China pledges ‘tremendous’ US soy purchases

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Vice Premier Liu He and President Donald Trump talk to the press about trade

China has pledged to increase its purchases of US soybeans, as the two countries attempt to hammer out a trade deal.

US President Donald Trump touted the promise, made at the end of two days of talks in Washington, as evidence that the two sides were making progress.

“Before we make a deal, it’s a fantastic sign of faith,” he said,

But the president’s top negotiator also warned many issues remained unresolved.

“We’ve made progress, “US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. “At this point, it’s impossible for me to predict success.”

Mr Trump was more upbeat, saying he hoped to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to hash out a final agreement.

“We have made tremendous progress,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean you’re going to have a deal but there’s a tremendous relationship and a warm feeling.”

Is this progress?

In December, the US and China agreed to 90 days of negotiations, in an effort to defuse their escalating trade war, which had led to tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods.

Shortly after, China – by far the world’s biggest importer of soybeans – said it would resume purchases from the US.

At a press conference with Vice Premier Liu He, Mr Trump said the country was increasing the amount of purchases further.

“They started on a smaller scale,” he said, describing the new pledge as “tremendous”.

However, US officials have also pressed for change on issues such as the theft of trade secrets and rules that limit the operations of foreign companies.

The two sides face a 1 March deadline to agree a deal.