. If in the next few days he broke with May, saying she was prepared to concede too much, he could have some credibility. But again, we would be straight into “bad deal versus no deal” territory. Why would a tougher negotiating stance secure a better deal?

We are still where we were at the start of this process. We will get approximately nothing out of these negotiations, except what the other EU countries are prepared to concede in their own interest. The only question is how we manage their perceptions of their interests to maximise the least worst deal for us. Even if she fails in Brussels next month, of the possible Conservative candidates to be prime minister, Theresa May is still best placed to deliver the least worst Brexit.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/even-if-she-fails-to-make-a-brussels-breakthrough-next-month-theresa-may-will-cling-on-a8075741.html

EU’s Barnier gives Britain two-week Brexit deadline

November 10, 2017

AFP

© AFP | The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Britain needed to increase its offer on its exit bill

BRUSSELS (AFP) – EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier on Friday handed Britain a two-week ultimatum to make concessions on a divorce agreement if it wants to unlock the next phase of talks in December.

Frenchman Barnier said it was “vital” for Britain to increase its offer on its exit bill — a figure senior EU officials put at up to 60 billion euros — to open up talks on a future trade deal.

The fate of the border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has also thrown an unexpected spanner into the works, with British negotiator David Davis ruling out the EU’s preferred solution.

“My answer is yes,” Barnier told a press conference at the end of the sixth round of talks in Brussels, when asked if he would need “concessions” from Britain within the next two weeks to move on.

“On the financial settlement, this is absolutely vital if we are to achieve sufficient progress in December. It is just a matter of settling accounts, as with any other separation,” the former European commissioner and French foreign minister said.

Barnier added that he was “following attentively” the political situation in Britain where a series of government resignations has further weakened the government of Prime Minister Theresa May.

– ‘No new border’ –

EU leaders decided at their last summit in October that there was insufficient progress on three main divorce issues — the bill, Northern Ireland and the rights of three million Europeans living in Britain — to move on to the next stage.

They said they hoped to open talks on future relations and a post-Brexit transition period at their next meeting on December 14-15, but officials have warned that could now slip to February or March.

Hopes of a breakthrough at this week’s Brussels talks — the first since mid-October — were so low that they were cut to just one-and-a-half days from the normal four days.

Northern Ireland has reared its head in the discussions, with an internal EU paper for the talks suggesting that it should remain in the EU’s single market and customs union after Brexit to prevent a hard border with Ireland.

Davis insisted Friday that any Brexit deal cannot create a frontier between Northern Ireland, where a 1998 peace deal ended decades of sectarian unrest, and the rest of the United Kingdom.

“We recognise the need for specific solutions for the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland,” Davis said. “But let me be clear, this cannot amount to creating a new border inside the United Kingdom.”

– ‘Some progress’ –

Barnier meanwhile welcomed a British proposal on protecting the rights of EU nationals living in Britain after 2019, but said there were still differences on key issues.

There appeared to be little progress on the main sticking points: the rights of EU migrants to bring their families to Britain, their ability to send welfare payments to their home countries, and whether the European Court of Justice would have jurisdiction over those rights.

“On citizens’ rights we are making some progress although we need to move further on a number of points,” Barnier said.

The Brexit bill has been the main source of deadlock in the talks since they began in June. The EU says it must meet budgetary commitments totalling 50 to 60 billion euros, but Britain puts the figure nearer 20 billion.

Britain voted to leave the EU in a shock referendum result in June 2016. The government confirmed Thursday that Brexit day will be 2300 GMT on March 29, 2019.

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See also:

Brexit ultimatum: UK has two weeks to offer clarity on bill or trade talks will not open, warns Michel Barnier

The Telegraph

By James Rothwell

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, today set Britain a two week deadline to make sufficient progress in the Brexit talks and kickstart discussions on a future UK-EU trade deal.

The EU is refusing to talk trade or a possible transition deal until it judges enough progress has been made on the contentious issues of the Brexit bill, Ireland and citizens’ rights.

Theresa May in her Florence speech promised the EU 20 billion euros to cover Britain’ EU Budget contributions until the end of the current financial period in 2020.  She said the UK would honour its commitments to the EU.

But that has not satisfied Mr Barnier, who demanded Britain explain exactly what it is willing to pay as the price for Brexit and that it made “real and sincere” progress on all three issues.

