Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China's 2019 To-Do List Includes Tackling U.S. Trade Spat: Zhong

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China's 2019 To-Do List Includes Tackling U.S. Trade Spat: Zhong

  • Priorities include more market access for foreign capital
  • Interview with state media on the heels of U.S.-China talks
Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China will work to tackle trade friction with the U.S. this year, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said in an interview with Chinese state media that followed three days of talks between the nations and perked up troubled financial markets.

The Ministry of Commerce, which has set trade negotiations as one of its priorities in 2019, will push talks forward and boost cooperation with U.S. states, cities, business communities and non-governmental groups in order to promote a stable bilateral trade relationship, the state news service Xinhua reported, citing an interview Zhong granted to it and a number of other Chinese agencies.

Zhong Shan

Photographer: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP via Getty Images

Talks between mid-level U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing concluded on Wednesday. The negotiations were extended for a day, which added to optimism fueled by recent tweets from President Donald Trump that the two sides are making progress toward an agreement.

U.S. and Chinese stocks have advanced in the early days of 2019 on fresh hope for a breakthrough in the showdown between the world’s two largest economies. There are about seven weeks before the U.S.-imposed deadline for a deal, after which Trump may order a resumption of tariff hikes on imports from China.

Washington Talks

The U.S. president is increasingly eager to strike a deal with China in an effort to perk up financial markets that have slumped on concerns over the trade war, according to people familiar with internal White House deliberations.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a key economic adviser to China’s President Xi Jinping, is set to visit Washington late this month for further trade talks, people familiar with the plans said on Friday. Liu would meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the people said.

Robert Lighthizer

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S.-China Trade War Talks; What’s Happened, and What’s Next

Separately, Zhong told Xinhua that China’s goods consumption grew by around 9.1 percent in 2018 to 38 trillion yuan ($5.6 trillion) and inbound foreign direct investment increased by 3 percent last year to $135 billion.

Other priorities for the ministry this year include expanding market access for foreign capital. Such work includes shortening the so-called negative list nationwide, including for free-trade pilot zones, and provides for allowing foreign investors to set up 100 percent-owned companies in more industries. It also entails efforts to open up service sectors more, he said.

The ministry will also focus on hosting the second international import expo and promote the construction of more free-trade pilot zones as well as experimenting with free-trade ports, Zhong said.

— With assistance by Sarah Chen, and Miao Han