China and the United States concluded three days of talks by midlevel trade officials January 9 with a cautious sense of optimism that the world's two biggest economies might be able to reach a deal that ends their bruising trade war.
"The talks also focused on China's pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy and manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States".
"Officials discussed the need for any agreement to provide for complete implementation subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement", the USTR said.
It's unclear from the United States statement how much headway negotiators made regarding USA concerns over forced technology transfers and cybertheft of trade secrets for commercial purposes.
Mofcom spokesman Gao Feng said that these issues were an important item of the negotiations, and that progress has been made.
In a brief statement issued today, China's commerce ministry put an optimistic spin on the talks, declaring there has been "broad, deep and meticulous discussions on shared observations on trade issues and structural problems, laying the foundation for addressing areas of common concern".
He has publicly said he's eager to make a deal that benefits both sides while also stressing that China's slowing economy and falling stock market signal the country is more desperate than the U.S. for a speedy outcome.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed December 1 to postpone more tariff hikes on each other's goods for 90 days while they negotiate.
However, if no deal is reached by March 2, Trump is prepared to hike tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. As in the 1930s, the escalating economic and trade rivalry is bound up with the United States preparations for a catastrophic war involving nuclear-armed powers.
"The length of the meetings shows that both sides were serious and honest about the talks", he said.
-China Business Council. "That is very positive".
China is facing the daunting task of presenting a credible plan to meet Trump's demands to cut down the trade deficit.
Since the start of the trade war in July, both sides have levied billions in tariffs that have shaken business sentiment, in a conflict many see an extension of a technology battle between the world's two largest economies.
The US delegation to Beijing this week was led by Jeff Gerrish, deputy to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who is leading the negotiations for the Trump administration.
Big spending on commodities and goods would send a positive signal on China's intent to work with the United States, but would do nothing to resolve the US demands that require hard structural change from China.
Gao did not comment, however, on whether he was confident that the talks could be wrapped up in the 90-day period laid out by President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping. President Xi Jinping responded by imposing penalties on $110 billion of American goods, slowing customs clearance for US companies and suspending issuing licenses in finance and other businesses.
The truce came after the two sides imposed import duties on more than $300 billion of each other's goods.
A week ago, Apple Inc rattled global markets by cutting its own sales outlook, blaming weak demand in China.
But stocks have rebounded this week on hopes the talks between the two governments will eventually bring an end to hostilities.
However, the enthusiasm was wearing thin yesterday, when Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent, while Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.4 percent and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo dropped 1.3 percent.