BEIJING – The Chinese government said on Thursday that talks between Washington and Beijing to ratify the first phase of a trade deal were not under threat and that both sides were in close contact.
“At the moment, there are no more details to offer on the agreement, but the external rumors are not accurate,” Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said in a press conference on Thursday.
The statement seemed to be a response to US President Donald Trump’s recent claim that Beijing was not taking the lead in the talks.
Trump also said that if a trade agreement is not achieved, tariffs will rise even more.
“China is willing to work together to properly settle areas of common concern with the US and strive to conclude phase-one of the trade agreement,” the Chinese spokesman told reporters.
However, concerns that an agreement may never be reached has caused the Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo markets to close Thursday with losses of 1.57%, 1.35% and 0.48%, respectively.
The negotiation process has been marred by a steady flow of seemingly contradictory statements between both countries.
In early November, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said it had reached an agreement with Washington to phase out the levies both parties have imposed during the trade dispute.
However, days later, Trump dampened hopes that the tariffs on Chinese products would be phased out and lowered expectations a deal could be met.
The two-year trade war has seen a tit-for-tat hike on tariffs in both countries, most recently on Sept. 1, by increasing a 10% tax on Chinese imports to 15%.
The hike would be worth around $112,000.
It remains to be seen if on Dec. 15 the same increase will be applied to the remaining imports taxed currently at 10%.
If Washington does follow through, the tariff increase would be valued at some $300,000.
Trade tensions between the two largest world economies go beyond bilateral relations and have profound global consequences.
In its latest global growth forecasts, released in July, the International Monetary Fund lowered its projections of global growth to 3.2% this year, one-tenth less than in April weighed down by doubts about a possible resolution of this dispute.