Contrasting Chinese, US statements on trade war agreement

BEIJING (REUTERS) – China and the United States agreed on Saturday (Dec 1) to a truce in their trade war following talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.

The United States expects China to take immediate action to cut tariffs on US car imports and end intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers as the two countries move toward a broader trade deal, a White House official said on Monday (Dec 3).

However, there are differences in both countries’ official accounts of what was agreed. Here are some of the key differences:


The White House said Xi said he was open to approving the previously unapproved Qualcomm-NXP deal should it again be presented to him.

Senior Chinese officials did not mention this deal in a news conference. However, at least one major Chinese state media outlet mentioned it on its account on Chinese social media platform WeChat, referring to the White House statement.

However, Qualcomm Inc said on Monday it was not looking to revive its abandoned US$44 billion (S$60 billion) acquisition of Dutch peer NXP Semiconductors NV.


The White House said Trump and Xi agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, was less specific, telling reporters China will import more products, based on market demand, from the United States in efforts to gradually ease imbalances in two-way trade.

Wang added that the two also agreed to open markets to each other, and that China will work to gradually resolve US concerns in the process of further opening-up.

On Monday, influential Chinese tabloid the Global Times said it understood China and the United States will further discuss moves at expanding market access, intellectual property protection, avoiding compulsory technology transfers, and joint control of cyber crime.


The White House said talks would take place to resolve within the next 90 days specific US complaints such as forced technology transfer, or else existing 10 per cent tariffs would go up to 25 per cent. These had been scheduled to increase to 25 per cent on Jan 1 but were postponed as part of the weekend agreement.

Wang did not mention this timeframe, though Chinese state media has. Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told reporters that China and the United States would step up talks to remove the existing 25 per cent tariffs (on some other products), but gave no timeframe.

Negotiators will actually have fewer than 90 days to reach a deal because of holidays in the two countries over the next three months, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told reporters on Monday.


The White House said China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products from the United States. It also said China has agreed to start purchasing agricultural products from US farmers immediately.

China has made no direct mention of specific goods they will start to buy nor given any timeframe for when they may start.


China offered more than US$1.2 trillion in additional commitments on trade at the Xi-Trump dinner, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Monday.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the figure was a broad benchmark that would depend on private transactions for US goods and was subject to market conditions.

China committed to start lifting tariffs and non-tariff barriers immediately, including reducing its 40 per cent tariffs on autos, Kudlow said. On Sunday, Trump tweeted that China had agreed to cut import levies on American-made cars.

Americans would get a majority ownership in Chinese companies for the first time, Kudlow added.

China has not confirmed any of the details Mnuchin and Kudlow gave.

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