China is ‘hopeful’ of securing a trade deal with the US

China is ‘hopeful’ of securing a trade deal with the US


Asked about the prospects of a deal, Mr Wang told reporters he was “hopeful” as both sides worked around the clock to reach consensus.

“We have made substantial progress on some important issues. At the moment, teams from both sides are going all out to communicate and negotiate to reach an agreement,” he said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), in Beijing which earlier in the week ratifiednew foreign investment laws, which are an effort to appease US concerns but have been criticised by foreign companies.

The Trump administration has extended a March 2 deadline for resolving the trade impasse ahead of an expected meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Xi in Florida at the end of the month. Washington has threatened to lift tariffs from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on $US200 billion of Chinese imports if they cannot resolve thier differences.

Whilegrowing hopes of a dealhave underpinned global markets in recent weeks,The Wall Street Journalreported on Saturday that Chinese officials would not commit to a presidential summit until the two countries have a firm deal in hand. The newspaper said China was unsettled by Mr Trump’sfailure to secure a deal with North Korean leaderKim Jong-un when they met in Hanoi last month.

Still, the rhetoric from Beijing and Washington has been positive. Mr Trump is expected to lessen demands on the thornier issues of intellectual property theft and subsidies for China’s state-owned companies to protect the US stockmarket.

Mr Wang said failure to secure a deal would hurt investor confidence and be bad for both countries.

“It hurts the interests of the US, China and the world,” he said.

When asked about subsidies for China’s state companies, which are believed to be one of Washington’s key concerns, another Chinese official denied they existed at all.

“For state-owned enterprises and enterprises owned by the central government we don’t have a systematic arrangement to give extra subsidies,” Xiao Yaqing, head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said at a separate press conference.

China’s NPC has fast-tracked the approval of new foreign investment rules which Beijing says will ban forced technology transfer and government interference in foreign business practices. Like their US and European counterparts, Australian businesses are sceptical about the new rules.

Mr Wang acknowledged there had been complaints from foreign firms about unfair competition. He said the new rules meant policies covering domestic firms would be applied to foreign companies, giving them the same rights in establishing standards and joining the government procurement process.

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