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Exclusive: China makes unprecedented proposals for technological, trade talks progress – US officials



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China has made unprecedented proposals in negotiations with the United States on a number of issues, including forced technology transfer, as the two sides are working to overcome the remaining obstacles to an agreement to end their long-standing trade war, US said. Reuters officials Wednesday.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (4th L), Finance Secretary Steven Mnuchin (3rd L) and Advisor to White House Larry Kudlow (2nd L) represent a picture before the start of the US-China trade negotiations in the White House in Washington, US February 21, 2019. REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

US President Donald Trump introduced tariffs of $ 250 billion of Chinese imports last year to force China to change the way it does business with the rest of the world and to open more of China's economy to US companies.

Among Trump's claims is that Beijing concludes practices that Washington claims result in systematic theft of US intellectual property and forced transfer of US technology to Chinese companies.

China made proposals on the table in negotiations that went beyond previous, including on technology transfer, said one of four senior US administration officials who spoke to Reuters.

Dealers have made progress on the details of the written agreements that have been drawn up to address US concerns, he said.

"If you looked at the texts a month ago compared to today, we have moved forward in all areas. We are not yet where we want to be," said the official and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"They are talking about forced technology transfer in a way they never wanted to talk about before – both in terms of scope and specifications," he said, referring to Chinese dealers. He refused to give further details.

Previously, Reuters reported that the two parties were working on written agreements in six areas: forced technology transfer and internet hosting, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin arrive in Beijing on Thursday for a new round of negotiations with Chinese officials to work on an agreement that would end a month-long trade war that has cost both trillions of dollars and damaged global economic growth.

Personal lectures, which will be followed by a round in Washington next week, are the first meetings the two sides have held for weeks after missing an initial goal at the end of March for a US Summit President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping sign a pact.

Negotiations will continue as long as progress is made on key issues, the official said.

"It could go to May, June, no one knows. It can happen in April, we don't know," said another administrative official.

The two sides still have differences in intellectual property rights and how to enforce an agreement, he said.

"WHO SHOULD BE STAYED"

China wants the US to lift its tariffs as part of an agreement. Washington, aware of the fact that tariffs are giving it leverage to ensure that Beijing follows through any commitments it makes, is cautious about immediately lifting them.

Last week, Trump said the US could leave tariffs on Chinese goods for a "substantial period" to ensure compliance.

"Some tariffs will be," said the other official. "There will be some give on it, but we will not get rid of all the tariffs. We cannot."

The topic will be dealt with in upcoming talks.

"Of course, this is a problem we must solve … and will be an important part of a final agreement," said the first official. He said there was agreement on the enforcement of what he termed "backend" when an agreement was in place: a structure where both parties could raise complaints and carry out tariffs if there were violations of the agreement.

Since July 2018, the US has imposed import duties of $ 250 billion. Dollars, including $ 50 billion Dollars in technology and industrial products at 25 percent and $ 200 billion. Dollars in other products, including furniture and building materials, of 10 percent.

China has returned with tariffs of about 110 billion US American goods, including soybeans and other goods.

The first official said that the focus on lectures had shifted from Chinese purchases of US merchandise to the more difficult structural problems he said that Trump wanted as part of a "big" deal.

Bipartisan support at home for his tough stance on China as well as from business has emboldened Trump as he pushes for an agreement that deals with long-standing complaints of trade, the source says.

Some officials have expressed concern that Trump would accept an agreement involving Chinese purchases of large commodities in US goods and lack structural problems.

"Who would he be happy to sell?" Said the sources.

He expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached.

"I'm still sure, but it takes time," he said.

"Until some offer is completed, it can always go either. And the president has made clear, both in words and in action, that he will go away from offers if they are not good deals."

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney, Simon Webb & Shri Navaratnam

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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