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'Back on track': China and US agree to restart trade talks

Washington has committed not to impose any new tariffs on Beijing’s exports.

President Donald Trump, left, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
President Donald Trump, left, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Image: Susan Walsh/PA

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have struck a trade war truce as Washington declared negotiations are “back on track”. 

The ceasefire came as the leaders of the world’s top two economies met on the sidelines of the G20 summit. Trump hailed the meeting in the Japanese city of Osaka as “excellent”.

“We are right back on track,” he added.

There was little in the way of concrete details on what was agreed, but Trump confirmed Washington had committed not to impose any new tariffs on Beijing’s exports and that the two sides would continue talks.

“We won’t be adding an additional tremendous amount of $350 billion left which could be taxed or could be tariffed. We’re not doing that, we are going to work with China on where we left off to see if we can make a deal,” Trump said at a press conference.

“We will be continuing to negotiate.”

The outcome was likely to be seen as a win for avoiding any new tariffs.

“The base case scenario was met at G20 and while we are no worse for wear, let’s see what the G20 hangover brings,” said Stephen Innes, market analyst at Vanguard Markets.

‘Down the tubes’ 

Trump struck a conciliatory tone from his arrival in Japan for the summit, despite saying China’s economy was going “down the tubes” before he set out for Osaka.

He said he was ready for a “historic” deal with China as the leaders kicked off their meeting, and Xi told him that dialogue was better than confrontation.

In their final statement, the G20 leaders admitted that “most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” echoing hard-won language from their finance ministers at a meeting earlier this month.

There were few more concrete details about the closed-door discussions but Trump suggested a potentially softer position on the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which has been a sticking point in the trade war.

He said US companies could sell equipment in cases “where there’s no great national security problem” to the firm, which Washington fears poses security risks.

But it was not immediately clear whether the comments marked a material change on Huawei, which has essentially been barred from accessing crucial US technology.

- © AFP 2019 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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