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Donald Trump, Xi call truce to restart trade dialogue

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping appeared to step back from their trade war on Saturday, as Washington vowed to hold off on further tariffs and declared negotiations with China “back on track”.

world Updated: Jun 29, 2019 23:14 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Osaka
U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping poses for a photo ahead of their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping poses for a photo ahead of their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. (REUTERS PHOTO)
         

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping appeared to step back from their trade war on Saturday, as Washington vowed to hold off on further tariffs and declared negotiations with China “back on track”.

The ceasefire that halts damaging trade frictions came in a hotly anticipated meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies on the sidelines of the G20 summit, and signalled a growing willingness by the United States to resume negotiations on trade – a position also reflected in comments Trump made following his discussions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump hailed the meeting in the Japanese city of Osaka as “excellent”, news agency AFP reported. “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.

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.

In one of his key meetings at the summit, Prime Minister Modi too took up on the issue of protectionism. Modi, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had “agreed that in an era of change, it is important to maintain liberalisation of trade, maintain a free and open trading system, and to oppose the tendency towards protectionism,” according to a statement by Indian officials on Friday.

“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.

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.

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.

First Published: Jun 29, 2019 23:13 IST

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