BEIJING: China said on Thursday it hoped U.S. officials would bring a problem-solving attitude to renewed trade talks in advance of a meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping next week in Japan.
Negotiations to reach a broad trade deal broke down last month after U.S. officials accused China of backing away from previously agreed commitments.
A telephone call between Trump and Xi on Tuesday, as well as confirmation the two will meet in Japan on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit, have rekindled hopes of a detente.
"The heads of the two trade teams will communicate, according to instructions passed down from the two presidents," Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters.
"We hope (the United States) will create the necessary conditions and atmosphere for solving problems through dialogue as equals."
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday he would speak by telephone to Liu He, China's vice premier and chief negotiator in the trade talks, "in the next day and a half."
The two countries have imposed tariffs on each other's imports, disrupting global supply chains and roiling financial markets. China has vowed to not give in to U.S. pressure on issues of principle.
Trump has threatened to extend tariffs to another $300 billion worth of goods, covering nearly all remaining Chinese imports into the United States, including consumer products such as cellphones, computers and clothing.
China says three main sticking points remain between the two sides in trade negotiations. They are the removal of tariffs imposed in the trade war, the scale of goods purchases from the United States that China will make to help reduce the trade imbalance between the two, and the need for a "balanced" text for any trade deal. Those "matters of principle" cannot be compromised, China has said.
However, Gao still expressed optimism about the possibility of agreement on issues such as structural economic reform, implementation, protection of intellectual property (IP) rights and market opening.
"Both sides have immense mutual interests. I believe by taking care of each other's concerns through equal dialogue, both sides will for sure be able to find a solution to solve the problems properly," Gao said.
The U.S. Trade Representative on Thursday was holding the fourth of seven days of hearings for manufacturers, retailers and other U.S. businesses to comment on the proposed tariffs. Individuals and firms can also submit comments to an online government docket.
Apple Inc weighed in with a comment filed online on Thursday that the proposed tariffs on goods including iPhones, iPads, and Macs will hurt its global competitiveness.
The company also noted that tariffs would reduce its contribution to the U.S. Treasury. The company is the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer and pledged in 2018 to directly contribute over $350 billion to the U.S. economy over five years.
The Trump administration has accused China of failing to protect IP, forcing U.S. companies to transfer technology to Chinese partners, and failing to provide a level playing field for U.S. companies.
China has repeatedly promised to open its market wider to foreign investors and provide them with better services and treatment.
Speaking to a group of 19 chief executives of foreign multinationals in Beijing on Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated those promises.
"China will maintain our long-standing commitment to reform and opening in order to continue to expand and open. We welcome more and more foreign investment to come to China," Li said, in comments in front of reporters.
"We will also relax (restrictions on) access to even more fields to create a market-oriented, law-based internationalised business environment."
Neither side has signaled it would shift from positions that led to the impasse last month, when Beijing revised a drRead More – Source