Speaking in Brussels alongside David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, Mr Barnier simply said “Yes”, when asked…

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/10/david-davis-clashes-michel-barnier-brussels-press-conference/

Trump’s China trip a big deal for US firms but worries linger

November 6, 2017

Companies joining president’s trade delegation are eyeing billion-dollar contracts, but many still harbour concerns over market access and intellectual property rights

By Sarah Zheng
South China Morning Post

Monday, 06 November, 2017, 11:23pm

US waste water treatment company Viroment has one big mission this week during US President Donald Trump’s trip to China.

It aims to seal US$900 million worth of deals with building contractor Guangye Guangdong Environmental Protection Industrial Group and Chinese manufacturer Hangzhou Iron and Steel.

“Right now we have no footprint in China, so this is our kick-off,” Viroment’s chief executive Paul Koenig said. “The stress [on this mission] is on getting big deals … if Trump wasn’t coming, I don’t think we would have pushed to have [such] large deals in writing.”

Once the ink is dry, the agreements will allow more than 800 textile companies in eastern China’s Zhejiang province and 80 waste water treatment plants in southern Guangdong province to install Viroment technology to help them comply with China’s environmental regulations.

“Everyone’s excited and everyone’s motivated … you can pretty much always add one or more zeroes when you’re dealing with China,” Koenig said.

Vironment representatives will be among the executives from dozens of US companies – from energy giants to technology firms and soybean sellers – who will join Trump on his first presidential trip to China, betting he will ease trade tensions and remove hurdles for foreign companies as they eye further expansion on the mainland.

 US green energy firm SolarReserve is among the companies hoping to gain from Trump’s trip. Photo: Handout

The mission will allow the firms to broaden their footprint in China, translating into billion-dollar deals for some and high-profile market debuts for others.

Koenig will attend three more trade missions to China later this year, with ongoing plans to work with companies in Hebei province and major port city Tianjin, and eventually “tackle all of China”.

Other companies have similar agreements lined up for the trip. Smart city developer The Digit Group plans to sign deals worth US$4.85 billion this week, including one to build a 200-hectare virtual reality theme part in the eastern city of Qingdao.

Green energy firm SolarReserve is gearing up to work with Chinese contractors for several projects under China’s solar thermal pilot programme. IM Systems Group (IMSG), an environmental data solutions company, is hoping to sign an agreement with China’s air traffic management bureau to help with weather forecasts and reduce flight delays.

But while firms are eager for a slice of China’s market, many harbour concerns about doing business in the country, including fair access and forced transfer of intellectual property to Chinese partners.

Trump has railed consistently against China’s “unfair” trade practices and the “embarrassing” trade deficit, which reached US$34.6 billion in September. Bilateral trade tensions have escalated in recent months amid his administration’s rhetoric and investigations into Chinese intellectual property theft.

The US Soybean Export Council said Beijing warned earlier this year that US soybeans, which account for about 37 per cent of China’s imports of the crop, could face retaliatory action if tensions ramped up.

But Paul Burke, the council’s North Asia regional director, remained optimistic this would not happen as it would shift extra costs onto Chinese soybean processors.

“Soybeans are very, very important to the Chinese food and agricultural economy,” he said. “It probably should not be one of the top commodities to be targeted.”

The council aims to sign a letter of intent for purchases with the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce during the trade mission, while highlighting the importance of the soybean trade for both nations.

Tim Tangredi, president and chief executive of nanotechnology company Dais Analytic, said it was still “next to impossible” to transfer funds from China, and that foreign companies faced “unfair” operating conditions and limited protection of intellectual property.

But he was hopeful Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping would “see eye to eye” on trade issues, including addressing the US trade deficit with China.

“The trade deficit is not a good thing, we all know that,” Tangredi said. “It’s not fair the way it is. I really do have a hope that something will change.”

Still, the company has had a positive experience in its eight years in China, and is eager to tap into the significant potential for its heating and cooling equipment and clean water system products.

“China’s water market is huge,” Tangredi said. “The growth could be incredible, the numbers could be just stunning.”

Le Jiang, vice-president and chief scientist of IMSG, said there were still “unfair terms” for intellectual property rights in China.

“President Trump has talked about IP issues, which are real from our standpoint,” he said. “The language in some of the contracts we see is that you have to share the IP, which is an issue.”

But his hope is that the upcoming deal and the company’s continued expansion in China can help bring both countries and economies closer together.

“[As] companies doing business in China, we are bridges for the two countries,” he said.

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UK leader makes surprise Brussels trip to undo Brexit logjam

October 16, 2017

OCTOBER 16, 2017 10:30 AM