China says US must cancel new tariffs for ultimate trade deal

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (C) with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (R) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) pose for photos before holding talks at the Xijiao Conference Center in Shanghai on July 31, 2019

Ng Han Guan | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China emphasized Thursday that the U.S. must remove tariffs in order for the two countries to reach a final agreement on trade, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said.

“China’s position, principle and goal for the China-U.S. trade negotiations has never changed,” Gao said in Mandarin at a weekly press conference, according to a CNBC translation.

“Both sides’ ultimate goal for the negotiations is to end the trade war, cancel all additional tariffs,” he said. “This is good for China, good for the U.S. and good for the world.”

The two economic giants have been embroiled in a trade dispute for more than a year, with each country applying tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of goods from the other.

The latest round of trade talks between the world’s two largest economies ended late last week in Washington, D.C. After the meeting, the U.S. said it would suspend a tariff increase on Chinese goods that were supposed to take effect on Tuesday this week.

U.S. President Donald Trump said China agreed to a “very substantial phase one deal” that will be written over the next three weeks. Trump also said the deal would address intellectual property and financial services concerns, as well as Chinese purchases of about $40 billion to $50 billion U.S. agricultural products.

On Thursday, Gao did not confirm the exact amount but maintained that Chinese companies would increase their purchases of U.S. agricultural products, according to Chinese market needs and market-based principles.

Gao also did not confirm when a phase one agreement would be signed or whether the leaders of both countries planned to meet. He did note, however, that teams from both sides remain in communication.

“We hope both sides can continue to work together to advance the negotiations and, as soon as possible, reach a phased agreement and make new progress on canceling tariffs,” Gao said.

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