‘Back on track’: China, US agree to restart trade talks

"We're going to work with China where we left off", Trump said after a lengthy meeting with Xi while the leaders attended the Group of 20 summit in Osaka.

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

Trump said US tariffs will remain in place against Chinese imports while negotiations continue.

China's foreign ministry has expressed hope that the US government can "meet China halfway" amid a costly tariff fight over trade and technology.

But when US and Chinese negotiators sit down to work out details, the same hard task remains: getting China to convince the United States that it will curb its aggressive push to challenge American technological dominance - and then to live up to its promises.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said the two nations had agreed to restart trade talks on the basis of "equality and mutual respect".

At the very beginning of their meeting, Xi recalled the start of "ping-pong diplomacy" in 1971 in Nagoya, Japan, where Chinese and US players had friendly interactions at the 31st World Table Tennis Championships.

China has demanded the United States drop the curbs, saying Huawei presents no security threat.

Trade talks eventually resumed - in December, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Trump was close to establishing a trade balance - but eventually crumbled again.

Xi also called out the US over Huawei and said the G20 should uphold the "completeness and vitality of global supply chains".

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"Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation", he said. "The relationship is very good with China". But we're allowing that, because that wasn't national security.

"This is a big concession to China", said Wendy Cutler, a veteran USA trade negotiator now at the Asia Society.

Trump's move on Saturday to concede ground on Huawei adds to the evidence he'd rather cut deals than start wars.

He later said he would be happy to step over the border into North Korea, which would represent an extraordinary move for a United States leader after decades of enmity between Washington and Pyongyang.

The final statement signed by the leaders flags the intensification of geopolitical and trade tensions but does not include any mention of growing protectionism, in the context of the growing trade tensions between the US, China and other countries.

Andy Rothman, an investment strategist with Matthews Asia and a former economic official with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said the Trump-Xi meeting was more conciliatory than he expected. The entire trade ban could become a thing of the past if the whole trade talk ends well.

A sharp drop in China's hog herd, which consumes most of the soybeans processed by the world's largest pork market, due to a deadly hog disease called African swine fever has also reduced demand for the oilseed.

CSIS senior adviser Bill Reinsch weighs in on whether or not President Trump will implement tariffs on China.

The dispute escalated when talks collapsed in May after Washington accused Beijing of reneging on reform pledges. Slowly, they argue, Trump is raising the heat on China and ending decades of unnecessarily pliant behaviour by American presidents in the face of a rising rival.

  • Darren Santiago