US, China trade talks conclude on positive note

Apple’s share price has dropped on China’s weakening economy

The US released a statement on the meetings, alluding to at least one potential concrete commitment on the part of China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the conduct of the U.S. ship had violated China's and global law, and China had lodged "stern representations".

Officials say talks are expected to deliver specific commitments to expand market access for USA in China, improve protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and reduce the trade surplus with the U.S., but it would take time to reform state-owned firms another major source of friction.

US President Donald Trump also said trade talks were going "very well", and he was confident that both sides will come to an agreement.

On Wednesday, the US Trade Representative's offices said in a statement officials from the two sides discussed "ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations".

China and the United States have in the past repeatedly traded barbs over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

China said talks with the U.S. "laid the foundations" to resolve a damaging trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

A reduction in Chinese imports of USA goods came quickly after the retaliatory imposition of tariffs, the data show. "The talks also focused on China's pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy and manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States".

He said it was hard to be optimistic about this first round of talks.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "While there was agreement on less thorny issues such as agriculture and energy, USA demands for verification and enforceable targets on intellectual property rights, transfer of technologies and non-tariff barriers may not be that easily addressed", DBS Group Research strategists Eugene Leow and Neel Gopalakrishnan said in a commentary.

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"The China talks are going very well", he said.

China is facing the daunting task of presenting a credible plan to meet Trump's demands to cut down the trade deficit. The delegation, led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish, extended its stay for an additional day; talks had originally been scheduled to conclude on January 8.

Trump has been demanding China to drastically reduce the United States dollars 375 billion trade deficit and ensure IPR production for U.S. technology and services. In recent weeks, China has shown some signs of flexibility or acceding to the American demands.

And the USA says China has agreed to buy substantially more American goods.

It softened its stand by offering a mix of concessions by resuming purchases of U.S. soybeans, suspended punitive tariffs on imports of USA cars and toned down its "Made in China 2025" plan, which aimed at breaking the country's reliance on foreign technology and pull its hi-tech industries up to western levels.

Russia is reportedly ranked as China's tenth biggest trade partner, while China remains a major importer of Russian produce, accounting for 15 percent of the country's global trade as of 2017. Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 percent from 10 percent now if no deal is reached by March 2, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if Beijing fails to cede to U.S. demands.

China's trade data for the full year of 2018 is due to be released on January 14, and economists see year-on-year export growth slowing in December from November.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil added 66 cents to $48.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Latest on trade tensions between China and the U.S.

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