Beijing/Shanghai: China and the United States made progress on "structural issues" such as forced technology transfers and intellectual property (IP) rights in talks this week and more consultations are being arranged, China's commerce ministry said on Thursday.
The three-day talks in Beijing that wrapped up on Wednesday were the first face-to-face negotiations since US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Buenos Aires in December and agreed on a 90-day truce in a trade war that has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.
The negotiations were initially scheduled to last two days but went on for three because both sides were "serious" and "honest", Gao Feng, spokesman at the Chinese commerce ministry, told a news conference.
Asked about China's stance on issues such as forced technology transfers, IP rights, tariff barriers and cyber attacks, and whether China was confident it could reach agreement with the United States, Gao said those issues "were an important part of this trade talk".
"There has been progress in these areas," he said. He did not elaborate.
The United States has presented China with a long list of demands that would rewrite the terms of trade between the world's two largest economies.
They include changes to China's policies on intellectual property protection, technology transfers, industrial subsidies and other non-tariff barriers to trade.
China has repeatedly played down complaints about intellectual property abuses, and has rejected accusations that foreign companies face forced technology transfer.
Nearly halfway into the 90-day truce, there have been few concrete details on any progress made.
Gao did not address questions on what demands both sides raised, or if the United States had agreed to drop its plan to implement additional tariffs by the 2 March deadline.
In a brief statement earlier, the ministry said the talks were extensive, and helped establish a foundation for the resolution of each others' concerns, but gave no details.
On Wednesday, the US Trade Representative's office (USTR) said officials from the two sides discussed "ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity and balance in trade relations", and focused on China's pledge to buy a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured, and other products and services from the United States".
At stake are scheduled US tariff increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
Trump has said he would increase those duties to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by 2 March, and has threatened to tax all imports from China if it fails to cede to US demands.
US officials have long complained that China has failed to live up to trade promises, often citing pledges to resume imports of American beef that took more than a decade to implement.
No schedule for further face-to-face negotiations was released after the talks. The USTR said the American delegation was returning to Washington to report on the meetings and "receive guidance on the next steps".
Both sides agreed to maintain close contact, the Chinese commerce ministry said.
"For the next step, work teams from both sides will continue to work hard and push forward consultations as originally planned," Gao said.
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