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US-China trade talks: More needs to be done as 100-day deadline ends today

However, the talks have sealed some initial deals

Reuters  |  Shanghai/Beijing 

US President Donald Trump interacts with Chinese President Xi Jinping. File Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump interacts with Chinese President Xi Jinping. File Photo: Reuters

Bilateral talks aimed at reducing the United States (US) deficit with have yielded some initial deals, but US firms say much more needs to be done as a deadline for a 100-day action plan expires on Sunday.

The negotiations, which began in April, have reopened China's market to after 14 years and prompted Chinese pledges to buy US liquefied natural gas (LNG). American firms have also been given access to some parts of China's financial services sector.

More details on the 100-day plan are expected to be announced in the coming week as senior US and Chinese officials gather in Washington for annual bilateral economic talks, rebranded this year as the "US-Comprehensive Economic Dialogue."

"We hope to report further progress on the 100-day deliverables next week," a US Commerce Department spokesman said on Saturday. "That will be the basis for judging the extent of progress."

The spokesman declined to discuss potential areas for new agreements since a May 11 announcement on beef, chicken, financial services and

Earlier in April, when Chinese President met US President for the first time at his Florida resort, Xi agreed to a 100-day plan for talks aimed at boosting US exports and trimming the US deficit with

The US goods deficit with reached $347 billion last year. The gap in the first five months of 2017 widened about 5.3 per cent from a year earlier, according to US Census Bureau data.

"It is an excellent momentum builder, but much more needs to be done for US-commercial negotiations to be considered a success," said Jacob Parker, vice president of operations at the Business Council (USCBC) in

There has been little sign of progress in soothing the biggest irritants, such as US demands that cut excess capacity in steel and aluminium production, lack of access for US firms to China's services market, and US national security curbs on high-tech exports to

The administration is considering broad tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminium on national security grounds, partly in response to what it views as a glut of Chinese production that is flooding markets and driving down prices.

North Korea has cast a long shadow over the relationship, after Pyongyang tested what some experts have described as an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.

has linked progress in to China's ability to rein in North Korea, which counts on as its chief friend and ally.

"between and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter. So much for working with us - but we had to give it a try!" said on Twitter after the North Korean missile test.

Trading meat

American beef is now available in Chinese shops for the first time since a 2003 US case of "mad cow" disease, giving US ranchers access to a rapidly growing market worth around $2.6 billion last year.

More beef deals were signed during an overseas buying mission by the Chinese last week.

"There are hopes there will be even more concrete results," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in on Friday. He did not elaborate.

Critics of the 100-day process said had already agreed to lift its ban on last September, with officials just needing to finalise details on quarantine requirements.

China, meanwhile, has delivered its first batch of cooked chicken to US ports after years of negotiating for access to the market.

But unlike the rush by Chinese consumers for a first taste of American beef, Chinese poultry processors have not had a flurry of orders for cooked chicken.

Demand should improve once is allowed to ship Chinese grown, processed and cooked chicken to the US, said Li Wei, export manager at Qingdao Nine Alliance Group, China's top exporter of processed poultry.

Biotech crops

Other sectors in under US pressure to open up have moved more slowly.

had only approved two of the eight waiting for import approval, despite gathering experts to review the crops on two occasions in a six-week period.

US industry officials had signalled they were expecting more approvals. US executives say the review process still lacks transparency.

Financial services is another area where little progress has been made, US officials say.

USCBC's Parker said it is unclear how long it will take for foreign credit rating agencies to be approved, or whether US-owned suppliers of electronic payment services will be able to secure licenses.

The bilateral talks have also not addressed restrictions on foreign investment in life insurance and securities trading, or "the many challenges foreign companies face in China's cybersecurity enforcement environment," Parker said.

In an annual report released Thursday, the American Chamber of Commerce in said remained a "difficult market".

First Published: Sun, July 16 2017. 16:26 IST