September 26, 2019 / 7:30 AM / 3 months ago

China says in close communication with U.S. over October trade talks

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and the United States are still discussing details about upcoming trade talks in October, making preparations to ensure “positive progress” is made during the negotiations, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: China's Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng attends a news conference in Beijing, China April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

The countries’ trade negotiators are expected to meet in Washington in about two weeks to determine if they can start to chart a path out of their bruising trade war or are headed for new and higher tariffs on each others’ goods.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday a deal to end a nearly 15-month trade war with China could happen sooner than people think and that the Chinese were making big agricultural purchases from the United States, including of beef and pork.

On Thursday, Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng also said Chinese firms have made significant purchases of U.S. soybeans and pork, adding that those purchases were exempt from tariffs.

China and the United States complement each other in agriculture and there is ample room for further “cooperation” as Chinese demand for quality agricultural products is high, Gao said.

“We hope both sides can work together and take tangible actions to create favorable conditions for such cooperation,” he said.

Trump spoke a day after delivering a stinging rebuke of China’s trade practices at the United Nations General Assembly, saying he would not accept a “bad deal” in U.S.-China trade negotiations.

When asked about that and Trump’s other remarks that he was in no rush to reach a deal with China before the 2020 U.S. elections, Gao reiterated hope that both sides can find a way to compromise.

“We wish the U.S. and China can meet halfway, and on a foundation of equality and mutual respect, find a win-win solution via negotiations. This will benefit China, the U.S., and the whole world,” he said.

UNRELIABLE ENTITY LIST

Gao also said China is still going through internal procedures for rolling out a much-anticipated “unreliable entity list”, which will be used for punishing companies that have undermined China’s national interests.

It’s seen by some analysts as a convenient tool for retaliating against U.S. sanctions on Chinese tech firms, including telecommunications giant Huawei.

But Gao said the goal of the list is to protect fair competition, and “not to target any country’s companies, organizations or individuals”.

“We welcome companies from all countries in the world, including the U.S., to invest and do business in China,” he said.

Reporting by Yawen Chen and Ryan Woo; Additional Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; editing by John Stonestreet and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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