Trump Says China Trade Talks ‘Back on Track,’ Will Allow US Companies to Sell to Huawei

June 29, 2019 Updated: June 30, 2019

OSAKA, Japan—President Donald Trump said June 29 that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to resume trade talks, adding that he would hold off on additional tariffs and ease restrictions on Chinese tech company Huawei.

Trump said he had an “excellent” meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

“Basically, we’ve agreed today that we’re going to continue the negotiation, which I ended a while back,” Trump said during a press conference at the conclusion of the summit.

Trump also said he agreed not to impose further tariffs on $325 billion of Chinese imports while the negotiations were ongoing.

However, tariffs implemented so far would not be lifted, he said. The United States currently has a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Prior to the meeting, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on roughly $300 billion of Chinese goods, effectively all the remaining Chinese imports to the United States, if the talks did not yield progress.

President Donald Trump (L) poses for a photo with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan on June 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In addition, the president announced that U.S. companies will be allowed to sell products to Huawei. In May, the Trump administration added the Chinese tech giant to the U.S. Commerce Department’s “entity list,” effectively banning the company from doing business with U.S. suppliers, on national security grounds.

“U.S. companies can sell their equipment to Huawei,” Trump said. “I’m talking about equipment where there is no great national emergency problem with it.”

He said the Commerce Department would consider in the next few days whether Huawei will be removed from its “entity list.”

Trump noted that he did not discuss the matter of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou’s extradition from Canada to the United States. Meng, who is indicted in the United States on charges relating to violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, is currently fighting extradition in Vancouver.

The talks between the two leaders marked the first official meeting since the last G-20 in Argentina, held in late 2018 when both sides agreed to a 90-day truce in the U.S.-China trade dispute—a ceasefire that ended when trade talks broke down in early May after Trump accused the Chinese regime of reneging on commitments negotiated over months of talks.

Trump earlier said the meeting with Xi went “even better than [he had] expected.”

During the press conference, Trump said he was in no rush to reach a deal with China.

“I’m not rushed. And I told him that I want to get a deal, right,” he said.

Trump said both sides also talked about Chinese students in the United States. The U.S. administration has recently been tightening visa vetting procedures for Chinese nationals studying in certain STEM fields due to concerns over academic espionage, and theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The president said he agreed to make it easier for Chinese students to come into the United States and stay, adding that they may be given access to the green card.

Trump also said that Beijing agreed to make unspecified purchases of U.S. farm products.

A day before the bilateral meeting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a large soybean sale to China, as an apparent goodwill gesture, according to Reuters.

China imported 544,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans for shipment, which was the largest volume since late March, USDA data showed.

President Donald Trump meets with China’s President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Optimism at the Meeting

At the start of the bilateral meeting with Xi, Trump spoke of his “excellent relationship” with his Chinese counterpart.

“But we want to do something that will even it up with respect to trade. I think it’s something that’s actually very easy to do,” Trump told Xi.

“I actually think that we were very close. And then … something happened where it slipped a little bit.”

He said that a fair trade deal would be “historic” if it could be reached, adding that the United States was “totally open” to achieving this.

Trade talks between the United States and China stalled in May after Beijing backtracked on commitments to address structural issues, such as intellectual property theft, government subsidies to boost domestic sectors, and forced technology transfers. This prompted Washington to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The Chinese regime raised tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in retaliation.

At the bilateral meeting, Xi began his remarks by saying that enormous changes have taken place in the world as well as in China-U.S. relations in the last 40 years—since the two countries started diplomatic relations. But he added that one basic fact has remained the same.

“China and the United States both benefit from cooperation, and lose in a confrontation. Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation,” he said.

He said that Trump has stayed in close communication with him through phone calls and exchange of letters.

Xi concluded by saying he was ready to share views on “the fundamental issues concerning the growth of China-U.S. relations” and advance the dialogue “based on coordination, cooperation, and stability.”

In his opening remarks, Trump also spoke of his fondness for Chinese culture.

“My trip to Beijing, with my family was one of the most incredible of my life,” Trump said, apparently referring to his state visit to China in 2017.

“I’ve seen the culture that rarely would you see. Chinese culture is an incredible culture.”

About the G-20

The leaders of the world’s largest economies gathered from June 28 to 29 in Osaka for the 14th G-20 summit. Collectively, G-20 members represent more than 80 percent of the world’s GDP (gross domestic product).

World leaders discussed challenges to the global economy as trade uncertainties continue to weigh on economic growth. As with last year, there were discussions on trade, including reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Other focal points were energy, innovation, workforce development, quality infrastructure, and women’s economic empowerment.

During the two-day summit, Trump held other high stakes meetings with leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Cathy He contributed to this report.

Follow Emel on Twitter: @mlakan
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