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No date set for phase two talks with US, says China trade team member

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Published in Business News

BEIJING -- The U.S. and China haven't set a timetable for the next phase of their trade negotiations, according to an official directly involved in the talks.

The focus for now is on implementing the phase one deal, Ning Jizhe said Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Ning is the deputy head of China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, and also runs the statistics bureau.

President Donald Trump has said phase two talks will start "as soon as" the phase one agreement "kicks in." He has said he will travel to Beijing to begin the talks, though no dates have been announced.

"I will agree to take those tariffs off if we are able to do phase two," Trump said last week during the signing ceremony. "In other words, we're negotiating with the tariffs."

The deal, signed by Trump and China's top trade negotiator this month in Washington, commits China to cracking down on the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by its companies and state entities, while outlining a $200 billion spending spree to try to close its trade imbalance with the U.S. It also binds Beijing to avoid currency manipulation to gain an advantage and includes an enforcement system to ensure promises are kept.

Doubts immediately emerged over the feasibility of increasing U.S. purchases to that level, especially if they involve diverting imports from other nations. European countries shouldn't be worried as the deal won't impact China's trade relations with a third country and China still has a lot of room to import from other countries, Ning said.

 

Vice Premier Han Zheng also used a speech in Davos, Switzerland, to reassure global leaders that the agreement wouldn't hurt their countries' exports to China, saying its commitment to buy more from the U.S. is in line with its World Trade Organization obligations and won't squeeze out other imports. Han also pledged to lower barriers for foreign investors.

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