China U.S. Trade

U.S. Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney walks into a hotel after a second day of meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. An official Chinese newspaper warned Washington not to demand too much from Beijing as talks on ending their tariff war wound up a second day Tuesday with no word on possible progress. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three days of U.S.-Chinese talks aimed at ending a costly tariff battle wrapped up Wednesday in an optimistic atmosphere, with President Donald Trump saying they were “going very well!”

A statement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not characterize the tone of the talks or say what would happen next, noting only that the U.S. delegation would await “guidance on the next steps” after reporting back to Washington

The U.S. statement said the negotiations dealt with the need for any deal with China to be “subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement” — a comment that reflects U.S. frustration that the Chinese have failed to live up to past commitments.

The U.S. also said the negotiations “focused on China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods and other products and services from the United States.” Trump has complained repeatedly about the U.S. trade deficit with China, which last year likely exceeded the 2017 gap of $336 billion.

The talks that started Monday were the first face-to-face meetings since Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed Dec. 1 to suspend further action against each other’s imports for 90 days while they negotiate over U.S. complaints that Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology.

Washington wants Beijing to change its plans to use government support to make Chinese companies world leaders in robotics and advanced technologies.

Chinese officials have suggested Beijing might alter its industrial plans but reject pressure to abandon what they consider a path to prosperity and global influence.

Neither side has given any indication its basic position has changed. Economists say the 90-day window is too short to resolve all the conflicts between the biggest and second-biggest global economies. Chinese exports to the U.S. have held up despite tariff increases of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports, partly due to exporters rushing to fill orders before more increases hit. Forecasters expect American orders to slump this year.

China has imposed penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for U.S. companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses. As the trade talks wound down, China’s top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, met with CEO Elon Musk of electric car brand Tesla Inc.

“We hope your company can become an in-depth participant in China’s opening and a promoter of the stability of Chinese-U.S. relations.” Li told Musk during the meeting at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s legislature.

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