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China's top negotiator says 'substantial progress' made in US trade deal

Megan Henney

China’s top trade negotiator confirmed on Saturday the U.S. and Beijing have made “substantial progress” toward a partial trade deal.

“The two sides have made substantial progress in many fields, laying an important foundation for the signing of a phased agreement,” Vice Premier Liu said during a technology conference on Saturday. He stressed that China is “willing to work in concert with the U.S. to address each other’s core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”

Last week, the world’s two largest economies reached a limited deal toward ending the 15-month trade war that’s hampered global growth.

As part of the deal -- which Trump and President Xi Jinping could sign as soon as next month -- China agreed to raise its agricultural purchases to between $40 billion and $50 billion from $8 billion to $16 billion and to make certain reforms on intellectual property and financial services. The U.S. will not raise tariffs on Oct. 15 from 25 percent to 30 percent.

It’s still unclear whether Trump plans to halt another round of tariffs that are set to take effect on Dec. 15.

Phase two negotiations are expected to begin immediately after the first agreement is signed.

“Stopping the escalation of the trade war benefits China, the U.S and the whole world. It’s what producers and consumers alike are hoping for,” Liu said in a rare public speech about the trade war.

In the third quarter, China’s growth sputtered to a 26-year low, dragged down by weak factory production and investment sentiment.

But Liu dismissed any effects the trade war has had on China’s economy.

“We’re not worried about short-term economic volatility. We have every confidence in our ability to meet macroeconomic targets for the year,” he said.

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