China, U.S. to deepen trade talks

Aides set up platforms before a group photo with members of U.S. and Chinese trade negotiation delegations at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) – The Ministry of Commerce said officials from China and the United States will further deepen communication on business issues in the seventh round of high-level economic and trade talks in Washington this week.

On the basis of the last round of high-level consultations, working-level talks between the two countries began on Tuesday in the U.S., and further discussions will be held on Thursday and Friday, said Gao Feng, the ministry’s spokesman.

Gao said the economic and trade teams of the two sides have conducted intensive consultations to make an agreement in accordance with the consensus reached by the two presidents during their meeting in Argentina.

“As for the specific progress of the talks, it will have to wait until the consultations are completed,” he said.

It is time for the two countries to decide where their interests align, coordinate policies and make a breakthrough in rules-based negotiations, said Xu Hongcai, an economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

“Both countries should pursue domestic structural reforms or shift policy to ensure that development benefits each other and that their economic ties are well-balanced,” he stressed.

Given the rise of trade protectionism and tightened security reviews of foreign investment conducted by certain countries, the ministry also announced that China’s nonfinancial outbound direct investment dropped 15 percent year-on-year to US$9.19 billion in January.

Chinese companies invested in 137 countries and regions last month, mainly in areas such as leasing and commercial services, manufacturing, wholesale, retail and construction, as well as other service sector segments.

“We found encouraging ODI shift momentum in different shapes including industrial investment, equity replacement, joint venture and franchising last month,” said Han Yong, deputy director-general of the ministry’s department of Outward Investment and economic cooperation.

He said Chinese investment in manufacturing and other real economy fields remained vibrant, while irrational ODI activity had been effectively curbed.

The 2018 Report on Development of China’s Outward Investment, released by the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in late January, warned Chinese companies to make better preparations to avoid investment risks in North America since the U.S. and Canada adopted stricter investment restrictions last year.

Despite confronting certain global challenges, China’s ODI climbed 4.2 percent year-on-year to US$129.83 billion in 2018, while nonfinancial ODI rose 0.3 percent year-on-year to US$120.5 billion.

To avoid uncertainties, China should make it abundantly clear what the economy’s foundation is, which has proved to be manufacturing, and make the most of the market-driven mechanism and strengthen industrial cooperation with other countries, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

By Zhong Nan