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09 January 2019, 09:42 | Austin Hogan
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A United States delegation arrived in Beijing on January 7 for the first face-to-face dialogue with officials in Beijing since President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to a three-month tariff truce during a meeting held on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina on December 1. No timing was given and it wasn't immediately clear if the US delegation would release a statement.
The mid-level talks were the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since both presidents met on December 1, prior to the meeting, China made a number of concessions to United States demands including temporarily cutting punitive tariffs on United States made cars, resuming soybean purchases, promising to open up its markets for more foreign investment, and drafting a law to prevent forced technology transfers.
A U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea in what China called a "provocation" as USA officials joined talks in Beijing during a truce in a bitter trade war.
Beijing also faces pressure over technology from the European Union.
Washington has been clamouring for an end to the alleged forced transfer - and even theft - of American technology, as well as steep government subsidies for Chinese companies. Europe, Japan and other trading partners have echoed Washington's complaints that those violate Beijing's market-opening obligations.
Neither Chinese nor U.S. officials have given any details about the discussions.
"I think China wants to get it resolved - their economy's not doing well", Mr Trump told reporters on Sunday.
"China would need to significantly recalibrate its industrial policies to fully meet the USA trade team's demands", Nick Marro of the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report.
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He also suggested that his proposal to build the wall from steel, rather than concrete, was a concession to Democrats. Trump sought to put the blame on Democrats for the standoff, saying they "will not fund border security".
Ted McKinney, the U.S. Undersecretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, said the meetings "went just fine" without elaborating. "The limited policy movement that we've seen so far suggests that a game-changing deal remains unlikely". Both sides have provided scant information about their discussions.
In another sign of subsiding worries about the US economic outlook, Fed funds rate futures show traders are now pricing in a small chance of a rate hike in 2019, a change from late last week when futures markets had priced in a cut by the end of the year. A constructive outcome from the trade talks between the world's two biggest economies could have a positive impact on the global economy and overall oil demand.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish is leading the American delegation in Beijing.
He earlier expressed optimism in a tweet, exclaiming "Talks with China are going very well!".
Officials have given scant details on concessions that China might be willing to make to meet USA demands, some of which would require structural reforms unpalatable for Chinese leaders.
The temporary trade-war ceasefire came after the two sides imposed import duties on more than $300 billion of each other's goods.
Car sales in China fell 6 percent to 22.7 million units past year, the first annual slump in at least two decades, the China Passenger Car Association said Wednesday.
For their part, Chinese officials are unhappy with USA curbs on exports of "dual use" technology with possible military applications. It has said China's companies are treated unfairly in US national security reviews of proposed corporate acquisitions, though nearly all deals are approved unchanged.
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