White House

U.S., China to restart trade talks; farmers, Huawei may gain

Trump said the pause on new tariffs is ‘for the time being‘

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference after the G-20 Summit on June 29, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume trade negotiations on Saturday during their meeting in Osaka at the annual Group of 20 summit, in an attempt to resolve a trade deal between the world’s two largest economies. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

The U.S. will restart stalled trade talks with Beijing and delay imposing new tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports, President Donald Trump said Saturday.

“We will be continuing to negotiate. We’re going to work with China to where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Trump said at a news conference in Osaka, Japan, where he and Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a meeting of G-20 leaders.

[3 things to watch as Trump meets with China’s Xi amid stalled trade talks]

Trump said the pause on new tariffs is “for the time being.” The U.S. already has 25 percent tariffs on imports from China valued at $250 billion.

The president also said U.S. companies could sell equipment to Huawei, the giant Chinese telecommunications company that Beijing considers one of its industrial champions, and that China had agreed to buy more U.S. farm products. Trump’s move on Huawei is an apparent concession and incentive to Beijing to reenter trade discussions.

“I like our companies selling things to other people,” Trump said. He said U.S. companies weren’t happy that they couldn’t sell because they had nothing to do with what happened at Huawei.

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The arrangement reached by Trump and Xi seems to fall short of concerns some Democrats had raised that Trump might remove Huawei from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List, which requires an export license for the sale or transfer of U.S. technology to Huawei.

In May, the Commerce Department issued a three-month temporary general license authorizing continued transactions with Huawei in four areas, according to the Congressional Research Service. It is unclear if the announcement Saturday would allow sales outside the areas.

The administration in May also issued an executive order to block U.S. companies from buying foreign-made telecommunications equipment deemed to be a national security risk. The order didn’t mention Huawei, but was widely understood to be aimed at the company amid worry among security experts that the equipment posed a risk.

Trump’s comment Saturday left unclear the status of U.S. purchases of Huawei equipment.

He seemed to indicate that a decision on Huawei’s fate could be tied to the final resolution of talks with China.

“We agreed to leave Huawei till the end,” he said.

In June, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced plans for its own unreliable entities list that would include foreign companies.

Trump also said there had been no discussion of the U.S. dropping charges of financial fraud related to Iran sanctions against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. She is being held by Canada at the request of the U.S. China has retaliated against Canada by detaining two Canadian citizens and cutting its purchases of Canadian canola seed.

Ag products

U.S. farmers may also see a boost, according to Trump, who said China had agreed to buy “a tremendous amount of food and agricultural products” during the renewed talks. The president made a similar assertion in early June after the U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement on the handling of migrants to the southern U.S. border. Trump said Mexico agreed to buy U.S. agricultural products, but the countries’ declaration made no mention of that detail.

Before relations between the U.S. and Beijing became strained, June and July were usually the months when buyers from China started placing orders. Beijing has targeted tariffs on segments of U.S. agriculture in red farm states, applying pressure on a Trump constituency.

At his press conference Saturday, Trump lavishly praised farmers and ranchers as steadfast patriots for continuing to stand behind him.

Neither Trump nor Xi gave a timetable for completing the discussions in which the U.S. is pushing Beijing to revamp trade practices that limit U.S. access to its markets, to meet international standards for protecting intellectual property of companies and to end industrial subsidies that allow Chinese companies to produce more cheaply than U.S. competitors.

Reaction

The Business Roundtable, an organization of executives of top companies, welcomed the news.

Cummins Inc. CEO Tom Linebarger, chairman of the Business Roundtable Trade & International Committee, said in a statement the group “is encouraged that President Trump and President Xi agreed to resume trade negotiations and suspend any further tariff escalation.”

“We continue to support the Administration’s efforts to address long-standing unfair trade practices and urge both parties to conclude an agreement that addresses structural issues in China and removes tariffs,” Linebarger said.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office concluded seven days of hearings June 25 on the proposed tariffs on $300 billion in additional imports. Most of the 300 witnesses at the 55 panels urged the administration not to impose the tariffs.

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 gives the president authority to enforce trade agreements and address “unfair” barriers to exports. The U.S. currently has 25 percent tariffs on imported goods from China valued at $250 billion levied under the 1974 law.

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