Trump, China Optimistic About New Trade Talks


U.S. President Donald Trump and officials of the Chinese government have expressed optimism that the new round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing will bear fruits. U.S. and Chinese officials kicked off vice-ministerial level trade discussions on Monday, Jan. 7. The talks are expected to come to a close on Tuesday, Jan. 8, according to a statement issued by the Chinese commerce ministry.

Lu Kang, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the two sides will have “positive and constructive discussions” during the two-day meeting. Wei Jianguo, a former vice commerce minister also said, “These talks will have a positive outcome because both sides are trying to deal with the issue in an active and practical manner. I’m not saying there could be positive results; I think there definitely will be.” 

Trump on his part told reports at the White House on Sunday, “I really believe they want to make a deal. The tariffs have absolutely hurt China very badly.” The President has promised to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on March 1, 2019 if the two economic giants fail to strike a deal.

The American delegation led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish touched down in Beijing over the weekend. China did not reveal the names of the officials who will represent it in the talks. Both sides did not also issue details of their agenda. However, the US delegation includes officials from the Energy, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, and the State Department.

Last year, the President imposed tariffs of up to 25% on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods over complaints the country bullies U.S. companies by forcing them to share their technology. The Chinese government under the leadership of President Xi Jinping retaliated by delaying customs clearance for American firms, and imposing penalties on $110 billion worth of US goods.

The prolonged and vicious trade war between the U.S. and China has sparked volatility on global markets and weighed on economic growth amid growing uncertainty. Apple shocked Wall Street on Wednesday after warning that its fiscal 2019 first quarter revenue will be lower than earlier anticipated. In a letter addressed to shareholders, CEO Tim Cook blamed the decision on China’s economic slowdown, which he said was hurting iPhone sales.

Shares in the company lost more than 9% in post-market session and extended the loss after markets opened on Thursday. The effect of $AAPL slump was felt by other companies including its suppliers as worries grew that the troubles of the California-based tech giant could spread wider. It remains to be seen whether the outcome of this week’s discussions will offer the market some relief after the tumultuous week.